How To Go Plastic-free! (30 Tips for 2019)
If you didn’t take part in our recent 30 days plastic-free challenge, don’t worry!
In this post we will compile all 30 tips from the challenge, so you can finally wave goodbye to waste and give plastic the boot.
But whats the big deal with plastic pollution?
There’s some scary headlines floating around at the moment, one recent study found plastic pollution to be so widespread microplastics have now been found in arctic ice.
Plastics in the ocean are killing marine life, with an estimated 100,000 animals a year falling victim to the plastic scourge.
The problems don't stop there, plastic is finding its way into the food we eat, water we drink and even air we breathe!
Cleary then, something has to be done about plastic pollution and it's devastating impact.
But, it can seem so daunting, a material that’s everywhere and so integral to our daily lives, it can almost seem impossible to ditch.
It doesn’t have to be that way, armed with the right knowledge you can go with your best foot forward in your zero-waste, plastic-free journey.
Let’s get started…
Tip #1 Track your plastic consumption
Pretty unattainable to us mere mortals, but it's certainly impressive and is something to be strived for!
We recommend tracking the plastic waste you generate, either through retaining and storing or tracking in a diary.
This visual prompt reminds you just how much plastic waste you produce and can often be the kick up the toosh required to #passonplastic!
Tip #2 Cut out the plastic carrier bags
Image source: @librettoreviews (IG)
An item that is often used for as little as 20 minutes will then persist in the environment for 100s of years. This use of such a throwaway item is definitely unsustainable to say the least.
Swap your plastic carrier bags for reusable totes when you shop, and for those of you that forget, make sure you keep a tote in your car, one by the door and one at work to make sure you're never without.
Tip #3 Drink your tea plastic-free
One of the world's favourite drinks is also a common source of plastic.
Many teabags are sealed with polypropylene, some even have it woven into the bags themselves. This means with every cup of tea you're ingesting plastic particles, pretty gross I think you’ll agree!
Swap for loose leaf tea, not only is it plastic-free the quality of the tea itself is often better making that brew all the more delicious.
Tip #4 Reuse first, dont purge
It’s very tempting to rid your life of all plastic items when deciding to go low-waste and plastic-free, but this can actually be pretty counter intuitive.
Don’t forget one of plastic’s key properties is that it lasts forever, this means many plastic items will remain useful for years to come and should be reused first before being disposed of.
Don’t be tempted to bin those plastic lunchboxes, plastic bottles (they can be used for one of the later tips) and other useful items.
Tip #5 Buy into baking soda
image source: @the.kind.and.intentional.life (IG)
Not only is baking soda vital for baking, it’s also an essential tool in a budding zero-wasters arsenal. It has fantastic cleaning, anti-microbial even deodorising properties, check out our top 5 uses:
- Baking soda makes a great treatment to soothe insect bites, apply it to the skin along with a bit of water for instant relief
- Cleaners of all kinds can be made with baking soda, including surface cleaner, toilet cleaner, drain cleaner and more.
- You can make a natural deodorant by using baking soda along with coconut oil and corn starch, with this deodorant can avoid harmful chemicals such as aluminium often used in deodorants and anti-perspirants.
- An amazing home made toothpaste, click here to check out our recipe.
Tip #6 catch pesky micro plastics
Did you know every load of gym clothes you wash could be releasing 700,000 micro plastic fibres into our waterways, the toxic effect of this mass release of micro plastics is yet to be fully understood.
However we certainly know it makes it's way up the food-chain, small animals like krill mistake the particles for food and ingest it, then fish ingest those krill and so on.
But don’t worry, making use of a micro plastic catching laundry bag like those from guppy friend will ensure you’re not releasing all that plastic every time you do laundry.
Tip #7 Go waste-free at festivals
Just one look at the sea of tents and plastic cups left after a festival is enough to know music festivals have a darker side.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, we created a handy post that shows you exactly how you can have fun waste-free next time you go to a festival.
Tip #8 Spread the message
An easy way to multiply your eco-friendly efforts is to spread the message, that’s why we started a free zero-waste community you can use to seek inspiration and spread information on your plastic-free journey.
