The road to living sustainably is paved with good intentions. In a bid to distance ourselves from mountains of plastic waste, many people have invested in cotton bags, reusable coffee cups and become diligent recyclers.

However, our efforts are in vain – too many of us stash these planet-saving purchases in the back of a cupboard and forget about them (and then probably buy other ones).

A cotton tote bag would have to be used 131 times to make its “global warming potential” smaller than a plastic bag, according to an assessment by the UK Environment Agency. A reusable cup would need to be used between 20 to 100 times, according to another analysis by the International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services.

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