These five sustainable swaps can help you make the planet that little bit greener

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4-min read

Watch: Sophie Porley shares some top tips to help you live a more sustainable life

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Actress Sophie Porley, who is best known for her role as Ellie Nightingale in Hollyoaks, is on a personal mission to become more sustainable and is keen to share her tips with the world in an attempt to save the planet.

If you think you need to up your green game, here are her five easy recommendations.

Use a reusable coffee cup

According to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK - enough to stretch around the world roughly five and a half times - but just 0.25% are recycled. The report also found that around 500,000 cups are littered every day, another blight on the environment.

Read more: Flushable sanitary pads are here to help periods become more sustainable

The problem, Porley says, is the mixture of paper and plastic makes it difficult for them to be recycled – in fact they can only be recycled in specialist facilities. However, her solution to this problem is super simple – a reusable coffee cup.

“I personally have a bunch of different sizes and different materials for different occasions,” says Porley.

“A favourite of mine is the collapsible because it can fit in your back pocket or in your handbag and I find it really convenient!”

Buy it: Stojo Sage Green Collapsible Cup | £12 from Oliver Bonas

Stojo Sage Green Collapsible Cup
Stojo Sage Green Collapsible Cup

Get your own water bottle

While we are more aware than ever of the danger of single-use plastics, The Independent reported last year that there are more plastic bottles being sold in the UK, with the average adult going through around 150 plastic water bottles a year. What’s more, estimates say that by 2050, there will be 12 billion tons of plastic polluting the natural environment.

This is where a classy reusable bottle comes in – and Porley has a handy tip in case you still need some convincing.

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“Not only is it cheaper for us, because we're not buying water out on the go, but this [the bottle] keeps it cool,” notes Porley.

“Also, handy trick - it's kind of nice to keep wine in there too!”

Buy it: Chilly's Emma Bridgewater Polka Dot Insulated Leak-Proof Drinks Bottle | £25 from John Lewis & Partners

Chilly's Emma Bridgewater Polka Dot Insulated Leak-Proof Drinks Bottle
Chilly's Emma Bridgewater Polka Dot Insulated Leak-Proof Drinks Bottle

Ditch the plastic cutlery

How often have you picked up a plastic fork or spoon to use with your food on the run?

Well, Porley says you should think twice as single-use plastic cutlery can take anywhere between 200 years and a thousand years to break down naturally!

She says: “So your single-use that you just use at your lunchtime and throw away might be around the next thousand years. What?”

Her solution is a plastic-free cutlery set, that comes in its own bag, meaning you can pop it in your handbag easily for when you might be eating on the go. Not all sustainable swaps need to cost money though.

Buy it: Mepal Stainless Steel Portable Cutlery Set and Case | £11 from John Lewis & Partners

Mepal Stainless Steel Portable Cutlery Set and Case
Mepal Stainless Steel Portable Cutlery Set and Case

“You don't have to go out and spend a fortune on all these things,” says the Hollyoaks star.

“There is nothing wrong with your knife and fork from your drawer and bring it out with you and take it home and wash it. Simple - saves you money and saves the environment!”

Eat in restaurants

It’s not only Rishi Sunak who wants us to eat out! Porley says if you do have to eat out, choose those places that use real plates and cutlery to cut down on waste, however, a good old packed lunch is always the greenest option.

“Bring your own lunch in your own Tupperware,” she suggest. “It's cheaper and so much more environmentally friendly.”

Buy it: Taru - Eco Friendly 3 Compartment Leakproof Bamboo Fiber Lunch Box Leakproof Bento Box | £8.49 from Amazon

Taru Eco Friendly Lunch Box. (Taru/Amazon)
Taru Eco Friendly Lunch Box. (Taru/Amazon)

Say no to the straw

This month, a ban on single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds came into force in England. According to the BBC, people in England use around 4.7 billion plastic straws each year!

Porley says that while the ban is now here, she has still been delivered a drink with a straw so she urges everyone to “be vigilant” about refusing a straw in your drink.

Read more: Ribena trials paper straws on cartons in bid to reduce plastic waste

If you really cannot do without one, her recommendation is to bring your own!

“I have a ton of metal straws that I keep at home,” she says. “And if you really want them, you can get collapsible ones that you put in your bag too.”

Buy it: 6 Joie Rainbow-Coloured Stainless Steel Drinking Straws | £6.99 from Lakeland

6 Joie Rainbow-Coloured Stainless Steel Drinking Straws
6 Joie Rainbow-Coloured Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

Watch: How to make more environmentally friendly choices when it comes to your wardrobe