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Ten Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

easy ways to reduce plastic waste

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Plastic and plastic waste is pervasive – just this week it was reported that scientists have found plastic particles in tap water around the world, which is a pretty horrible thought, don’t you think?

If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of single use plastic in your life I’ve put together ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste that can be done without too much thought or effort.  As with anything, reducing plastic waste is about changing habits, and it can take time for those habits to stick.  My best advice is to go easy on yourself and take things at a comfortable pace:

Ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste

1. Ditch the straws

british gins to try

I’m personally not a massive straw user, but my kids love a straw, and I have found they are more likely to drink a cup of water if they have a straw.  Kid logic!  We have managed to switched to stainless steel straws* without complaint.  If you are drinking something a little thicker than water or juice (or gin!) – say a smoothie – you might want to invest in a little brush to keep your straws clean, otherwise you can just pop them in the dishwasher or hand wash in the sink.  Easy peasy!

2. Switch to reusable sanitary protections

There are heaps of great reusable sanitary protection out there – it’s just a case of working out what is the right option for you.  I have been slowly getting to grips with Intimina’s Lily Cup*, but if cups aren’t for you there are a plethora of options, from washable sanitary towels to sponges.

3. Say no to plastic bags

With the 5p carrier bag charge already seeing impressive results it seems so many people are ditching the carrier bags.  I admit it can be tricky to always remember to keep a bag on you, but I try and keep a small foldable shopping bag in my regular bag, and also keep shopping bags in the boot of my car so I’m less less likely to be caught out.

4. Skip the disposable coffee cup

Disposable coffee cups are notoriously difficult to recycle so if you’re a regular coffee on the go drinker consider investing in a reusable coffee cup.  There are heaps of great options out there – from Keep Cup to Frank Green – and many coffee shops offer a discount if you bring your own cup, meaning your reusable cup will eventually pay for itself.

5. Carry a bottle of water

zero waste lunch supplies

One of the easiest ways to reduce single use plastic is to switch to a reusable water bottle.  It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy, any old bottle will do.  I was sent a Jerry Bottle which I loved so much that I bought one for my partner too as all profits go to water charities, but pretty much every supermarket and high street sell reusable bottles.  Whilst it is an easy swap, like reusable bags, the biggest challenge is all about remembering to refill your bottle and put it in your bag everyday!

6. Make your own cleaning products

best green cleaning recipes

A lot of our plastic waste came from cleaning product bottles but now that we make our own cleaning products, that plastic waste has reduced.  I’ve got a few recipes in my archives, and I will share some more in the coming months.

7. Green your beauty routine

Ten easy ways to reduce single use plastic waste

There are a few articles in my archives on how to de-plasticise your beauty routine.  This post is a great starting point as is this more up-to-date post, and this post on how to make your own reusable cotton wool pads is pretty handy!

8. If you have kids, give reusable nappies a go

washable nappies

Reusable nappies are the most amazing thing ever.  Gone are the days of folding and pinning – washable nappies are so easy to use and cut down on waste big time.  While the up front investment can be high (around £200 for a full set) at around £5 for a pack of disposable nappies a time, savings are soon made, especially if you go on to have another child.  My youngest is now 20 months old and as this is the second time we’ve used the nappies we recouped our investment quite some time ago, and are well into the saving money stage.

The important thing to remember is it doesn’t have to be all or nothing with reusable nappies – if you don’t want to use them when you go out or when you go on holiday then no worries – just supplement them with disposables and you are still reducing your plastic waste.  We use a disposable at night time, and if we go away overnight and I don’t consider that a failure by any means.

9. Consider your food storage

beeswax food wrap diy

There are heaps of eco friendly alternatives to cling film from using what you have in your kitchen (from jars, to tupperware, to plates and even saucepan lids!) and you can even make beeswax wrap (or buy it online*) for a true alternative to cling film.

10. Skip the disposable cutlery

Lastly, it’s a great idea to get in the habit of carrying some cutlery in your bag with you for when you’re having lunch on the go.  A simple camping set is handy to carry and inexpensive to pick up, or there are some lovely bamboo options available online if you’re looking for something a bit more lightweight.

Any tips on how you reduce plastic waste in your home?

If you are looking for more inspiration, this week is Zero Waste Week, organised by the lovely blogger Rachelle Strauss, so do check out the website and follow the #zerowasteweek hashtag on Twitter for more ideas, advice, tips and discussion.

