Global recycling day urges us to think twice about what we’re throwing away. We look at the harm caused by plastic and the small things we can do to reduce, reuse, recycle, and cut out single-use plastic for good.  

The worst offender?

The plastic straw is being held to account, repeatedly shamed and blamed, with more and more bars, restaurants and take aways switching to the paper alternative. The straw is far from innocent, but it isn’t the only landfill culprit. There are many other single-use offenders, and we can’t help but feel that the plastic straw is singled-out and scapegoated. It’s time to spread the blame and get acquainted with some equally un-fantastic plastics…


Plastic Bottles

Billions are produced, transported and sold each day across the globe, but only 1 in 5 are recycled – meaning the rest end up in landfill, in the sea, and on beaches. And if that’s not enough to tempt you to switch to a reusable bottle, plastic bottle tops are one of the five biggest pollutants of the ocean and pose a serious choking hazard to marine life.

What can we do?

Join the trend and switch to a reusable water bottle, non-plastic ideally. If you find yourself in a situation where bottled water is the only option, make sure you reuse or recycle the bottle after use.


Cigarette Butts

We bet you’re not surprised to learn that cigarette butts equate to between 25 and 50 percent of roadside litter? What might surprise you is that most cigarette filters include cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that finds its way into waterways. Eww.

What can we do?

If you do smoke, be considerate of the planet and people, and put your butts in the bin.


Contact Lenses

Clear little plastic circles that some of us use on a daily basis. In our eyes they generally do no wrong, but flushing them down the toilet or sink can cause more problems than you think. They can end up in the water system, broken down into microplastics, or are mistaken for food by fish – ending up in the food chain, and ultimately consumed by us. Tasty!

What can we do?

Switch to multi-use lenses to reduce waste, and make sure you dispose of them in the bin instead of down the drain.



Balloons are renowned for adding a bit of bounce to an occasion, but they’re slippery characters and hard to keep hold of. When they escape, they disappear into the sky, travelling miles and causing trouble for the environment. This party favourite soon descends as debris, decorating hillsides and littering the landscape.

What can we do?

Don’t let balloons blow away, switch to biodegradable balloons, or mix up your decorations with recyclable paper chains and bunting that are kinder to the environment.


Polystyrene Packaging

Although polystyrene is recyclable, this isn’t readily available. There aren’t many places that offer this, and it can’t be recycled with other plastics. As polystyrene was first produced over 70 years ago, tonnes and tonnes of coffee cups, takeaway trays, and packing foam have been floating in the ocean and washing up on beaches worldwide.

What can we do?

Find out if your council will recycle Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), switch to a takeaway that uses recyclable packaging, choose alternative packing materials, and invest in a reusable flask for hot drinks.


Find out more about Global Recycling Day.