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How to use less plastic when you travel

In a world of tiny ‘holiday-ready’ plastic bottles being sold for convenience, going on holiday often increases the amount of plastic we use. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s easy to swap a few simple items on your packing list to make sure you’re using less plastic when you travel.

Read these quick tips and find out why we all should be trying to use less plastic when we travel and how you can make a difference:

Why is plastic not so fantastic?

Plastic is a wonderfully versatile material which is used in a vast range of products, from food packaging and carrier bags to clothing and medical equipment.

The problem is that most plastic isn’t recycled, and around eight million tonnes of plastic waste enters our seas every year. This plastic is harmful to marine life and can end up in the food chain.

In the BBC’s, Blue Planet II series, Sir David Attenborough said: “Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that.”

If each of us tries to reduce our use of plastic as much as we can, it will make a difference.

1. Swap to fabric bags

Plastic bags can take decades to break down and animals can mistake them for food.

Sea turtles often see plastic bags as jellyfish and try to eat them. The bags can then block the turtles’ digestive system leading to starvation and death.

If you do use a carrier bag, be sure to re-use it as many times as you can and to recycle it if possible. Buy a lightweight fabric bag and carry it with you to use instead of a plastic bag.

2. Take a reusable water bottle

It’s estimated that a million plastic water bottles are bought each minute, and recycling schemes are nowhere near keeping up with those huge numbers.

So take a water bottle with you when you travel.

A far cry from an old Evian bottle which you may only reuse a couple of times, choosing to buy a reusable bottle can help to keep your drink cooler for longer as well as being better for the environment.

If you’re travelling by plane, take your empty bottle in your hand luggage and fill it up in the departure lounge once you’ve gone through the airport security checks. Most airports have water fountains for passengers to use, or you can ask for your bottle to be filled at one of the food outlets.

Just remember that in some locations, it’s unsafe to drink water straight from the tap. Make sure you follow the recommended guidelines when using local tap water to make it safe to drink.

3. Use a reusable cup

Disposable paper cups can’t be recycled because they’re lined with plastic to make them waterproof. This means that most of them are thrown away. To avoid using these cups, invest in your own reusable cup and carry it with you when you’re away from home.

My favourite reusable cup is collapsible and has a screw-on lid, so it doesn’t take up much space in my bag and it doesn’t leak.

4. Avoid plastic straws

Plastic straws are difficult to recycle as they’re so light and small – millions of them end up in our seas every year.

Unless you have a disability or a medical condition which means that you need to use a straw in order to eat and drink, try to avoid using plastic straws.

If you love a straw and can’t live without one, check out these reusable alternatives.

When ordering drinks, tell the staff that you don’t need a straw – before they put one in your glass.

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