Ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste and save money

reduce plastic wasteI 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.

Choose glass

reduce plastic wasteIt 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.

reduce plastic wasteAldi 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

reduce plastic wasteI 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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12 thoughts on “Ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste and save money

  1. Jane, I love your posts!! I do not buy shower nor hand wash stuff, have a library bag and a shopping one, and am almost paranoid about plastic use and wastage. So good to bring it to people’s attention.

  2. Oh, VERY WELL SAID, Jane! I’m all for reducing plastic but I wish manufacturers would take the lead here. Yes, we can all do out bit to help reduce waste, but really, manufacturers and supermarkets need to try harder. Not only that, think of all the other things we buy that have plastics in them – mobile phones, computers, and think of all those redundant changers … why don’t they make a universal charger by now, just as we have universal three-pin plugs? Madness.
    As for straws. Well, these are surely only for toddlers who haven’t mastered a cup yet? I’ve never used a straw as an adult and I don’t intend to start now, silly things that they are, and a total waste of money and, again, plastic!
    I have begun to buy bottled water – we buy it as a treat now and again, not as part of our weekly shop – I make sure I buy it in a glass bottle even if it’s more expensive. But for the most part, water comes from the tap.
    I don’t like liquid soap, it remains sticky on the hands even when you’ve rinsed and rinsed. I have a bottle in the kitchen, but when this is finished, it’ll be the last. I use Bronnley lemon soap in the kitchen and other quality soaps in the bathroom and shower room, you really can’t beat good quality soap, it lasts and lasts, especially if you use a soap dish on which it can drain. It also makes the rooms smell nice. You don’t get a creamy lather with liquid soap.
    Also, I’ve never used shower gel. Tried it when in an hotel, didn’t like it. Again, we use soap.
    I must look for make-up removing cloths. I have been using eye make-up remover pads which are much smaller than facial wipes, but anything to cut this kind of waste is a good idea.
    I have white vinegar household cleaner but don’t use it perhaps as often as I could. I like Cleanology products (non toxic) which I buy online, but again, they come in a plastic bottle. But having said that, I use very little, so only need perhaps two of these a year.
    Thank you for bringing to our attention yet again the need to cut waste of all kinds, Jane, especially plastics.
    Margaret P

  3. PS Saw News headlines that Iceland are cutting our plastic. thought they meant the country, ha ha, as Iceland is a store I’ve only been in once, just for a look-see. Then I realized it was the supermarket/frozen food store. If they can do it, surely others will follow. At least it’s a start!
    Margaret P

  4. I heard about Iceland too but I bet it takes a lot longer for the big 4 to follow.

    We never used hand wash until moving here and finding the small basin in the downstairs loo has no where to fit soap dish and soap on it’s own slides into the basin!

  5. I was pleased to find British Rapeseed Oil and Toasted Sesame seed oil both in glass bottles, in Aldi. That’s what I will be buying from now on.

  6. Excellent news about Iceland – it’s my biggest shop of the week there.
    Even if the other supermarkets do follow suit, it’s the big brands that need to get on board too. I try mostly to buy own brand, but far too much of my money goes to the Pepsi/Coke corporations in one way or another!

    Although we don’t eat out at burger places that often, I do feel I ought to invest in a pack of paper straws so we don’t have to use their plastic ones. Subway’s plastic straws even come wrapped in plastic! 😮

  7. Does anyone know what happened to the blogger who was trying to reduce all plastic use in their home? Something about Vintage Life in the title. Her blog has been pulled and her last heading showed that she was struggling on day 3.

    We can reduce plastic but there things now a days that we can never purchase without plastic.

  8. There are more good reasons for avoiding plastic. Although not all agree, there have been many reports and studies that raise concern about the chemicals from plastics leaching into food for several years. I neither freeze nor cook/microwave in plastics and invested in glass storage and cookware years ago. I avoid buying plastic wrapped foodstuffs whenever possible, though manufacturers certainly make it difficult. Voss sell water in glass bottles so there is no reason for others not to do the same.

  9. Lots of good advice here. I started getting my milk delivered by the milkman who delivers milk in glass bottles. My recycling box is now virtually empty. Yes, it does cost more but I was willing to pay more to reduce my plastic usage.

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