How to reduce our plastic waste – by Zack Maskill

We all know plastics are a huge problem. There are tons of single-use plastics that go onto landfills or into the ocean every day, and these then break into microplastics. The tiny particles end up in our blood, the food we eat, and even the air! There are ways to reduce plastic waste though, and this is mainly through recycling or reuse. But more can be done. What we buy and consume can make a difference to our environmental footprint.


Plastics have become ubiquitous in every area of life. Therefore, it makes sense to first spot where we can replace fossil fuel-based plastics with more environmentally friendly items. Cornstarch can be used to make biodegradable materials that break down more quickly and don’t harm wildlife. It is possible to buy cornstarch spoons and other utensils from websites such as Purple Planet. But most shops now sell cornstarch-based cutlery.

Another material that is also becoming more popular is bamboo. This is one of the quickest growing plants and so this renewable source is plentiful. Various products are on the market ranging from bamboo bowls to utensils to cheeseboards.  For example, WeBrandIt sells many bamboo-based products including lunch boxes and cutting boards. However, large swathes of land are used to farm materials such as bamboo and corn, displacing native plants and this reduces the sustainability of the products.

Nevertheless, there are other eco-friendly products including cellulose-based dishcloths, beech wood utensils, beeswax wrapping for food, and stainless-steel flasks. The main advantages of all these are they do not leak toxins, they are long-lasting, and are reusable which incentivises a circular-based economy.


Smol is a company that has developed eco-friendly cleaning alternatives with plastic-free packaging such as cardboard. Even the dishwasher capsules covering are compostable!  Another way of reducing plastic use is by using soap bars and bamboo-based brushes instead. Ocean Saver provides a set made from cellulose-based cleaning products and soap bars. For washing clothes, the Guppy Friend washing machine bag is useful in capturing microplastics that would normally go into our ocean or rivers.


The future of clothing is set on biomaterials. These are products that are taken from nature, whether it be plants or fungi. For example, Mylo is a company that synthesises leather from mushrooms and has supplied clothes brands such as Lululemon. Hopefully, these biomaterials will pave the way for a sustainable future in the textile industry.

Clothes companies such as Rapanui and Boden have a core focus on sustainability and have responsibly sourced materials for clothes that are made from organic cotton or recycled plastic. Packaging is usually composed of cardboard and water-based inks are commonly used for garments. Manufacturing is also ethical where workers are paid a fair wage.

There are many things we can do to reduce our plastic consumption from buying more sustainable products to recycling more, and with each plastic item prevented from going to landfill, we are protecting precious resources, wildlife, and the environment. So, let’s all do our bit!

Here are other websites that sell sustainable products:

Post written by Zack Maskill, a MSc Sustainability student at the University of Salford.

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