Something my husband and I are keen to do this year is reduce the amount of single use plastic we use. You can read more about what we hope to achieve and how in our ‘A Zero Waste Journey‘ blog post.
In this blog post I wanted to share with you some simple swaps that can help you reduce the amount of single use plastic you use.
Every day for school my children have sandwiches which my husband and I would put into plastic sandwich bags. At the end of each week we’d go through 10 plastic sandwich bags. That equates to around 40 a month. That’s quite shocking to be honest.
It’s one of the reasons why we now use food wraps. They’re reusable, wipe clean and in my opinion they’re brilliant.
The waxed reusable food wraps pictured above are from Wearth. They cost just £17.99 for a pack of three. These ones are handmade in Scotland using 100% natural ingredients including Rice Bran Wax, pine resin to help them cling and coconut oil to make them soft. They are natural and a zero waste alternative to cling film and aluminium foil.
Unlike conventional beeswax natural food wraps, as these sandwich wraps are made from Rice Bran Wax (a natural by-product of rice production) they are vegan-friendly. The wraps are also naturally antibacterial and to clean just wipe with soap and cold water and leave to air dry.
The set comes with 1 large (35cm x 35cm), 1 medium (25cm x 25cm) and 1 small wrap (20cm x 18cm) perfect for a wide range of food items.
There are lots of food wraps available each with their own unique designs. The blue whale shark ones pictured above are a plastic-free, planet-friendly alternative to clingfilm. These ones are from &Keep and are £14.00 for two large wraps. You can use them to wrap anything from melon and biscuits, to burritos, sandwiches and spinach.
These BeeBee beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton, beeswax, tree resin and organic jojoba oil, all of which will break down on your compost heap and return to nature.
Also from &Keep are these reusable paper towels. This washable and reusable roll of kitchen towels/all-purpose wipes are made from 100% organic bamboo. One roll costs £9.95.
Reusing paper towels helps reduce deforestation. Did you know that every day, 51,000 trees are felled to meet the daily demand of single-use paper towels affecting the delicate balance of our ecosystem. That’s why Bambaw paper towels come from a sustainable bamboo forest. There are 20 sheets on the roll which will last the equivalent of at least 65 rolls of kitchen towels, saving you money as well as saving the planet. It’s also good to know that there is no plastic outer wrapper as they come wrapped in paper!
The remarkable strength and thickness of bamboo makes these Bambaw towels much stronger than every day paper towels. They can be used on all surfaces including, steel, granite, plastic, wood, ceramic and successfully remove smudges from glass.
As a self-employed cleaner I’ve really started to notice how many plastic bottles of cleaning products I go through in a month. It’s one of the reasons why I’m hoping to make the switch to homemade, natural cleaner.
I found the recipe for this DIY Surface Cleaner from Mamalina, and it’s so easy to make. Simply save your citrus fruit peels such as orange or lemon, pop them in a jar, fill with white vinegar and let it sit for two weeks. Then simply strain it and add the liquid to a spray bottle with half water and half of the citrus and vinegar liquid. I haven’t tried it yet as I’m still in the two week wait phase, but I’ve read lots of positive things about this recipe.
I love that it’s made from all natural ingredients, but also that once you’ve use up all of your spray, you can simply make some more and re-fill your bottle therefore cutting out the need to buy more cleaning products in plastic bottles.
If you’re not keen on making your own cleaner, there are some ec0-friendly versions available on the market.
Ecover sent me some of their laundry products to try out. The Cover website says:
“Ecover was born from seeing first-hand the devastating effect that phosphates from laundry and dishwashing products were having on aquatic life.
Now we’ve got an arguably bigger challenge on our hands – facing up to the world’s over-reliance on single-use plastic. In 2016, less than half of all plastic bottles were collected for recycling and only 7% of those were turned into new bottles [Source: The Guardian, A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’, June 2017]. The resulting impact on waterways and marine life is, to put it bluntly, horrifying – with an estimated 12.7 million tonnes ending up in oceans each year.
We want to be a role model to show the way forward for manufacturers like us to use better, more sustainable types of plastic and reduce our ‘plastic footprint’. To do this, we need to work out how to ‘close the loop’ by recovering and reusing as much packaging as possible and not let it go to waste. And we’re stepping up our efforts to find new biodegradable materials so we can move away from plastic altogether.”
It’s great to hear that big companies such as Ecover are thinking about how to use less plastic. Their fabric softener, wool & delicate laundry liquid, and non-bio laundry liquid for sensitive skin do some in plastic bottles, but the bottles are made with at least 25% recycled PCR plastic which is easily recyclable.
You can read more about Ecover’s clean plastic journey on their website here.
Reusable Shopping Bags
This is one of my pet hates! How many times have you gone to the supermarket or shop and realised just as you’re about to pay that you’ve forgotten to bring your reusable bags with you? This has happened to me on so many occasions, but now that my husband and I are trying to make a more conscious effort to reduce our plastic use, I have upped my game on bags.
I raided my wardrobes, cupboards and drawers for all of the reusable bags I could find, and I was genuinely surprised by how many I found.
