1. ITV Report

Eight ways you can cut down on your use of plastic every single day

There are some surprising things you can do everyday to cut down your use of plastic. Credit: PA

Burger King and McDonald's are the latest to join the ongoing crackdown against the use of plastics.

While the former is making plastic toys a thing of the past, the latter will offer customers the chance to swap them for a fruit bag or book.

Elsewhere, Waitrose & Partners is already taking products like pasta, wine and washing up liquid out of packaging so customers can fill their own containers as part of a trial.

That decision came less than two weeks after the Government announced Plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds will be banned as of next year in an effort to protect the environment.

It's a big change and, while environmentalists have welcomed the announcement, they're still urging people to cut down on everyday use in small ways, too.

Friends of the Earth said: "Legislation to cut down on pointless plastic is good to see but these three items are just a fraction of the single-use plastic nasties that are used for a tiny amount of time before potentially polluting the natural environment for centuries to come.

"Ultimately, we need producers to take responsibility for the plastic pollution caused by all their products; whether it’s bags, balloons, packets, containers or otherwise."

And as part of the organisation's ongoing campaign against plastics, it has given eight tips you can pick up starting from now and carry on every single day.

  • Don’t buy fruit or veg in plastic film
Opt for fruit and veg without plastic coverings. Credit: PA

Environmental groups would likely encourage anyone to buy organic but not if the piece of fruit or veg comes wrapped in a thin plastic sheet.

Friends of the Earth suggests you stay away from those and look for organic box deliveries, which they can advise on.

Failing that, buy from your local farmers’ market.

  • Soap nuts for your washing
You could change the way you wash. Credit: PA

However eco-friendly the detergent, you’re still going to be left with a plastic bottle.

Some health stores and eco-supermarkets let you refill your empty bottle and this can end up being cheaper than the normal product, Friends of the Earth says.

Instead, the organisation recommends using soap nuts. These are little, dried-fruit shells with completely natural soap inside.

These can be thrown in with your laundry so you don’t have to carry around a plastic bottle.

  • A bamboo toothbrush
A bamboo toothbrush has less plastic than ones you normally see. Credit: PA

Another way of cutting down the use of plastic is to go for a bamboo toothbrush.

They do still contain plastic in the bristles but, as the organisation says, there isn’t yet an alternative.

“You can go further by getting your toothpaste in a jar instead of a plastic tube,” they say.

“And if you're feeling creative, there are homemade toothpaste recipes online.”

  • Beeswax food wraps instead of plastic film wrap
Friends of the Earth suggest you don't wrap sandwiches in plastic film wrap. Credit: PA

Instead of wrapping your sandwiches in plastic film wrap, you could use beeswax food wraps.

They're reusable, biodegradable and there are even vegan wraps available too.

  • Buy a reusable coffee cup
Buying your own coffee cup could cut down on plastic. Credit: PA

Something else you'll probably use for your lunch break.

Because of a plastic film on the inside, very few coffee cups are recycled, says Friends of the Earth.

The group has launched a petition to sign up to calling for a ban on disposable cups that can’t be recycled.

In the meantime, they suggest getting hold of a reusable coffee cup.

  • Loose tea is better than a tea bag
Even tea bags have some plastic, Friends of the Earth says. Credit: PA

First it’s your coffee cups, now it’s your tea bags.

You could be forgiven for thinking you’re safe from plastic-use when you’re drinking tea but the majority of teabags in the UK have a thin layer of polypropylene plastic, Friends of the Earth says.

“That thin layer will likely end up as tiny pieces in the soil, which could then find their way into our rivers and eventually the sea,” the group added.

The suggestion is to buy a tea infuser so you can prepare tea with loose tea leaves.

  • Switch to packaging-free soap and shampoo bars
Using soap that doesn't come in packages is recommended by Friends of the Earth. Credit: PA

What many soap products have in common is the plastic packing - the bottles, tubs, tubes and pots they often come in.

Using these daily can add up to a lot of plastic, so the group suggests you buy packaging-free soap instead.

  • Wash at low temperatures
Small bits of plastic can get into your clothes. Credit: PA

Continuing the washing theme, Friends of the Earth recommends washing clothes at low temperatures.

That’s because extremely thin plastic fibres – called microfibres - make their way on to our clothes from things like larger plastic items of from paints on buildings and marking roads.

Washing at low temperatures is less likely to shake out the plastic fibres, which can end up in the sea.