30 Step Guide
Hello lovely Reader! Welcome to today’s post where I’m going to give 30 ways you can reduce your plastic usage and consumption to positively impact the planet, the environment and your health too. Why 30? Because July is the *official* month where people are encouraged to go plastic free. Although it’s the end of the month, it’s never too late for you to start so why not carry out these steps for each day of August? Moreover, you can get into good habits now to sustain this throughout your entire life. Imagine how brilliant this will be for the environment!
I bet many of you possess a plastic toothbrush. Although dental hygiene is paramount, plastic toothbrushes are not. Swap out your brush for a bamboo brush. These are eco-friendly and cost the same amount! I bought a pack of 10 for when my friends forget theirs, and it cost me ~£6.
- Shampoo/shower gel
Did you know, 20% of the bottle volume is the amount of oil needed to make a plastic bottle? Imagine how much better shampoo bars and soap bars are for the environment, especially as they can be wrapped in paper rather than in plastic packaging. Although specialist shampoo bars can be pricey, they’re actually economically worthwhile in the long run. My shampoo bar cost me less than £3, and it lasts 80 washes.
Plastic razors aren’t exactly great, so why not give yourself a smooth shave with a metal razor and live out your James Bond dreams. There are plenty of companies out there which sell eco-friendly razors, so have a peek. Again, they may seem expensive but they’re much better than cheap plastic ones which you throw out after 5 uses as they’re blunt AF.
You can buy bamboo earbuds instead of plastic ones. They look snazzy and don’t take
forever to degrade.
Have you ever stopped to think about how much plastic is thrown away from pads and tampons? Think about how much you get through, then multiply that by every woman. That’s a heck of a lot of unnecessary plastic that turtles are choking on. Try a menstrual cup instead. They cost ~£20 but that means you never have to buy pads and tampons again (so you basically earn back the cost in 4 months and from then on, you’re saving). I know it may seem icky at the start, but everyone who I’ve spoken to says they’d never go back. I’ve even explained my one to my BF which is great as men are totally clueless when it comes to periods.
The majority of girls wear make-up, so this is an important one. I hope you all choose cruelty free makeup (be careful of brands which sell in China as animal testing must take place, and also have a look to see which companies own other companies e.g. the Body Shop is ‘cruelty free’ but they’re owned by L’Oreal who test on animals). However, I reckon a very small percentage of ladies think about the plastic they get through. Every item you wear has plastic. Mascara, lipstick, concealer. Try to choose plastic free options if possible and make sure the brand you’re buying from is sustainable. Bonus: John Lewis have a scheme where you can bring 5 empty makeup items back to get £5 off your next beauty purchase. You get PAID to RECYLE!
You’re all aware showers use up less water than baths, so try to keep the baths to a minimum. Need help? Just remember you’re floating around in your own bum juice.
- Limit flushes
By this I mean: ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down’. Be mindful.
- Water bottle
Stay healthy and hydrated with a water bottle. I have a gorgeous glass bottle with a bamboo lid I’m obsessed with, but if you want something lighter, try a metal bottle. Anything but those rubbish leaky plastic bottles, ugh!
- Travel cup
Did you know, you can’t actually recycle those ‘cardboard’ take-away cups? They’re lined with plastic to stop the paper disintegrating so unfortunately, they become landfill. The solution: a travel cup! Pick a funky design and hopefully your local café will give you 5p off your order.
- Food wraps
By now, you’ve probably gathered plastic is bad, so cling film isn’t great. I use sandwich paper instead, but a cool alternative is wax paper. You can buy sheets which mould to the heat of your hand so you can wrap your food sustainably. If you’re not a fan, stick your food into Tupperware or an old bread bag you can reuse.
- Glass bottles
Instead of buying plastic bottles, go for glass, where possible. I’m thinking water, juice, milk. In fact, maybe give your local milkman a go! Also, have a think about choosing cans over plastic bottles.
- Loo roll
Loo roll comes in big plastic bags. You can now buy loo roll in paper wrapping. That’s a win.
- Plastic cups
Stop using those annoying single use plastic cups at water fountains and get yourself a water bottle instead. You can drink on the go and don’t have to worry about finding a bin.
