Going plastic free is a great, but those who’ve tried it will also know it can be a big undertaking. Plastic is everywhere, and that’s the problem. Like the hum of the traffic on your road, or the glow of street lamp light outside your windows at night, plastic has become so ingrained in our everyday lives that we barely take notice of it. Until, that is, the moment we decide to help stem the havoc it’s wreaking on the environment by swapping everyday plastic items for those made from natural, eco-friendly materials. Then we realise just how much we’ve come to rely on this toxic material, and how substitutes aren’t always so obvious.
This realisation can be overwhelming. But a simple strategy can help make the task of banishing plastic from your home a lot more manageable: divide and conquer. Take it gradually, one item at a time.
Below we’ve listed two of plastic’s main domestic hideouts and the most common plastic items found within them. We’ve also given some suggestions for easily found alternatives. Hopefully these suggestions will help to make your plastic free journey a much smoother ride.
Plastic items in the kitchen are numerous and often easily replaced. So here’s a good place to start. Plastic is toxic to us as well as the environment, so replacing your plastic food items will prove to be beneficial not just for the health of both you and your family in the long run, but also that of the planet.
- Food bags. Reducing your use of disposable plastic items is especially important. It’s these items that create the most waste and contribute most to clogging up the environment. Beeswax food wraps are reusable and biodegradable. They’re a great alternative option to plastic food bags.
- Carrier bags. Another common disposable plastic item. Cotton, jute and hemp food carrier and storage bags are cheap, durable and readily available.
- Food containers. Lunchboxes and food containers are often made from plastic, but glass and metal options are easy to come by. The glass and steel options look nicer too.
- Cooking utensils. Wooden utensils, thankfully, are still the more popular choice in most kitchens. Plastic does dominate certain items though, spatulas and serving spoons to name a couple. Metal and wooden utensils of all kinds are widely available, so they shouldn’t be difficult to swap.
- Cleaning Sponges may have traditionally been fashioned from a plant grown on the ocean floor, but guess what they’re made from now? Plastic, of course! Wooden brushes work just as well and last ten times as long. Check the fibres that make up the brush heads too though – even on wooden brushes these are sometimes made from plastic.
- Cleaning products. Typical shop-bought cleaning products are little more than concoctions of harmful chemicals. And, what’s worse, they come supplied in disposable plastic containers. Natural and homemade cleaning products work just as well and also do away with the issues of harmful chemicals and plastic. If you prefer spraying, then invest in a reusable glass spray bottle instead.
Plastic’s infiltration of the bathroom has been long and steady. But as with the kitchen, many of the plastic items found in the bathroom are easily replaced with eco-friendly alternatives.
- Toothbrushes are good items to begin start with. Not strictly classified as disposable, they’re not famed for their longevity either. How many do you get through a year? Toothbrushes made from bamboo and other woods are becoming increasingly popular and increasing easy to find, and they last just as long too.
- Hairbrushes. Plastic is easily the most common hairbrush material, from the handle to the bristles. But you don’t have to look far to find wooden alternatives.
- The same applies for nailbrushes too.
- Body wash and shower gel. Always supplied in disposable plastic packaging and provides little, if any additional benefits than soap. Natural soaps with plastic free packaging are easy to get hold of. They’ll last longer and leave you just as clean.
- Cotton buds and floss. Small and easily overlooked. Both these products are typical plastic disposables, but eco-friendly versions of both are available.
- Like kitchen sponges, where once bathroom loofahs were made from plants, they’re now predominantly made from plastic. Try using natural plant loofahs and wooden scrubbing brushes instead.
- Single use razors are another of those dastardly disposable plastic items. Reusable razors made entirely from steel are much more eco-friendly.
If done gradually and strategically, going plastic free needn’t be a hassle.
Your kitchen and your bathroom are two good places to start. They harbour the majority of those especially eco-damaging disposable plastics; and the plastic items found in these rooms are some of those that can be most easily replaced by eco-friendly alternatives. Unfortunately eco-tellies and computers are probably still some way off though; so don’t worry about total plastic eradication form your home just yet.
But don’t forget, every plastic item you swap out of your life is one less plastic item that’ll likely end up polluting a landfill or poisoning the sea.