My top tips to reduce your plastic load.
Swapping plastic items for sustainable, reusable, non-toxic alternatives is very easy to do these days as there are so many plastic free options available – they are even appearing in the high street! SOME plastic free items may APPEAR to cost more, but in my experience, a slightly bigger outlay to start with is recouped pretty quickly as they last for so long.
We are constantly exposed to plastic – it is literally everywhere and is horrifically affecting the environment and very likely affecting our bodies. Scary isn’t it…
My top tips:
1. Carry your own bags with you, whatever they are made of – reuse what you have. Keep some in the car and some in your bag and hopefully you won’t be caught short! When the time comes to buy more, have a look at the amazing range of reusable plastic free bags out there. I have a pack of reusable bags that I was given over 15 years ago and they’re still going strong. I also absolutely love these string bags – they are super strong and you’ll be surprised at how much they hold.
2. Look at reusable alternatives to nappies, nappy wipes, face wipes, makeup remover pads, tampons, sanitary and continence pads. Sadly all of these contain a fair amount of plastic.. There are so many brands out there to try. I personally buy from Cheeky Wipes and love all of the products I have tried! Here is a link to receive 10% off of any order from them.
3. Look at your toothpaste, toothbrush and dental floss. Squeezable toothpaste tubes are difficult to recycle (as are other squeezable tubes such as hand cream, suncream, lotions etc.), so where possible, swap these out. Pump action toothpaste tubes are made from a different type of plastic and are easier to recycle. To be completely plastic free, give toothpaste tablets a try – buy them in a tin, or loose and pop into your own tin. Just chew on a tablet, brush then spit and rinse.
If you have an electric toothbrush, there are companies that sell recycled and recyclable heads and operate a closed loop system. If you prefer a manual toothbrush, then have a look at the bamboo options available. They have the same shelf life as a plastic toothbrush, with the added bonus that at the end of their life you can snap the head off and use them as a seed label as they are so easy to write on! Have a look at the link above.
Plastic free dental floss is also available on the above link. You could also try a water flosser – freely available online.
4. Ditch plastic cotton buds. As cotton buds are single use, try the most eco-friendly version you can find. The sticks on these cotton buds are made from biodegradable bamboo. The company have also set up a foundation to deliver healthcare projects across the world where they are most needed. The foundation is funded by sales of the buds.
5. Swapping out plastic can be fun – if you haven’t given stainless steel straws a try you are missing out! Check that the straws are food grade – look for 18/8 or Grade 304, which refers to the percentages of chromium and nickel in the stainless-steel alloy. This is important as you don’t want any chemicals leaching into or reacting with your drink. Make sure you also buy a stainless steel straw cleaner – although the straws can be put into the dishwasher, I also make sure no dishwasher water has stuck inside and give them a quick clean. Actually, that’s not completely true - the kids like to clean their own and think it’s a great game! Take a look at our range here – they come in angled and straight versions.
6. Say no to bottled water and take away cups. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, invest in a water filter and a reusable bottle. The initial cost will be higher, but if you calculate how many bottles of water you buy over a year and multiply that by the cost of a bottle of water, you’ll know how long it will take to recoup your initial outlay. If you love sparkling water, consider a sodastream. Even though it is made of plastic, in my opinion, it is better than buying lots of bottles of sparkling water.
Disposable coffee cups will hopefully become a thing of the past. With so many beautiful reusable options out there, the only thing you need to do is remember to bring it with you! My tip – as soon as it is washed, pop it in your bag instead of putting it in the cupboard!
7. Find a bulk foods store and bring your own containers to refill. If you don’t live near a physical store, have a look for an online store near you – the less distance to travel from the store to you, the lower the carbon footprint. Check the packaging policy and make sure that the packaging is recyclable or home compostable. We only use certified home compostable plant-based bags or recyclable brown paper bags to pack your foods, and we recycle the cardboard boxes we receive our goods in where possible and seal with brown paper tape.
8. Try brown paper tape instead of Sellotape – it’s amazing and 100% recyclable.
9. Give shampoo and conditioner bars a try. The trick is to brush your hair before you use, and then just lift up sections of your hair and rub in a bit of the shampoo. Then give your scalp a massage. Your hair will feel different to the way that you are used to if you have been using bottled shampoo. This is because shampoo bars don’t strip your hair of natural oils, and your hair will need a bit of time to rebalance. If you feel your hair is too greasy when you first start using, don’t give up – try adding ½ tsp baking soda to the lather in your hair and then rinse out. Or, mix 1 tsp baking soda with 1-2 cups of water and pour into your hair. Massage through and then rinse out. Keen going with the shampoo bar and you will gradually find that you don’t need to use the baking soda any more as your hair will stop producing so much oil to counter the store shampoo which has been stripping the oils every time you have used it. If you really don’t like using the bars, consider buying your shampoo and conditioner in 5 litre bottles and refill the bottles you already have – this will save so much plastic and also a lot of money!
10. Buy loose fruits and veggies where possible. If you can, shop locally, seasonally, organically and as fresh out of the ground as possible.
11. Clean with water and vinegar. Sounds radical doesn’t it! Try mixing I 100ml white vinegar to 3 parts water as an all-purpose spray cleaner. I keep mine in a glass spray bottle, but you could reuse any bottle. I also add a few drops of essential oils – citrus, clove or tea tree work really well. There is nothing that this mix has not been able to clean. It’s so easy and completely chemical free.
And there are my top tips to make some easy swaps to reduce your plastic load. Every little step you take in the right direction is a win!