Social Responsibility

6 ways to reduce your plastic use

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This week (16 – 20 March) is our annual reduce week! The University of Manchester has committed to eliminating all avoidable single-use plastics by 2022, and with this in mind, this year’s Reduce Week will focus on reducing the use of single-use plastics.

The university has already taken a number of steps to reduce plastic use, such as switching to a completely plastic-free food delivery service, reducing over 27,000 pieces of plastic annually in our teaching labs, and running multiple stationery amnesties. In addition, a small charge has been added to takeaway cups in Food on Campus outlets, which has saved more than 17,000 disposable cups from landfill in January this year alone.

The University of Manchester is also hosting a student-led climate change conference on Wednesday 18 March. You can register for free here.

There are some really simple ways that we can all reduce our use of single-use plastics, and they all involve saving money at the same time!

1. Buy loose fruit and veg

The plastic packaging on fruits and vegetables in supermarkets is a huge contributor to plastic waste, and most of it can’t be recycled. Buying loose fruit and veg will not only save you money, but will also reduce the amount of packaging going to landfill. If you’d prefer to have a bag to put loose fruit and veg in, consider investing in some reusable bags.

2. Invest in a reusable water bottle – and bring it everywhere

Carrying a reusable water bottle with you is really easy and saves you buying plastic bottles every day. There are plenty of places at university you can fill up your water bottle – to help you find these, every refill station on campus has been uploaded to the Refill app and added to the SU’s water dispenser map.

3. Don’t forget a reusable coffee cup

2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK (that’s seven million a day!), and less than 1 in 400 of them are recycled. Try investing in a reusable coffee cup and carrying it with you – you’ll also usually get a discount on hot drinks in most coffee shops.

4. Ditch the cling film

Cling film isn’t recyclable, but there are loads of other alternatives that are much better for the environment – even aluminium foil can be put into your recycling bin. A better alternative are beeswax wraps – these are 100% natural and compostable. You can find these here.

5. Bring your own shopping bag

Since the government introduced a charge on plastic bags, the use of them has dropped by 85%! Switching to reusable bags is one of the easiest ways you can reduce your plastic use – just keep a bag in the backpack/ handbag you use every day.

6. Bring your own lunch

Bringing your lunch into uni is a great way to save a lot of money, and saves on the plastic wrapping used for meal deals and food on the go. If you need to heat up your food, take a look at the SU’s microwave map to find out where you can go to heat up your meals.

Our content ambassadors also have loads of ideas for ways you can be more sustainable: