It’s almost impossible to get away from the media showing us the facts and sad effects of plastic pollution. It really can feel overwhelming, especially when you are surrounded by plastic packaging in every shop and every area of your life.
Sometimes, it just feels impossible to make any difference, let alone go plastic-free.
We might not be able to solve the problems of plastic pollution overnight. But there are plenty of quick and simple ways to start reducing your plastic consumption and positively impact our environment.
The fact is, we can choose to control and change the amount of plastic we use in our own households, and this is a significant first step that can get the ball rolling for a positive change.
Making small and simple changes to reduce your plastic waste will make a big difference over time.
In this blog, we’re sharing 10 quick ways to reduce your plastic footprint so that you are having a more positive impact on the planet.
There are so many ways to reduce your plastic footprint in all areas of your life, but the two main rooms of our home that contain that create the most plastic waste are the kitchen and bathroom. Start making minor changes to reduce the amount of plastic used in these rooms, and you’ll be well on your way to reducing your overall plastic footprint.
Let’s look at some quick ways to go plastic-free in the kitchen:
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
OK, we all know this, but recycling consistently and correctly makes a huge difference to the amount of plastic in landfills.
To make recycling work for everyone, just follow the following guidelines:
Understand your council’s recycling system - make sure you know what they will and won’t recycle from your curbside pick-up.
Don’t guess which materials can be recycled - unless you’re sure they can be recycled, don’t put them in your recycling bin. Putting the wrong things in the recycling bin can spoil an entire batch of material, meaning it becomes destined for landfill.
Make sure you rinse food packaging - getting as much food out of plastic, glass and aluminium containers makes them loads easier to recycle and helps avoid contamination which can spoil a whole collection of recycling.
Keep lids attached to bottles and jars - Because lids are thin and light, they can readily slip through sorting gaps designed to gather contamination during the recycling process. If you leave the lid on, the recycling facility will have to manually remove it before it can be properly recycled elsewhere. Lids also prevent other things from becoming trapped within bottles or jars.
Flatten everything - Flatten is a term that frequently occurs on recycling labels on plastic bottles and beverage cartons. You'll have more space in your recycling bin if you crush the packaging flat, and recycling transit will be a lot more efficient, which is good for the environment. This also prevents bottles from rolling off conveyor belts in machines.
Follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll be helping to prevent tonnes of plastic packaging from ending up in landfills because it couldn’t be recycled.
Swap To Plastic-Free Cleaning Products
Most cleaning products - from washing up liquid to laundry detergent to cream cleaner - all come packaged in single-use plastic. The good news is that there are so many great companies out there at the moment with amazing plastic-free cleaning products.
Brands like Smol, EcoEgg, Raindrop, Purdy and Figg, Splosh, Wilton and Tincture all offer plastic-free solutions to our cleaning problems. Check out our blog on the best eco-friendly cleaning products here.
A really positive move towards a more zero-waste approach in the kitchen is to look to refillable options with reusable bottles. Search out your local zero-waste store to discover their refill options, rather than buying lots of new, shiny cleaning products - however eco-friendly.
Remember, sponges and scourers are made of plastic too and cannot be recycled or composted. They also shed microplastics whenever you use them, which seep into our waterways, causing havoc to our marine life. Check out our coconut fibre dish brush and compostable dishcloths for a simple swap to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen.
Ditch The Antibac Wipes
Antibac wipes are a cunning piece of plastic. They might look like a moistened paper towel or cloth, but they are made of a combination of plastics.
It is estimated that as many as 11bn wet wipes are used in the UK each, with evidence that wet wipes form islands within rivers, causing the waterways to change shape as the products pile up.
Switching from wet wipes and disinfectant wipes to towels, rags, and an eco-friendly cleaning solution around the house is a minor adjustment, but one that can be made with a little persistence.
Buy Food In Bulk
One of the simplest ways of reducing plastic in the kitchen is to buy food in bulk where you can, especially if you have a local zero-waste store where you can fill old tubs, jars and glass bottles instead of plastic wrapping.
There are even zero-waste bulk buying stores online - like the aptly named Zero Waste Bulk Foods. Its mission is to reduce the grocery packaging heading to landfills, incineration and the ocean by making organic, natural, zero waste bulk food shopping accessible to everyone. A great option if you don’t have a local resource.
Even if you can only buy larger quantities of produce wrapped in plastic, you can know that buying larger quantities of something can help reduce plastic waste in general.
Take A Reusable Produce Bag When Food Shopping
Most of us remember to carry a reusable bag when we go shopping, but another easy way to use less plastic during your food shop is to invest in some reusable produce bags.
Whether you’re able to shop at a local greengrocer’s, farmers' market or just a standard supermarket buying fruit and veggies that are loose, and not smothered in plastic wrap or netting, will save a lot of disposable plastic ending up in the environment.
