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The Importance of Reusing: How to Reuse Plastic Packaging

Last week, we shared some nifty tips from our members and volunteers on tackling Plastic Free July. We had tips about shopping second-hand, making things from scratch and, of course, refilling at Filling Good.

But, can you guess which common trick cropped up the most? Reusing!

Within our community, we bang on about how the most sustainable thing we can do is use what we already have. If we look at the 5 Rs of the zero-waste movement - refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot - it’s clear reusing should be our first port of call before throwing anything away.

Let’s take pretty jars as an example.

As sustainability gains traction, the zero-waste aesthetic grows in popularity. Cupboards lined with matching jars and labels dominate our social media feeds. We’re sold an image of what sustainability should look like. Then pushed to buy glass jars and label makers from market giants like Amazon.

Smells like greenwashing to us.

True eco-warriors know you don’t need to buy anything new to be sustainable. Using what you have may not be the prettiest, but it’s better for the planet. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway, right?

Ready to get reusing? Check out our ideas for how you can reuse plastic packaging again and again and again.

Plastic shopping bags

Did you know a plastic shopping bag gets used for just 12 minutes? But takes up to 1,000 years to break down?

Charging for plastic carrier bags was introduced in 2015 for UK supermarkets, before extending to all shops in 2021. The scheme has done a great job of reducing plastic waste, but many bags are still in circulation. We can all admit to having old plastic bags stuffed into every crevice of our kitchens.

The easy way to reuse them is, of course, as shopping bags. But when the handles snap (which they will, it happens), it’s time to get creative.

Try cutting old plastic bags into strips to create a long roll of plastic yarn. Use it to weave baskets, crochet a beach bag or make a rug. You can also make a durable fabric by fusing plastic bags together. Then, it's time to get creative.

Yoghurt pots

Yoghurt is notoriously hard to find plastic-free. The pots are recyclable, but by now, you’ll know we can do better than that.

Most yoghurt packaging comes with a foil or film top. So, while they aren't resealable, they are reusable as pots. Think paint pots, pen pots, plant pots, cutlery pots - any kind of pot!

They’re also a staple for kids’ arts and crafts. Flip them over, and you have a castle turret, volcano or spaceship. There's no limit to your imagination.

Drinks bottles

The UK uses an average of 35.8 million plastic bottles every day. But, just over half get recycled. Luckily, the rest don’t have to go into the bin.

Plastic bottles are super useful, especially in the garden. Pierce some holes into the lid to make a handy seedling watering can. Larger bottles can turn into drip irrigation systems, keeping your plants hydrated and cutting down water waste.

Plastic bottles also make great bird feeders. A lovely afternoon activity for children without needing to buy anything new. Then sit back and enjoy seeing the wildlife you've encouraged into your garden.

Bread bags

Like plastic shopping bags, bread bags can make plastic yarn or plastic textiles. But, their size and shape make them handy for other things, too.

Planning a long trip or picnic? Bread bags make a great alternative to single-use sandwich or snack bags. Simply pop your lunch into the bottom and secure the bag with a knot. Your sandwich will stay nice and fresh!

Bread bags also happen to be the perfect size for picking up your refill spaghetti from Filling Good. No need to deal with awkward containers.

If in doubt. Use them as dog poo bags!

Plastic containers

Finally, what to do with all your other tubs and containers? Well, anything!

Plastic takeaway boxes make superb stackable organisers for all your bits and bobs. Plastic tubs for dips are ideal for mixing paints, glues and other DIY products. It saves ruining any of your good plates or bowls. You can also put the lid on when taking a break to stop the product from drying out.

Plastic is a durable and lightweight material. So, it's ideal to use at Filling Good to refill dry food, cleaning products and more. We love seeing our customers get creative by reusing uniquely shaped containers.

As you can see, the sky is the limit. With a bit of creativity, time and effort, it is possible to prolong the life of single-use plastic. Making it not so single-use after all.

Got any other interesting ways you reuse plastic packaging at home? Let us know in the comments.

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