Tip #9 ditch the gum.
Gum can often be a synthetic plastic containing “petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, or latex”.
This list of synthetic chemicals has more place in a laboratory than in your mouth, the base of gum is also synthetic rubber which i'm sure you've seen stuck to pavements in your local town.
Pass on chewing on plastic, you can always switch to natural gums if you miss it.
Tip #10 join a beach clean
Community efforts are now springing up everywhere to tackle plastic pollution at a local level. Remember, every piece of plastic trash that you pick up is removing a potential hazard from the environment.
Find a group local to you by searching “plastic free + your town name/local beach” on Facebook or check out the surfers against sewage network.
Tip #11 swap for soap nuts
image source: @plantedinthewoods (IG)
Soapnuts are a natural, non-polluting, biodegradable alternative to plastic wrapped detergents. They work by releasing a natural cleaning agent known as a saponin and unlike synthetic detergents don’t contain any nasty hidden chemicals.
They can be purchased from plenty of places, including Amazon.
You can also make your own detergent in a similar way by using horse-chestnuts, so if it's conker season when you're reading this give it a go yourself!
Tip #12 Carry a cup
Disposable coffee cups are a huge contributor to plastic pollution with 7 million used daily in the UK alone, despite their paper like appearance disposable coffee cups are in fact lined with plastic making them nightmare to dispose of.
This often means that they end up un-recycled and in landfill, or worse, plaguing the environment.
Tip #13 Skip the straw
The eco-savvy amongst you may have already skipped the straw, buying your own reusable straws where required and politely passing up on straws when out.
But many are still using straws, an estimated 8.5 billion in the UK alone. Whilst straws are a requirement for people with certain disabilities and the debate for and against a blanket ban rages on, clearly for most, this pointless plastic item should be avoided!
If you need a straws or can’t go without, check out our sustainable steel straws here.
They’re made with food-grade, hand-polished stainless steel that’s 100% BPA & phthalate-free. Every pack of straws comes with 2 plastic-free cotton tipped cleaners, packaged in eco-kraft card and a free linen carry case!
Tip #14 Give ecobricking a go
Ecobricking is the practice of making a building material from waste plastic and bottles.
It gives a purpose to plastics that could otherwise be un-recyclable and be sent to landfill.
We wrote a post on ecobricking, check it out over here.
Tip #15 go paperless
If you’re like many others you may find your letterbox stuffed full of unnecessary mail, most of which could be viewed online.
Many of these innocuous looking letters have a hidden secret, they're actually a source of plastic. They often contain a plastic viewing window or have other sources of plastic in the envelope. They're also certainly a wasteful use of paper.
For bank statements, mobile phone bills, utility bills and more opt for paperless statements to declutter your mailbox an avid this often forgotten source of waste.
Tip #16 buy bottled
image source: @dejacor (IG)
On average 100 litres of milk are consumed per person per year in the UK. The vast majority of which comes in plastic milk containers,
Switching to milk delivered in glass bottles is a great alternative, you can also find many plant-based alternatives that come packed plastic-free which also have a reduced environmental impact.
Many plant based alternatives can also be made at home plastic-free and relatively inexpensively.
Tip #17 buy in bulk
Bulk-stores offer produce in bulk (typically dry goods) so you can buy exactly how much you need. They also allow you to use your own containers to buy the goods.
Cutting down on food waste and packaging waste! Double whammy!
Tip #18 buy bar form toiletries
image source: @dejacor (IG)
Stop buying soap/shampoo/body wash in plastic containers and instead use the plastic-free alternative bar forms.
Disposable plastic bathroom products are big contributors to plastic pollution, by making these simple swaps in the bathroom you can really cut down on your plastic waste!
Natural bar forms also come with more natural and less toxic ingredients that are kinder to you and the planet.
Tip #19 Clean with vinegar
Part 2 to cooking ingredients that make great cleaners is vinegar! White vinegar can be diluted with water and some natural scents by addition of essential oils, citrus scraps or herbs and used as a great multi purpose cleaner.
