Wondering How To Reduce Plastic Use in Your Home?
Plastic can be a very useful material. But plastics are a big problem for the environment and for human health. Here are a range of tips to help you to reduce plastic use in your home:
Reduce Plastic Use in the Kitchen
Food packaging generally accounts for most of the plastic waste generated in most households, so the kitchen seems like a good place to begin.
- Reduce packaged food consumption by growing at least some of your own food.
- Buy unpackaged, local, organic produce wherever possible. Farm shops, wholesalers.
- Local veg. box schemes.
- Take your own shopping bags to the shops and don't use plastic bags.
- (Though doing away with single use plastic bags is a step in the right direction, reusable plastic bags do still often end up in landfill or littering. Take a natural bag or receptacle shopping instead – e.g. organic cotton, hemp, wicker basket....)
- Buy any household staples that are required wholesale to reduce packaging.
- Choose and cook with whole foods as much as possible, avoid 'ready meals' and other heavily packaged items.
- Avoid teabags that contain plastic – switch to an eco brand or loose leaf tea.
- Think quality, not quantity – analyse and consider reducing your consumption, of food and any other items. Do you really need to buy as much food as you do?
- Simplify your cooking and food preparation and don't buy unnecessary plastic gadgets and other plastic items – e.g. plastic draining board, washing up bowl.
- Choose ceramic, wood and other such natural materials for crockery and utensils. Choose knives that can be sharpened and invest in a whetstone – learn how to sharpen your own knives.
- Consider avoiding Teflon and coatings on pots and pans.
- Use organic cotton beeswax wraps to store leftovers and lunches, instead of plastic film.
- Use silicon or metal containers to freeze food, rather than plastic tubs or freezer bags.
Reduce Plastic Use in Living Areas:
- Make your own natural cleaners for all living areas. (Growing apples makes it possible to make apple cider vinegar. This, when used with bicarbonate of soda which can be bought in cardboard containers, can be used for many cleaning purposes around your home.)
- Think twice about every new purchase, especially if it contains plastic or composite materials. Consider forgoing the new purchase entirely, or looking for eco-friendly, natural alternatives.
- Wooden/ tile/ stone floors/ natural fibre rugs rather than synthetic carpet or laminate.
- Sofas and other furniture. Choose second hand/ reclaimed options.
- Hobbies – natural paints – chalk paint, egg tempera... tennis balls are another surprising source of plastic pollution - their fuzzy outer layer is made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), the same material that’s used to make plastic milk bottles. Just like tyres, this plastic gets worn away with use, becoming dust that can enter the environment.
Reduce Plastic Use in the Bathroom
- Reduce the number of personal cleaning products that you buy. Try to avoid buying shampoos, shower gels and other products in plastic bottles.
- Consider making your own soaps, cleansers and lotions from natural materials.
- Use the 'No Poo' System (rather than using bought shampoo and conditioner to wash your hair.
- Don't buy any products containing plastic micro-beads. (Read packaging carefully.)
- Choose wooden and natural bristle hairbrushes and eco-friendly toothbrushes/ razors etc. made from bamboo.
- Make-up – choose natural options – e.g. charcoal mascara.
Reducing Plastic use in the Bedroom:
- Choose bedding composed of organic cotton, hemp or other natural materials rather than 'plastic' fabrics such as polyester.
- Consider ethically produced feather-stuffed bedding rather than those made with synthetic fibres. (Though in some cases the vegan options may have a lower environmental impact – be informed and make the best possible choices in each situation.)
- Carefully consider each purchase of clothing and choose fewer, quality items rather than buying lots of fast fashion. Whatever you buy, choose items that will last.
- Choose clothing made from natural, organic materials rather than synthetic fabrics wherever possible. Outdoor gear, leggings, fleeces and jumpers made from acrylic and polyester, polyamide, spandex and nylon shed up to 700,000 microfibres with each wash.
- All kinds of detergents and disinfectants with scrubbing agents have microplastics such as polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP). These are the same beads banned in cosmetics. It would be better to use a natural material such as ground coconut shell. You can simply use bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to wash clothes – often, just water and sunlight is enough.
- Be fully informed about the ethical and environmental costs of the clothes you choose.
- Consider choosing second hand clothing rather than new clothing where synthetic fabrics may be required (Such as for performance outdoors gear.)
- Look into choosing recycled & recyclable synthetic fabrics where these are required.
Following the tips above will help you significantly reduce plastic use in your home.