More than 40 companies, including Asda and Procter & Gamble, have pledged to reduce plastic packaging by 2025 with the UK Plastic Pact.
The BBC’s documentary series ‘The Blue Planet’ brought our impact on the environment into focus, sparking a UK-wide push to rethink plastic waste. It’s never been easier or more lucrative to make positive changes. Which? sets out some of the ways you can save money – and the environment – at the same time.
Rewards for choosing ethical businesses
The Ice loyalty scheme rewards shoppers for picking retailers who are making a concerted effort to reduce their environmental footprint. Ice checks the green credentials of retailers before allowing them to join as a partner. Under the scheme, you can earn points from this curated list of retailers, with including Browns, All Bar One, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. Typically, you can earn one point per £1 spent, though some retailers offer as much as seven points for every £1 you spend. Each Ice point is generally worth 1p, although some points may be worth 2p when you redeem them with selected retailers. You can link your Mastercard to automatically earn points when you spend in store. This will work on top of any other loyalty scheme you are collecting points for, such as Avios or Clubcard. You don’t need a minimum number of points to unlock your rewards; Ice will let you spend as soon as your points have cleared. Read more in our news story: Mastercard joins ‘ethical’ loyalty scheme – can you benefit?
Switch to a reusable cup for coffee discounts
Earlier this year, Pret A Manger doubled the discount it offers customers who bring along a reusable cup for takeaway drinks – from 25p to 50p. Rivals Costa and Starbucks offer 25p off, while Greggs offers 20p off. Many chains also allow you to purchase a cheap reusable cup directly from their stores.
You can get a reusable cup from as little as £1, so it would take just two Pret hot drinks or four Costa or Starbucks drinks for you to start reaping the rewards.
Swap old clothes for voucher codes
Brits throw away 300,000 tonnes of clothing every year, which is sent to land fill where it can take years to degrade. A great way to earn money from your old clothes is by selling them on Ebay, but it can be a time-consuming process listing each item. For quicker rewards, you could try a new app called Regain. You just need to pack up your old clothing, shoes, handbags and belts (a minimum 10 items), attach a label to your package and find a drop off point near you – Regain claims there are 20,000 to choose from. Once you drop off your box, you will get to choose a discount code from a range of retailers, including Superdry, Missguided, Boohoo and Expedia. The code only lasts seven days though, so you will need to act fast to benefit.
Cash in on old Lego Lego
can be recycled with the rest of your household plastic. But there are more and more ways to make money from the brightly coloured blocks and mini figures. Sites such as Zapper, MusicMagpie and We Buy Games will allow you to trade in kilos of blocks in exchange for cash. With Zapper you can get £50 for 10kg of Lego. That said, if you have unopened or complete Lego sets or figures, you may be able to earn more on Ebay or a specialist Lego marketplace such as Brick Owl.
Recycle direct with retailers
When you walk into a shop, you’re probably looking to buy something new, not get rid of an old t-shirt or used packaging. But lots of retailers have started to reward shoppers for bringing in their junk. Lush offers customers a free face mask if they bring back five of their black plastic pots. H&M will give you a £5 voucher – which you can use on purchases over £25 in store and online – for unwanted clothing or textiles you hand in at its stores through its garment collecting initiative. Marks & Spencer runs a similar scheme called ‘Shwopping’. You can fill up a bag with any old clothes and textiles, drop it off at an M&S store, and pick up 50 points on your Sparks loyalty card. Alternatively, you can take your donation, which must include clothing from M&S, to Oxfam and get a £5 M&S voucher, which you can use when you spend at least £35 on clothing, home and beauty products.
Rent out the stuff you own
To reduce the amount of things people buy and never use again, you could consider renting stuff you own for cash using sites such as RentNotBuy or Fatllama. Cake mixing stands, evening dresses and household tools are commonly rented items on these sites. The terms are up to you, as you can set the price and length of time you are willing to lend your items for.