One of the big attractions of plastic is that it’s lightweight, making it perfect for takeaway food packaging, single-use cutlery and other items designed to make our on-the-go lifestyles a bit easier.

If you buy a ready-made salad and a drink for your lunch at work then chances are by the time you’ve finished your meal there’ll be a plastic container, plastic bottle and a plastic fork to throw away. Over the course of a week, let alone a month or more, that’s a lot of waste.

As so much plastic is used as food packaging, the obvious way to avoid it when you’re out and about is to take your own food and drink in washable, refillable containers – you can even buy reusable straws to carry with you!

Keep a proper coffee mug and a glass to use at your desk at work so you don’t have to resort to plastic cups. Perhaps ask if your company could buy washable crockery for everyone to use at work – the one-off expense would cancel out the ongoing cost of buying disposables.

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If you’re off on a day out, the same ideas apply: carry refillable food and drink containers, as well as cutlery. And a packable bag such as an Onya means you won’t need a plastic carrier if you end up shopping.

For longer holidays, the miniature toiletries are tempting (and very cute), but you can just refill the bottles from your last trip with your regular products from home. Or take bars of shampoo and soap in a sealable soap dish, as these won’t fall foul of airport security regulations on carrying liquids.

We’ve suggested some things you could keep at work or in your bag, or pack for your holiday, to minimise your plastic use. Can you think of anything else you could add to the lists to help cut your plastic use?

Plastic-free carry kit
Esther Curtis

Your plastic-free carry kit for work

Keeping a few essentials at your desk will mean that you don't need to resort to throwaway cutlery and plastic cups:

On the go

A couple of simple additions to your bag can keep your plastic use to a minimum every day:

  • Refillable coffee cup
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Packaway shopping bag

Go plastic-free on holiday

Travelling light doesn’t mean you have to stock up on single-use shower gel miniatures. A spot of re-using and some clever packing will make your holidays much more environmentally friendly.

  • Refillable small bottles of shampoo, shower gel and other toiletries, or try soap bars instead
  • Refillable water bottle (remember to empty it before going through airport security)
  • Reusable cutlery and refillable containers for sampling local street food
This article was first published in the Save the Planet journal. Order your copy online here, priced £9.99.

Illustrations by Esther Curtis.