Cutting down how much single use plastic you use doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, you could end up saving money as many plastic free items these days are made to be reused for many years as opposed to being discarded after one use. It can seem overwhelming to know where to start cutting down on plastic use, as so much of what we regularly buy comes wrapped or packaged in some form of plastic. So where is a good place to start?
Living more sustainably is as simple as making one small change at a time and turning those changes into life-long habits. Over the weeks, months and years those small changes you adopted end up making an enormous difference. If you introduce just one change a month, by the end of the year you would have 12 eco-friendly habits and save bucketfuls of unnecessary waste.
So to help you cut down your plastic waste, we’ve put together 12 of the simplest plastic free swops you can make around your house – one for each month!
1) Reusable Water Bottles
One of the main single use plastic polluters: the disposable water bottle. We see them everywhere - on beaches, in parks, in our oceans and rivers … it’s not hard to believe that an estimated 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are discarded each year in the UK alone. If just 1 in 10 people in the UK refilled their water bottle just once a week, we’d save around 340 million plastic bottles every year!
A reusable water bottle is one of the best investments you can make for the planet!
2) Bamboo Toothbrush
Billions of plastic toothbrushes are thrown out every year and as they are made of composite plastics, they are not recyclable and will live on for around a thousand years before finally breaking down. That’s a lot of toothbrushes polluting the Earth! Simply switching to a bamboo toothbrush means that your eco-friendly toothbrush is biodegradable and not going to end up washed up on a beach somewhere. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world making it a great renewable resource!
3) Soap Bars
More and more people are switching back to the good old soap bar. Not only does it come with zero waste, but small batch, quality soap bars made with raw ingredients are so much better for your skin. Liquid body washes are detergents and the surfactants they contain can be drying as they strip the skin of it’s natural oils. Natural soap bars are made with premium plant-based ingredients like olive oil and shea butter. If you keep your natural soap bar in a soap dish with drainage it will last much longer than a liquid body wash!
4) Reusable Face Pads
Not only are reusable cotton pads kinder to the environment, they can be kinder to your skin too. Organic cotton or bamboo pads are rather luxurious to use! They can be used for applying face cleanser or toner, removing make up and more. Just pop them in the wash in a mesh bag to clean. Look after your face pads and they’ll look after your skin!
5) Reusable Straws
If you prefer to use a straw then SAY NO TO PLASTIC STRAWS! Thankfully, in response the public outcry demanding action against plastic straws, many restaurants and bars now offer paper straws instead, but unfortunately that’s not yet the norm. Reusable straws are designed to be easy to pop in your handbag so you always have one on hand should the need arise!
6) Reusable coffee cups
Disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled due to the layer of polyethylene inside the cup which makes them liquid proof. Switching to a reusable coffee cup is not only good for the planet, but also for your coffee! They keep your coffee hotter for longer (especially when it’s cold!), are more leakproof and spill-proof than disposable cups and some coffee shops even give you a discount for bringing in your reusable cup!
7) Shampoo Bars / Cubes
Natural shampoo bars are packed with hair loving, eco-friendly ingredients, minus the chemicals that leave build up and strip our hair of their natural oils. They contain essential oils which nourish the hair and care for your scalp. Gone are the days of the ‘one size fits all’ shampoo bars – these days you can choose your shampoo bar based on your hair type. They are sustainably packaged (no plastic!), convenient for travel and last much longer than liquid shampoo! New to shampoo bars? Read our guide to using shampoo bars here.
8) Safety Razor
Reusable safety razors are a fantastic long term investment! They are extremely durable and built to last for many years so it will save you money over time. They are made from stainless steel and / or bamboo making them super sustainable as every bit of them can be recycled or is biodegradable. Your sustainable safety razor will give you a superbly high precision close shave!
9) Sustainable Hand Sanitiser
We are sanitising our hands like crazy these days! Not only are many of those plastic bottles ending up in landfill but the harsh ingredients can be extremely drying for our hands. Enter the eco-friendly, antibacterial sanitiser spray that uses alcohol and natural vegan ingredients to protect against bacteria and other pathogens, whilst moisturising and nourishing your hands! Sustainable hand sanitisers come in a glass bottle so it can be reused or recycled.
10) Compostable Dog Poo bags
Even biodegradable dog poo bags can take decades to degrade into micro plastics which can make their way into the ocean. Compostable poo bags degrade completely within weeks and are suitable to home composting which make them a sustainable super star!
11) Compostable Home Cleaning Cloths
100% plastic free and made of natural, renewable resources, compostable sponge cleaning cloths are super absorbent, durable and reusable! They do not emit micro plastics into our water like traditional cleaning cloths do and are great for cleaning all round the house.
12) Reusable Food wraps
Make disposable plastic food wraps a thing of the past! Whether it’s for school lunches, work lunches, picnics or food on the go, reusable food wraps are the perfect zero waste alternative to cling film. They are made with either bees wax or a vegan option with non-toxic vegan wax and are 100% biodegradable and compostable. A plastic free win!
Don't underestimate your small changes - they all add up!
In the words of Anne-Marie Bonneau, "We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly".