How to go plastic free – think small changes, consistently

  • Choose produce not products 
  • Choose produce that is unwrapped, organic and fairtrade where possible. Support local markets and organic farmers.
  • Don’t use cling film, you can’t recycle it and it’s practically impossible to reuse.  You can cover anything that needs to be covered in a bowl with a plate on top or use some tupperware you possibly already have. Beeswax wraps are another alternative.
  • Use tupperware when buying deli foods and cheeses. Most cheese, sliced ham and other sliced meat wrappings are not recyclable.
  • Take your tupperware to the butchers, if you eat meat. They will happily put your meat in your containers that are easily stored in the fridge.
  • Choose clothes made from natural fibres, organic cotton or hemp or preloved items are even more beneficial to the environment. Reuse, repair, recycle. Even when you buy so many new clothes do you still look into your wardrobe saying ” I have nothing to wear”
  • Wash clothes less, before you add to the laundry pile see if you can manage another wear or more. Is it actually dirty? Washing synthetic fibres releases thousands of synthetic micro fibres that pass through washing machine filters and into our acquatic systems and then into our food! These synthetic fibres and plastics don’t biodegrade and build up in the ocean.  Wash at lower temperatures and lower spin cycles.
  • Ironing clothes also releases microfibres and microplastics from synthetic clothes – nylon, acrylic, polyester etc. So you should iron less :) I hate ironing and prefer to do things i enjoy with my time so this suits me well.
  • If you’re getting a takeaway tell the restaurant when you’re ordering that you will bring your own containers to bring them home.
  • Don’t use plastic cutlery or straws.
  • Swap chemically treated sanitary towels and tampons for a menstrual cup, I’ve chosen Organicup and it’s a gamechanger, after the first couple of cycles getting used to it.
  • Invest in a resuable coffee cup if you love coffee
  • Pick up a resuable, recyclable water bottle. You can fill it up anywhere you go. Use the money you save on buying bottled water to splurge on a home water filter
  • Just don’t buy bottled water. One of the greatest offenders. Or any drinks in plastic bottles. Choose a glass alternative,tetra paks are also more easily and readily recycled and you can make your own juices.
  • Tin foil / aluminium can be recycled but needs to be grouped together in a tennis ball size to be recovered in the plant. Store it until you have enough to recycle before putting it in the bin, or better still don’t use it :)
  • Know your recycling smybols. Many packages carry a recycling symbol that looks like it’s recyclable, the green dot. This does not mean that it’s recyclable. It is simply a mark to show that the supplier is committed to protecting the environment by funding the recovery and recycling of packaging waste.
  • To recycle you need to see the mobius loop – three arrows in a circle. This means that a product is either recyclable or has some recycled content. The figure in the centre 1-7 also represents how toxic the plastics are.

The following graphic is a quick summary of the plastics labels and their “threat” level.

recycling numbers

Recycling numbers

  • Make eco bricks with any non recyclables you do accrue . It will keep the plastic out of the ocean for another while until hopefully a solution is provided to dispose of it. Find a person or group who are building with eco bricks and contribute to them.
  • Use old towels cut in pieces as wipes instead of the disposable wipes and kitchen towels that I’ve admittedly used hundreds of in the past.
  • Use soap bars instead of hand gel and shampoo.
  • Choose bamboo instead of plastic toothbrushes.
  • Use compostable bin liners instead of black bags or don’t use a bag at all and simply put your rubbish directly in the black bin. If you don’t compost at home, Logan Waste are trialling a brown bin scheme, hopefully be available everywhere soon!!  Please don’t burn your rubbish 🙈 seems to be so acceptable in parts.
  • Going back to school, choose sustainable schoolbags and coats that can be passed on not themed items that will date quickly. Look for non pvc and toxic plastic coatings that will be rubbed from hands to mouths several times during the day and ingested into little bodies to process.
  • Pick up things second hand, cut down on plastic toys and collect memories not things. Give tickets, gift vouchers or pay for lessons instead of plastic toys that will eventually end up in landfill after a generally short life cycle.
  • Stop buying cheap crap made out of plastic, it will break but it will never fully break down when you throw it away
  • Use recyclable wrapping paper without sellotape on gifts, paper with sellotape or glitter does not pass the crunch test and can not be recycled
  • Only buy investment pieces that can be passed on, say no to fast fashion
  • Choose shoes made from sustainable materials. You can get flip flops made from old yoga mats :)
  • Leave no trace when you are in the great outdoors, if you see rubbish – pick it up, lead by example
  • Stop chewing gum. People used to chew on chicle, a chewing gum made from tree sap. Nowadays, it’s more likely that you are chewing on a polymer. That’s a plastic made from oil that’s pretty similar to the plastic used in car tyres!
  • Use loose tea instead of tea bags, they are also laced with plastic
  • If staying in a hotel, don’t use the little bottles of free shampoo, conditioners etc. Many larger groups are already phasing these out in an effort to reduce their massive environmental waste footprint:)

I’ve done ok in my efforts to go plastic free this July, and have now continued into August. My efforts will continue into the future to reduce my use of plastic and to create less waste. I’ve also noticed that I’m eating healthier by not buying as many products and filling up on healthier options. It’s challenging when I take my children to the supermarket to explain what we can and can’t buy. However, they are more interested now in knowing what’s good for the world and what’s not. More importantly, I’m doing this for them and the future generations so I try to stick to it and endure any tantrums… There’s plenty of glass, paper and cardboard options in the supermarket too :)

Don’t try to do it all at once, take small steps, be the change ❤

Good luck.

Odel