Six ways to use less plastic at home
Plastic was once seen as an essential packaging item for all our household products. However, despite being a durable material and inexpensive to produce, plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. In the UK, over five million tonnes of plastic is consumed each year, yet only a quarter is recycled. Unfortunately, the plastic that isn’t recycled enters our environment, overflowing landfill sites, polluting oceans, and damaging our ecosystem. Currently there are five trillion pieces of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. Research by the Ellen McArthur foundation suggests that by 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish. While this is a huge problem to solve, using less plastic at home is a good start to help try and address this issue.
Here are six simple ways to reduce your plastic consumption at home:
1) Buy plastic-free tea bags.
In the UK, we drink on average 165 million cups of tea a day. However, most teabag brands contain a small amount of polypropylene plastic, which is an essential ingredient to help the tea bag paper seal together. Clipper tea bags are sealed with non-GM bio-material made from plant cellulose known as PLA and are completely plastic-free. They can also be thrown into your waste food caddy for composting after use. Another brand is Hampstead Tea which makes a range of teas from English breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Green Tea and more. All their pyramids are non-GM and plastic-free, also making them home compostable.
2) Avoid using cling film
When wrapping and storing food in your kitchen, remember that cling film cannot be recycled. Instead, try using alternative covers like eco-friendly silicon stretch lids. Made from silicone, they can expand to fit various shaped containers, dishes, and bowls. They’re also safe in the dishwasher, microwave, and freezer. Another option is Beeswax Wraps which is a material coated in beeswax. These wraps are versatile, strong, and water-resistant but, above all, they’re reusable and make a perfect alternative to clingfilm.
3)Buy reusable shopping bags
It’s important that you buy and use reusable bags when you go shopping, as it cuts down on the number of plastic bags used and thrown away. You can buy ‘bags for life’ at the supermarket, but sometimes it’s more fun to order reusable shopping bags online. I love these eco friendly foldable tote bags by Teoyall which come in a range of trendy patterns, and Whaline’s foldable shopping bags. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, you could even make your own. But always remember them when you go out shopping. I keep a stash in the back of your car so I don’t forget.
4) Stop drinking bottled water
Bottled water companies don’t make water, they make bottles and fill them with filtered water. In the UK, 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year, with the average person using 150 plastic water bottles. That’s more than three a week! Many are discarded and end up polluting our rivers and seas, so now is the time to stop drinking bottled water and invest in a reusable bottle. Trendy brands like Chilly’s are a good investment, with their range of brightly coloured bottles. Proworks also offer a similar type of range on stainless steel water bottles.
5) Use soap bars in the bathroom
We have so much plastic in our bathrooms, from shampoo and conditioner bottles to shower gel and face wash and more. But replacing them with plastic-free alternatives is easy.
The Clovelly Soap Co makes a lovely handmade natural shampoo soap bar with Eucalyptus Mint and Lemon, and is a great alternative to buying shampoo in a bottle. For conditioners, Alter / Native make a fresh smelling conditioner bar using Patchouli & Sandalwood with ylang ylang. Instead of buying shower gel, Friendly Soap is a popular alternative. Their soaps are vegan-friendly and free from palm oil, SLS, plastics and parabens. Simple and Dove soap bars, are also good options. If you’re worried about how to store your soap bars, soap dishes and travel dishes are handy products for your bathroom shelves and travelling.
6) Try eco friendly laundry products
Instead of shopping for laundry detergent, Smol offer subscription based bio and non bio laundry capsules created with ethically sourced essential oils which smell great. They also come in plastic free packaging which is 100% recyclable.
Many people don’t know this, but each time you wash your clothes in a washing machine, millions of microfibres are released into the water system which then make their way into the ocean, killing marine life. These are tiny strands of plastic that come off synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. However, washing them in a Guppyfriend washing bag will trap these microfibres and prevent them from getting into the water system.
While it’s hard to be completely plastic-free at home, small changes to your daily habits to reduce plastic consumption is a great start. If everyone made these changes, we can begin to make a significant reduction in the amount of plastic used each year and help reduce the impact it has on our environment.
Photo credit: Julia Sudnitskaya