Embracing a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly way of life can be a daunting prospect.
The idea of tackling the trillions of pieces of plastic currently clogging landfills or polluting oceans is nothing if not overwhelming. But the premise that it’s better for more people to be trying, then just a few executing it to perfection holds true year on year.
As 2021 gathers pace, we’ve brought together a few straightforward switches to help you on your way to reducing your plastic intake this year…
Around the house
Reuse the plastic you already have.
Yes, you want to go plastic-free, but disposing of all of your useful plastic to ‘wipe the slate clean’ just wastes plastic. If you have plastic things, use them. If you no longer want to use plastic for food preparation, repurpose things to other areas of the house where possible (plastic storage containers can hold buttons, or laundry powder, or seeds for the garden).
Support plastic-free brands.
There are a lot of eco-friendly brands that are conscious about the products they sell, how they ship them and even how they receive their stock from their suppliers. Do your research and see if they ship their products plastic-free prior to making a purchase from a company you’re not familiar with.
Opt for zero-waste shopping where possible.
Zero-waste stores help people to live a more sustainable lifestyle by eliminating unnecessary packaging. They do this by stocking bulk products in large dispensable containers or jars which you decant into your own, reusable containers whatever they may be: paper bags, plastic bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles, glass jars etc. Using reusable containers avoids the environmental implications of manufacturing and disposing of single-use plastic packaging.
Otherwise, try and buy your groceries unpackaged; even making a few simple swaps, like choosing the loose fruit and vegetables over the plastic-wrapped ones, or finding a loaf of bread that doesn’t come in a plastic bag will bring you one step closer.
Switch plastic cleaning brushes and cloths to plastic-free alternatives. There are lots of plastic-free options to consider when your current items wear out: wooden dish brushes with replaceable heads, or those made from coconut fibres; reusable wood pulp and cotton wipes; coconut coir scourers; unpaper towels; knitted or crocheted dishcloths; dusters made with feathers; brooms made with palm branches.
Switch from laundry liquid to powder; it’s much easier to package powder without plastic than it is to package liquid.
Try green cleaning recipes. White vinegar, citric acid and bicarbonate of soda are all you need to clean most things, plus a couple of essential oils (clove oil kills mould, tea tree oil is antibacterial). You’ll use way less plastic bottles this way, and your home will be healthier.
Simplify. Do you actually need to replace all of those plastic-free products that you buy, or could you just stop using them? Rather than looking for a plastic-free alternative for everything, see which products you can go without. You’ll save money and declutter your bathroom as well as reducing plastic.
There has been a real resurgence in the demand for soap bars in the last couple of years. Packaging and production adds hugely to the environmental costs of liquid soap and when it comes to cleanliness, both bars and liquid soap are equally effective at killing germs. Those big plastic bottles and pumps for liquid soap are exactly the type of waste that is avoidable, unnecessary and makes for heavier transport – ie a bigger carbon footprint. A bar of soap, on the other hand, can be bought with a small wrapper or sometimes entirely without packaging.
Switch out the plastic toothbrush. You could switch to a bamboo toothbrush or a reusable brush with a replaceable head. Failing that, look out for brushes made of certified compostable plastic.
Out and about
Opt for a foldable shopping bag instead of using plastic carrier bags. Since the plastic bag tax was introduced in the UK in 2015, the demand for single-use bags has dropped by 86 per cent, and consumers have been keener than ever before to find alternatives. As a result, there are endless choices when it comes to reusable bags – from the free totes you can pick up from different brands to high-end options.
Refuse single-use coffee cups with plastic lids. Although they’re made from paper, most single-use coffee cups comprise a thin plastic lining in order to prevent leakage, meaning they can’t be processed in conventional paper recycling mills and end up either incinerated or in landfill – neither of which are planet-friendly. Not only is a reusable coffee cup the simplest way for java-addicts to reduce their footprint and contribution to plastic pollution, but most coffee shops will also knock a bit off the price if you bring your own coffee cup.
Help keep your share of the UK’s 38.5 million plastic bottles out of landfill and carry your own reusable water bottle that you refill with tap water at home, work, the gym, or even by popping into a local café. Every person buying one reusable bottle instead of a daily single-use plastic bottle could prevent over 1,000 plastic bottles littering the ocean over three years, as well as saving £1,000 by not purchasing mineral water; arguably, it’s a no-brainer.
Categories:Interiors & Lifestyle