Knowledge Base

Five ways you can help reduce plastic waste


Hi Everyone,


We have all heard a lot in the news recently about our use of single-use plastic and how it's harming our environment, including our oceans. As giffgaff members, we’re all about working together to help each other and make a difference, so today I wanted to let you know about a few small changes we can all make in our everyday life to help and make a difference.

Reuse your plastic bags


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In 2014, according to UK government statistics, over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. That’s around 140 bags per person. It was reported in December 2015, that Tesco had seen a 78% reduction in the number of new plastic carrier bags used by Tesco shoppers in England since the introduction of the 5p charge. We can all save a few pence and help the environment by reusing our plastic bags or purchasing a ‘bag for life’ and using that every time we shop. I always make sure I have a few bags for life in my car so I don't end up forgetting them when I go shopping.

Use a reusable coffee cup


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Most of us love your morning coffee, I know I do, but according to the Environmental Audit Committee, we throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year and of those less than one percent of coffee cups are recycled. Two of our biggest chains, Costa Coffee and Starbucks have made promises to improve the recycling rates of there coffee cups and the materials they are made from. They will even give you a discount if you bring in a reusable cup for your takeaway coffee, both chains sell their own reusable cups varying from a little as £1 to around £10 or you can look for one online and help reduce the number of disposable coffee cups thrown away each year. I make sure I keep my Costa Coffee Stainless Steel Travel Mug on hand for when I'm in need of a coffee when I'm out and about.

Use a reusable water bottle


 1.jpgSource: Pixabay

According to the BBC, UK consumers use around 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year and of those, more than three billion are not recycled. The government has plans to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme, but why not go one better and get yourself a reusable water bottle and help reduce the number of plastic water bottles we throw away each year, you can refill your bottle for FREE at refill stations across the UK including 3,000 Costa Coffee and Premier Inn locations, check out for details. If you like sparkling water like I do, why not check out SodaStream, their machines not only give you sparkling water on tap but also use reusable bottles, I always take one to work with me now, so I have nice, cold and fresh sparkling water available when I'm on my break.



Use a reusable straw


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Estimates put the number of plastic straws thrown away each year in the UK at 8.5 billion. Some stores are already taking action including McDonald's who have begun to phase out the use of plastic straws in their UK stores, and the UK government is looking to ban them as early as next year. Why not get ahead of the curb and purchase your own reusable straws to help reduce the number we throw away each year, here’s a stainless steel reusable straw set I use from Amazon, I'm looking at getting one soon as I don't really like paper straws and I don't want to use the single-use plastic straws anymore.

Buy plastic free products


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Plastic wrapping is everywhere, so next time you're at the supermarket try to buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than the pre-packets versions. Companies like Lush have also started to produce some of their products without the plastic tubs around them. As we become more aware of the harm plastic is doing to our environment and the more we demand alternatives, hopefully, more companies will reduce their use of plastic packaging. 


Let me know in the comments if you already do any of these and what other measures, us as individuals can take to help our environment and what further measures you would like to see governments and companies take. I'd really like to know your thoughts, so I can pick up some more tips to reduce my plastic usage even more.


Thanks for reading,









Carl produces websites, apps and videos. View his latest work at

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Think it was only this week that Costa Coffee said that the re-useable coffee cups hadn't had a great uptake. Not surprised, but of a pain to carry a cup around with you everywhere. Good idea in concept, but not very good in the real world. Wow, Sodastream is a blast from the past.....i hope the flavours and the system works better than it did in the 70s and 80s.

Plastic free is the way to go. Plastic can only be recycled 3 times, so any plastic has to be disposed of eventually.


I think people need a lot of educating on what is recyclable and not. My neighbour recently decided to get rid of their plastic garden troughs and planters as well as a plastic 25 litre paint tub in our communal recycling bin. It clearly states on the large jiffy bin what is and isn’t recycled and yet because their waste was plastic everything went into it. It also ment there was little room for other residents recycling. It must be a nightmare for the local council to sort through it all. 

Then theres the neighbours who simply use the recycling bin for their rubbish instead of the local tip. Recently there’s been someone carpets in it 😡 so annoying.

heavy hitter

Thanks some good pointers, already avoid and recycle plastic we're I can. 


Good practical tips there!


I tried the reusable metal straws too, but they set my teeth on edge - I'm getting on fine with the paper ones though. I can also recycle them.



enjoyed reading this post..alot of simple ideas which would make a huge difference to the environment


This is a good post as reducing plastic is big on social media and in the news now which is about time.

I dont use straws, coffee cups or plastic bags.

I'm trying to reduce what plastic i purchase in supermarkets by getting my cooked meats from the deli counter instead of in a plastic packet and it comes in a paper bag. I told the lady not to put the plastic sheet wrapped around my meat in it and she was ok about it.

I have also signed a few petitions lobbying the government and supermarkets to get suppliers to reduce their plastic.

There are wax wrappings now available that are safe for food and seal by the warmth of your hand.



Thank you ... this definitely needs sorting. As a child shopping with my mother in 50' & 60's everything was wrapped in paper and or put in paper bags..................


Thank you for this 

I am always looking for ways to help the environment