How to go Plastic Free

Plastic is everywhere. Once a highly unused material, it took the world by storm in the 50’s when it’s extremely lightweight, mouldable and cheap characteristics made it perfect for all kinds of products including giving food a longer shelf life. Now don’t get me wrong, plastic is a great material for so many things but the big problem is that it’s being used mindlessly for almost everything now and we have finally come to the realisation that we have a problem, a big one.

Plastic is in landfill not able to biodegrade, it’s in our rivers, our oceans, it’s littering our coastline, it’s floating like huge islands in the Pacific, it’s killing wildlife and marine life, it’s being ingested by fish in the form of tiny micro-plastics, working its way through the food chain and essentially, it’s in us.

This can feel overwhelming. What difference can we make to this huge problem the world is facing? The truth is, we can make a difference. By each of us making small changes in our everyday lives and habits, these small changes grow and multiply into large movements which really do make the difference the world needs to see.

So how do we make changes in our day to day life to move towards a plastic-free life? We have some tips for you to get started on the journey to plastic-free low waste living.

Do a plastic packaging list

Just before recycling day, go through your recycling box and make a list of all the different products that were packaged in plastic, these are your target changes that you want to make during your shopping trips. If you can stomach it, also go through your bin before bin day because this is where all the non-recyclable plastic wrapping ends up and also needs to be added to your list. Type up your list adding two columns, the first column is your list of plastic packaging culprits, the second column leave blank. Pop the list on your fridge (or other prominent place) and fill in the blanks with your alternatives as you discover them.

Switch to a milk delivery in glass bottles

This is one of the quickest and most effective things you can do if you buy milk, to immediately stop all the plastic bottles ending up in your recycling box. It’s really easy to set up a milk delivery online, the milk is delivered on certain days in reusable glass bottles – just like the old days. If you know you have something on at the weekend that will require more milk, you can usually amend your delivery up to the night before.

Stop buying food in plastic packaging

Ok this is easier said than done and is a how-to guide all on its own, but in short stop buying ready meals and cook from scratch. Stop buying meat and fish in plastic, instead visit the butcher and fishmonger with your own containers. Stop buying cheese, sliced meats and olives in plastic, instead visit the deli counter in the supermarket and take your own containers.

Find plastic free alternatives for washing powder and dishwasher cleaner

There are plenty of DIY recipes out there for making your own laundry and dishwasher detergent, but if like me you’re very short on time just make sure you always buy laundry powder in a cardboard box and there are also a couple of supermarket chains that produce their own line of dishwasher powder in a cardboard box. I have to say, it’s as good as if not better than the plastic wrapped tablets from big brands.

Use reusable produce and shopping bags

This wonderful little cloth bags were a rarity a year or so ago, but we see them being used often now. Take them to the green grocer and buy loose unpackaged fruit and veg, and take them to a bulk dry food store to buy your nuts, seeds, grains, pasta, rice, beans.

Buy a reusable water bottle

So obvious I know, but seriously, why spend money on plastic bottles of water when you can fill your own bottle from the tap?

Take your own lunch and snacks to work or on the go using stainless steel lunch boxes

Doing this will not only save on plastic consumption, but it will also save you money and we always love to hear that right? Use your reusable stainless steel lunch box for taking leftovers to work for lunch the next day, use your stainless steel containers for taking snacks, for the kids packed lunch, for picnics, for camping…

Carry your own straws and cutlery and refuse single-use plastic

It’s surprising how much single-use plastic we’re offered without even realising. Becoming aware of this, and making a conscious effort to refuse it will make a huge difference to your plastic consumption. But kids love straws don’t they? I carry stainless steel straws with me whenever I go out, along with some cutlery and a reusable coffee cup so that I know that should I find myself in a  situation where I am being offered (or sometimes not offered just given!) single-use plastic, I am prepared for continuing without it.

Use natural soap and shampoo bars

Switching your plastic bottled liquid soap to bar soap is so straight forward you’ll wonder why you haven’t done that sooner. But these days, there are more all-natural shampoo bars coming onto the market and we are having great fun discovering which ones work well for us and the kids. Lush have plenty of fun ‘flavours’ to try (though not completely natural) and there are many good online brands like Soapnuts that also offer unpackaged shampoo bars.

Join plastic free communities to share and collect tips and ideas for living plastic free

Get online and shout about these changes you’re making! Not only might you inspire your friends and family to do the same, but you’ll also pick up really useful tips from others that are on this journey with you. Search for Facebook groups about living plastic-free, zero waste and waste free. Follow people on Instagram who are making the same changes as you, share tips and knowledge. Read blog articles by bloggers who have been doing this for a while and no doubt have many good tips to help you, some we love include;

Lindsay Miles from Treading My Own Path - Follow on Instagram

Beth Terry from My Plastic Free Life - Follow on Instagram

Erin Rhoads from The Rogue Ginger - Follow on Instagram

Kathryn Kellog from Going Zero Waste - Follow on Instagram

Shia from Wasteland Rebel - Follow on Instagram