10 ways to reduce your plastic waste

Want to do your bit for the environment by making changes at home? Make these simple changes to help cut plastic pollution

Carafe with glasses on a tray filled with lemonade
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether it’s plastic water bottles, straws, food packaging or carrier bags, it’s hard to escape the ever-increasing amounts of plastic we use in our day-to-day lives. 

However, with shocking stats estimating that there are more than five trillion pieces of plastic waste in our oceans – enough to circle the globe five times – it’s clear that plastic pollution is an issue that has an impact on us all, and it's about time we all looked at what we can do to reduce our plastic usage and take our plastic recycling to the next level.

Try these 10 simple hacks so you can start reducing your plastic household waste. For more eco advice and buys, see our hub page.

1. Reduce plastic waste by getting milk delivered

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Instead of buying milk in a plastic bottle, why not go old school and have milk delivered to your doorstep in a reusable glass bottle instead? Milk round deliveries are on the up as people look for alternatives to their usual plastic containers. Find a delivery in your area at Find Me A Milkman

2. Avoid plastic waste by shopping locally

Try to avoid shopping online for groceries as you’ll have very little control over the amount of packaging, not to mention the number of plastic bags your shopping may turn up in. If you do shop online, opt for the no plastic bag delivery option. It's a pain to unpack the boxes and the driver might well moan (in our experience) about how long it takes, but it's a small price to pay. No bagless option? Swap your shop or ensure the bags get properly recycled.

3. Look carefully at packaging to avoid plastic

Select cheese wrapped in wax rather than plastic. Your local deli will often offer a wider choice and create less waste than a supermarket.

4. Always carry a reusable shopping bag to avoid plastic bags

You never know when you might need to pop into your local shop for a few items on the way home from work, so make sure you’ve always got a reusable shopper in your bag or car so you can avoid buying a 5p plastic carrier bag.  

Reusable shopping bag with brightly coloured pattern

5. Swap bottled liquid soap for old fashioned bars

Swap your liquid soap in a plastic bottle for a bar of soap instead, cutting down on your single-use plastic usage.  

6. Shop for fruit and veg where brown paper bags are an option

Shop for fruit and veg at your local market instead of the supermarket, swapping goods packaged in plastic for fresh items in brown paper bags that can be easily recycled.  

7. Buy a reusable coffee cup (or two)

Buy a reusable coffee cup to take to your coffee shop for them to fill up.

8. Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea

You might be surprised to learn that even tea bags contain plastic, so switch to loose leaf tea for your daily cuppas instead.  

Loose leaf tea in a pretty tin

9. Bin the clingfilm (once you've finished it, obviously)

Keep leftover food fresh by storing it in reusable plastic or glass container rather than wrapping it in clingfilm. You can also invest in some handy beeswax wraps for packing sandwiches or covering food.

10. Never buy single use plastic bottles again

Instead of buying sparkling water in single use bottles, invest in a SodaStream Spirit so you can create sparkling water straight from the tap in a reusable bottle. Failing that, drink tap water, using a water filter if you prefer. 

SodaStream machine on worktop in modern kitchen

Spirit sparkling water maker in white, SodaStream

Lucy Searle

Lucy is Global Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of Realhomes.com in 2018 then moving to Homes & Gardens in 2021. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.