Plastic free living is definitely an art and takes time and perseverance to achieve.
When you decide to eliminate plastic in your life, at first glance, it seems a simple thing to do. What you will find though is that due to the scale of plastics in every aspect of your life, becoming plastic free can be quite difficult. Plastic just seems to be everywhere, even in some teabags made of synthetic mesh, which shed micro-plastics into the tea that you ingest! Ugh!!!
You probably don’t think about clothing when you are reducing your use of plastic. Many articles of clothing made of synthetic materials contain a lot of plastic – think polyester- and shed micro plastics in the wash. These micro fibres then end up in our waterways and oceans. This is now becoming a serious problem. As you progress in your plastic culling journey, you will become more aware of other areas you can reduce or eliminate plastic from your life.
Most people will be aware of the major single use plastics to avoid when moving towards plastic free living:
10 Common Single use plastics to avoid.
- Plastic shopping bags
- Single use plastic produce bags
- Fast food containers
- Plastic cutlery
- Plastic plates
- Plastic water bottles
- Take away coffee cups/other plastic take away beverage cups
- Plastic drink stirrers
It makes sense to start off by eliminating or changing to more Eco friendly products for these single use plastic products.
Check out a previous blog on Reducing Plastic Waste
A systematic approach works well to gradually reduce your reliance on plastic products but it will take some time and there will also be some cost involved.
Move through the home to reduce the use of plastic
After you have replaced plastic with alternatives for the first items , I would then turn to the bathroom, laundry and kitchen to reduce your use of plastic products in those areas. These are the places where a lot of micro plastics are released into the environment.
In the Bathroom
- Instead of using shampoo and shower washes, you can use shampoo soap bars and soap bars for body wash. Use natural plant-based soaps which are not harsh on the skin and they don’t leave a build-up of residue in the shower. A natural shower loofah or body mitt made of plant fibres rather than plastic sponges, or shower scrubs is also good to reduce plastic waste. This will reduce many plastic bottles ending up in landfill.
- Swap plastic toothbrushes for a bamboo toothbrush. Toothpaste contains micro beads of plastics which end up in the ocean. Most people also don’t recycle the toothpaste tube. Consider using a powder or tablet tooth paste instead. You could also consider using a plant based dental floss instead of nylon floss.
- Look for moisturizers in recycled containers which can be taken back to the shop for reuse. Also be sure to find out what is in your beauty products as many of them also contain micro plastic beads.
- I have a reusable bin bag – made from recycled drink bottles – (Tom Bag) so am no longer throwing away a plastic bag containing my garbage!!
In the Laundry
- Use soap nuts or an Eco friendly liquid soap or soap flakes for the laundry
- Use a microfibre laundry bag to keep microfibres from your synthetic clothes out of the waterways and ocean
- Buy clothing made from natural fibres such as hemp and organic cotton to reduce plastic from synthetic clothing.
In the Kitchen
- Use a reusable garbage bag (Tom Bag) which you can empty into your bin so you are not throwing away the single use garbage bags. (Garbage does not have to be inside a bag for collection.)
- Compost your food waste to reduce food waste in landfill. It is also great for the garden or if you grow your own veggies. My chickens also appreciate things like lettuce or other vegetable waste.
- Store your food in reuseable containers made of glass, steel, ceramic or compostable materials such as Veggie savers.
Help Reduce Plastic Waste when out by Plogging!
Plogging is when you go fro a run and pick up rubbish on your way. I don’t run! but if I am out for a walk, I always take a reusable bag to collect any garbage I see on my way. I particularly make a point to do this if I am walking along the beach and I pick up any plastic waste I find. Its only a small amount but if we all do it, a lot of plastic waste will be kept out of the ocean and rivers.
You might consider getting a group of family and friends together to go to a beach or park, have a picnic and do a spot of plogging. If you go for a regular run or walk, why not take a bag and pick up rubbish as you go? Its a community service and I find it makes me feel a bit less downhearted about the state of the environment by actually doing something positive!
Check out this great list from Clean Up Australia for more ways to reduce your use of plastic.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what plastic products you have eliminated.