Ideas to help you use less plastic
It seems that the tide is finally beginning to turn against plastic. As the full realisation of what we are doing to our oceans begins to hit us, it’s time to look at the wealth of alternatives out there, which often actually work better (and look nicer) than their plastic counterparts.
I appreciate some of the suggestions here might be things you have already made part of your life, but if you are anything like me it’s always good to have a gentle reminder.
IIN THE KITCHEN
– Buy in bulk – wherever you can, buy dry goods and spices in bulk. Save your old glass jars to refill with loose grains, lentils, nuts and seeds. If you can take them with you to the store and fill from there all the better.
– Bottled water – I keep glass bottles too to fill with water from the tap which I then keep in the fridge to save running the tap if I want cold water to drink. I use a charcoal filter inside the bottle to make the water taste better.
– Straws – try straws actually made from straw (which is what they were named after in the first place) or stainless steel straws. Refuse plastic straws when out and about.
– Buy unpacked fruit and veg – use little canvas bags, or clean totes to store vegetables in the fridge or freezer. This stops freezer burn and helps keeps veg moist.
– Storage containers – Swap your plastic for glass storage containers or try some enamel storage pots, which can go straight from the oven into the fridge.
– Replace cling film – use wax wraps instead. Health food stores and some grocery stores carry them and they are easy to find online. There are some great blogs with how to make your own, too, which is easy and cheaper. Use a clean damp tea towel to wrap things like pastry and dough while it rests.
– Bowl covers – linen bowl covers are a great way to avoid cling film too.
– Cleaning cloths – you can buy reusable cloths, which go in the washing machine rather than jay cloths and sponges. One made of natural fabrics and not plastic derived ones are obviously the ones to go for. Use wooden handled brushes for pans and veg scrubbing, I keep one for each.
– Make your own all-purpose spray. I use an old spray bottle and make a kitchen spray with some boiled water 50ml of white vinegar, a couple of tablespoons of ecological washing up liquid (which you can refill at the store) and a few drops of essential oils which I switch up depending on the seasons.
OUT AND ABOUT
– Coffee cups – this is a very obvious one but use a reuseable coffee cup. Mine is made from old recycled coffee cups, but there are so many good options. I keep one in my handbag and one in my car, my new rule is if I don’t have it I don’t buy a coffee, it makes me remember it much more often.
– Water bottles – I use a steel bottle for water instead of buying bottled water, an obvious but vital step we should all be taking. If you forget yours most coffee shops and restaurants will give you a glass full if you ask, even.
– Grocery shopping – Lots of stores now let you bring your own containers to fill with loose veg or cheese from the deli counter or dry goods if they sell them in bulk.
– Plastic cutlery – I try and avoid using this, if there is a choice I will eat in or there are lots of affordable wooden options, I keep a set of reusable wooden cutlery in my handbag and one in my car, pack your kitchen cutlery for picnics.
– Homemade lunches will always be lower on plastic. If you get a daily lunch/dinner or breakfast, try to eat in for less packaging or better take your own in reuseable containers.
– Plastic free Hackney and Plastic free East Dulwich are both great local resources
– Positive News regularly report on plastic usage and what we’re doing to tackle the problem
– Plastic Fantastic on Radio 4 is a great listen
– Microplastics, a short film via Finisterre