Updated: Nov 14, 2018
Recently a number of my friends have decided to confess their "plastic sins" to me, so I am taking this opportunity to 'fess up myself. My house is not entirely plastic-free. There, I said it. My plastic conscious journey is ongoing and like everything worth investing in, it takes time. Over the last 6 months I have vastly reduced my family's plastic footprint. At first it felt overwhelming but by taking it one swap at a time, it surprised me how easy it became and how affordable it is. Paying upfront for a reusable product seems expensive to begin with, but it actually works out to be cheaper long-term. Over time, swaps begin to pay themselves off and weekly items begin to disappear off the shopping list.
Set small goals and most of all, be realistic. I strive to achieve zero waste status when I can: picnics, coffee shop runs and make up removal to name a few, but I still have improvements to make. I don't compare myself to anyone else and stay focused on my own journey and how much plastic I have reduced. My journey is ongoing and I never imagined I would even come this far. My mantra is easy - each and every swap is one step better than before.
Here are my top 12 swaps which are both affordable and minimal effort.
1. Plastic Free Health and Beauty
There are so many options to choose from! I picked one product from my bathroom to start with and bought the eco-alternative. First I tried natural deodorant, packaged in a cardboard push-up tube. It was more expensive than my regular deodorant, so I began by alternating between my regular deodorant and my new eco brand. Despite being more expensive, the eco brand lasted longer and smells amazing. I eventually phased out the plastic.
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: Ku.tis Natural Deodorant: Lavender and bergamot, £6.00 www.peacewiththewild.co.uk/product/kutis-natural-deodorant-lavender-bergamot-55g
2. Fruit and veg
Opt for loose instead of pre-packaged versions at the supermarket. If you are a home delivery shopper, add a note to your delivery to ask for no plastic bags. Bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, apples and pears are all sold plastic free. Not all supermarkets offer loose produce, so it may be worth switching. Some chains, such as Morrisons, offer cardboard wonky veg boxes for as little as £3.50 which include carrots, onions and potatoes plus 3 other types of veg. https://my.morrisons.com/wonky-fruit-veg
3. Ditch the cotton wool
Cut up an old flannel into squares and use as a cotton wool alternative. Invest in a cheap mesh wash bag, fill up with used squares and throw in with your normal washing. This saves money, is super easy to do and is totally zero waste. I keep mine in a pretty ceramic pot in the bathroom.
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: Tesco, washbag twin pack £3.00 www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/278798188
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is amazing and we use it for everything in our house from make up removal to polishing the oven. It comes in recyclable glass jars instead of downcycled plastic packaging and is widely available in almost every supermarket, plus it lasts for ages. Other uses include hair serum, moisturiser and nappy rash barrier cream - it's also great to cook with!
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: Groovy Food Company, 283ml for £4.99. Check out the website for some delicious recipes. www.groovyfood.co.uk/products/organic-virgin-coconut-oil-283ml
5. Plastic free shampoo
They make your hair look and smell fantastic. Affordable and made using natural ingredients, with many being palm-oil free, they earn top marks for lasting absolutely ages!
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: Beauty Kubes organic solid shampoo, £8.50 for 27 cubes, that's 9 weeks worth of shampoo based on washing your hair 3 times per week. .https://beautykubes.co.uk/collections/shampoo-and-body-wash/products/organic-shampoo-for-normal-to-dry-hair-vegan-friendly-plastic-free
6. Reusable wipes
Not the cheapest to start with, but the investment WILL pay off when you no longer need to buy any kind of disposable wipe, be it for baby, face or floor. I cannot recommend these enough. This swap was the one I was most sceptical about as I wasn't convinced that anything could be better than a baby wipe, but reusable wipes feel nicer to the touch and you won't need to use many. The Cheeky Wipes all in one kits are amazing; clean and dirty wipes are stored conveniently in different boxes. The mucky box has an integrated mesh bag which you just throw into the washing machine with a normal wash load when ready. This is easily one of my all time favourite swaps, well worth the money.
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: Cheeky Wipes reusable cloth baby wipes all-in-one kit, £39.99 (Wipes can be bought for cheaper without the kit.) Check website for promotions as discounts are often available. www.cheekywipes.com/baby-wipes-kit/baby-wipes-kit.html
Bamboo or metal, just ditch the plastic. Enough said.
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: Klean Kanteen stainless steel straws, with silicone tips, £9.95 for 5, plus straw cleaner.
8. Shopping bags
Fabric, jute or netted, branded or plain, the options are (almost) endless! These can be as cheap or as expensive as you desire. Some are available for less than £1.00 online and look great! You can also pick them up cheaply at most supermarkets.
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: Turtle bags are organic and fair trade. Organic short handled bag, £5.00 www.turtlebags.co.uk/product-page/organic-short-handled-string-bag
9. Bars of soap
They look prettier, smell nicer, last longer and are often cheaper than hand-wash. I was recently told that bars of soap are unhygienic, however think about that hand-wash pump - same concept. You wash your hands after handling the soap plus the bar is then rinsed under the tap. Look for bars packaged in paper or cardboard.
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: I currently have this Peppermint and Poppyseed bar from the Friendly Soap Company in my bathroom, it smells amazing. £2.11 www.friendlysoap.co.uk/product/peppermint-poppy-seeds-soap
10. Beeswax wraps
For wrapping and covering food. These look so good and keep food fresh either in the fridge or when you are out and about. Wrap food, then wipe clean and rinse with cold water afterwards. They last for up to a year and can be composted or made into fire lighters when they are finished with. Compared to 12 months useage of cling film of tin foil, they work out cheaper and are zero waste. You can purchase a range of different sizes, including wraps big enough to cover a loaf of bread. If you are feeling crafty, you can even make your own!
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: BeeBee Wraps, 3x medium sized or 2x large sized for £14 in a choice of lovely prints. https://beebeewraps.com
11. Kitchen Roll
I worked out that I spend in excess of £50 per year on kitchen roll based on spending £1.24 per week for 2 rolls. I decided this was too expensive and generated too much plastic in the form of packaging. Instead, I bought a roll of reusable, washable bamboo towels. Each sheet can be washed approx 80 times! An upfront cost of £9.99 therefore saves over £40 per year and a lot of plastic packaging!
Plastic Conscious Mama choice: Eco Egg reusable kitchen towel https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ecoegg-Re-Usable-Bamboo-Towels-White/dp/B00SL6JZ24
Swap plastic milk bottles for a milkman. This swap is slightly dearer, but definitely worth it. Milk is fresher and tastier and it is so much nicer in a glass jar, which can be recycled countless times. If swapping all milk is financially unrealistic, why not trial just a weekend milk delivery for a treat? Being plastic conscious is about reducing your plastic footprint in any way you can!
Find your local milkman here: www.findmeamilkman.net
Choose your first swap and be more plastic conscious. It's easy if you know how. Every single swap is an improvement and it doesn't need to be costly.
Feeling overwhelmed and don't know where to start? Visit the Plastic Conscious Mama gift box shop for inspiration.