We all know plastic, especially single-use, is bad. We use far more of it than can ever be recycled, it’s clogging up our oceans and harmful chemicals are released when it’s incinerated.
Environmentalists are clear we need to reduce, reuse and as a last resort recycle.
But what can the average household do? You don’t see yourself going “plastic-free” so is there much point? The short answer is yes. Changing small daily habits accumulate over time and the more people who start reducing their use, the greater the impact will be.
So with that in mind here’s a list of 5 easy to ditch single-use plastics you can cut from your household with minimal effort or impact on your way of life. Stick around to the end for my bonus plastic.
Dental floss is a seriously wasteful bit of single-use plastic. How long do you spend flossing your teeth? 2 minutes? Less?
Then that little strand of plastic goes straight in the bin.
Too small to recycle, but perfectly sized to pose a strangulation risk to wildlife.
Not only that, but a large proportion of dental floss is made from, or coated with Teflon, used to coat non-stick pans, which I think is pretty grim.
Originally the only plastic free floss was made from silk which posed an ethical dilemma for me as a vegan, is it better to be plastic free or cruelty free? What does the most damage?
Luckily more and more flosses are coming onto the market that are both plastic and cruelty-free. Read the labels carefully as some “natural” flosses still have a small percentage of plastic in them for strength.
I’ve been using this floss. You need to be a little more gentle, but it does the job just fine, and my teeth feel just as clean after.
It is more expensive working out around 10p a metre whereas your average plastic floss is around 4-5p a metre. Assuming you use the recommended 18 inches of floss per day (0.46 metres) this works out to £1.40 a month in plastic-free floss vs 56-70p a month in plastic floss. A manageable change even on a budget.
In place of bottled shampoo I now use shampoo bars, and I absolutely love them! Plastic impact aside, I’ve converted to shampoo bars for life.
My hair was in such better condition within a few months of using this shampoo and the price is spot on too.
Each bar lasts me about 5 months with 2 washes a week. Whereas a 250ml bottle lasts me about 2 months. Price-wise the bars are £2.50 each and I’d expect to pay £2-3 for a bottle so per year I’m saving around 50%
One negative I will say is it does take a couple of weeks of limp, slightly greasy looking hair before your hair adjusts to the bar. It’s worth it, I promise, but time the transition carefully you don’t want to have any weddings or big events on the immediate horizon
I’ll be completely honest, much as I want to move away from bottled conditioner I haven’t found a plastic-free one that suits my hair type yet.
I try to buy in bulk containers to at least reduce my plastic while I keep searching for a good bar. I’ll update this post if I find a good one. If you’ve found a good conditioning bar, please email me and let me know!
Body Wash Bottles
Body Wash I keep nice and simple with a bar of Dove on the sink to wash our hands, which we then also use to wash our bodies in the shower. You can lather it in your hands and then rub it on your body to keep it hygienic.
I thought I’d miss scented body wash, but really I don’t. The soap lather feels comparably silky and bubbly in the shower, and my skin fresh and clean after. My skin is quite sensitive and I’ve found since switching to soaps I’m a lot less itchy generally.
It’s harder to compare price-wise as we also use this bar to wash our hands, but previously Jamie and I would both have a 250ml bottle of body wash on the go and they would last about 2 months. We replace the bar roughly every 2 months, so accounting for hand washing as well 1 bar replaces 2-3 bottles which are similar to the shampoo. Body wash is £1-£2 per bottle, a bar of soap around 50p. Again we’re looking at savings of over 50%.
This ones so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it!
A friend gifted me an eco friendly kitchen set and it came with a bamboo dish scrubber.
There’s no difference at all in quality of clean or ease of use compared to a plastic scrubber, but it’s so much better for the planet. The heads are replaceable and the used head is compostable.
I also think it looks nicer in the kitchen than a brightly coloured plastic brush.
Depending on the brand of dish brush you normally buy you are looking at a slightly higher initial cost. A dish brush set with 3 replaceable heads will set you back £10.99, whereas a single plastic dish brush is around £2-3. Replacement bamboo heads are £2.50-3 each so the cost is comparable going forward.
I have found no difference in durability with the bamboo scrubber.
Babies are seriously messy.
Even a harmless looking banana is soon mashed in their tiny hands and smeared all over their face (and anything in touching distance.)
But before you reach for the baby wipes, consider cloths instead. If I’m honest, before I started trying to reduce our plastic use I didn’t even realise wipes had plastic in them! I thought they were just strong, moist tissue paper. I used them so much because they were cheap and convenient, never realising the damage I was causing.
If you have a baby or small child you may be pretty attached to wipes and be recoiling in horror at the thought of cutting them out completely. If so, why not start cutting back at first? I also give you this challenge:
- Take a baby wipe and wipe it all over your face as if you were cleaning your baby
- Wait for your face to dry
- Go rinse your face in the sink with plain water
That slimy layer of baby wipe goo you’re washing off? That’s what you leave behind on your baby’s delicate skin every time you use a wipe. Ready to start cutting back now?
We keep a stash of these cloths in our bib drawer and take one out per meal. Once we’ve finished eating, I run the cloth under some warm water (which I think feels much nicer than a cold wipe on Christina’s hands and face) and wipe her down. The cloth then goes into the washing with her dirty bib.
We also use wipes for nappy changes too. Even if you aren’t using cloth nappies I’d encourage you to try cloth wipes. They are far superior for quickly removing poop and gentler on your babies skin. They need to be damp, so either keep a bottle of water in your changing kit or store the wipes pre-moist in a Tupperware. We use coloured cloths for the face/body and white for bums.
Cloths are a clear winner budget wise. You can buy a pack of 20 coloured and 20 white cloths for £26. These should last you your child’s infancy and the coloured cloths you may even be able to repurpose as cleaning cloths later down the line.
And as a bonus extra…
Do you change your toothbrush every 3 months as recommended? That’s 4 toothbrushes every year sitting in landfill, 40 for every 10 years of life. It’s scary when you scale up isn’t it?
I add this as a bonus extra because there is no toothbrush on the market with biodegradable bristles yet. It’s not fully plastic free, but every little helps.
Bamboo toothbrushes are fab. They have a cosy earthy feel to them while you’re brushing and they look super cute in a bamboo cup.
I love to personalise ours. Grab a sharpie and make yours unique with shapes and colour, or a humorous nickname to make you chuckle each morning.
Price-wise for a decent budget model I’d expect to pay £1-2 per brush, which is the same as their plastic counterpart.
So there you have it, 5 single use plastics we’ve removed from our home to reduce our plastic waste. Which idea will you try?
Drop me a message in the comments to let me know any ideas you’ve tried, or any other plastic free tips you have.