It’s time we give mindless consumption the boot. Let’s start making considered eco-friendly, plastic free swaps and zero waste choices.
Why Should We All Aim To Ditch Plastic?
Planet Earth is strained to the limits; trying to withstand the effects of the irresponsible behaviours of humanity.
If you’ve not started to make plastic free swaps, you simply can’t bury your head in the sand anymore.
Some Frightening Facts…
Did you know that your plastic coffee cup lid (amongst other plastic items) will take up to 500 years to decompose?
There is also believed to be 46k pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean…
And heartbreakingly, every single washed up animal on a British shore tested by Scientists had plastic in its stomach.
You’re Never Too Late To Start Making Plastic Free Swaps
A YouGov study found that 46% of people in the UK feel guilty about the amount of plastic they are using and they are motivated to make serious changes such as paying more for alternatives to single-use plastics.Source
Despite the busy 21st century lifestyle, you can still do something to help preserve the environment.
A 2019 GlobalWebIndex study revealed that 53% of UK consumers have reduced the amount of single-use plastic they use.Klean Kanteen
The first step is to reduce household waste, and there are hundreds (probably thousands, actually) of ways to do that.
Here are 20 suggestions for simple plastic free swaps you can make at home (and whilst running daily errands) to reduce waste:
1. Swap Clingfilm, Foil And Plastic Sandwich Bags With Reusable Food Wraps
Instead of using rolls and rolls of cling film, foil, and hundreds of plastic freezer and sandwich bags, consider beeswax wraps as an alternative.
These wraps are made from 100% cotton, then coated with plant-based wax, bee wax, oil, and resin.
They are long-lasting, and pliable so you can easily mould them round foods.
Beeswax wraps are also easily washable, and above all, they are reusable, recyclable and biodegradable.
2. Opt For This Plastic Free Swap And Start Using Reusable Bottles
Instead of buying bottled water, opt for a stainless steel water bottle.
First, the markup of bottled water over tap water is absurd (over 280,000%).
Having a refillable water bottle will save you lots of cash and also reduce the number of plastic bottles in your waste.
Rather than grabbing the first bottle you find on the shop shelf, consider the material it’s made from.
A cheap plastic bottle, though washable, is still plastic.
Plastic bottles have a tendency to split, dent and crack, which means they’re destined for the trash.
Doing a complete plastic free swap and opting for materials such as bamboo, stainless steel and glass is a better move.
3. Carry Your Own Plastic Free Coffee Cup
Paper coffee cups cannot be recycled because of the wax coating, which makes them expensive to recycle.
Black lids are plastic, which not recyclable.
Therefore, cut down the waste by carrying a reusable cup.
You can usually get a discount in some shops for doing so.
My favourite hot drink flasks are Klean Kanteen.
I have a 20oz one with a cafe lid that I take on trips and days out, and it keeps drinks hot all day.
It’s the equivalent size of 2 or 3 take away coffees, which is a saving of around £7.50 and 3 disposable cups.
I also have a small flat white sized insulated cup that I use at home, and in coffee shops.
4. Pack Bamboo And Stainless Steel Straws
Order drinks and refuse the plastic straw.
Instead, carry reusable bamboo straws.
There are also glass and stainless steel straws available, and they usually come with a handy pouch and cleaning tool.
This small sacrifice is just one way to help the environment.
Whilst on the subject of bamboo. Plastic cotton buds are so bad for the environment, not to mention for your ears, so consider swapping to bamboo cotton buds or visit an ear clinic like Auris Ear Care.
5. Get A Stash Of Reusable Shopping Bags
Did you know that most people use plastic bags for less than 30 minutes, yet this material takes hundreds and even thousands of years to decompose?
It is why you need always to ask for a paper bag at the grocer or better still, carry your own reusable bag.
Keep a stock in your car, your day bag and your home so that you’re never without plastic free carrier bag options.
6. Swap Tea Bags With Plastic Free Tea Strainers
Tea bags are full of toxins and dioxins, not to mention the chemical used in bleaching the bags.
The bag is also non-biodegradable.
Generally, you and the environment are safer with a tea strainer than the bag.
And leaf tea tastes nicer!
7. Swap To Plastic Free Bar Soaps
Liquid pump soaps are often in plastics containers.
As are shampoos, conditioners, shower creams… need I go on?
Whether refillable or not, plastic should now be a deal-breaker.
Opting for bar soaps is an excellent option.
In addition to being plastic-free, these soaps will most likely have fewer chemical additives.
Look for 100% vegan, natural and sustainable ingredients.
8. Reduce Your Makeup Bag
Makeup can be filled with dangerous chemicals, sometimes, mercury and lead.