Did you know that plastic carrier bags get used on average for just 12 minutes? It’s a shocking statistic and the main reason why I now ensure I always bring my reusable bags with me to the shops. I even keep a stash in my car just in case.
The bag pictured below is from GettingPersonal.co.uk. You can read my review of this and more other products here.
Shampoo bars are very new to me. I only recently discovered them and I have to say I love them. For starters my bathroom windowsill looks ugly when lined up with plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and various body washes etc, but shampoo bars and soaps have changed that now.
The Friendly shampoo bar pictured below is from &keep and it just £2.60! It’s made with castor oil to create a deep conditioning, creamy lather that cleans and cares for your hair and scalp. It’s a long lasting compact bar that combines the relaxing essential oils or lavender and rose geranium.
It’s so easy to use by either adding water to it in your hands and creating a lather in your hands and then applying to your hair, or you can rub the bar directly onto your hair.
Shampoo bars are a long-lasting and compact alternative to plastic-bottled liquid shampoos. Each Friendly bar is handmade with Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Lavender and Rose Geranium essential oils, water. And nothing else.
Pictured below is a shampoo bar I recently bought from Lush. This one is called Jason & The Argan Oil and costs £7.50.
This argan oil-packed, Rose Jam-scented bar is combined with glycerine to give your hair touchable softness and lustrous shine. From this solid foundation restorative rose absolute and oil balances the scalp making this bar particularly perfect for setting fair hair ablaze with brightness and strength. It’s so easy to use that even my seven year old twins have been converted to using it too!
I also bought a hair conditioner bar from Lush called Sugar Daddy-O. This bar costs £6.95. It’s full of luscious linseed infusion and argan oil to nourish. It smells exactly like palma violets which I love! It feels a bit different on your hair compared to bottled conditioner, but it works just as well. I’ve found the best way to use it is to work the bar between your hands before applying a small amount into wet hair; a little really does go a long way. Also, because my hair is long I tend to rub the bar onto the lengths of my hair. You just rinse out as normal then.
Soap bars are a great alternatives to bottled body washes and soaps. You can buy them either wihout any packaging in shops such as Lush or in any zero waste shops, but you can also buy them online and they come in recyclable packaging such as this Hydrophil Shea Butter & Lemongrass Vegan soap, also from &Keep. It’s £4.25 and contains top quality oils from olives, coconuts and sunflower seeds as well as shea butter. Lemongrass makes the soap not only have a cleansing effect but gives it a fresh and aromatic smell.
The soap can be used both for body and hair so say goodbye to all those plastic bottles and hello to a plastic-free bathroom.
These soaps are handmade in Hamburg and individually packed in a recycled cardboard box (compostable). They are free from palm oil, parabens, animal products, alcohol, artificial colouring and fragrances.
Dr. Bronner’s also offer up a range of pure-castile soap bars. Their Almond Pure-Castile Bar Soap is made with certified fair trade ingredients and organic hemp oil for a soft, smooth lather that won’t dry your skin. It’s also 100% biodegradable and comes in a 100% post-consumer recycled wrapper. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Bar Soaps are biodegradable-vegan, gentle and versatile, good for washing body, face or hair!
My children’s favourite soap of them all has to be this cute felted sheep soap from Little Beau Sheep which costs £9.45.
This felted soap is enriched with pure lanolin and wrapped in 100% natural wool. The wool acts as a soap saver and the soap lathers through it. The wool continues to shrink and felt to the soap with use so the soap last a lot longer than an un-felted bar. All you are left with at the end is a small ball of wool that is completely biodegradable. The wool is natural, undyed wool and is gently exfoliating on the skin, it’s like having a soap bar and flannel all in one. It will not slip out your hand as easily as an ordinary bar and does not hold germs due the natural antibacterial properties of wool. It’s a fun and woolly way to wash, the perfect soap for children and adults alike!
Soap Saver Pouch
This soap pouch from &keep is made from one of the world’s important natural fibres, sisal. The soap pouch is great for storing your soap, but it also helps to keep all the little soapscraps together that usually slip through your hands and down the drain.
It’s great for washing as the soap in combination with the soap bag, creates the perfect foam, while the textured surface gives you a lovely scrub, letting your skin shine.
Whilst I was in Lush buying some shampoo bars, I also looked at their face scrubs. I tend to use St Ives Exfoliating scrub, but this comes in a plastic tube. I bought a scrub from Lush called Angels on Bare Skin.
It comes in a little black pot which in itself is rather magical. You see Lush’s little black pots are made from a mix of purchased recycled plastic and recycled black pot material.
Using these simple black pots has another key advantage too: a sustainable recycling scheme that enables them to come back to life more times than an Eastenders cast member. When you return five of these little black pots to Lush you’ll get a free Fresh mask.
When the black pots are returned to LUSH, they hitch a ride back to Poole, Dorset, with the same trucks which deliver fresh products. At the Green Hub (Lush’s in-house recycling centre), the pots are chipped down, washed and dried in a machine called a granulator. The little pieces of plastic are then ready to be melted down and reformulated into new black pots – a part of the process the Green Hub hopes to be able to do in-house in the future with increased returns of black pots. You can read more Lush’s Little black pots online here.
