We’re probably all very well aware by now that we need to be using less plastic in our daily lives. It’s harmful to the environment in so many ways, and a lot of it is still not even being recycled. We’re now in Plastic Free July; a global movement which began in Australia in 2011 to challenge people to reduce their plastic use throughout July. These days environmentally-conscious people all over the world celebrate Plastic Free July by reducing their plastic consumption (or removing it completely) for a whole month! It’s a great way to become more aware of how much plastic you really consume – probably a lot more than you think! So why not take part, starting with these simple ways to use less plastic during July and beyond.
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1. Shop at Your Local Refill Store
Plastic-free, zero waste refill stores are popping up all over the place and are great for buying day to day products, plastic free! Stock up on food items such as pasta, rice, cereals, herbs and spices; cleaning products such as washing up liquid and bathroom cleaner; and cosmetic products like shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. Simply hold on to your empty plastic and glass containers/bottles and pay a visit to a zero waste store to have them refilled with whatever you need.
2. Choose Solid Cosmetics
Swap bottles for bars when it comes to products like body wash, shampoo and conditioner. With minimal, recyclable cardboard or sometimes even zero packaging, they’re great for reducing your plastic waste.
3. Try Smol for Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
I converted to Smol a couple of years ago for my dishwasher tablets and laundry capsules. It’s a subscription service with fantastic eco-friendly products. The outer packaging is all FSC approved cardboard, and the capsules themselves are all 100% water soluble and biodegradable. Smol has now expanded their range to offer refillable liquid cleaning products, which come in the form of dissolvable tablets which you add to water in their “bottles for life”, made from recycled waste plastic.
4. Try a Refillable Deodorant Subscription
Deodorant is another of those daily use products that you probably don’t think twice about because you genuinely need it. But brands like Wild are great for offering an alternative – a refillable product free of single use plastic. This is another subscription-based product, so you’ll get refills for your very stylish deodorant case as often as you need them.
6. Carry a Tote Bag
The issue with single use plastic carrier bags has been highlighted for years now, and since they now come with their own price tag we’re probably all conscious of how many we use. I like to always have a canvas tote bag in my handbag so that if I pop into a shop to pick up a few items on my way home I don’t end up needing to buy a plastic carrier bag.
5. Prepare in Advance for Drinks on the Go
Rather than getting caught out by thirst, I always like to carry water with me in my reusable bottle. This stops me from picking up a plastic bottle of drink when I’m out and about, which is great for avoiding plastic but it also saves me money. If you prefer hot drinks you could consider carrying a reusable coffee cup for trips to Costa, or taking your own hot drinks out in a flask to save £.
8. Avoid Disposable Cutlery and Straws
Basically, if you don’t really need them, don’t take them. They’ll only end up in landfill.
7. Buy Loose Fruit & Veg
A lot of supermarkets are finally starting to move towards plastic-free packaging for their fruit and veg, but markets and smaller grocers also often sell their fresh produce loose. A great benefit of loose fruit and veg is you only have to buy what you need (great for smaller households), and you can support your local economy if you shop local too!
9. Buy Second Hand
Items such as plastic children’s toys can have a second life. Buy and sell your unwanted items through places such as Vinted, Facebook Marketplace, Ebay and charity shops so that they don’t just end up in landfill.
10. If You Can’t Reduce, Reuse
Take a look at some of your empty plastic containers to see how they could be reused. A lot of them could be refilled in a zero waste shop (as mentioned above), but they could also provide other storage solutions – paint pots; bird feeders; bottles for watering plants for example. And of course, a lot of plastic containers are always suitable for child-friendly craft projects.
And…. Don’t Forget to Recycle What You Can
There’s still a lot of plastic out there, and so much of it is used on products we need and use daily. We’re a long way from being able go fully plastic free with ease. So it’s worth getting acquainted with what plastics you can recycle in your local area. A lot of plastic is widely recycled, and even soft plastics can now be collected at places like Co-Op.
I hope this post inspires you to think of ways you could reduce your plastic use daily. Perhaps you even have some ideas of your own! Leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions for how to use less plastic.