Could one of your new year’s resolutions be going plastic free or at least reducing your use of single use plastics?
It’s been a little over a year since the Blue Planet 2 series and what a change we have seen in the awareness about plastics. You might have even changed some of your plastic habits in the last year, and if so the planet thanks you! Though if you haven’t, or are thinking of further reducing your use of single use plastics here are a few ideas for some simple swaps you can make.
There is an overwhelming amount of single use plastic around and sometimes it can be hard to know where to start but our advice would be to start with a few or maybe even just one swap and once it’s ‘normal’ try the next swap. Whatever you are doing we would love to hear from you, do share some of your swaps and the great products you have come across on your plastic free journey.
The obvious ones:
- Reusable shopping bag – A great alternative to the plastic supermarket ‘bag for life’ are ones made from more sustainable materials such as jute or bamboo, there are heaps on the market that also allow you to support the campaign.
- Refillable water bottle – There are literally hundreds of options around, and again many alternative materials than plastic, and now thanks to Refill there are also loads of places to refill your water bottle when you are out and about.
- Reusable coffee cups – Again there are endless options, many of the larger environmental campaigning organisations also sell these and most high street coffee shops offer a discount when using one. Check out our mapcovering the lovely coffee shops and restaurants of St Albans offering a discount.
- If you are still using straws at home there are now stainless steel, bamboo, paper and even pasta alternatives, some can be reused and cleaned in the dishwasher.
Some other alternatives and swaps you can make around the house:
In the bathroom:
Swap your shampoos, conditioners and shower gels for bar soap versions. There are a number of retailers doing this with Lush leading the way on the high street but many other alternatives do exist which also encapsulate vegan and organic properties.
Tooth brushes & paste – Try a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush or at least swap out the full plastic brush for the smaller electric toothbrush heads. Natural toothpaste or powder can be found from suppliers such as Georganics.
Floss – This can now also be found in glass jars instead of plastic containers, try dental lace from Anything but Plastic
Razors – Biodegradable bamboo options are now in the likes of Boots from Bull Dog, though electric rechargeable razors are great for eliminating the single use items.
Cotton buds – Most supermarkets and pharmacies now only stock the ones with a paper core, replacing those plastic ones made famous by the National Geographic photograph.
Toilet paper – Obviously toilet paper is biodegradable though often they are wrapped in heaps of plastic. Try ones that are wrapped in paper or even naked, such as Who Gives a Crap or Greencanetoilet paper.
Wet wipes – For use around the bathroom, change these for cotton cleaning clothes which can be washed after use rather than being thrown away and muslin face cloths which are gentler on your skin.
If you would like more in depth information about bathroom plastics do check out the article written by Friends of the Earth
Around the house:
Cling film – Try muslin cloth soaked in the beeswax or soya from Beegreen or Boobalou, silicone stretch lids and silicone bowl covers also protect food from spoiling or keeping left overs. Though if you don’t want to spend any money you can of course just cover food in the fridge with a plate over a bowl, or reuse the plastic containers from your last take away!
Party ware – If you are having a party and don’t want to do the washing up why not try environmentally friendly and biodegradable plates, bowls and cutlery from St Albans based Blue Speck?
Fruit and veg – When shopping for fruit and veg, try and avoid items excessively wrapped in plastics. Turtle bags provide a great lightweight cotton alternative to bag your loose items.
Sparkling water – Many of us still provide sparkling water at dinner parties, why don’t you try Soda Stream (yep they still make them and now they come with glass bottles) decant the fizzy water into a lovely glass water jug – I bet your guests won’t know the difference between that and plastic wrapped alternatives.
Coffee – Still need that perk in the morning from the single touch coffee machine? A lot of research has gone into finding alternatives to those little plastic pods, here are some to try: Eden project, Waycup, Brew your own coffee
Balloons – These are full of non-degradable nasties, there are lovely alternatives to brighten a birthday party or occasion such bunting, paper or homemade!
Dry cleaning – While both Swift on London Rd and Laundry Express on Hatfield Rd are still using plastic covers, you can return intact and uncrumpled ones along with your hangers for reuse.
Clothing – A vast amount of clothing also has plastic in it which leaks micro fibres into our water sources when it is washed, there are many natural and sustainable alternatives such as bamboo, cotton and wool. Try and think about your buying habits, some items might seem cheap though when only used for a few wears the impact to the wider environment is costly.
In St Albans we are also lucky to have The Refill Pantry on London Rd as well as Eat Wholefoods on the market twice weekly or Hatfield Rd, where you can buy many whole foods, bathroom alternatives and cleaning products free from plastic packaging, bring your own containers or purchase some (non-plastic ones) in store.
We would love to hear about your alternatives and single use plastic swaps, let us know so we can share it with the community!
DISCLAIMER: Plastic Free St Albans doesn’t endorse any of these products, please try them and make up your own minds.