Like many skin and body care products, my usual deodorant is in a plastic bottle. I’ve recently switch to using a natural deodorant from Wearth that’s packaging is completely free of plastic. This includes delivery packaging, making this deodorant a great zero waste alternative.
These all natural and plastic-free deodorants are handcrafted in Bristol, UK using high quality ingredients which work effectively throughout the day to keep you odour free.
Rather than blocking your sweat glands, this deodorant allows your body to release toxins as nature intended. This is not an anti-antiperspirant and will not keep you from sweating. Instead it works with your body naturally to absorb moisture and keep bacteria from producing undesirable body odour.
Facecloths and Reusable Makeup Pads
Swapping wet wipes or face wipes to a facecloth and reusable make up pads has actually improved my skin. I’ll be the first to admit that I used to use baby wipes for so many different things, including taking my makeup off at the end of the day. However, we haven’t actually bought wet wipes for a good number of weeks now and none of us, including our children have missed them.
When it comes to removing my makeup I now either use a facecloth or reusable makeup pads depending on how much make up I’m wearing.
The face cloth pictured below is hand knitted in Devon using 100% recycled cotton yarn. They are soft and gentle and there are three colours available: cream, denim and charcoal. The cloths are perfect for washing away soap, makeup or skincare products. A great alternative to makeup wipes and wet wipes. This one is from Wearth and is £5.95.
I also received a pack of washable dual sided bamboo make-up pads from &Keep, pictured below. These rounds have a supersoft fleece on one side and a bamboo micro-towelling on the other – great for deep cleansing.
If you’re like me and are tired of using packets of wet wipes and disposable cotton pads, then why not make the switch to plastic-free, reusables today! These fabulous washable pads are perfect for removing make-up and cleaning your face at the end of the day. Washable and reusable, there will be no more single-use disposables in your bathroom.
I can’t remember how much I paid for the make up pads pictured below, but I picked them from my local zero waste shop, Ripple, and they’re brilliant. They’re made from organic bamboo cotton and they come up so well in the wash.
One fact that really stood out for me is that every single plastic toothbrush ever made is still in existence. That’s quite a startling figure. It’s also one of the reasons why, as a family, we’ve all switch to bamboo toothbrushes.
The bristles of these BlueRock bamboo toothbrushes are made from Nylon-6, which is a recyclable plastic. The bristles are from DuPont®, promising high material purity so it can be recycled into another product. The bristles are machine punched into the handles so we do not need to use glues or other harmful adhesives. After use, the bristles can be pulled out with pliers and recycled.
BlueRock toothbrush handles are made from Mao Bamboo, the world’s fastest growing plant. It’s an amazing sustainable resource. Bamboo is also naturally antibacterial, which is super handy for a toothbrush, don’t you think? The bamboo handles are completely biodegradable and are suitable for home composting. BlueRock bamboo is FSC-certified and cultivated on the slopes of Zhejiang, China.
Following on from the toothbrushes we have some natural toothpaste by GEORGANICS.
This natural toothpaste is blended with activated charcoal from Coconut shells and organic English Peppermint Essential Oil which cleans and protects your teeth and gums naturally.
The oil has a warm, spicy, sweet liquorice-like aroma whilst the charcoal powder acts as a cleansing and whitening agent. This combination creates a natural, mildly abrasive paste, whilst the activated charcoal cleanses your teeth and helps to whiten them naturally.
Each toothpaste comes in a glass jar with its own bamboo spatula, all packaging is plastic-free making this toothpaste an effective zero waste alternative.
This toothpaste is PETA certified cruelty-free and made with 100% pure food grade ingredients, suitable for all ages including children.
Directions of use – Use your Georganics spatula to scoop a pea-sized amount onto a soft/medium toothbrush. Brush as usual for 2 minutes, leave longer for extra remineralisation.
Reusable Sanitary Pads and Period Pants
Last of all I have to talk to you about reusable sanitary pads and period pants. They’ve been a total game changer for me. No more plasticky, irritating, uncomfortable pads for me! These super soft sanitary pads from Cheeky Wipes are absorbent, have no plastic, come in super cute designs and can you help you to have a plastic free period.
You use them in the same way you would use a single use disposable pad, except when you take them off you simply rinse them under cold water, and soak them in cold water until you’re ready to wash them.
I was worried about staining, but with a small scoop of vanish whilst soaking them in cold water, they came up like new again. They’re comfortable, last longer than a single use pad and they’re better for the environment. You can read my full review of Cheeky Wipes sanitary pads and period pants online here.
I also purchased some night/heavy reusable pads from local zero waste shop, Ripple. These ones are by Hey Girl and they come with a handy wet bag to store them in.
These are just a few of the simple every day swaps you can make to help you reduce the amount of plastic you use, and help you on your journey toward a zero waste life.
For the purpose of this post I was gifted some of the items above. Where I’ve bought products myself I have made this clear. All views and opinoins are 100% my own.