Top alternatives to single-use plastics

Alice Boyd

Since Blue Planet II, plastic pollution has hit the mainstream, as people realise how disposable packaging is finding its way into all corners of the planet and the food chain. They've even found plastics in our poo (sorry, not sorry)... what's possibly even more scary is that plastic is in the air we breathe!

It's important to remember plastic does currently play a valuable role in many aspects of life, including keeping some foods fresh, avoiding food waste, which is already a significant problem for climate change... 1/3 of all food produce worldwide is wasted or lost. If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide!

However, a report from the Center for International Environmental Law has found that plastics produce carbon dioxide at every stage of its lifecycle. As we use more and more plastics, by 2050 it is predicted that plastics will account for 13% of the carbon budget. As more and more alternatives to unnecessary plastics come on the market, it is a no brainer to make some easy switches. Here are our top reusables, which may come in handy while you're in the rehearsal room, at a festival or on tour.

1. The mighty water bottle

Each year in the UK, we use 13 billion plastic bottles a year, 7.7 billion of which are plastic water bottles. Refill UK argues that as we have some of the best quality drinking water, it doesn't make sense to be paying for pre-packaged H2O. While water bottles can be a bit of an investment at first, over time you'll be saving yourself some big bucks, while reducing your impact on the environment. Why not download the Refill app to find out where you can fill up your bottle nearby.

2. The king of coffee cups

Despite the reusable coffee cup craze, single-use cups still reign and only 1% of them are recycled! While theses sneaky guys may seem like pure paper at first glance, the plastic coating on the inside makes them tricky to recycle. That, plus the lack of adequate recycling infrastructure in cafés and on the street means that they often end up in landfill. Grab yourself a reusable cup and take advantage of the many discounts out there for this green action. Why not pledge to only buy a coffee to go when you have your reusable with you?

3. Pint, no plastic!

This one's for the festival season! While some venues don't accept reusable pint glasses, we were pleased to say that Summerhall at the Edinburgh Fringe accepted these metal pint glasses in 2018! Going to a festival this year or even for a pint after rehearsals? Get your hands on one of these and join us in the journey to reusable cups. We hope that in the future, all arts festivals can follow the lead of VAULT Festival, Latitude and others who have a reusable cup scheme in place. Want to go that step further? Avoid pesky plastic straws by bringing your own reusable one. Finally, we love Adaptive Capacity's Fossil Fool campaign -- and their bar mats?... nothing better for a sustainable pint!

4. A lunch for legends

Sometimes, you've got to just go back to basics, and the humble lunch box is the way to go! Environmental charity, Hubbub, recently found that British workers produce 10.7 billion items of packaging from 'lunch on the go' alone! While it is convenient to pop out to the nearest chain, eating lunch out is almost double the cost of your average packed lunch. If you really can't avoid eating out (or just fancy it as a treat), why not hunt down a café that uses crockery. Some cafés can even serve you in your reusable for a discount! Don't forget your reusable cutlery, the absolute winner for your lunch on the go.

5. Bag for life (and we mean life)

Now... this one's tricky. You may have heard that you have to use a cotton bag thousands of times before it has a lower environmental impact than a plastic bag. It is true that the amount of energy and water that goes into producing them can be colossal compared to the plastic bag (which itself has its own impact, taking thousands of years to decompose).

However, if you keep reusing one or two cotton bags that you really love... and hey, maybe they display a fantastic environmental message such as 'Switch to Renewables' (as seen on Adaptive Capacity's bag above)... then you'll be showing the world that, "yep, I TOTEally believe that we should work together to figure out the complexities of climate change, plastic pollution and environmental issues, how much these issues are complementary or in conflict, which of them require prioritisation, how we can recognise the new mistakes we make in an effort to fix them, and in turn how we can solve it all together in a compassionate and collaboartive way".

Got a favourite reusable? Let us know!

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