We all want to do our bit to cut out plastic, don’t we? After watching David Attenborough’s shocking programmes last year we know the extent of the problem. But the huge amount of information we get from social media, friends and family about how to do it can be overwhelming. Where to start?
At Little Green Ways, the blog I write for, we gather lots of great ideas from people around the world so you don’t have to. We also believe in being positive and celebrating what we are achieving, rather than feeling bad about what we haven’t tackled yet. None of us can change the world on our own, but if we all make little changes, they add up to something huge!
With that in mind, we’ve put together five easy and doable ways to reduce your plastic use.
Did you know how many options there are for refilling food, and household products, around Perthshire? Highland Health Store, Perth, offers refills on herbs and spices as well as Ecover products such as fabric softener and laundry liquid.
Perth Community Farm Shop is a fab shop in Perth offering refills on hand soap, fabric softener, laundry liquid, washing up liquid and even shampoo and conditioner. I have two bottles of each and do multiple refills at once, which keeps me going for ages.
Think about how much plastic we could all save if we took refillable coffee cups and water bottles with us.At J. L. Gill, Crieff, you can bulk-buy many store-cupboard ingredients such as flour, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, herbs and spices, legumes and chocolate.
If you take your own tubs to Loch Leven’s Larder, Provender Brown or The Cheese Byre, for example, you can get your cheese, olives, and other deli items put straight into them. Handam Refill Station (formerly Plastic Free Delivery) in Pitlochry has a selection of dry foods, herbs, spices, cleaning products and zero-waste items.
And think about how much plastic we could all save if we took refillable coffee cups and water bottles with us. I was working at the AK Bell Library recently and the helpful café staff filled up my own coffee cup!
Plastic wrap on fruit and veg is a relatively new thing. When I was a kid, we bought fruit and veg loose, and the “greengrocer” popped it into brown paper bags, doing that twisty thing to close them. Then we piled the brown paper bags into my mum’s mesh bag (remember those – the ones with the wooden handles?).
Nowadays there’s so much plastic on our fruit – but we can change this as consumers. How to do it? There are a few easy steps you can take.
Not only will this help protect our lovely planet, it’ll save you loads of money! Baby wipes are thrown away in their millions each year and they cause a huge problem for our rivers and seas. Plastic sponge cloths are unrecyclable so they’re just adding to the plastic problem.
Do as our mums did and use muslins or cut-up dishtowels or T-shirts instead of baby wipes – you can always take a little spray filled with water and a few drops of lemon juice if you want to use them wet while you’re out with baby! Cut-up dishtowels are also great as dusters or wet cloths – better to leave those “household wipes” where they belong, on the supermarket shelf.
For washing dishes, you can easily get cotton dishcloths which can simply be thrown in the washing machine once a week and reused for years. I also use this loofah for scrubbing pans (it doesn’t scratch!) and this scraper made of coconut husk for tough baked-on stuff in oven trays.
No, we don’t mean The Venue or Greyfriars! We mean swapping plastic bottles for bars of soap. My family has been using soap bars, shampoo bars and conditioner bars for a year now and have probably kept between 20 and 30 bottles out of landfill. Imagine the saving if we all did that throughout the country! They’re also a lot easier when you’re travelling abroad – no leaks in your suitcase, and they take up far less room.
If you want to keep a bottle hand soap for your guests, you can always refill it at Perth Community Farm Shop (see Refills, above).
You can even get a bar of soap to replace your washing up liquid too! Check out this Dish Washing Soap Bar.
At Little Green Ways we know how busy you are, and we only suggest making changes that are doable and realistic. But making your own versions of foods that commonly come in plastic can be quick, easy and plastic-saving! How about trying homemade hummus, coleslaw, easy chocolate biscuits, soups, scones (veggie or vegan!), oatcakes or popcorn.
The great thing is, most of these can all be frozen – yes, even the hummus! – so I usually batch-make and freeze to keep us going for weeks. If you fancy investing in a bread-maker, you’ll save about 50 plastic bags a year (the bread mix or flours come in paper bags) and the range of breads, doughs and pastries that you can make is amazing. It costs less per loaf, too, so will pay for itself in the long run.
Check out our Little Green Ways post on easy homemade recipes for inspiration – and let us know what you make and what plastic you’ve saved!
We hope we’ve inspired you to make little changes to help reduce plastic in your home. If we could leave you with any message, it’d be this: any change to reduce plastic is positive, so take it one step at a time, give yourself a pat on the back and don’t feel overwhelmed.
For little green inspiration, or if you have any ideas you’d like to share with us, please do contact us at Little Green Ways. Look out for our next article for Small City in June, too!