I have been attempting for some time to reduce plastic waste at Shoestring Cottage. It sometimes seems an uphill struggle! However, there are simple steps we can all take to reduce plastic waste in our day to day lives. Here are my ideas.
Cut the hand wash
Until about 20 years ago, I swear we all washed our hands with bars of soap. Now you have to have hand wash. Instead of arriving wrapped in a small amount of plastic or paper, it comes in a plastic bottle with a dispenser and promises to kill 99% of all germs.
I am pretty sure that the caustic soda that is the key ingredient of solid soap also does this. So I am giving up the hand wash to reduce plastic waste. Soap is also cheaper, even the posh stuff.
Dump the shower gel
The arguments for not using shower gel are the same as for cutting out hand wash. We used to use solid soap and it worked absolutely fine. I have always preferred soap. It is easier to deal with when you are in the shower. No fiddling around trying to open a bottle for a start.
Unfortunately I cannot persuade Mr S to make the switch, so it seems we will continue to have some shower gel. I don’t use it at all.
Try a shampoo bar
I have had a few solid shampoo bars from Lush and they last absolutely ages. They are very good value and work just as well. The ones sold by Lush smell divine as well. Lush claim that each bar gives you 80-100 washes, which is economical by anyone’s standards.
There are a range of solid shampoo bars on Amazon, such as this Oatmilk and Argan Oil Shampoo one. These are cheaper than the Lush ones so may be worth a try.
Lush also sell solid conditioner bars. I didn’t enjoy the one I tried as much. It didn’t seem to coat my hair.
It can be quite hard to find your favourite products in glass bottles and jars rather than plastic. However, it’s not impossible. Even the discount supermarkets offer some of my regular purchases in glass containers now. I am not saying they are cheaper, but they are generally not hugely more expensive.
Aldi sell the most delicious farmhouse yogurt in a glass pot. At 69p a pot I would say it is a premium product but so worth the money. The pot comes with a reusable lid so you could keep your buttons or paperclips in it afterwards.
I also buy their glass bottled olive oil. It is very nice quality.
Cut the cleanser
I bought myself and my daughters these Makeup Removing Cloths for Christmas. I wasn’t sure how they could possibly work, but they do! Just soak them in warm water and wipe off your cosmetics. I tested my skin by cleaning it again with my usual cleanser and there wasn’t a trace of dirt or make up left.
I have pretty much stopped using cleanser – mine comes in a plastic container – and now just use a face cloth. This will save me money too.
Reduce your cleaning products
I have blogged before about using bicarbonate of soda to do some of your cleaning. You can also make your own cleaning spray. I buy white vinegar in glass bottles from the supermarket and large bags of bicarbonate of soda online.
I occasionally do buy slightly stronger cleaners but not as often as I have in the past. This is reducing my plastic waste and saving the pennies.
Carry a fold up bag
I have carried a reusable bag or two in my handbag for years and years. Now that there is a 5p levy on carrier bags, it seems the rest of the country is finally catching up.
The downside is that we can rarely find a plastic bag in the house if we need one! I can live with that.
Invest in a reusable water bottle
This is so obvious it is barely worth a mention. And yet it is, as the waste caused by plastic bottles is a major problem.
It’s not just water, of course, but cola and juices that are sold in plastic bottles. I would love to go back to a time when returnable glass bottles were the norm. However, they are heavy and there are consequent transport costs. It is unlikely to happen. So I carry my reusable bottle with me and I don’t buy other drinks when I am out.
If you are tempted, then buy drinks in aluminium cans or glass bottles, then take them home and put them in the recycling.
Buy a bamboo cup
My daughter bought me this bamboo cup for Christmas. I am impressed with how long it keeps drinks hot for. I intend to stick it in my bag for when I go to town. If I splash out on a coffee I shall ask them to serve it in this.
It takes some forward planning, but if you are someone who buys a lot of coffee out it is worth getting organised. I can’t say this will save you any money but it will reduce your use of plastic lined coffee cups.
The last straw to reduce plastic waste
Another Christmas present for my daughters was a set of stainless steel straws each. Plastic straws are terrible, and end up in our oceans and water systems.
They loved their steel straws and are using them almost daily. They come with a little cleaning brush too.
I was encouraged today to read this story about how Iceland Stores are reducing their plastic waste. If others follow suit this will make it much easier for us all. Good move!
In the meantime there are many small behavioural changes you can make to reduce plastic waste. What others can you suggest?
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