Following on from my first blog post '5 Simple Plastic Free Swaps' here is the next instalment with five further tips from our plastic reducing mission as well as a bit about how by doing that, it inspired me to set up White Space Home.
When we first changed to a fruit and veg delivery and started to make tea from lose tea, it didn’t really affect anything other than the amount of plastic we were saving on. It was however, a different story when it came to more household type items (cleaning bits, kitchen accessories and reusable products like water bottles etc). Basically I had to search high and low to find the type of items that I actually wanted to have in my life and around my home, I didn’t always want something in neutral or unbleached colours.
I expect lots of people will question whether that is the point… surely saving on waste and helping the environment are not excuses to treat yourself to something new? That was never really my point, however, just because I wanted to waste less, it did not mean that I didn’t want 'nice things' in my life too! In fact, those 'nice things' have become even more important as they will be kept for longer and will be reused until they can’t be used any more. So in my opinion, you want to be really sure that you like them before you are stuck with them! My outlook has become that it is not about urgently rushing out to replace what I already have, but instead making sure that when I do need to replace something, that I make sure it is right.
Anyone who knows me will know I am a massive sucker for colour and design, and also a firm believer that (although neutrals have their place too), being beige is boring! So, it was with that in mind that I set out on a mission to search out and stock items that encourage reuse and less waste in the home whilst maintaining a modern sense of style, along with a bit of fun and colour. By including cute and quirky vintage and pre-loved items, (I seem to have penchant for vintage glass!) My aim is to make sure things are given the longest life they can.
If you are reading for the plastic free tips, here are my next top five simple swaps to get help you with reducing your plastic waste…
1. Soap: There has been quite a lot of press around how the country has started to shift back to using a solid soap bar instead of shower gels in a bid to reduce single use plastic. As a family we don’t seem to all be able to agree on solid soap or shampoo bars; the kids love it – I think they find it a novelty, I quite like it for washing my hands or in the shower, but not as a shampoo and my husband doesn’t like it that much at all! So, to compromise we have soap in a soap bag; I find that this works well as it makes the soap lather up more; which makes me feel as if it is cleaning me better (it’s probably phycological but there you go!) Actually, just writing this has highlighted that we pretty much use every different soap possibility there is available; we have a soap bar and a soap dish beside the bathroom sink and then in the kitchen (because it’s easier when you are cooking) we have liquid hand soap which we buy in bulk and refill our glass pump bottle when we need to. We also do this for the washing up liquid and laundry liquid – it works out cheaper and I know that at the end of it I will have a cardboard box and a thin plastic liner that it comes in to recycle instead of 30 single plastic bottles. Not everyone has the space, but it seems that refill shops are popping up all over the place at the moment to make this option more viable. Maybe I should start offering this service from my utility room!
2. Fruit squash: Yep, I’m talking about the stuff kids drink in excess, and when you ask them to make a drink for themselves, they pour half a bottle of the (double concentrate) cordial into the glass, just to make it so sweet that they know you’ll never ask them to do it again. Anyone else do that too? To be honest this swap has been trickier and definitely more expensive than I would like, but I’m taking the attitude that if I mix it up a bit and buy less of the reasonably priced squash that comes in a plastic bottle and then in the following shop I buy the one that comes in a glass bottle, then I am still doing better than I was. Initially we started off buying Rocks – which I was really happy to have discovered as it is free from any nasties and is literally made from squished fruit, sugar and water – I thought I was winning on the good mum of the year award until I discovered that my children wouldn’t actually drink it. Far too healthy of course! I have since discovered some absolutely delicious Robinsons cordials that come in glass bottles and are currently on offer at Sainsburys our faves are ‘Crushed Mint & Lime’ and the very posh sounding ‘Raspberry, Rhubarb & Orange Blossom’ they win because we all like the taste of them and although they do have a few other bits added, the flavourings are natural and the ingredients list is much shorter than the normal plastic bottled ones I buy.
3. Toothbrushes: At home we all use an electric toothbrush, mainly because my kids have bad enamel and I want to be sure they give their teeth the best chance. However, when we go away we like to have a spare ‘normal’ brush each and although we don’t get through that many, when added to the amount of toothpaste tubes that we get through it definitely all adds up. Recently a friend suggested that we tried bamboo brushes for our spare as they had done so recently. I thought this was definitely worth doing, so now we all have a bamboo ‘truthbrush’, which quite frankly looks way more attractive and also has a biodegradable handle. I discovered when looking into bamboo brushes that it was pretty tricky to find a wholly biodegradable one, so I did a bit of research into why this was. I discovered that natural bristles are not hardwearing enough to be used as a toothbrush and that the main natural alternative is boar hair. Strangely this didn’t really appeal to me and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t appeal to the rest of the population either! From what I could find out The Truthbrush seems to offer the best alternative. By using a blend of castor oil and nylon (which although is not biodegradable), this combination is far less reliant on petroleum-based plastic which is better for the environment than your average toothbrush. The other good news is that they are made from the sustainable Moso Bamboo (which can amazingly grow up to a meter a day!)
Our school also now has a Terracycle toothbrush and toothpaste tube recycling station, so I take the any of our other bits there. Terracycle offers a reward scheme where the school gets a charitable donation for their collection so it makes it even more worthwhile.
4. Milk: I swapped to soya milk a while ago (mainly because when I was trying to lose weight, I discovered I could drink more cups of tea in a day with less calories that way…) There was no chance my family were going to join me on this and with an avid pair of cereal eaters and a husband who likes a glass of milk with his beans on toast (quite a regular meal in our house), we were dispatching massive plastic bottles to the recycling bag very regularly; even when squashed flat, the rate at which we were filling recycling bags with these alone was quite shocking. These days we have our milk delivered in glass bottles straight to the front door, the bottles are collected at each delivery and the bottles are taken away to be reused. I love it, especially since we have worked out exactly how much we need each week – now there are no early morning dashes to the corner shop and a much smaller bag of plastic recycling goes out. We use Milk & More, mainly because they were simple to use and have always been reliable. You can check how they support smaller dairy farms and whether they deliver in your area here.
5. Beeswax Wraps: These have become such a regular swap for us that I have already written a whole blog post on their benefits and details of how to use them here. As an alternative to food wrap, they have been such a winner for us that I no longer buy cling film, very rarely use plastic ‘sandwich’ type bags and pretty much only use tin foil when cooking a roast dinner.
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