Simply add water to vinegar in a 1:1 ratio, allow it to steep with whatever sources of scent you want to use and you're away!
Tip # 20 The problem with plastics
Avoiding plastic pollution is a hot button issue and is now seeing mainstream coverage. But many people are still unsure what the fuss is about, a bit of information and motivation can be all is required to give you the boost you need.
If you're already clued up but know a friend or family member that might need a nudge in the direction of sustainability, send it over to them!
Tip #21 Avoid plastic nappies
Most of which can very easily be avoided by switching to reusable cloth nappies or a biodegradable alternative!
Tip #22 pass on microfibre cloths
Did you know microfibre cloths are actually a hidden source of plastic microfibres?
Many of these cloths contain synthetic materials like polyester and every time they're used could be shedding plastic particles!
Avoid these plastic pollutants by opting for natural reusable cloths, you can also repurpose old cotton clothing to make your own, reducing waste and saving money.
Tip #23 swap your washing up liquid
Switch your washing up liquid for a plastic-free soap block.
Not only are washing up soap blocks packaged free of plastic, they contain fewer toxic chemicals than many traditional dishwashing soaps and last miles longer.
Grating and mixing with water can create your own liquid dish soap and make your block last longer too!
Tip #24 brush with bamboo
1 billion plastic toothbrushes will be thrown away this year, the vast majority of which will end up in landfill or polluting the environment. A disposable item should not be made from a material that persists and poisons the environment for 100s of years.
Switch to a more sustainable alternative in the form of the bamboo toothbrush, these toothbrushes are made with one of the fastest growing sustainable crops, bamboo!
Soseas bamboo toothbrushes are unique in that they use bamboo-fibre in the bristles too!
Tip #25 say no to non-stick!
Non-stick pans are coated in a layer of plastic known as teflon. When this teflon is heated in older pans or when it reaches high temperatures it can release dangerous chemicals.
Swap that non-stick pan for a traditional cast-iron pan to avoid ingesting plastic when you cook.
Tip #26 protest the plastic
Whilst we don’t necessarily mean painting a sign and gathering in Trafalgar Square protesting offers of single-use plastics in the form of straws and plastic cups sends a strong message!
Change from big companies will only come when they realise their customers needs have changed, so whilst you might think you saying no to a straw makes no difference sooner or later they will listen.
Tip #27 Ditch bottled water, refill instead!
Drinking bottled water produces a tremendous amount of waste, a million bottles a minute are discarded worldwide!
This is resulting an an environmental crisis that many believe will have an impact as devastating as climate change, for disaster to be avoided bottled water needs to be boycotted.
There’s never been a better time to switch to carrying your own bottle to refill, with free water refill stations popping up nationwide, you can save money, the environment and even avoid the leaching of chemicals like BPA.
Head to refill.org.uk for more info on where to find your nearest refill station.
Tip #28 Go glitter free
Did you know glitter is classed as a micro plastic? Due to its small size its classed a micro plastic, this makes glitter a real hazard as it can often be mistaken for food by marine life.
Go glitter free or use a biodegradable alternative.
Tip #29 replace plastic-bristled brushes
Image source: @quathyza (IG)
Did you know every time you sweep, scrub and brush using plastic-bristled brushes you’re shedding loads of tiny plastic fragments that linger in the environment for 100s of years to come.
These tiny plastic fragments are pervasive and impossible to remove from the environment once released.
Make the switch to brushes that make use of of natural bristles to ensure you’re not releasing potentially hazardous micro plastics into the environment every time you clean.
Tip #30 don’t give up!
Eco-anxiety is on the rise, the overwhelming sense of helplessness felt with every new damning headline, news story and report on the prevalence of plastic pollution and ever-dwindling resources.
But, it’s important to maintain hope, with going plastic-free starting to see mass adoption strides are being made in the right direction. It takes resourcefulness and commitment from people like YOU, reading this post to make a difference.
Go forth into the world eco-hero and spread the word, multiply your efforts and never lose hope!
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