Five ways to cut how much you use at home and out and about
We’ve all become used to being able to pick up a bottle of something refreshing and a handily packed snack to enjoy on the go. While at home, everything from the food in our kitchens to the toiletries in our bathrooms comes wrapped in plastic. The trouble is, when we’re done with it, plastic travels – it’s even turning up on the most remote paradise islands. To help make sure we’re not sharing our beach breaks with yesterday’s rubbish, we can all take steps to cut down the amount of plastic we use. Here are a few ways to get started:
SWAP THROWAWAYS FOR HERE-TO-STAYS
One of the easiest ways to start reducing your plastic usage is by thinking about your drinks. If you can’t begin the day without your take-out coffee, pick up a reusable mug – many cafes offer a discount for bringing your own. Plus, with countless styles and designs to choose from, they look so much better, too.
The same goes for reusable water bottles – which have now become something of a style statement. Find your favourite (we love Built NY’s brushed steel designs) and stay hydrated on the go. If you’re more of a mineral or sparkling water or soda drinker, look for options in glass bottles rather than plastic.
Try to always have a foldaway tote bag or two with you for spur-of-the-moment buys – whether it’s a quick grocery shop or a can’t-pass-up shoe sale.
When it comes to picking up groceries, choose loose fruits and vegetables over pre-wrapped ones. Try to avoid using plastic produce bags – either by bringing your own smaller, reusable bags or just keeping them loose.
FRESH IS BEST
We live in an age of convenience, with countless prepared foods that simply go from the freezer to the oven to our plates. As well as often not being as good for us health-wise as meals prepared from scratch, they’re usually heavy on unrecyclable plastic packaging.
So, to reduce the plastic content of your food shop even more, rekindle your creativity in the kitchen by focusing on buying fresh ingredients.
- Bread – grab it freshly baked, then store in your own cloth bag
- Meat and fish – bring your own plastic containers to the meat and fish counter
- Vegetables – swap freezer bags for loose, seasonal produce. Buy sauce bases such as tinned chopped tomatoes rather than pre-made options.
- Coffee and tea – for a barista-standard coffee of your own, invest in an at-home coffee grinder and buy your beans loose, avoiding wasteful coffee pod machines. Teabags are often sealed with plastic, so buy loose leaf instead and use a metal infuser.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX (OR BOTTLE)
From washing hair to cleaning teeth and doing make up, much of our daily routine finds us using plastic-packed products. Thankfully, reducing how much you use needn’t mean going completely ‘au naturel’.
Have fun exploring all sorts of solid shampoo, conditioner and skin-moisturising balms available from brands such as Lush. Swap disposable plastic toothbrushes for wood and natural fibre ones, or use an electric toothbrush with replaceable heads that use less plastic. Consider using solid, powder-based toothpastes or go all the way and brush your teeth with water and baking soda – which you can bulk buy and store in reusable containers.
Finding plastic-free make up can be a little more difficult. If you often use a lot of products, try to streamline your day-to-day looks. Look out for brands that use more easily recyclable packaging such as metal and cardboard. US-based Fat & the Moon has time-tested options such as kohl that doubles as eyeliner and mascara, as well as solid lip paints. Then, instead of disposable makeup wipes, look for reusable cotton pads.
GET HANDS ON
Cleaning products are another big culprit for plastic use. If you use a dishwasher, Ecoleaf sells plastic-free tablets. If you hand-wash, swap synthetic sponges and scrubbers for natural and washable ones. There’s plenty of inspiration on the internet for those who want to start making their own cleaning products, too. Most are based on tried-and-trusted products such as baking soda, or vinegar and water infused with essential oils.