Find one that boasts safe and natural ingredients, has either refillable or glass packaging, and opt for multi-tasking products that can replace multiple tubes, sticks and bottles.
Stifle the urge to keep buying new make up before you’ve run out of your last product, thus keeping your make up bag streamlined.
9. Always Reach For The Cloth Towel As An Easy Plastic Free Swap
Paper towels and wipes account for more than 25% of the waste from household and public buildings.
Instead, use a cloth napkin or a handkerchief.
They do not require much effort to clean, and can be bought for roughly the same price as a roll of paper towels.
10. Clean Using Old Clothes
Old clothes, especially socks, make a better and safer cleaning material than paper towels and J-cloths.
It is because most micro-fibre cloths contain polymide and polyester, which do not decompose.
So, rather than throwing threadbare socks and holey vests in the bin, wash them and keep them in your cleaning cupboard.
11. Use Vinegar Over Chemical Cleaners
Keeping your home clean is important, but you can do so without the use of chemicals.
Opt for baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils.
Essential oils top this list because of their antibacterial properties and scent.
12. Swap Fabric Softener With Plastic Free Dryer Balls
Dryer balls hasten the drying process and soften the fabric.
While the first function is arguable, they are safer cloth softeners than chemical-laden fabric softeners.
13. Use Menstrual Cups And Washable Pads & Pants
A tampon is generally a chemical soup laced with polyester and adhesives then bleached.
An average woman uses 240 of these in a year.
Period pants and menstrual cups are reusable hence saves both money and the environment.
One of my most triumphant plastic free swaps has been since I’ve started using period pants.
I have so far had 6 waste free periods out of 6.
This has saved around 100 or so sanitary towels going straight in the waste.
14. Cloth Baby Wipes
The desire to give your baby the best in life is understandable, but chemical laced wet wipes do not achieve this.
Baby wipes are being disposed of down toilets and are ending up in unthinkable places.
Help stop the fat-burg and instead, opt for clean and soft cotton cloth baby wipes to clean your little one.
Yes, this creates more washing, but you conscience will be clear.
You’ll be doing your baby and the environment a favour by opting for this plastic free swap.
And that’s not just for bottoms.
You can have a stock of washable wipes in your kitchen for messy meal times, in your bathrooms for potty training, as well as in your changing table and nappy bag.
I bought a bulk lot of face flannels which are great for soiled nappy moments, and I just run them under a tap and use coconut oil and lavender essential oil.
I’ve saved so much money on buying wipes so far, and saved hundreds of plastic baby wipes from going into landfill!
15. Consider Using The Milkman Again
Bottled milk, like bottled water, is overrated and comes loaded with several preservatives that your body does not need.
If you can find the milkman (I use Milk & More), book your regular milk delivery in glass bottles.
Yes, it costs more, but the milk tastes better, is from a local supplier, and is saving one plastic bottle at a time.
Wash your bottles and give them back to your milkman so they can recycle them – easy.
16. Go For Vintage And Second Hand Clothing
You do not need to buy new clothes.
Trawl local markets, ebay, selling sites, swap with friends.
The savings you make on clothes can be huge, and you’re doing the world of good to the environment.
Make sure you send your old clothes to be recycled, to be sold in charity shops or selling sites, or hand them down.
Admittedly, this is one I haven’t quiet grasped yet.
Composting is the practise of making it a habit to return all biodegradable stuff to the earth.
That includes food remains, compostable packaging and garden waste.
There are many storage options for the waste to suit your composting routine.
18. Get Your Head Round What Is Recyclable
Not every plastic is recyclable, especially black plastics.
And you probably already know that your local council doesn’t take all recyclable plastics – you have to do your own extra recycling.
Take your time to understand what items your recycler accepts before buying them or tossing it to the recycle bin.
19. Go LED
A swap to eco-friendliness is incomplete without replacing all light bulbs in the home with LEDs.
They use less energy and last longer than standard bulbs.
20. There’s Never Been A More Poignent Time To Remember the 3Rs
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Just choosing one of two of these plastic free swaps will start your journey towards a zero waste lifestyle.
If zero waste seems too extreme for you, that’s ok!
And let’s face it, it’s rather impossible, seeing as our major supermarkets are still producing so many plastic wrapped foods.
The easiest step to make in my opinion is to stop buying so much plastic.
For you that could mean going to a farmers market instead of a supermarket for your fruit.
It could mean to reject the toy in your child’s weekly happy meal treat.
It could mean that you ask family to buy your children plastic free toys on their birthdays and Christmas.
You can start supporting local businesses, and shopping locally for things you need.
This shop is my new fave, and close to where I live.
You could stop using face wipes, and use a bamboo cloth and cleanser.
Any step towards leading a more eco-friendly life is a great step, and you’re doing the planet a massive favour.