Home, Home and Garden

Eco Friendly Alternatives to Cling Film

keep leaf sandwich bag

Today let’s talk about eco friendly alternatives to cling film.

Growing up cling film was used ubiquitously in my house (ubiquitously!), but at some point since leaving home at the age of 17 I stopped using the stuff.  I can’t remember exactly when as it has been well over a decade since I last bought cling film, but what I do know is that it was no great loss to me not having a roll to hand.  Finding alternatives that worked just meant thinking a bit more creatively in the kitchen.

Here are the eco friendly alternatives to cling film that work for us:

The Creative Use of Crockery & Other Kitchen Ephemera

eco friendly alternative to cling wrap

Got some leftovers from dinner time?  If the food is in a bowl I’ll cover the leftovers with a plate and pop it in the fridge for later.  If the leftovers are on a plate I’ll use an upturned plate to cover the plate with.  If you’re in a pickle and out of plates, then saucepan lids also make pretty good plate and bowl covers too.  Pro tip!

For reheating food in the microwave I simply pop a non metallic plate on top of the plate or bowl to avoid food splatters.  So thrifty, so simple,and my favourite cling film alternative.  If your fridge is a bit on the full side you can even balance things on top of the plate.  Pro tip two!

Food Storage is Your Friend

I have a fairly extensive collection of Tupperware, amassed over the years.  I use these to decant leftovers in to, or to store food stuffs in the fridge that I might once have otherwise wrapped in clingfilm, such as a block of cheese, a half chopped onion or something similar.

I’m planning to replace my plastic tupperware with glass tupperware as it breaks.  The best glass tupperware I can find is by Glasslock.  You can put the glass trays (without the lids) directly in to the microwave and oven (up to 230°C), they won’t stain if you put tomato based foods in them, the glass is super strong, and apparently they are 100% airtight and don’t leak either.  They are even freezer safe, and just sound a lot more durable than plastic tupperware.  Glasslock isn’t currently widely available in the UK – it’s available on Amazon* and I saw it on offer at Costco last week for £18 too.

As well as Tupperware I also use glass jars to store food in, rather than wrapping some cling film over a bowl.  Leftover soup lends itself to being stored in a lidded jar quite nicely.   And if you want to take the soup to work the next day for lunch the you can just cart your soup to work with you in your bag – no spills!

Tea Towels Aren’t Just for, Err, Tea

eco friendly alternatives to cling film

My partner makes us homemade pizza each and every Friday.  If you’ve ever made dough before, you’ll know this means making the dough and then leaving it to rise someplace warm for a few hours.  Instead of wrapping the bowl with cling film, we cover the bowl with a clean dry tea towel or napkin and in the summer sit the bowl on the windowsill, or in winter sit the bowl near the wood burning stove.

If you don’t like the idea of using a tea towel, and are a bit handy with a sewing machine then you can make these pretty bowl covers instead.

Mind Your Own Beeswax

beeswax food wrap

If you want to wrap food up – for example a hunk of cheese – then beeswax wraps are pretty amazing eco friendly alternatives to cling film.  These mould around food with just the heat of your hands and are washable.  You can make your own in minutes using beeswax pellets and fabric scraps with this handy beeswax wrap DIY, or if you’re time poor you can buy them online*.  A word of advice – don’t use them on hot food or on meat – instead pop the hot food or meat in a bowl and use the wrap to cover the bowl.

Don’t Be So Clingy

keep leaf sandwich bag

When I think of packed lunches I ate at school I think of ham or cheese salad sandwich tightly wrapped up in clingfilm.  These days I approach packed lunches a little differently.  For eco friendly alternatives to cling film I have a few Keep Leaf sandwich bags* that I pop sandwiches in to, before placing them in a lunch bag.

I actually bought the Keep Leaf bags as easily portable snack pouches for my daughter (got to have snacks to hand at all times!) so that I could cut down on single use plastic from toddler snacks.  However I find I use them for sandwiches a lot too when we’re out and about.  You can either wipe down the inside, or hand wash or machine wash the sandwich bags ready for the next use.

For a no cost alternative I will also wrap sandwiches in a cotton napkin, or if I’m using a tupperware tub or lunchbox I’ll pop the sandwich straight in – no covering required.

Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to give these eco friendly alternatives to cling film a go!  Although I have a few things that I’ve bought, these aren’t essential.  I hope the take away message here is that giving up cling film just means being creative with what you already own.  And if you don’t use cling film, I wonder – have I missed any tricks?