Show your bottle
We’re throwing away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year in the UK. With stores like Waitrose phasing them out, it’s easy to do your bit by taking a reusable coffee mug when you’re out and about. Some companies will even offer you a discount if you present your own cup to the barista – what’s not to love!
It’s the same with bottled water. You’ll save a tonne of money, and lots of plastic if you refill your own water bottle. There are more and more companies offering free tap water refills in cities throughout the country.
Ditch the straw
Many takeaways shops and cafes automatically assume you want a straw. I would go so far to say that unless you have a medical condition which dictates otherwise, nobody needs a straw. We can all raise awareness by saying no and encouraging eating establishments to go straw free. If you need to use one, you can purchase reusable ones made from stainless steel.
Grab a spork!
Many meals on the go include disposable plastic cutlery. Consider carrying mini cutlery with you – toddler cutlery is ideal, or a camping spork!
Cleaning the home
Refill stations for cleaning products such as washing up liquid, laundry liquid and fabric conditioner are becoming more commonplace. You’ll save money and reduce the amount of plastic containers you use.
Make your own
For household cleaning items you can’t refill, consider making your own. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time oncoming – Glass and mirror cleaner can be made with equal quantities of white vinegar and water. And here is my recipe for an amazing antibacterial multi-purpose cleaner.
Health and beauty
Go plastic free
Open your bathroom cabinets and you’ll probably be met with an array of products all wrapped in plastic. When these run out and you need to replace them, search for plastic-free alternatives. Try solid shampoo bars, switch to bar soap, use coconut oil and a skin moisturiser and hair conditioner, try washing your skin in clay and you could even make your own toothpaste and deodorant!
Ditch the wipes
Are you using make up wipes? Why not switch them for something that is reusable? It will save you money and reduce your landfill. Try a flannel, muslin cloth or crochet your own make up wipes. I just use my hands – no plastic there!
Keeping hair free
Living with less plastic doesn’t mean embracing your inner cave man / woman. Instead of disposable razors, switch to an old fashioned safety razor. These will last for ages and a blunt blade can be recycled as it’s metal.
Most toothbrushes are made from plastic. Fortunately more and more plastic-free options are coming into market. Here are four ideas to get you started. From bamboo to trees, I’ve covered it all! You can buy pure silk dental floss in glass bottles from Sally at Natural Spa Supplies.
Microbeads are the new bad boy on the block, causing devastation to marine life. While microbeads are banned in rinse-off products such as facial scrubs, they are still used in leave on products. Check your labels for Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
The first thing we did on our zero waste journey was to stop using disposable plastic carrier bags. You can make your own from old t-shirts or buy reusable bags that will last for years. Remember though, the most ‘zero waste’ purchase is not to make one at all, so if you have old plastic carrier bags at home, just keep using them until they are no longer usable – then recycle them. Most large supermarkets will recycle carrier bags for you.
Fruit and veggies
Buy loose where you can – most supermarkets sell some of their fruits and vegetables loose. If you have a local farmers market or farm shop support them instead – you can buy just the amount you need which not only saves plastic packaging, but reduces food waste too. If there is nothing close by, check out a box scheme delivery – most products will come in just a cardboard box which will be collected for reuse.
If you have considerable amounts of packaging from meat and deli items such as cheese, why not take your own reusable containers? Ask the person to put your container on the scales, tarre off the weight then put your purchases straight into your own container. This will save heaps of packaging over the course of a year and you never know who might be in the queue behind you being inspired!
If you have a favourite product that you’re not prepared to go without, but comes in excess packaging then make your voice known! You can either leave the packaging at the checkout or return packaging back to the manufacturer by post with a letter outlining what you’d like them to do instead. You might feel like you are a lone voice, but if we all do the same it’s amazing what impact it can have!
It’s not just the environment that benefits when you reduce your reliance on plastic. Here are some of the numerous positive side effects for you! Here are ten ways that using less plastic will benefit YOU!
Stacks of half used toiletries taking up room in your bathroom?
Once you ditch the plastic, you’ll find yourself taking better care of the things you have and your bathroom bin will no longer be full of used razors, packaging and feminine hygiene products
Feeling the pinch?
You can save money by buying more from the market or farm shop; where you can often buy the exact amount you need, rather than excess food in excess packaging.
Need to budget?
Fewer impulse buys means more money stays in your bank account.
Hate emptying the bin?
