As much as I would love to say that we’re a ‘plastic-free’ family, we aren’t and unless manufacturers make a lot of changes, we may never be. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t work to reduce how much plastic we use and if you want to do the same, here are 16 easy ways to use less plastic.
I’m not going to pretend that we do all of the below in our house, but we will be trying to introduce more of them. If we all reduced our plastic use even by a little, imagine collectively the difference that could make to the amount of plastic being used in the World.
Here are sixteen ways in which you can use less plastic.
Solid Shampoo Bars
Solid shampoo bars are on my list of things to try out, but people I know swear by them and by using them you avoid having shampoo bottles.
Use soap instead of liquid handwash
Just like the shampoo, this would save buying plastic bottles.
Use Refill shops like the one in Truro
With the increasing awareness of how bad plastic is for our environment, shops are popping up all over the place where you can buy items either in no packaging or in eco-friendly packaging. A lot of them ask you to take along your own jar or containers to fill. Farmer’s markets are also a good place to shop plastic free.
In Cornwall you can find the following zero waste shops – a Refill shop in Truro, Gillian’s Larder in Helston, un-rap in Falmouth The Weigh Inn in Penzance who sell a lot of loose refill items and there’s even The Incredible Bulk, which is a mobile zero waste shop. If you keep an eye on their Instagram, they list where they’ll be stopping for you to go and shop. Here’s the January list:
I have always loved wooden toys, they last longer, they’re usually stronger and just look much nicer than plastic.
Reusable Coffee Cups
I use my Grey’s Anatomy coffee cup all the time, including at home as it keeps my coffee warm when I forget about it! Some places including Starbucks actually give you a discount if you bring your own cup in for them to fill.
Try to carry a drinks bottle with you rather than buying a drink whilst you’re out
There is even a special refill app to tell you where you can refill your water bottle for free when you’re out and about rather than buying bottled water. We do quite often buy a drink when we’re out still, but I always make sure that we take any bottles home to put in the recycling rather than binning them at least.
Don’t buy or use plastic straws
I am pretty sure I read somewhere that plastic straws will be banned in the UK in the near future anyway thankfully. Personally I’m not a huge fan of the paper ones, as the ones we’ve tried have turned a bit soggy before we’ve finished our drinks, but there are bamboo or metal alternatives out there. They work out more economical as well, since you reuse them.
Consider buying second-hand
When it comes to clothing, toys and all manner of other items, you can often get a bargain when you buy them second-hand and often you might be saving things from landfill. Facebook selling groups are brilliant for finding local bargains.
Use non plastic reusable bags
I do tend to use bags for life, but I’m trying now not to forget my bags and not buy any more. Instead of buying plastic bags for life if you can fabric bags are a good alternative. Leave plenty in your car and one in your handbag if you have one to save forgetting them too.
Stop chewing gum unless it’s a plastic free version
I have no idea why I didn’t realise that there was plastic in chewing gum. Much to the boys’ disgust I don’t let them have it very often at all now that I do know this. You can buy non plastic versions though and hopefully the more environmentally aware we all seem to be getting, the more brands will be looking for alternatives to phase out a lot of plastic.
Reuse Christmas cards and other greetings cards
Not all cards are recyclable thanks to glitter and other decorative details on them, but you can find new uses for old cards rather than binning them. I recently wrote a post detailing ten things to do with old Christmas cards.
Use refillable lighters instead of plastic lighters
I don’t smoke, but I do love candles so this one is definitely relevant in our house. Plastic disposable lighters might be cheap, but they’re such a waste. Refillable ones, especially if you do smoke and use them a lot, will save buying plastic ones. Obviously matches are an option too for avoiding plastic.
Use wooden toothbrushes
Bamboo and similar material toothbrushes are available in so many more places now than they were.
Avoid black food trays
This isn’t so much about avoiding plastic, but about avoiding plastic that can’t be recycled. Most councils can’t recycle black plastic food trays like the ones that come with some meat, as the plastic is sorted via laser apparently and it can’t ‘see’ through the black plastic to sort it, so it ends up in the reject pile.
Swap clingfilm for reusable wraps
You can buy some lovely looking beeswax wraps these days for wrapping sandwiches etc, so if you want to decrease your use of clingfilm then this could be a good place to start.
Make birthday parties more plastic free
Not using plastic plates, cutlery, not including plastic toys in the party bags and especially not balloons are all great ways to cut down on the use of plastic for birthday parties. You could also wrap birthday presents with brown paper to avoid the use of non recyclable shiny wrapping paper too. There are loads of alternatives to single use plastic for birthday parties.
Have you got any more ideas on ways to reduce the use of plastic?
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