We should all be making the effort to use less plastic, as it’s piling up in landfill sites, polluting our oceans and endangering our wildlife. It’s not easy, though – fruit and vegetables come wrapped in plastic, fish and meat are wrapped in the stuff, plastic containers make food storage a doddle, and tea or coffee to go makes long journeys bearable. But altering a few daily habits is far better than doing nothing at all. Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your use of plastic at home…
No more plastic bags
When buying fruit and veg at the supermarket, skip the bag. Buy a set of mesh bags and make sure to take them with you every time you do a food shop. The same goes for shopping in general – always have one or two fabric tote bags in your car or handbag so you don’t have to buy a plastic one.
If you shop at independent butchers or greengrocers, ask if you can use your own containers when you buy meat or fruit and veg. Often small, local establishments will happily say yes.
It’s a wrap
If you can – and admittedly, it’s not a cheap option – swap cling-film for beeswax wrap. Pack your lunch in reusable containers rather than buying it every day – it does require a little extra organisation, but it’ll generate a little less waste than getting a daily meal deal, and will save you a few quid too.
Keep your caffeine fix eco-friendly
Got a long commute that requires coffee? Take a travel mug rather than using the cardboard cups you get at coffee shops. They’re lined with a plastic material to make them waterproof, and so they’re often not recycled. You can get bamboo travel mugs which are totally plastic free, collapsible cups that won’t take up too much space in your bag, or if you need to keep your coffee hot for a long time, invest in a proper thermal mug.
If you have a coffee machine at home, consider getting a set of reusable coffee capsules to cut down your use of the single-use pods. Again, it’s a little bit more work – you have to fill the pods yourself – but it’s much more eco-friendly. More of a tea person? Check whether your favourite teabags contain plastic and if they do, consider changing the brand.
Rinse and refill
The same goes for water: we all know we should drink more of it, but plastic bottles are bad news. Keep a reusable one in your bag and remember to rinse and refill it every day. Thermal mugs can obviously double up as water bottles, as they’re designed to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Just make sure you wash it out properly – no-one wants water that tastes of old tea!
Switch up your shopping habits
Be savvy about packaging. Buy in bulk, choose solid bar soaps rather than liquid hand soap, and see if there’s any zero-waste shopping options near you. Most supermarkets are taking at least some action to reduce plastic in their packaging – see what your preferred chain is doing here.
You don’t need five different types of cleaning products in the cupboard under the sink – you can do a lot with just a few storecupboard essentials. Vinegar shines mirrors and shower doors a treat, a paste of water and bicarbonate of soda works as a stain remover, and a cut lemon in a bowl of water placed in the microwave for a few minutes loosens food spots and deals with any odour.
If you’re thinking of revamping your kitchen and you’re happy with the basic layout, simply replacing your unit doors is often enough to give the room a face-lift. Choosing to do this rather than a full renovation generates a lot less waste, making it a more affordable and greener way of improving your home.