Could you go plastic free?
I recently read an article about a woman who could fit all the trash she produced in a year into a single mason jar and it really got me thinking about what I could do to reduce my own waste. Estimates suggesting that world uses around 1 trillion plastic bags each year, not to mention the plastic used for product packaging! This represents a significant source of waste, both in terms of resources used to produce the products, with 3 litres of water required to produce a 1 litre bottle of water for example, and in terms of pollution with plastic debris a significant problem in wider environments and ecosystems, where it can become ingested by animals such as turtles. Taking this into account, I wanted to write a list of some of the tips and tricks I use to minimise my plastic usage and others that I am going to try, alongside links to where you can buy some of my favourite products:
- Recycle and reuse as much as possible. I always recycle glass jars, which then can be filled up at bulk food stores. I do my weekly shop at The Source Bulk Food Stores.
- Attempt to avoid one-use product items, for example paper towel. These can be swapped for reusable rags.
- Use reusable water bottles and coffee cups such as the Keep Cup (you can even customise your own). If you can, also avoid using plastic straws and disposable utensils. Some trendy alternatives include include stainless steal straws and cutlery sets.
- Find alternatives to plastics such as using bees-wax wrap (or vegan alternatives) over cling wrap and compostable bamboo toothbrushes that can be composed over plastic varieties.
- Bring your own cloth bags and produce bags. My favourite are the Onya bags, which carry up to 2kg of produce and are made from recycled drink bottles, how cool!
- Avoid junk mail. Often flyers, newsletters and mail can be covered in plastic, plus it is a waste of paper! Put a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on your mail box and ask if you bills can be sent electronically, I find it easier to organise documents this way anyway.
- Try and eat fresh produce and avoid those goods or junk discretionary foods wrapped in excessive plastic packaging such as soft drinks, canned foods and frozen meals. Not only is this better for individual health but also the environment.
- When it comes to cleaning your body and home, instead of using soap dispensers and plastic shampoo bottles how about trying bars of soap and bars of shampoo. I have tried the 'Montalbano’ bar shampoo from Lush, which although did initially take a little time to get use to, smelled divine. You could also use natural fibre cloths and scrubbers or maybe even get creative by making your own beauty and cleaning products. Natural cleaning can often involve just a few ingredients such as bi-carb soda, water, vinegar and essential oils.
- Buy second hand or make the most of what you already have by fixing damaged or broken items such as electronics and clothing before going out and buying another.