Our reusable produce bags are the perfect alternatives to plastic fruit and veg bags. Made from durable, unbleached organic cotton, these bags will last you a lifetime rather than a single shopping trip.
Each bag has a colourful label featuring the tare weight, also known as the weight of the produce bag, meaning you can easily calculate the weight of your goods at the checkout of any supermarket or bulk food store. These reusable bags will also keep your produce fresher than its plastic counterparts.
When you buy your produce loose, you can also save money and food waste by choosing to buy the exact amount you need rather than just the amount that comes in the plastic bag, all while stopping unnecessary plastic from being thrown away.
5 Ways To Reduce Plastic Waste In The Bathroom
The bathroom is the other room in our homes where we seem to collect a plethora of plastic items. And it’s another place where a few simple swaps can make a big difference in reducing your plastic footprint.
Personal care is where we can reduce the amount of single-use plastic we use.
Swap Out Your Plastic Toothbrush
This one is a no-brainer. In the UK, we dispose of approximately 200 million toothbrushes each year, and each toothbrush can take up to 400 years to degrade! It’s time to swap plastic for bamboo.
Untreated bamboo is compostable, but even if you don’t compost or have an organics program that accepts bamboo, the time it takes to decompose in a landfill is significantly lower.
When choosing a bamboo toothbrush, one thing to watch for is the bristles - even on bamboo toothbrushes, they are often made of plastic.
At Wild & Stone, our business was born out of the problems that exist with plastic toothbrushes - and the unsustainable way they are used and discarded. We have designed a fantastic range of Bamboo Toothbrushes, which provide an eco-friendly toothbrush and an alternative to using plastic.
The bamboo used to make these toothbrushes is FSC® 100% certified. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on earth, meaning there is a sustainable supply of bamboo - and it’s also completely biodegradable, meaning that it can be composted or recycled at the end of its life.
Switch To Dry Toothpaste
Plastic toothpaste tubes are not recyclable, and even if they were, ensuring that they are empty and clean would be problematic. Switching to toothpaste pills or powder can help reduce plastic waste. It gives your teeth the same clean feeling, but businesses that make this sort of toothpaste use more eco-friendly and often healthier all-natural components.
Tooth tabs can also be bought at your local zero-waste store so you can refill them as you go.
We love Parla’s Toothpaste Tabs, which are made in the UK. They come packed in a recyclable jar with approximately 1-2 months' supply for one person. These toothpaste tablets are 100% vegan and plastic-free, great for reducing plastic waste.
Choose A Wooden Comb
This is such an easy way to reduce plastic waste since you can usually find a natural hairbrush at most chemists. Wooden combs may be a little harder to find, but they are out there at most beauty stores. As well as doing something good for the environment by ditching your plastic version, wooden combs are more beneficial for your hair’s health. Plus, they reduce static while brushing!
Our only caveat to this is, don’t throw away your old plastic comb until it’s reached the end of its life, then replace it with a wooden substitute. It’s always best to use anything you have already bought to the end of its useful life, preserving the use of the earth’s precious resources being used to manufacture new products.
Use A Shampoo Bar
Most plastic shampoo bottles are recyclable but need to be thoroughly rinsed out before being added to your recycling bin, as any shampoo let will count as contamination and rule it out of the recycling process.
So how about having a shampoo that doesn't need a plastic bottle manufactured for it in the first place?
This is where shampoo bars come in. The overall carbon footprint of shampoo bars is far less than your usual shampoo. These solid bars are more lightweight and compact than their bottled counterparts, so they require less space during transport relative to the same amount of washes with liquid shampoo. Roughly ten to fifteen transport trucks of liquid shampoo would be needed for one transport truck of solid shampoo bars to get the same number of washes.
And they are plastic-free, drastically cutting down on the amount of plastic being both produced and disposed of.
We like Friendly shampoo bars, which are vegan, cruelty-free and packaged using recycled and recyclable cardboard. Every team member is paid more than the living wage and all aspects of Friendly’s manufacturing process are squeaky clean.
Try their soaps too, and use even less plastic in the bathroom.
Switch To A Zero-Waste Toilet Paper
While toilet paper is not made of plastic, the packaging is usually made from unrecyclable plastic wrap.
So it makes a lot of sense to switch to toilet paper which is plastic-free and comes in paper packaging.
Most mainstream, blanket-like toilet paper comes from destroying virgin trees and Who Gives A Crap wants to put an end to that. They make 100% recycled toilet paper that is still soft and good to use - and isn’t wrapped in plastic.
A big win-win for the environment.
Wild & Stone's mission is to create stylish, easy to adopt and usable alternatives to common plastic products around the home. We source all our products sustainably, from raw material to final delivery. Shop our wide range today.