Monday, 19 March 2018

8 Ways to Reduce The Amount of Plastic in Your Home

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You might have seen on the news last week that plastic particles have been found in 90% of bottled water, all over the world. In some cases it was as high as 10,000 plastic pieces per litre of water. The World Health Organisation is launching a health review, people are panicking and most are wondering why it was ever a good idea to invent plastic in the first place.

The problem is, plastic is literally everywhere. 


Photo by Arshad Pooloo on Unsplash

We filter our water in a plastic jug. Our oceans are full of discarded plastic carrier bags, pipes and tubes and old plastic drinking straws, to the detriment of marine life that sometimes think it's a tasty jellyfish or other creature bobbing about in the depths. Our tap water even has plastic in it, just less than bottled water. We wrap our food in plastic and we drink our coffee out of plastic cups. I'm even tapping out these words onto plastic keys. 

Plastic might have once been considered a cheap, durable material, but now I think we're becoming aware of the dangers. Live Science has estimated that humans have so far produced a whopping 9 billion tonnes of plastic. That's a lot. And what about all that waste? Did you know that a standard plastic carrier bag could take up to 1,000 years to decompose completely? And those disposable nappies that you used for your kids when they were babies will still probably be around in landfill for another 400 years? It's just not sustainable. 

And I don't know about you, but the idea that I'm drinking or eating plastic microparticles unnerves me. 

We need to severely reduce - or ideally, stop - our reliance on plastic. It's not good for the environment, it's not good for animals and it's almost certainly not good for us. 

Here are some ways you can reduce the amount of plastics in  your home and do your bit for the environment. 

Buy your fruit and veg at the market, or loose at the supermarket
Buying your fruit and vegetables loose, and packing it in your own hessian or linen bag is cheaper and less wasteful. After all, you only buy and use what you needed in the first place, rather than go for that plastic-wrapped 1kg pack of sweet potatoes when you only need 1. Do this, and you'll be amazed at how much plastic disappears from your home, and ow much money you save, too. Supermarkets prices take into account the cost of the plastic packaging, which is why it's often cheaper to buy the same quantity, but loose.

Be aware of how your food comes
Plastic jars, plastic food wrap, plastic tubs for your salad - before you buy, have a think about the plastic that you're bringing into your home and if you can, opt for brands that wrap their products in biodegradable or fully recyclable materials like paper, or glass. I always now choose olive oil packaged in glass rather than plastic, for example. I think we should go back to the old days where the milkman would collect your old bottles from the doorstep as he placed the new ones. 

Use glass containers for storing food
Last year, I went through all my cupboards and threw away all my plastic, save for a couple of BPA-free lunchbox containers, which I try not to use. I replaced it with these glass containers. They come with plastic lids, but the plastic doesn't really come into contact with the food if it's just sitting in your fridge. The pack I bought comes in different sizes, and they can be used in the fridge, freezer, microwave and the oven without staining or bending. I love them. 

Don't use a plastic coffee cup takeaway
Many coffee shops now are offering you a discount on your cuppa if you bring your own re-useable cup. I keep my bamboo cup in my bag in case I ever go for a hot drink in town, and I take it in the car, filled with a chicory coffee, to my daughter's early morning violin lesson on Saturdays. I have the Twinings bamboo fibre cup but there are lots of different ones out there. And it won't make your drink taste funny like my old plastic cups used to. 

Switch those single use coffee pods
I think whenever you see convenience at its most convenient, that's probably not a good thing. Little portions of coffee packed up in little pods made from plastic or aluminium that you pop into a specially designed coffee maker for your morning drink. I used to have one of these machines years ago, and the rubbish bin was filled up with the plastic pods. There are eco-versions out there that use biodegradable paper. Look for more environmentally friendly ways to brew your coffee, or do it the old fashioned way: coffee stored in a paper bag and brewed on the stove in an aluminium coffee jug

Use less cling film 
Use the containers I mentioned above to store leftover or pre-prepped food. I try and reduce the amount of cling film I use to wrap foods, but I admit it hasn't disappeared completely. For cakes, I place them on a plate and then instead of wrapping it, I lower a glass mixing bowl over the top, to keep it fresh. Use lidded containers rather than food wrap. Or look for paper food wrapping options that can biodegrade. 

Stop using carrier bags
When the UK government brought in the 5p charge for every plastic carrier bag given when you do your shopping, the press was printing photos of people carrying their shopping to the car in their arms, or putting it loose in the car boot. I thought it was great! Most supermarkets now have recycling bins to put your old carrier bags in, so they can be recycled, but still, it's far better to do without them. Supermarkets that deliver to your home via online shopping still dish out bags, but you can sometimes opt not to have them, which means taking the crates to your kitchen and unloading it while the delivery person waits for them back. Think about how you can reduce - or better still - stop your carrier bag usage. I keep a couple of large shopping bags in my car boot. When I unpack the shopping I put them straight back in the car before doing anything else.  

Stop buying plastic water bottles
Plastic bottles of water are so convenient, I know. But consider buying a stainless steel flask - you can buy small ones, these are what my children use for school. My husband takes a small 300ml glass bottle to work, with a smoothie or other cold drink in it. 

And if all else fails... 

Recycle it
If all else fails and you have plastic in your home, put it out for recycling when you're done with it. Most councils now recycle lots of different types of plastic, so it will be turned into new things rather than sitting there in landfill for the next 1,000 years. 

Do you have any tips for reducing plastic levels in your home? Share them with us in the comments below. 






16 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post! I bring my reusable containers to my local food coops to refill. If I need a bag I use the store's paper sacks. #plasticfree

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  2. We make a HUGE effort to minimize our plastic in our house. We use a lot of glass for storing, use all our own grocery bags, and purify our own water. Thanks for additional ideas!

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    1. Sounds like you're doing great Tessa! Once you start watching the plastic you use, it's amazing how much it all adds up to.

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  3. Such amazing tips! I’ve drastically reduced the amount of plastic in our home in the past 3 years and it makes me feel so happy I’m doing good for our health and the environment.

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  4. YES!!! So important, not only for the enviromant but also for the effects of plastic on our health! Thanks

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  5. Such a great post, I've been working on most of these, but I really need to get some reusable produce bags next because that's where most of my plastic waste is coming from right now.

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    1. It can be tricky because you sometimes go into the shop expecting to buy a couple of things but end up needing more bags because you buy more - we just throw the biggest bags we have into the car and leave them there! :)

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  6. I've been trying to cut back. It's hard in today's world, but a great cause!

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  7. Such a great topic!! Yes, plastics-- SO bad! I need to get better about "how food comes" because we shop at Trader Joe's a lot, and they prepackage stuff, like their veggies. Thanks for all the great suggestions.

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  8. These are all great ideas! Such an important topic!

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  9. Yes, so much of our veggies and fruits are packaged in plastic - hope it helps!

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  10. This is so true. I learned a lot from this article and will incorporate some of them in my daily life. Thanks !

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  11. Living on an island plastic is a big deal. Since moving to Hawaii we've cut down a lot, but this post is great! Thanks for the great ideas1

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