- Loose fruit and veg
Ditch the plastic bags and buy the exact number of fruit/veg you need, at a cheaper price, plastic free. I bet that’ll stop half your food getting mouldy, stop your bank account draining and stop seagulls choking on bags.
- Grow your own fruit and veg
Unlimited fruit and vegetables, forever, for free.
- Loose leaf tea
TEA BAGS ARE LINED WITH PLASTIC. BUY A CUTE TEA INFUSER (I have a manatee and a fish) AND ENJOY PLASTIC-FREE TEA. THIS IS CHEAPER PER CUP.
- Compostable coffee pods
If you’re a coffee fan, you’ll have noticed your coffee pods are made of plastic. Next time you’re stocking up, nab a compostable pod instead. Same coffee, better for the environment.
Opt for mints over gum as gum contains plastic so it’s rubbish to decompose. Or just brush your teeth, hahaha.
- Zero-waste shop
Shops exist where you bring your own containers so that you can fill them up with all sorts of stuff, without requiring plastic packaging. I did this before uni., so I had lentils, cereals, dried fruit, chocolate and plenty of other goodies for months. In fact, I still have some left over!!! My local shop is tiny, but it has everything. The main section is for food, but at the back you can buy cleaning and healthcare products. It’s absolutely brilliant, and the quality is superb for a fraction of the price.
- Food packaging
See the above for a plastic free version, where you can buy loose fruit and vegetables or shop at a zero-waste shop. If you’re still using your local supermarket, may I suggest you try to find food packaging which doesn’t contain plastic. My bin at uni. only ever contained food wrappers, nothing else. It really made me think about how much plastic the average household gets through, but I was pleased that my consumption was very low. Think of the planet and try to go plastic free. Farmers’ markets are cheap and usually well packaged with minimal plastic.
- Natural clothes
Right. I hate child labour and awful ethics. Unfortunately, with the rise of fast fashion, shops like boohoo and PLT provide cheap clothes, but no one stops to think why they’re so cheap. I’m not here to talk about scruples with you but basically, my point is, choose natural materials such as cotton over polyester. Purchase from ethical shops (a quick internet search will help you, but know that Nike and Next are bad, Adidas and M&S are good, and anything selling dresses for £4 is awful). Try to buy second hand, as well. Charity shops are a great option, otherwise look to depop or ebay, as you can buy hardly worn items for a discounted price.
- Eco-friendly washing powder
Washing powder contains chemicals which are bad for you and your skin, so it’s kind of weird that you wash your clothes and then wear them, as they’re now carrying those bad chemicals. Choose eco-friendly options as they’ll be good for the environment so they’ll be natural, meaning you can wear them without developing a rash, and/or something worse.
- Go to the shops
Get off your bum, get active and actually head down to the shop for once rather than constantly ordering online. Plastic packaging is rubbish, and so are the air miles used to get it here. Too far away? Hop on the train, or even the bus. Just stop being lazy and do something for the environment!
- Eco-friendly washing up supplies
Same again, really. It’s going down your sink, so it needs to be alright for the fishies, as well as your delicate skin. Ecover is good (as far as I know)!
- Present wrapping
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that wrapping paper cannot be recycled due to the chemicals used to get those glorious hues. Brown paper is cool (plus you can personalise it and make it your own by drawing across it), but you can also use a gift bag (which can be reused over and over) or use those beautiful opalescent tulle string bags which are lovely and can be reused forever. Last minute idea? Wrap it in a scarf so you can tie a cute bow.
Single use pens are out. Get yourself a peng pen so you look smart and can replace the cartridge, rather than using those rubbish cheap pens which are entirely plastic (e.g. Bic). Have some class and save the environment at the same time.
- DIY notebooks
Save scraps of paper or old letters which do not contain sensitive information and write on the back of them. You’d recycle them anyway, so why not(e) clip them together to make a notepad rather than forking out £10 for a new one.
With the rise of digital reading devices such as the Kindle, eBooks are a brilliant invention which allows the reader to save money and trees, whilst the author still gets paid. The books are cheaper and don’t take up loads of space. I really can’t see a downside! If you really miss that book-in-hand feel, give your local library a go.
Want to save money as well as the environment? Don’t stick your radiator on; stick a jumper on instead! It saves you £££ and uses up less energy. Happy days!