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(Non-Plastic) Handbag Essentials

Every single piece of plastic you ever used is still on earth.

Whenever I hear or think of that fact, it really makes me think about by consumption choices.

Every single piece of plastic you have ever bought, consumed, used, is still on Earth and most likely will be for 100’s of years to come. Plastic is an amazing material that definitely has it’s place within society but unfortunately most plastic used in the world today is designed for single use. Plastic itself is not a problem – it is how we are consuming it and the sheer quantity of it – that is a major problem.

I wanted to share some of the interesting and insightful facts that I have gathered over the past couple of years. 

  • Plastic bottles are most commonly made from polyethylene which takes 400 years to naturally decompose.
  • Polyethylene is a material made from petroleum (oil) and gas  – both materials are non-renewable fossil fuels. Their extraction and production create greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.
  • For every plastic bottle, it takes on average 6 times the amount of liquid contained within, to produce the bottle. Plus 1/4 of the volume of the bottle in oil.
  • Globally, humans buy 1 million plastic bottles per minute.
  • Circa 90% of the cost of bottled water is the bottle itself.
  • 91% of all plastic is not recycled (for numerous reasons). It ends up in oceans or landfill where it normally has a detrimental impact on the environment, animals and human health.
  • Plastic bottles, if recycled, cannot be made in to another plastic bottle. The material’s value degrades and therefore become plastic products of lower quality, most likely also for ‘single-use’.

Did you know?.. it is not healthy to refill and drink from a ‘single use’ plastic bottle more two times, as the chemicals contained in the plastic start to breakdown and flow in to the liquid in the bottle.

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  • Disposable paper cups contain 5% polyurethane plastic, making composting and recycling very difficult and rare.
  • Less than 1 per cent of coffee cups ever end up being recycled.
  • The UK population alone use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day – that adds up to 2.5 billion every year
  • Very little recycled paper is used to make disposable cups due to health risk concerns.
  • Half a trillion disposable cups are manufactured annually around the world; that’s over 70 disposable cups for every person on the planet.
  • 70% of the world’s paper comes from diminishing forests, not from plantations or recycling units.

If you normally buy one coffee everyday in a disposable cup, and you change it is a reusable cup, and you will save 24 pounds of waste going to toxic landfill every year.

Small changes matter. 

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The main issues with the plastic degrading on earth is that it turn to micro plastics, most of which end up in the ocean, which the fish consume by accident, which in turn humans consume. Can you imaging eating a plastic bottle when you have finished the water inside? I don’t think so. These micro plastics are toxic to the environment, animals and to humans.

These facts have made me actively change my buying and consumption habits when it comes to water and coffee and they really are very simple changes. I take a good quality reusable water bottle and coffee cup with me everyday, they have become handbag/backpack essentials. Some people view it as too simple of a way to have a positive impact. But if we all thought that where, we would never get anywhere. Instead, we can make small changes, spread the word, and enjoy our drinks with a clear mind!

So that you keep up the habit of taking reusable bottles with you, The most important thing is to find bottles and cups and you like to drink from. I have tried a few different variations and know now that I prefer an insulated metal version that keeps the water cold – mine is from Chilly’s. My coffee cup is made from glass and recyclable plastic, which is nice to drink from – I have one from KeepCup. There are also some great ones from EcoffeeCup  Secondly, find some that are a good size to easily fit in your everyday bag.

You might find it steep to spend £20 on a water bottle or coffee mug, but just think; if you are out and about most weekends and buy a plastic single-use bottle for around £1 – £3, you will soon be gaining from your purchase after a few months. And a good reusable bottle will last you years! Plus most coffee shops now offer a discount when you bring your own take away cup – win win! 

I use my bottle and cup at work everyday but also when I travel, short or long distances. You will be surprised how easy it is to find free drinking water. For example, when I go to the airport I bring my empty bottle through security and then ask a member of staff where the free water points are and I fill it up for my flight. I also take my coffee cup if I have a morning flight as a lot of cafes in airports will only serve their drinks in disposable cups.

There are numerous apps available for finding a local free water points, in cafes, restaurants and community centres. I have the geo-location water app called Refill on my phone. They are not vastly populated with locations yet but they are building up the network all the time. I think and hope that it will be an essential app for everyone in 1 or 2 years to come. 

This article is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact of ‘disposable’ items on the environment. But hope it has been insightful for you and you are motivated to begin or continue to bring your reusable bottle and cup wherever you go 🙂

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