Are you like me and hate the amount of plastic in your life?
Do you hate continually seeing the reports on the news and in the media of how they are finding plastic and microparticles in animals? Well here is how I can help, I have put together a list of ten easy ways to help you reduce the amount of plastic in your life by swapping out these everyday items.
We may not be able to live ‘Plastic Free’ but we can all make better choices so that we can reduce the amount of plastic we use in our daily lives.
The first thing you can do before reading any more is to share this post. I know cheeky! Seriously though the more people who see this, the more people who are likely to start doing something about their plastic use.
How many of us use plastic bags? I know in the UK we now have to pay 5p for every plastic bag we use in a supermarket but it is amazing how many of them we still get through.
In 2018 in the UK we used approximately 13 billion plastic bags!
What if we all took a reusable bag with us to the supermarket like the string market bags that I make and sell or just took a bag from home with us? If you are just buying one item do you really need a bag?
Have a think next time you are in the supermarket or in a shop when someone is asking you ‘do you need a bag?’ Your first answer should be NO. Think about whether it will fit in a pocket or if you have already have a bag it will fit in.
Switching to reusable bags is one of the easiest swaps you can make but I know how easy it is to forget them. Please don’t beat yourself up if you forget them once or twice. You just need to get into the habit of using them and if you haven’t got any with you try and improvise or just do without if you can.
Disposable Coffee Cups
How many of us love to get a coffee when we are out and about? I know when I’m on a long journey I love to stop at a services and get a coffee to drink on the way. I do however ALWAYS take my own coffee cup with me so that I don’t have to get a disposable cup.
What is even better is that a number of coffee shops will give you a discount on your coffee if you use a reusable cup.
What is even better is that you could buy a thermal cup and make yourself a coffee before leaving the house so that you have one to drink on the way. I have one of these cups which I use all of the time and it keeps my coffee hot for hours.
I use these Aladdin thermal cups and love them. They keep your drink hot for at least a couple of hours and hold well over a regular size cup of tea or coffee. Oh, and thecy ome in loads of cool colours. I am a big lover of Aladdin products and have a thermos that is probably 15 to 20 years old now and is still going. It keeps my coffee hot all day. I should tell you that Aladdin have not paid me to say this, this is my own opinion and I am in no way affiliated with them. I will however earn a small commission if you click on the link and buy the product from Amazon but you will not be charged anything.
Doggy Poo Bags
So many of us have dogs and let’s face it our furry friends do like to have a poo or two when we are out and about.
Most of these bags are made from plastic but you can now get ones made from corn starch which will biodegrade in a few months in a compost heap or a wormery.
There is some debate as to whether switching to plastic free poo bags is worth it as if the bags go straight to landfill then the benefits of them being plastic free can be lost.
These YORJA Poo Bags are the ones I use to pick up my dog Tink’s mess and they have done me well. There are obviously loads on the market, these just happen to be the ones that I choose to use.
One easy switch to move from all those plastic bottles in the shower is to go from shower gel to soap. Cut out the plastic bottles out and start using a good old fashioned bar of soap.
You can get some absolutely beautiful soaps these days made from 100% organic ingredients. There are hundreds of companies out there who make bars of some. Some use organic ingredients, some don’t; some you will like, some you will not. I personally use soap and bath products made by a lovely lady who I met at a craft fair. Tree Bee Apothecary makes beautiful products and I am a big fan.
If you feel you really can not do away with the shower gel then why not try to buy it in a bulk size and refill your bottle in the shower? Sometimes it is about thinking around the problem of how to reduce the plastic rather than just changing what products you use.
No one said plastic free living was going to be a walk in the park but every little choice we make will make a difference.
Where do we start with straws? To use a straw or not to use a straw, that is the question? The item we all love to hate.
I have to say I do love straws when I’m drinking a cold alcoholic drink but I have stopped using them because of the plastic issue. Some people need to use straws for medical reasons and children love a straw.
So, what do we do? We can not keep using plastic as it is not sustainable, we have heard that most of the paper ones are not recyclable. I have heard that you can get pasta ones but personally have not seen these. The only viable option I can see is to switch to reusable metal ones. They come in all sorts of sizes and colours and I’m sure there is something suitable for everyone out there.
I have found a few options on Amazon, there are of course lots of other places you can buy reusable straws from. These are just some of the options available that will move you towards your plastic free life.
We all love to have a packet of tissues in our handbags or a box of tissues on the side and what are they covered in? You got it in one guys and girls, plastic.
We can’t even get away from the plastic on a cardboard box of tissues as there is always that little plastic insert under the cardboard oval when you open the box. For goodness sake, do we really need it?
