This last year has seen the environmental spotlight turn to plastic, forcing many of us to look at the amount we consume. Here are a few easy things you can do to cut your consumption and find plastic-free alternatives to your favourite products.
- Food packaging
Go into any supermarket and it’s almost impossible to buy what you want without also getting a shed load of unnecessary plastic food packaging with it. Think about what you’re putting in your basket and whether you can avoid the plastic. Can you swap your usual packaged fruit and veg for loose bits? Can you buy your bread in paper bags rather than plastic?
If you want to make life easier for yourself, get signed up for a fruit and veg box. This is an amazing way to cut down on unnecessary plastic. Companies like Farmdrop, Abel & Cole and Riverford Organics will deliver to your door in recyclable cardboard boxes. Otherwise, find a local market or farmshop, which will usually have paper bags to put produce in rather than plastic.
- Shopping bag
Single use shopping bags take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. This year alone, the world will use 5 trillion of them, with less than 1% being recycled.
Do your bit and say no to plastic bags at the checkout. Be prepared and take your own bag with you if you’re going shopping. We love these Turtle Bags which squish down very small but hold a surprising amount (and look cool too!). Suma’s cheerful everyday canvas bag and jute shopping bags are also great.
- Food wraps
So you’ve done steps 1 and 2 above and have got all your lovely, fresh fruit and veg without plastic packaging. Feeling smug? Good. Now, the next challenge comes when you need to wrap up your unfinished food or leftovers. Cling film is non-biodegradable, so will most likely end up sitting in a landfill site for hundreds of years. But do not fear – there are lots of other alternatives you can use instead.
Stock up on reusable containers to use rather than reaching for the cling film. Plastic-free food wraps do exist – made with cloth and beeswax, they are completely natural, and most importantly, they actually work! These ones from the Beeswax Wrap Co. come in a range of beautiful prints to brighten up your fridge. Be the envy of your work colleagues with this stainless steel lunchbox for hot or cold meals. Replace your plastic washing up brushes and scourers with plastic-free alternatives – LoofCo’s products (brush and pad) are made from sustainable materials, including natural plant fibres.
- Plastic bottles
It’s the bathroom in the spotlight next. How many plastic bottles do you have in there? Now think about all the bathrooms in the world. That’s a lot of plastic.
So, look at what you’re using and how you can cut back on the plastic, or cut it out altogether. Consider swapping your hand soaps and shower gels for bars of soap. Faith in Nature offer a range of loose soaps that smell amazing and will last for ages. There is a range of them instore and at £1.55, well worth a try! Living Naturally’s Soapnuts can be used on hair, body, face and hands – you can even get them for the washing machine. Deodorants in glass jars like the Evolve cotton fresh deodorant are easy to use and super effective.
- Coffee and water bottles
It’s easy to buy plastic water bottles when we’re on the go, but think about where that plastic is going to end up (the depressing answer is that 12.7 million tonnes of it ends up in the sea). Instead, get a reusable water bottle and keep it with you to fill up when you need it. Our favourites: We love these beautiful BKR bottles, and Flaska bottles, which help turn our tap water into spring water using a clever thing called water structuring.
99.75% of our disposable coffee cups don’t get recycled, which, for a nation as addicted to tea and coffee as we are, poses quite a problem. Look out for compostable cups, or bring your own – many coffee chains, like Pret, Costa, Starbucks and Cafe Nero, will give you a discount if you use your own cup. We love these new biodegradable and sustainable cups from Huski, which are made with from discarded rice husks. They come in two sizes in pink, blue and green.
- Plastic free period
The average woman will use 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime. Many of these menstrual products contain plastic – some pads are made up of 90% plastic, and many tampons contain polyester materials and come wrapped in plastic or with plastic applicators. Sadly, many of these products end up in the sea, causing damage to our environment.
Luckily there are lots of natural, plastic-free alternatives out there. Menstrual cups are made of silicone and can be used for 10 years (it’s not half as bad as you think it’s going to be). If you can’t face a menstrual cup or reusable pads, Natracare’s products are made with organic cotton, are biodegradable and compostable – better for you and the environment.
Finally, think about what’s in the products you use. We’re all aware that drinking straws and cotton buds contain plastic, but did you know that many tea bags, wet wipes and wrapping paper do too? Chewing gum, made with synthetic rubber, causes 100,000 tonnes of plastic pollution every year.
It’s worth doing your research and taking a moment to think about whether you need that product, or can find a plastic-free alternative. Small behavioural changes can make a big difference. After all, we’ve got to look after our beautiful planet.
To get you started, we’ve pulled together our favourite goodies in our plastic-free bundle.