Ten ways to cut plastic!

3rd Rock Clothing 'Our planet, Our Playground'

As you may know I've been on a mission to seriously reduce the amount of plastic that I use in my day to day life and since May I've gradually been upping the amount of plastic free swaps and alternatives. I would like to say that I'm now 80-90% plastic free, I would love it to be 100% but this is an ongoing process so hopefully I will get there in the not too distant future!

Plastic pollution is receiving a lot of attention in the media at the moment which is great as it means governments and big companies are starting to listen. The more changes we can make as individuals the better.

So I thought I would break down my top 10 plastic free swaps which will hopefully be accessible and available to most people. Some of them you may already do without thinking about but some of them may take a little more planning. So in the long run if these 10 swaps can become habits for more and more people then shopping trends will begin to change and companies will start to respond, fingers crossed.

  1. Metal water canister and reusable coffee cup: You can buy the water canister from most outdoor shops or even online, if you get a double walled one then you can use it for both hot and cold water! Currently about 1 in 5 plastic bottles are currently recycled and the remaining 4 contribute to landfill or ocean waste. The coffee cup is super simple and has a money incentive as most coffee shops offer a discount if you bring your own cup. If you know you can be forgetful then buy two and keep one in your bag and one at work.

  2. Buy loose fruit and veg and dried goods (local if you can): If more people adhered to this it could have a massive impact on the produce that supermarkets stock. This was one of the first swaps that I made and It really opened my eyes up to how much unnecessary packaging is in the food industry. Next time you go to the supermarket try a plastic free shop and see what you manage to come out with. And yes that means avoiding the crisp/biscuit/cereal/nuts/confectionery isle as nearly all of these products are wrapped non recyclable plastics. If you're lucky enough to have a local veg stall and package free bulk store then this will be a great place to get seasonal produce and get to know where your food is coming from.

  3. Use canvas/re usable shopping bags: Since the plastic bag charge was introduced in the UK this has become a wider accepted swap and hopefully it will continue to rise. Make sure you always have some in your car or backpack so you don't get 'caught short' when out and about!

  4. Soap bars/shampoo/conditioner: Companies such as Lush do some really great package free bathroom essentials and I regularly use the soap and shampoo bars. The one I haven't found that works for me is the conditioner bar as it stays too solid in the shower so now I go to my local zero waste store where they have hair products which you can fill up your own jars with and pay by weight.

  5. Toothpaste/toothbrushes: In the US 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year and make their way into water ways and oceans. Switching to a bamboo toothbrush that can be composted will significantly reduce this amount of waste. Most bamboo brushes still have nylon bristles so these will need to be removed before putting into your compost. For toothpaste I have been using a coconut oil based product which comes in a glass jar from Geo Organics.

  6. Beeswax food wraps: These are a great alternative to clingfilm or tin foil. I use mine to wrap sandwiches and to cover bowls or leftovers in the fridge. The beeswax coating allows it to stick to itself so your snacks are secure. These can be a little expensive but are washable and will last a long time.

  7. Washable face cloth: Instead of single use face wipes which clog up waterways and don't decompose get a re usable face cloth that you can wash to re fresh it. You can also buy cotton facial rounds which are great for removing makeup too.

  8. Loose leaf tea: Most tea bags are plastic based and so will break down into tiny micro plastics over time. Also a lot of the packaging they come in is wrapped in plastic so it makes sense to buy loose leaf tea from somewhere where they sell it by weight. I find you get a lot more flavour from loose leaf and you can mix and match in your teapot and create new tastes!

  9. Natural fiber loofah pads: Most plastic based washing up scourers are not recyclable and will just go into landfill or waterways. You can use a natural bamboo or loofah alternative which can be composted when you have finished with them.

  10. Natural fiber clothing and a guppy bag: Plastics that enter the oceans from your washing machine may not seem so obvious but if you wear a lot of clothing made from synthetic materials each time you wash them, tiny micro plastics are released from the fibers into the water system. There are a few ways to combat this: Wear more natural clothing (organic cotton), use a guppy bag to wash your clothes in which catches any loose microfibers which you can then put in the bin or, wash your clothes less often!

This list is definitely not exhausted as there are many more ways in which you can reduce your plastic consumption. It can be overwhelming to cut out all plastic straight away and once you delve into this topic it can become a minefield, so pick a few at a time until they become more habitual and then expand from there. There are a lot of plastic free shops popping up online which have many of the alternatives listed above and they will tend to post them in plastic free packaging too, double win.

As well as implementing your own swaps sometimes it can be difficult when your handed plastic without having a say, so be confident in refusing straws, bags, cutlery and explaining why as maybe this will bring other people round to reducing their plastics too!

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