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Spring swaps and savvy savings

Spring swaps and savvy savings

As spring approaches it’s a great time to get into a new routine and ditch single-use plastics in favour of more sustainable alternatives, and it needn’t be expensive to do so either. Here are some simple swaps which should save you money in the long run and tick many boxes when it comes to getting shot of single-use plastics and being more eco-friendly.

Cleaning wipes

Just like face wipes, cleaning wipes are made of plastic. The best alternative is a good old cloth and spray. There are some fab, family-friendly DIY cleaning spray recipes too – so you can reuse your spray bottles. And there are oodles of eco-friendly cleaning products coming onto the market every month.

Cling film

Love it or hate it, either way, it can’t be recycled and there are alternatives which aren’t as much as a faff as cling film, beeswax wraps are a great alternative. They’re washable, reusable and once they’re completely worn out they can be composted at home.

Contact lenses

Millions of people in the UK choose to wear contact lenses for their vision correction and many people don’t realise that these are single-use plastic. Research from Optical Express found that contact lens wearers were damaging the environment as a result of disposing of these single use plastics incorrectly, either in the bin or flushing lenses down the sink or loo. ​Other sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic contact lenses include laser eye surgery. If you do choose to wear contact lenses, please dispose of them responsibly by recycling at more than 120 Optical Express clinics throughout the UK and Ireland. And discuss sustainable choices for your vision correction with our teams.

Coffee cups

There are lots of schemes across the UK and Ireland encouraging people to avoid single-use coffee cups and opt for a re-usable one instead, with cities like Bristol, Manchester and London leading the way. Most coffee shop chains and independent brands will offer a discount and a good reusable coffee cup will keep your coffee hot for longer and help to reduce the billions of single-use cups thrown away each year in the UK.

Cotton buds

These are classed as unflushables, (things that should not be flushed down the loo including contact lenses and wet wipes). Millions of these cotton-tipped plastic sticks are flushed down the loo every year, causing issues including blocking sewerage systems and they can also end up in waterways and oceans. New laws have already come into force in Scotland banning the sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton buds. Get switching to more sustainable options like paper or bamboo. Cotton buds are consistently listed in the top 10 forms of beach litter by the Marine Conservation Society.

Go Loose

All of the supermarkets in the UK are trying to tackle reducing single-use plastic on products and Iceland seem to be leading the way. They’re set to trial plastic-free and low-plastic packaging across 38 of their fruit and vegetable lines, in a step towards its ambition for all own-brand lines to be free from single-use plastics by 2023. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, always try to go for loose items. Many of the supermarkets now have re-usable bags you can pick up in store as more and more products are being made available without packaging at all. Centra in Ireland  has committed to make 100% of its own brand and fresh fruit and vegetable packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Milk bottles

Ditch those plastic bottles and get fresh milk delivered in glass bottles. It seems there’s been a resurgence in the service as conscientious consumers have begun to switch back, in a bid to cut down on plastic waste — a trend believed to be driven by TV shows such as Planet Earth.


Sticky Sellotape on paper and card stops it from being recycled so a low cost swap is string or ribbon.

Shopping bags

Whether you have a stash of ‘bags for life’ in the cupboard under the sink or prefer a canvas version, reusing all carrier bags is better than a single-use one. Make use of the recycling points in supermarkets if you’re collection is out of control.


With a ban on plastic straws set to come into force from April this year, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about swapping. A metal reusable straw is just one of the alternatives which also include silicone, glass and even bamboo and a bonus is that these ones won’t go soggy like the paper versions.


Most sponges are made of plastic but there is a wealth of alternative options like hessian and crocheted cotton that can be washed and reused time and time again. And if looked after properly, they could even work out cheaper in the long term. And if you fancy growing your own sponges and loofahs the  National Trust charity has tips on how you can grow your own at home.


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