We’re coming to the end of Plastic Free July, where people around the world aim to reduce the amount they use.
According to Friends of the Earth, only 9% of all plastic waste has ever been recycled. And with most plastic still ending up in landfills, people, businesses and governments need to take urgent action to curb the amount of waste we produce.
Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, founder of the Plastic Free Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind Plastic Free July, says, ‘The plastic out there in the environment is our plastic and we can all do something to make a difference and leave behind a different legacy. Do one thing in your daily lives to reduce your use of single-use plastics.’
If you’re keen to do your bit for the environment, here are some top tips – from eco toilet roll to takeaway tub seedling pots.
In the kitchen
Green lifestyle blogger Wendy Graham (MoralFibres.co.uk) says the kitchen is a good place to make an impact. ‘Use the plastic items you have and when they reach the end of their life, look at plastic-free replacements,’ she urges. Her other tips include…
Refill empty washing-up liquid, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner containers
Welsh company Splosh provides starter packs of household cleaners in long-lasting recycled bottles, which you then top up with refills. Send empty refill packs back to Splosh.com to be recycled and when the bottles die, the company will send you replacements free of charge. All-purpose containers are available at Ecover stockists. See Ecover.com/store-locator
Try Ecoleaf dishwasher tablets
They come in a water-soluble wrapper and cost £5.54 for 25 at Ethicalsuperstore.com
Use glass storage jars, and ceramic or glass bowls and wooden utensils instead of plastic
A Redecker wooden dish brush, £3.50, Cotswoldtrading.com, is very stylish.
Plastic wrap cannot be recycled. Instead, store food in bowls covered with plates or in reusable glass containers.
Swap plastic straws for steel
Stainless steel straws are available for £9.99 for eight from SalterHousewares.co.uk
In the bathroom
The smallest room in the house poses the biggest problem when cutting plastic use, as so many hygiene and beauty products are packaged in it. But you can save the planet without disrupting your beauty routine.
Around 1.8billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in England each year
Many of them are flushed down the toilet and the Marine Conservation Society says they’re one of the most common items washed up on beaches. Choose biodegradable buds with paper or bamboo stems. A pack of 200 is currently on special offer at £2.91 from ItsAllAboutYou.co.uk
Ditch disposable plastic razors
A traditional metal safety razor plus a pack of five blades costs £14 from PeaceWithTheWild.co.uk. You’re not only saving the planet but your pocket as, pound for pound, disposable razors are some of the most expensive things sold in supermarkets.
Even recycled toilet roll usually comes wrapped in plastic
The Cheeky Panda’s toilet tissue – made from 100% sustainable bamboo – is totally plastic-free, though. You can also find plastic-free pocket tissue and kitchen roll at CheekyPanda.co.uk or buy in stores including Superdrug and Robert Dyas.
Try a bamboo toothbrush
Boots.com sells the Humble Brush, a bamboo-stemmed toothbrush from The Humble Co, for £4.
Electric toothbrushes with replaceable heads are made of plastic, but you’ll end up using fewer than a conventional manual brush and the unit will last for a few years. Sometimes you can’t do it all at once but, as lifestyle blogger Wendy says, ‘Slow and steady wins the race.’
Sanitary towels are up to 90% plastic if you take packaging into account
That’s according to research by the Women’s Environmental Network. Tampons from Ohne.com are made of 100% unbleached organic cotton and keep plastic wrapping to a minimum. Or try a Mooncup – a silicone cup which can be washed. For eco-friendly cosmetics and hygiene products, from make-up to menstrual cups, visit Newfootprint.co.uk
Conventional plasters create around 2 billion metres of plastic waste every year
Much of that ends up in our oceans. Patch biodegradable bamboo plasters, £6.99 for 25 at Holland & Barrett, Superdrug and PlanetOrganic.com, are a must-have for your first aid kit.
In the garden
Gardeners’ World presenter Alys Fowler worked with Friends of the Earth to create these top tips for a plastic-free garden.
Buy biodegradable Vipots made from plant husks
They cost £4 for a pack of 10 x 9cm pots or £4.50 for six 1ltr size at TinyPlantCompany.co.uk. ‘They look and feel like regular pots but can last several years,’ says Alys. ‘When they do finally crack, they can go on to the compost.’
If you’re into growing your own and have space, get a greenhouse
‘Try eBay, Freecycle and Gumtree for pre-loved, plastic-free ones,’ says Alys. ‘Metal ones are easy to put up, but wooden ones are easier to fix. Both make a much nicer feature in your garden than plastic. Yoghurt pots and takeaway containers are perfect for seedlings. Afterwards you can recycle them in the council system.’
In your beauty bag
Face Halo make-up remover pads
They are made of fluffy microfibre and need only water to effortlessly remove your slap. They can be washed up to 200 times and when you’ve eventually used them up, you can return them to Face Halo for recycling. A pack of three costs £18 at Amazon.co.uk
Ere Perez Quinoa Water Foundation
It costs £29 and comes in a glass bottle with a dispensing pipette and cardboard packaging from GlowOrganicBrighton.co.uk
Swap shampoo and conditioner bottles for gorgeous, scented bars
They are available containing natural ingredients like coconut, rosemary and citrus for £6 each from KinKind.co.uk. That works out at about 50 washes each and saves two plastic bottles every time.
Don’t forget pets!
Billions of pet food pouches end up in landfill every year
Fewer than one in 20,000 pouches are recycled according to Friends Of The Earth, making them more of a burden than single-use coffee cups. Buy recyclable tins or dried food in cardboard packaging – or make your own.
Dogs and cats love liver and kidneys
These can often be bought cheaply from the butcher or supermarket meat counter. Pet food companies like LilysKitchen.co.uk have pioneered recyclable containers.
There are 9 million dogs in the UK so that means a lot of poo!
About 1,000 tonnes a day is produced, according to Friends Of The Earth. Always scoop your pooch’s poop into a biodegradable bag like those available at Vetuk.co.uk.
– For Plastic Free July resources to help you reduce single-use plastic waste throughout the rest of the year CLICK HERE
– For more information about Friends of the Earth, CLICK HERE