Over the past few months, thanks to a few accounts I follow online, I’ve slowly become more and more aware of how much plastic we use as a family, and consequently, how much plastic we throw away. I do genuinely put this awareness down to the power of social media. Yes I watch and read the news, but it feels to me like the tide is changing, particularly in my generation, when it comes to the need and the DESIRE to do more, to protect this beautiful planet. So, we have started making small changes as a family, and I wanted to share these with you. Because even if just a handful of people read this and make some changes too, at least I’ll feel like I’m sharing something useful.
So, how do you reduce plastic use?
1. Head to the Market
The biggest way to reduce how much plastic has come INTO this house, has been to buy our fruit and veg from the market rather than the supermarket. It’s shocking how much plastic that isn’t recyclable is used to package our food. I could write a whole post on it, but, for starters, stop buying bananas, apples, pears etc etc in plastic. Head to the market which uses brown paper bags. I did see Morrison’s now stocking brown paper bags for people to buy loose fruit and veg, but I’ve yet to see them in other supermarkets.
2. Visit the butchers or fresh meat counters
Likewise, you will find a lot of plastic film used on the trays that your meat is in, is, yep, “not yet recycled”. One way to combat this is to head to the butchers or fresh meat counters in supermarkets and take your own containers. Honestly they won’t laugh in your face – more and more people are doing this!
In the kitchen…
3. Use alternatives to clingfilm and plastic freezer bags
One of the first changes I made was to order some reusable Silicone Stretch Lids Covers and Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags. As a family with a weaning baby, I often batch cook and freeze portions, or leave leftovers in the fridge for the next day. So rather than use plastic freezer bags which I would previously throw away, we now use silicone bags, or wash and reuse any plastic bags. We also use more containers. Yes these are bulkier and you need to label them rather than just write on the bags, but it’s a small inconvenience. I’m also now much more aware about clingfilm. Previously I would cover a bowl with clingfilm, now I use plates. Stupid really, I don’t know what I didn’t before! I haven’t got any, but after our clingfilm has been used, I’m going to order some Bee’s Wax wraps.
4. Ditch the kitchen roll
Another change I’ve made is to try to reduce how many baby wipes and pieces of kitchen roll we use. I always used to wipe my baby’s face and hands with kitchen roll after meals, but this does just get chucked in the bin. And, yep you guess it, lots of kitchen roll actually has plastic in! Because I do a wash of clothes practically every day, I now use material from old clothes which I have cut up and have in a basket in the kitchen. Once they’re used they go in the washing machine ready to be washed with my next load!
5. Re-use, re-use, re-use!
Old cereal bag about to go in the bin? STOP. Resealable cheese packet about to go in the bin? STOP. Wash them up, rinse them out, use them for something else. Sounds odd and you do need to get used to seeing plastic on your draining board, or the radiator, or the washing line (seriously, I did that!) but you can reuse a lot if you just stop and think.
6. Travel mugs and cups
For my birthday Matt bought me a metal travel cup from the kids. It works like a thermos and will keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. These are pretty common now. The challenge is to remember it so you’re not tempted to buy a bottle of water or diet coke when you’re out!
More household changes
7. The Ecobrick
You may have seen ecobricks doing the rounds on social media? If not, get searching. There is a charity out there collecting “bricks” made from plastic. Bricks are made from plastic bottles filled with small pieces of dry clean plastic until it’s so dense, it can be built with! There are projects in the UK and all over the world. Don’t go out and buy plastic just to do it, but that stretchy plastic around your four pack tin of beans…. that could be built with. Mind blowing, isn’t it!
8. Soap and shampoo bars
We’re now running down the last of our liquid soap and after these have gone we will be using good old-fashioned bars of soap in this house. I’ve also recently been to Lush and treated myself to some soap and shampoo and conditioner bars. I’ve used these today and can honestly say my hair is shiny like normal. The shampoo lathered up well, the conditioner didn’t really so I want to see how I get on with that over the next few weeks.
9. Think about your cleaning products
Some of my followers will know I follow The Organised Mum Method to keep on top of the housework. Since following Gemma I’ve also discovered Method cleaning products which are non toxic (win) and also have recyclable packing. I’ve always been pretty good at recycling but it’s good to know the bottles I use can be recycled. I’m also starting to discover how to clean with less chemicals using white vinegar. Next on my list to try are Splosh products, which sends you refills, so you’re only buying the initial bottles. There is loads of information from Gemma on this on her website and awesome Instagram feed.
So there you are. You might wonder about nappies, because I have a baby. Cloth nappies are something I’m thinking about but I need to do a lot more research into them. I have heard of cheeky wipes which sound like a good place to start.
There is so much out there to learn about and I’m actually quite excited to see what more we can do as a family to reduce our plastic use and be more environmentally aware. Of course, I know that this might look like a lot of effort. I was chatting to a friend and she agreed it was also all about time. Of course, some people might work full-time and struggle to get to a market for their fruit and veg. I get that. I suppose it’s just about doing your research and seeing what changes you can make.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve got any other ideas of how we can reduce our plastic use as a family.
Oh and PS, we’ve even ordered a composter, so soon we will have less food waste going to landfill from our house too! Unbelievably we can’t add food waste to our garden waste bins here!