Plastic free July recap - 31 ideas to reduce your single use plastic intake
1 - Since we're in the middle of a pandemic, and masks are a pretty good idea to help protect others, the first one is the use of washable fabric masks instead of disposables! You can get lots of lovely prints, and it seems to be indie makers that are offering them, so it's a win-win! (Hopefully you're looking back on this and Covid is a distance memory, but who knows at this point?!)
2 - Toilet paper wise, if you can afford to, switch to Who Gives a Crap - they are entirely plastic free, made from bamboo and donate their profits to building toilets in places that don't have them.
3 - Grab yourself a reusable coffee cup and keep it in your bag for whenever the caffiene cravings hit - if you have a daily coffee, those disposable cups really add up (imagine a pile of them next to you right now...) and most places actually offer a discount for using reusable cups, so it'll pay for itself in the long run!
4 - Also grab yourself a reusable water bottle and keep it with you to stay hydrated aaaaall day long - there's plenty of refill taps popping up all over the place, and it means you get lovely free water!
5 - Try switching to a solid shampoo and conditioner when your current bottled stuff runs out - there's so many different types out there, you're bound to find the right one for you! (They're great for travelling too and last way longer than the bottled variety!)
6 - Keep a tote bag in the bottom of your handbag or in a pocket and never need a plastic carrier bag again
7 - Go for loose fruit and veg (and other foods!) wherever you can to cut out all the plastic packaging. Give your local farm shop or greengrocer a trip!
8 - If you have access to a refill store - use it! These are perfect for staple foods like pasta and cereals - just take your container and fill directly in the store without the need for disposable plastic packaging. (We love Lemon and Jinja in Romsey but search for a zero waste store near you!)
9 - Cleaning wise, instead of buying new bottles of cleaning products, switch to Ocean Savers, which utilise your old bottles without the need to buy new ones.
10 - If you have to use plastic bottles, see if you can buy larger volumes instead of lots of little ones (eg 5l instead of 10 lots of 500ml) - create a little refill station at home and decant the big tubs into the empty bottles for ease (and share with your neighbours/friends!)
11 - Make the switch to solid skin care! There are lots of solid moisturisers and cleansers out there - most of which even come 'naked' - completely packaging free! Start at Lush and see how you get on.
12 - Use reusable cotton pads (usually made from bamboo) or a trust old flannel to remove your make up instead of disposable pads and wipes. When dirty, just pop in the washing machine.
13 - Plastic straws are so awful, and paper straws don't really hold up to stress, so invest in a pack of metal straws and keep one in the bottom of your bag (or skip the straw altogether if you can...). Same goes for cutlery - if you don't want to carry metal cutlery around, get a bamboo set instead!
14 - A lunch box is your plastic free best friend - make lunch at home and bring it with you to avoid unnecessary packaging - plus you'll save so much money in the long run. Instead of wrapping your sandwiches in cling film or foil, grab some beeswax wraps and use them over and over again.
15 - When your plastic toothbrush needs changing, opt for a bamboo one instead - not only are these just as good (if not better), they also look prettier in your bathroom. If you want to go one step further, switch from tubed toothpaste (as the tube often isn't recyclable) to natural tooth paste in a glass jar or toothy tabs (note - most eco friendly options don't seem to have fluoride in at the moment, so make sure you check the ingredients if you want a fluoride hit like me!)
16 - Make the switch to natural deodorant, and lookout for one in a glass jar or cardboard tube. There's be a little bit of an adjustment period if you were using an aluminium based antiperspirant, but your body and pits will thank you in the long run! There's some evidence (although not conclusive) that the chemicals in antiperspirant increase the risk of breast cancer, and they actually work but clogging up your pores, so actually it's fairly unpleasant all round! My favourite natural deodorant is by Scence - I've used most of the scents, with Summer Citrus being my favourite and I swear by it.
17 - Do you use disposable cloths when cleaning? Make the switch to washable bamboo ones! Just clean away and then pop in the washing machine when you're done, and they'll be ready for use again and again.
18 - One for those that menstruate - a mooncup! I love mine - never going back to disposables.
19 - If you shave, why not switch to FFS instead of disposable razors? They're a subscription that send you new blades and recycle the old ones - even the handle is metal (and beautiful!) (I have a referral link here if you do want to give it a try where you get £3 off and I get some loyalty points - I love them!
20 - Another cleaning one - I've switched to enzymic drain cleaning sticks instead of tipping a bottle of drain cleaner down the hole - not only does it save on plastic but it also isn't tipping lots of nasty chemicals into the water system!
21 - Plastic free cleaning subscription - Smol send dishwasher and laundry tablets to you whenever you need them, they're plastic free and cheaper than most alternatives! I've used both the dishwasher and laundry and am still using the dishwasher tablets - I only stopped using the laundry as I have detergent in my refill station now.
22 - Bake your own bread! (and get a reusable bread bag/bread bin) - this saves on the plastic wrapping and there's nothing better than peanut butter on freshly baked bread...
23 - Grow your own veg! Cut out the supermarket all together and grow your own staples. Carrots, onions and peas are perfect for a both a veg patch and a deep planter, even if you don't have a garden. It's so satisfying watching your veg grow, and you can eat them super fresh.
24 - If you like a bit of a pamper sesh, opt for pot facemasks over disposable sheet ones - there's so much waste involved with the latter. Lots of brands do pots, but Lush have an offer where if you bring back 5 of their black pots, you get a fresh facemask for free and the pots are recycled into new pots - win win!
25 - Another menstruation related one - if menstrual cups aren't for you, how about trying resuable pads instead? These work in exactly the same way as normal pads, but you just wash them and reuse - you can get lots of cute patterns too!
26 - Support your local Zero Waste shop - you'd be amazing what you can find in them and just how much waste you save! These are amazing, and they need to be used to still be there, so support them whenever you can.
27 - Shop small and local instead of from massive online retailers who tend to pack things in plastic - lots of small businesses are completely plastic free and will be so happy for your custom (cough, me, cough) - if you should online and still get plastic packaging, ask the seller why - there's no excuse for it these days.
28 - Took me an embarrassingly long while to get to this blindingly obvious one (and I even work for a soap company!) but solid soap over liquid is a great plastic free step.
29 - Keep a waste diary. Look back on your week and see where you can make little changes - it all adds up!
30 - Shop second hand for non-consumables - this reduces demand and stops new things going into production using plastic in the process. You can also find some amazing little gems!
31 - Buy less stuff. Probably the most important one, but the less you buy, the less you waste. Do you really need that new thing you desperately want, or will you want something else in a couple of weeks?