10 ways teens can reduce their single-use plastics

Alyssa Carrington writer for Zero Waste Week campaign

Recently, I’ve had several teens writing to me, asking what they can do to reduce their single-use plastic.

When I heard that 17 year old Alyssa had invited her friends to leave their empty cans and bottles outside her tent at a party over the summer – so she could recycle them in the morning – I figured she was the perfect person to help teens reduce their waste. Here’s Alyssa:

You can make very simple swaps in your day-to-day life to throw away less plastic!

Do you love getting a takeaway from Coffee #1? If you buy your own takeaway cup to use, rather than the disposable ones they provide, not only will you save 25p on each purchase, but you will also be helping to save the environment.

You can get a reusable coffee cup from almost anywhere, but a great brand to buy from is “ecoffee cup”, because their cups are made out of sustainably sourced bamboo fibre!

You can easily cut down on your single use plastic waste by investing in a reusable water bottle as well!

Again, these can be brought from almost anywhere, but it’s always a good idea to make sure that all the products you are buying have been made ethically and locally where possible. If you’re shopping online and the currency that’s immediately shown is not GBP, the product is mostly likely shipped from overseas, which means it will have a huge carbon footprint, damaging the environment just as much as, or maybe even more than plastic does!

To list a few more ways you can reduce your single-use plastic waste, you can:

  • Make your own face and body exfoliator. Exfoliators tend to have microplastics in them, which, once in our oceans, can cause catastrophic affects to our marine life!
  • Invest in a reusable shopping bag- you can get really pretty ones, made out of cotton or waterproof fabrics. You could even sew your own.
  • Refuse a plastic straw in your drink, and buy a stainless steel or bamboo straw instead. Or simply sip your beverage.
  • Buy a stainless steel shaving razor rather than a plastic handled one, or a razor where you only need to replace the blade.
  • Only buy non-packaged fruit and veg: bananas only wrapped in their own skin, cucumbers that aren’t suffocated in plastic, loose mushrooms which you then weigh and get a little sticker with a barcode on, you know?
  • Use reusable containers to hold your sandwiches for on- the- go lunches, rather than cling film or foil.


This bit is all about your period. Whether you prefer using tampons or sanitary pads, there is a much more eco- friendly ( and economical, and healthier!) option for you! On average, buying disposable sanitary products costs around £13 a month… That’s £156 a year, just on your period!

Disposable pads are mainly composed of synthetic fibres, plastics and wood pulp, which are then bleached with chlorine dioxide. This can remain in our bodies for years. Reusable pads are much healthier for you, because they’re made out of bamboo cotton and/ or cotton, and other breathable materials. Reusable menstrual pads are completely hygienic. Don’t worry, they’re easy to wash! “PussyPads” are a great brand; you can find them on Etsy and Instagram, and they sell affordable and beautifully designed cotton menstrual pads! Not only that, but with the left over material that they have, they make reusable make up remover pads! They’re a really sweet little brand who should have more than just an Etsy shop!

Menstrual cups are around £20. This is a one off buy, and the cups last for 10 years. Also, there’s a much lower risk of getting toxic shock syndrome and bacterial infections when wearing a menstrual cup compared to when wearing tampons.

And we can’t forget about the clothes we wear!

I can guarantee that you own at least… mmm, 10 items of clothing with plastic in?

Polyester has been in the clothing industry for decades, and every time an item of clothing with it in is washed, some of the synthetic fibres are washed out of the garment, into our water systems and into our oceans. Each fibre having a diameter of less than ten micrometres, they’re easily eaten by sea creatures and end up in the ocean’s food chain. To prevent this from happening, a vital way you can reduce the amount of plastic you use is by only buying clothes made of sustainable and natural fibres that can’t pollute the environment. Buying ethically sourced clothing that doesn’t support fast fashion is great too!


Hey! I’m Alyssa! Wow, where do I start? This opportunity to write a blog on cutting down on your single- use plastic waste is kinda like a dream come true for me, because I love spreading awareness about ways we can all live a more sustainable lifestyle!

I am currently at sixth form, going into year 13, and I take biology, maths and physics as my subjects. I’ve always been passionate about science and the world around us; from a young age I’ve loved animals and have always known that we need to do all we can to keep our planet healthy for them and us to be able to stay alive! After sixth form, I’m hoping to get an apprenticeship in Environmental Conservation, so I can do direct actions to conserve our ecosystems and wildlife’s habitats.

I’ll then get a job in environmental conservation, eventually retire at 70, and open a little zero waste, vegan, cat café where all donations will go to charity. Life sorted!😊

Posted in

Rachelle Strauss


  1. Jenny Gossy on September 4, 2018 at 7:48 am

    You’re such an inspiration. If every teen did just one fraction of what you do the world would be in safe hands. I’ve been meaning to make my own scrubs for a long time but not got around to it. I’m definitely going to have a go now – thank you! And good luck with your studies, I’ll be first to visit your cafe and we can talk about all the great things you did with your life! 🙂

    • Alyssa Carrington on October 22, 2018 at 7:45 am

      Wow thank you so much!! I’ll let you know when I open the café haha😋 I’m hoping now that I’ll do wildlife documentaries, be like the next David Attenborough or Liz Bonnin!!

  2. Anna Pitt on September 4, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Alyssa. This is a great list of simple switches. I hope your friends take note and follow your lead. When I wrote my first book about waste reduction, I was amazed to find out that a family with two children who take a reusable water bottle to school every day instead of buying a drink at the canteen would save around £180 a year.
    Your blog post fills me with hope that your generation will be the one to start cleaning up its act and using resources wisely (i.e. sustainably).
    Congratulations on your inspiring blog post and good luck with Year 13.

  3. Jessie on September 5, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    I love these ideas! I’m in year 10 and want to get my school doing more becaus there is sooooo much waste especially at lunch time. So much food gets thrown away which makes me sad even things friends bring in themselves. I try to reduce waste as much as I can and am going to get a stainless steel straw to carry with me. I already use a refillable bottle for drinks and try to remember my own bag as much as i can

    • Alyssa Carrington on October 22, 2018 at 7:48 am

      YES YES YES! I’m so glad you care about living sustainably, you’re the next generation, you’ll live for longer than me so yes we need people like you!! I go to JKHS, and here there is a LOT of waste!!! But I am campaigning for there to be recycling bins so we shall see how it goes! I’m in year 13 so I won’t be at JKHS for much longer so I’m going to need to recruit some people in the younger years to take over my campaigns when I leave… if you also go to JKHS you can be one of those people!!

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