We put our bin out every few months because there’s hardly anything in there!
Hate grocery shopping?
By the time you’ve loaded up your trolley, unpacked onto the conveyor belt, packed it back up again, carried it to the car, taken it out of the boot, carried it into the house, unpacked into the cupboards, it can be quite a task. By buying only what you need, the volume of groceries to carry and unwrap reduces, meaning you do your job quicker and get to spend more time doing the things you love.
Fed up of living in a mess?
By being a more mindful consumer you have less ‘stuff’ taking up space in your home. More space. More time. Less housework.
Want to feel good?
Supporting local business like the baker, butcher, farm shop and greengrocer means your money is being used to support your own local community.
Feeling lethargic and overweight?
By buying less junk food and convenience meals you’ll be able to purchase better quality food, which in turn will help you eat more healthily.
Learn new skills
Did you know you can make toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning products – and that’s just the start! By adopting a zero waste lifestyle you might learn how to sew, knit, repair things and some DIY.
New Plastics Economy
Here’s some inspiration to design plastics that never become waste:
HOW ABOUT #ZEROWASTE TOOTHPASTE? DOES IT EXIST?
From surfing around the net I’ve found a couple of alternatives:
Cindy got in touch to tell me about LUSH, who make a product called “Toothy Tabs” – a solid alternative to toothpaste.
These are ‘tablets’ containing bicarbonate of soda, clay and essential oils which come in a cardboard box!
DIY toothpaste recipes
There are heaps of recipes available on the Internet for making your own toothpaste. Here are a couple:
Homemade toothpaste recipe 1
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp glycerin
- 1-2 drops essential oil of your choice – peppermint, lemon or orange are good
Mix everything together in a blender and store in a screw top jar
Homemade toothpaste recipe 2
Quite a few people use coconut oil as follows:
- 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 4 tbsp coconut oil
- 1-2 drops essential oil
As before, blitz everything together and store in a screw top jar
Colgate promise to recycle
In a press release Karen from The Rubbish Diet shared with me, Colgate have said they will make packaging for 3/4 of its product categories completely recyclable – woohoo!
The bad news?
Don’t expect to see it until 2020.
What about you – any ideas for zero waste toothpaste?
SIX PLASTIC FREE DEODORANT IDEAS
When trying to reduce waste, most people are left with a few items in their landfill bin, much of which is plastic.
So one way to get close to zero waste is to reduce the amount of plastic you use.
But it’s everywhere isn’t it?
From disposable biros to carrier bags to packaging, we can’t get away from it.
I’ve decided to tackle some of the everyday things we use and try to find alternatives.
I’m starting with deodorant – something most of us reach for at least once a day.
Aerosol cans are recyclable along with food tins and cans but many people use roll on or stick deodorants which come in thick plastic packaging.
Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives:
Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
Bicarbonate of soda is the simplest powder deodorant you can use! Add a few drops of your favourite anti bacterial essential oil such as tea tree or lemon if you’re worried about pongy pits and apply the powder to your underarms.
Apparently, the lauric acid in coconut oil kills odour-causing bacteria to keep you smelling sweet. And according to users it doesn’t stain clothes; which was my first concern. To use, just dab a tiny amount of the coconut oil on your fingers and rub around your underarms.
Natural potassium alum works on the bacteria that causes wiffs. Some brands, like Pitrok, shape their crystals into plastic packaging, but if you buy from somewhere like Natural Spa Supplies you’ll get your crystal sent to you wrapped in cardboard and paper.
Weleda sell deodorant in glass bottles which you can then refill at home if you choose. Refill with witch hazel, distilled water and essential oils of your choice. I make mine using lemon, lime, grapefruit, coriander, clove and lavender for a lovely zesty fragrance.
LUSH sell a couple of solid deodorant bars containing bicarbonate of soda and essential oils which can be bought sans plastic packaging.
DIY deodorant recipe
If you’re feeling creative, why not give this a go:
- 4 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 4 tbsp arrowroot
- 6 tbsp coconut oil
- 10 drops favourite essential oil
- Gently melt the coconut oil in a bain marie
- Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients
- Pour into a suitable shaped mould (a great way to reuse a rogue plastic vending machine cup, perhaps?) and leave to set
What about you? Any suggestions for plastic free deodorant?
Both are leading websites for helping householders reduce landfill waste. Her work has attracted media stories and engagement in documentaries, film and radio both locally and abroad.