An easy plastic swap is to switch to a good old fashioned cotton hankie. If you are a dab hand with a sewing machine or know someone who is you can even make your own out of an old shirt. Just cut them into squares and hem the edges, hey presto you have reusable hankies for all those times when you need a tissue. Failing that there are plenty of shops that sell them these days.
Watch this space as I will be writing a post all about how to make your own hankies from an old shirt. If I can manage it, and I’m really not very good with a sewing machine then I’m sure you can.
Now you could debate whether this falls under a plastic swap or not but it is still important so I am including it.
Need I say it but we all use it, well not all of us as different cultures have different practices but a large number of people around the world use toilet roll. The problem is that it is always covered in so much plastic wrap and is rarely made from a sustainable source.
You can purchase toilet roll that is made from recycled paper but the majority of the brands on the market are not from sustainable sources and have masses of plastic wrap covering them and are just plain environmentally friendly.
There are other options out there. You can switch to one of the popular brands being advertised at the moment, Who Gives a Crap. They are a 100% recycled eco-friendly toilet roll that comes wrapped in paper rather than plastic. Then there is Ecoleaf who sell their toilet roll in a compostable bag and Greencane who you can order toilet roll in bulk from who send it without any packaging other than a cardboard box.
Be warned none of these are you super soft double quilted bleached white toilet roll with puppies running all over them but they do do the job perfectly well!
My next plastic swap is easy unless you are a stickler for a particular brand of toothbrush. I know we may all want the latest technological breakthrough in teeth cleaning technology but really can we not swap out our plastic toothbrush for a biodegradable and compostable bamboo one?
You can even get replacement heads for your electric toothbrush. I have just bought these compatible heads for my Oral B toothbrush. I can not yet vouch for how good they are but I am willing to try them and see if they are any good. Watch this space for an update as they should be with me any day now.
Alternatively, if you use a bog-standard toothbrush then you can swap your plastic one for bamboo. These can then go on the compost heap when you are ready for a new one and will biodegrade with all of your other garden and kitchen waste.
As a nation, we are all addicted to our bottles of water. For some reason, we seem to think that bottled water is better for us than the water that comes directly from our taps. Studies have suggested that this could not be further from the truth. In actual fact the bottled water industry is far less regulated and has less stringent safety protocols than tap water.
On average in London more than three bottles of water are bought each week. This equates to over 175 a year per person and upwards of 7.7 billion plastic bottles over the whole of the UK.
Britons are estimated to spend £1.5 Billion on bottled water a year. Imagine if you spent £10 on a water bottle, as part of your move to your plastic free life. You would then fill it up with what is potentially cleaner and purer water from your home tap. This could potentially be a massive saving on your monthly bills and a huge impact on the number of single use plastic water bottles that will be used.
Amazing, isn’t it!
Well, where do I start with these little devils? Put your hand up if you are reading this and have used wet wipes of one description or another. I know I have. I have used make-up wipes, baby wipes, toilet wipes, hand wipes and doggy wipes to name but a few. They make our lives so easy but they are so bad! If you are trying to move to a plastic free life then wet wipes have to go.
How many of us knew that make-up wipes/ face wipes were bad for our skin? I did; yet I still used the odd one when I was feeling lazy to clean my face, instead of soap, water and a washcloth, NAUGHTY TORIA. It was just plain laziness on my part.
Not only do many, not all, wet wipes contain plastic but they really are just so wasteful.
Some manufacturers have moved to using bamboo fibers in their wet wipes which I think is amazing but what if we just got out of the habit of using them altogether?
I know this is a hard concept for some mums with little ones as they make life so much easier but there are alternatives.
First off why not buy some cheap cotton washcloths and have a pile of them and some water by babies changing station. Just pop them in a bucket and wash them on a hot wash, hey presto; reusable wet wipes!
If you were feeling adventurous you could even use a plastic box and fold your cloths into it, wet them with some water and seal. Then you could take them on the go with you.
For those of you wishing to ditch the make-up wipes in their move to a plastic free life then why not try my reusable make-up pads and facecloths. They come in a range of colours and once they have been used you can put them in the washing machine on a 40 degree or cooler wash and then reuse them time and time again. Once they have reached the end of their life, just cut them up and put them on the compost heap.
How much more environmentally friendly is that?
What is your favourite swap from this list or do you have any other suggestions? This is only a beginning and is by no means exhaustive. I have only scratched the surface and will be writing more posts in the future.
If you are interested in learning more about how to live a Zero Waste Life then keep popping back to see my new articles.
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I have a number of affiliate links in this article for items which I have used and love. I will earn a small commission if you purchase any of these but you will not be charged anything for these.