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I just wondered whether anyone had any tips on reducing plastic consumption in day to day life? Even though I try not to buy plastic packaged things too much I still feel sick when I look at all the plastic bottles/packaging/containers in the bathroom, utility room, kitchen, recycling bin etc, especially as I know that plastic can only really be recycled once before it becomes full-on waste dumped in landfill, swirling in that horrific Great Pacific garbage patch, being ingested by wildlife (and us), ending up all over the place, and just generally being horrifying. It also strikes me as being a bit nonsensical trying to use only eco products for cleaning etc so as to reduce pollution and risk to health when they all come packaged in plastic! I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old so, much as I’d like to, I am realistically not going to get rid of plastic in one fell swoop, but does anyone have any starting points? Does anyone use soap nuts, and would they work on cloth nappies and husband’s stinky gym kit? And does anyone use them for shampoo, washing up, cleaning etc? (I bought some eco washing powder online which is packaged in a paper bag but it came wrapped in a plastic bag (presumably in case it burst in transit) which kind of defeated the object of doing so!) If I slowly start working towards making my own yoghurt, for example, will that cut down on yoghurt pots, or will I just be using big plastic containers of milk to make it instead?
I’d be so grateful for any advice as I’m not quite sure where to start. I also have a tendency to try and do it all in one go, and then get overwhelmed and lose heart, so I know I need to start small and gradually work up.
Thanks so much in advance!
hello, no easy answers I think. for washing clothes, I use a mixture of things, washing balls and soap nuts work fine for “normal” washing and nappies. my gym kit needs a but more so use ecover (I buy the 5l refill boxes). and then every month or so I zap them with asda’s own stuff (I find that if I only eco wash them, they build up a smell that nothing will shift so I need to buy new kit- I have reasoned that that would be worse for the environment than 12 chemical washes a year).
you don’t need to change everything at once, ease yourself in gradually.
here, all plastic packaging gets used again before being thrown- wrapping sandwiches, wrapping things for the freezer, as dog poo bags, for whatever my DS finds when we are out and decides he must bring home and put in the junk modelling box!
looking with interest for other ideas,
I make all my own yogurt and use organic UHT in cartons to make it, so no extra plastic bottles there (needs to be UHT, or use fresh milk and scald before making yogurt because of the bacteria).
I buy in bulk, Faith in Nature- 5 litre bottles for shampoo, conditioner, dishwasher gel, handwash, loo cleaner.
Vinegar comes in glass bottle and that is the best all round cleaner, good for spraying on glass and for descaling the loo.
Rocks Organic squash is in a glass bottle and is very good. I do not buy any soft drinks apart form that (and juice in a carton)
It is also a choice when buying all kinds of food- the loose apples or the pre-packed etc etc. Each little choice makes a difference.
There are lots of foods I just do not buy (or very rarely) to reduce packaging waste- like crisps, drinks in plastic bottles, ‘snack’ foods and individual portioned foods.
I save and re-use all plastic bags- even the packaging from the loorolls etc- all good as bin liners. Bread bags are reused as sandwich bags and then in plastic-bag-recycling.
Good thing is that wine and chocolate are packed in glass, paper and foil- all easy to recycle! Phew!
Totally recommend checking out Rachelle’s Zero Waste Week blog and website - loads of info on there, and some brilliant ideas for upcycling all kinds of stuff!
Trying to do everything - failing madly!
Being constantly & lovingly educated by daughter Freya, 19
It’s a minefield isn’t it Mouse. Every time I successfully reduce plastic in one area it seems to increase in another. like you I would love to reduce it. I agree that small steps are the best otherwise you can be overwhelmed, but overall I would say it is important to be mindful.
I use a homemade washing powder. I buy the materials in bulk which sadly do come in plastic wrapping but I only buy them once every twelve to fifteen months which is still not perfect but better than buying more often in smaller quantities. I buy borax and bicarb to make the mix. I use the bicarb as shampoo, to make deodorant with and for cleaning the house (floors, surfaces, bath etc).
I also buy white vinegar in bulk (5 litres bottles) which I use as a fabric conditioner (with some lavender oil) cleaning the loo and windows/mirrors. We reuse the bottles in the polytunnel by filling them with water which absorbs heat during the day which it gives off at night to help maintain a higher temperature.
I also make my own yogurt. I used to buy the milk from a local farm but like so many dairy farmers they have stopped farming so now I buy from the supermarket . I am looking into other local farms but don’t want to have to make a special journey to get it. The other alternative is to have the milk delivered in glass bottles but that is not usually organic , well it isn’t round my way. I buy a small pot of yogurt about once every six to eight weeks from that I will make upwards of ten litres of yogurt which is twenty 500ml pots not being bought. I save two tablespoons of a batch to make the next one, along with a litre of milk.
One of biggest plastic issues for me is fruit. All my veg I get delivered or from the local farmers market but I can’t buy organic fruit that way. All organic fruit and veg in the supermarket is packaged to differentiate it, so the only choice I have is to buy loose which is not organic.
I wrote a post yesterday on my blog about a homemade reusable food wrap (a great alternative to cling film) and how to make it.
Wow, thank you so much, ladies, for your fabulous responses! Lots of food for thought and some good starting points. I think i do need to start buying in bulk (including, of course, wine and chocolate, Moggy ) because even if everything is packaged in plastic, at least it’s not producing quite so much packaging waste. And i will certainly start being organised and try to make my own cleaning products etc - something I’ve been meaning to start for years and have just never had the discipline and organisation to get round to (thanks, Sustainable Mum, for pointing me towards the recipes etc in your beautiful blog!) Feeling very inspired by everyone’s feedback! x
Yes! Please sign up for Zero Waste Week this year (http://zerowasteweek.co.uk) and if you REALLY want some answers - hop onto my fb group; you’ll be inundated by that friendly, talkative bunch! https://www.facebook.com/groups/ZeroWasteWeekHeroes/ Thanks for the shoutout crystalmummy x
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Ooh, Starchild, I didn’t realise that you were the brains behind Zero Waste! It’s fantastic. Lots of brillliant info, and I’ve signed up!