10 easy ways to reduce the single-use plastic in your home
Plastic is a very hot topic at the moment, and rightly so. The Everyday Plastic report, published in 2018, showed that the UK is likely to be throwing away around 295 billion pieces of plastic every year, the majority of which is single-use and non-recyclable. Much of it ends up in landfill, where it could take up to 500 years to decompose, or in the oceans, where it harms wildlife and damages ecological systems.
Thankfully, the media are starting to reach more and more people to talk about just how big an issue this is, with more programmes like the BBC’s War on Plastic. I’m so glad that people are starting to think seriously about reducing their single-use plastic waste, but the big question is, where do we start?! There is so much plastic in our homes now that it can feel overwhelming to think about reducing it. So today I’d love to share a few ‘easy wins’ that you can start putting place today!
Oh, and before I start, if you’ve been around here any length of time, you know I’m a massive advocate for cloth nappies and wipes (did you know that wipes are usually made of over 80% plastic?!) Because I’ve talked about these a lot in the past, I won’t go into detail on them here, but if you’d like to know more, you can check out this or this post, or contact me for some free cloth nappy advice here.
1. Make your own cleaning products
Instead of regularly buying cleaning products in plastic bottles, a much more environmentally-friendly option is to make your own. Pinterest is full of recipes for every manner of cleaning product. Just be aware of the amount of single-use plastic your ingredients are being supplied in!
2. Use reusable sponges
We used to be big users of those scrubby sponges you can get very cheaply in the supermarket, until I realised they were another item of plastic that could easily go. Reusable scrubbing pads are available all over the internet (here’s just one example). Why not choose a pretty one to make washing up (even more) fun?
3. Ditch the cling film
Ah, cling film, how useful you are, yet how bad for the environment! There’s an easy and fun fix here too, and it’s to switch to reusable beeswax wraps. You can buy them, but they’re actually quite easy to make. And when they start to get worn out, you can simply refresh them with more beeswax! So they’ll last a very long time indeed.
4. Stop buying bottled water
Did you know that there is no evidence that bottled water is any better for our health than tap water? And did you realise that bottled water is 300 to 2000 times more expensive than tap water? To put that into perspective, that’s like choosing to spend up to £10,000 on a single glass of wine in a restaurant! Bottled water is super convenient, but every time you buy a bottle, you’ll probably only use it once. Instead, buy yourself a pretty (glass!) bottle, and refill it from the tap. Increasingly, shops and cafes are also publicising free tap water refills too, so you never need to worry about running out.
5. Buy loose produce
Buying loose produce in the supermarket can be much more expensive than buying the same stuff wrapped in single-use plastic. Until the supermarkets get their act together, search out your local market for affordable loose veg, or, if you’re pushed for time, sign up for a weekly fruit and veg delivery box. We love Oddbox , because they’re all about rescuing produce that would otherwise go to waste when supermarkets won’t buy it. That means reducing your plastic footprint and reducing food waste in one go!
6. Buy loose store cupboard ingredients
Unlike produce, many supermarkets don’t even sell loose equivalents of dry ingredients like rice, pasta and nuts. Thankfully, more stores are opening up offering bulk ingredients. Run a quick google search to find your local one, or even try branching out to world food shops - buying in bulk tends to be more common in some parts of the world than others, so you may find that there’s already an option right around your corner. Just remember to take along some containers to transport your purchases home!
7. Get your milk delivered
If there’s one thing we all buy in our weekly shop, it’s milk. But it too arrives in a single-use plastic bottle. Happily, a few small firms are bringing back milk delivery services, so in addition to offering a healthy dose of nostalgia, you can now buy your milk plastic-free! Milk & More is one of the more established companies offering this, but check out local services too.
Replace your toothbrush with a bamboo one - they’re pretty!
8. Switch to solid shampoo bars
Shampoo bars are like a bar of soap, only you use them for your hair! By making this switch, you’ll save a dozen plastic bottles being added to landfill each year, plus many shampoo bars are super lovely to use! Lush is probably the most familiar brand that makes packaging-free shampoo, but there are also some lovely indie brands, such as these from Plastics Free. Or, if you’re feeling bold, you could try making your own!
9. Switch to recyclable or bamboo toothbrushes
Have you ever thought about the fact that every 3 months you just throw away your toothbrush, thus adding another piece of single-use plastic to the mounting pile? An easy switch is to replace your plastic version with bamboo or a completely recyclable version (if you have an electric toothbrush).
10. Ditch the disposable razors
Disposable razors are an even worse culprit than toothbrushes, given that you likely switch out them out around once a week. A reusable razor that takes inexpensive double edge razor blades is an excellent way to completely eliminate this source of plastic waste.
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