Simple Plastic Swaps 

ecobirmingham are here to help you take steps to live a greener lifestyle. Let’s talk about plastic.

Plastic dominates every part of our lives. It’s in everything, even places it shouldn’t. Plastic on its own isn’t a bad thing – it’s the single-use, throw away attitude towards plastic consumption that is affecting our ecosystems. Plastic litters the city’s streets, roads and canals. You can make a massive difference to the planet by reducing the amount you use. This would otherwise be sent to landfill (100s of years to degrade, poisoning of land), incinerated for energy (air pollution) or recycled locally or overseas (BUT only if it has been sorted correctly and not contaminated by other waste).

The best thing you can do is say no to plastic in the first place, but here are some simple swaps you can make today to help fight against single-use plastics and save money too!

  • Reusable bags – The old flimsy plastic bags can now set you back 15p at the checkout. Keep a spare bag with you to avoid further expenditure while you’re on the go.


  • Drinks bottle – Carry a reusable bottle with you to fill up with water while your out and about. We’ve been working with national scheme Refill to increase the number of places in the city you can fill up your bottle for free – there are now over 300 in Birmingham alone. Check out the free Refill app and look out for Refill stickers in windows to find water refill stations nearby.
  • Coffee cup – Love a caffeine fix? The vast majority of disposable coffee cups are not recyclable. Why not invest in a thermal cup? Many cafes now offer discounts if you bring your own, so you can quickly pay back the initial outlay.
  • Beeswax wraps – Cling film cannot be reused or recycled. Beeswax wraps use the temperature of your hands to wrap around containers other food items you wish to store for later. Simply rinse them after use and they’re ready to be used again.
  • Toothbrush – Dentists recommend you change your toothbrush every 3 months. That’s a lot of plastic thrown away in a lifetime. Why not use a bamboo toothbrush instead? Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants and is fully biodegradable.
  • Menstrual products – Most products are sadly full of plastics and chemicals. For example did you know that an average menstrual pads contains around the same amount of plastic as four carrier bags?! Bristol-based City to Sea have a great campaign about taking the plastic out of periods. Menstrual cups or reusable period pants are alternatives. Schools and colleges can also now provide free period products, including menstrual cups.

We aren’t saying switch all of these at once but pick one and stick with it. Once you’ve mastered one swap, try another one until you’ve become a sustainability champion! Another way is to share this blog post with someone else and encourage others to do the same.

Looking to make steps towards a green(er) future?

We’re working on a new project aiming to inspire and help families and households to make greener choices in their lives. Please help us identify what would help you by filling in our (very) short survey here.

Together we can make Birmingham a greener and healthier place to live. Donations from people like you are essential to ensure we can continue our important work across the city. Find out how you can help us tackle the big environmental issues in Birmingham here.



(Header image: Photo by Tim Ellis used under a Creative Commons license.)