5 easy ways to reduce your use of plastic

The other day, I got chatting to a woman who was taking part in Plastic Free July  – a challenge that asks you to refuse single-use plastic for the month. I have to be honest, up until that conversation I really didn’t realise how much we rely on plastic. After I spoke to her I started trying to make more conscious decisions instead of blindly reaching for the plastic wrap or tossing plastic packaging into the recycling bin.

It’s not easy, that’s for sure. Cherry tomatoes – they come in a plastic container. My favourite skincare – plastic tubes and bottles. Chocolate – wrapped in plastic. But just being aware of how much plastic we use every day is the first step to making smarter choices and looking for alternatives.

Plastic free july.jpg

Reusable cactus tote, skincare in glass jars, reusable beeswax wrap and reusable bamboo makeup pads

I don’t plan to go plastic free overnight, and I know that there will be times when the only choice is plastic. But just like other healthy choices we make in life, if we can reduce our use of plastic 90% of the time, it’s going to have a huge impact. These are the things that I’ve already started to do, and hopefully they get you started on a life of less plastic, too.

  1. Ditch plastic bags. Hands up if you’ve got a big stack of reusable shopping bags sitting in your cupboard or the boot of your car that you always intend to take with you when you shop, but never actually do? Now is the time to ACTUALLY use them! Grab your bags when you grab your shopping list, take one with you when you shop for clothes or homewares, and stash one in you bag or car for unplanned shopping.
  2. Avoid plastic bottles – especially bottled water. This one was an easy option for me as I mostly use my own reusable water bottle, and I’ll make extra effort to always take it with me when I go out. The water bottles I have are plastic but there is no point throwing them out now, so I’ll use them until they need to be replaced and then replace them with a more sustainable alternative. I’m taking this one a step further by opting to buy ‘treat’ drinks such as Diet Coke in cans, rather than bottles.
  3. Say no to plastic wrap. This is a biggie for me, as I wrap everything in plastic wrap – from cut veggies to bowls of leftover food. I’m making an effort to use the reusable plastic containers I already own (instead of using a bowl with plastic wrap over the top of it) and again, when they need to be replaced I’ll go for a non-plastic option. I’ve also started giving a reusable beeswax wrap a go and so far so good, so I’ll be buying more of these when I can.
  4. Buy from the source. So many of our groceries come pre-packaged in plastic, and often there aren’t a lot of alternatives. In you look in the grocery store, all of the bread comes wrapped up. But if you go to the bakery, you can get fresh bread popped straight into a paper bag. The next thing on my list is to buy some reusable produce bags and to shop at fresh produce stores or markets, where you can get things like loose cherry tomatoes waiting to be placed into your own reusable bag. Plus, you’ll be supporting local businesses, so why not take your own reusable containers to the butcher, cheese shop, coffee shop and juice bar (make sure you say no to a straw), and buy staples from places like Wasteless Pantry in Mundaring or using your own reusable bags at places like Kakulas Brothers in Northbridge.
  5. Switch out your skincare. Next time you need to buy shampoo, moisturiser or toothpaste, consider the alternatives. Lots of small makers use glass bottles rather than plastic – I’ve already got a body wash and moisturiser in glass, and some brands will even refill them for you. Again, it’s about shopping local and looking to small producers rather than big corporations. If you’ve never been to Lush, now is the perfect time to pop in, as you’ll find soap cut to order and wrapped in paper, unwrapped bath bombs that can be placed in either paper or your own reusable bags, shampoo bars, and tooth tabs that replace toothpaste. I’ve just switched to reusable, bamboo facial pads (instead of disposable, plastic-wrapped cotton pads) and you can also get bamboo toothbrushes and hairbrushes, lip balms in tins rather than plastic tubes, and handmade face creams and body scrubs in reusable glass jars.

Reducing your use of plastic doesn’t have to be hard but the key is to just start. It takes a little awareness and a bit of pre-planning – but every time we chose to say no to plastic we’re making a big difference!

Pictured –

LOVE vanilla body wash & Mandarin body lotion from Being Green Eco Store

Old tote bag from Typo

Bamboo facial pads by Bugsey Bee from The Tasty Pear

Beeswax wrap from Environment House

 

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11 thoughts on “5 easy ways to reduce your use of plastic

  1. Do you know any local markets that sell skincare products with glass packaging? Now, I’m interested to join this cause. I already use glass water bottles, beeswax wraps, reusable containers, and shopping bags. Love your post Rachel! xx

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    • Thanks Jacq! So great that you’re already using some plastic free alternatives!
      The skincare is tricky as some places will have both glass and plastic, and it can often be hard to tell looking at photos online. I believe Bare Botanics have some in glass and they’re often at the Subi markets. Being Green Eco Store sell online as well as some markets down south. At One Skincare is in recycled glass packaging but not sure if they do markets. I often find hand creams in small local gift shops. But I’ll be on the lookout so I can let you know when I find more!

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  2. Kez | acaciasdreams says:

    Love this idea, and love that your trying to be more conscious! I know all the tricks (takeaway coffee cups and plastics straws are big ones) I just need to get better at being prepared when I go out so that I don’t need to use plastic, it’s all about being prepared! Xx

    Kez | acaciasdreams.com

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    • Absolutely, being prepared is key! I’m hoping it becomes a habit soon and I will hardly even think about it eventually – at the moment I’m terrible at remembering my reusable bag so I’ve just got one that folds up small and tucked it into my handbag!

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  3. Thanks for the tips! I’m always on the lookout on how to reduce plastic. I’ve managed to ditch the plastic bags and water bottles but every time I go shopping I still end up with so much plastic packaging.

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    • Packaging is so tricky to avoid, especially when it comes to food. Being aware of it the first step though, so at least we can keep an eye out for alternatives. I’m looking forward to visiting the waste free store in Mundaring to get a few of my supplies!

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      • Definitely, I think it’s about small gradual steps rather than one huge leap. So far I’ve eliminated shopping bags, coffee cups, water bottles and glad wrap. I’m working on cutting down on all the packaging I drag home after a supermarket shop – for that I think a visit to Mundaring will help.

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  4. jenellewitty says:

    So many good ideas! We have glass food containers and don’t really use cling wrap, but I’d be keen to try the beeswax one. I definitely feel like my footprint as a blogger can be large, I don’t tend to accept gifts now, because I realised how much excess packaging the parcels would come in. Clearly someone in a pr office would have a ball wrapping things up so nicely. but there were times when the smallest product would come in the biggest box with just so much bubble wrap and smaller boxes, it made me feel sick.
    As for plastic bags, gosh, SO many years ago in other states they introduced charging 10-20 cents per shopping bag, so people switched to bringing in tote bags, I wish they would enforce this in WA. It reduced the number of bags so much! And the bamboo face pads are a great idea. I tend to use a muslin cloth, they would work the same I guess, there is no reason to buy disposable ones when you think about it!
    Great ideas!! I love this initiative.
    xx Jenelle
    http://www.inspiringwit.com

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    • Thanks Jenelle, its been so great to see the responses to this and to hear about all the changes people are already making to reduce their impact. The packaging thing is so frustrating, it happens all the time when ordering online too. That’s a massive call you’ve made in refusing a lot of the gifting, I’m very impressed! x
      PS did you hear that Coles/Woolies are planning to ban plastic bags? Finally!

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