Unless you’ve been living under a rock you probably know that our planet is heading for a crisis if we don’t do something about our plastic use. From governments banning single use plastics to zero waste shops popping up all over the place and Richard Attenborough praising Glastonbury for going plastic free, it seems like the war on plastic is starting to gain momentum. But doing the right thing for the environment isn’t always the most convenient but there are changes you can make that are super easy. In this post I’m sharing 13 eco-friendly plastic free swaps that we’ve made recently.
Some of these items were sent to me for free in exchange for inclusion in this post, and some I bought myself. Those that have been sent to me will be clearly shown as (Sample).
Reducing plastic in the Bathroom
The first place I looked at reducing our plastic waste was in the bathroom. We used cloth nappies and wipes with both the boys which must have saved thousands of disposables from landfill but they have been out of nappies for quite a while now so it was time to look at other things we could do.
Replacing our plastic toothbrushes with bamboo ones was an easy swap for us. Barry and I both have brushes from Truthbrush, and the boys brushes are from HydroPhil. We’ve all been using these for a couple of months now and they’re holding up just as well as their plastic counterparts. They are slightly more expensive than plastic but not excessively so. In the interests of honesty, Barry and I do have an electric toothbrush that we use as well, and I am looking into ways we can recycle the brush heads from this, or get more eco-friendly ones.
Baron Shower Bars
I’ve been using soap bars in the shower for a while now so I was happy to give the Baron Shower Bar. These shower bars come in six different varieties so there’s something for everyone. And they even sell little waterproof bags so you can take your shower bar with you when you’re away from home! I am also pleased to report that my parcel from Baron was entirely plastic free – it’s so disappointing if you order something to help reduce plastic waste but it comes wrapped in plastic but there were no problems with that here!
I switched to solid shampoo at the start of this year. At first, I was using a Lamazuna shampoo bar – it may seem expensive at almost £10 but mine lasted about 5 months so it’s probably no more per wash than shampoo in a plastic bottle. I did like the solid bar and it definitely stopped my hair getting greasy as quickly. My only slight issue is that you have to rub it quite a lot to get any lather so it’s not quite as quick and easy as liquid shampoo.
When my Lamazuna bar ran out I decided to give Beauty Kubes a try. These little cubes work a little differently to a solid bar – you crumble the cube in your hand with a little water to make a paste and then it works just like normal shampoo. I’ve been using them for about a month now and I’m very pleased so far – a definite easy swap for me.
Vegan & Cruelty Free Hair Care
If you’re not quite ready to make the jump to solid shampoo yet then there are still changes you can make to help limit your impact on the environment. Natural World is a range of hair care products that are all vegan, cruelty free, and free from any nasties. They come in recycled plastic bottles so although not entirely plastic free they are better than a lot of the alternatives. Natural World have a variety of products for all different hair types, and you can even do a quiz on their website to find out which would be best for you. Their products are available to buy online or instore at Tesco.
The great thing about natural deodorant is not only does it not come in plastic packaging but it is better for your body too. There are loads of different ones out there and choosing one isn’t easy. My friend Eilidh has written a great post all about what happened when she changed to natural deodorant with some good advice about all the different types. I couldn’t find one with a scent I liked the sound of (I’m a bit picky and don’t like lavender or overly floral scents) so in the end I chose a scent free one from Earth Conscious. So in theory I will just smell of nothing!
Natural deodorant isn’t an antiperspirant so it doesn’t stop you sweating, just stops the smell. I was a bit worried about this as I am quite a sweaty person, especially under my arms, but I have noticed that I’m sweating any more without my old antiperspirant, and as far as I can tell, I don’t smell either! My deodorant comes in a tin and I just apply it like a cream under my arms, but there are ones that come in a tube more like a roll on if you prefer that.
We used to use liquid soap for hand washing but have switched to soap bars all over the house now. You can use one kind of soap for everything if you like, but I decided to try a dedicated facial soap. The one I got is made from charcoal and sea salt – it leaves my skin feeling a bit tingly afterwards but definitely nice and clean.
Plastic Free Toilet Roll
I had always bought toilet roll from the supermarket in plastic packaging and I have to admit it was one of our luxury items as I always went for the fancy quilted ones! However, I had seen Who Gives A Crap toilet paper advertised a lot and knew quite a few people who used it so I was keen to give it a try. Not only does their recycled paper come without any plastic packaging but they also donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those who don’t have access to them.
My only problem was that you can only order in bulk from Who Gives A Crap and I didn’t want to commit to 48 rolls if I didn’t like it (see my previous comment about our usual ‘luxury’ toilet roll). But, I was ordering some of the other things in this post from a shop called Peace With The Wild when I noticed they offered the chance to buy 3 rolls of Who Gives A Crap, and if you liked it you also got £5 off your first order direct with WGAC. So we tried it and I was sold. It is thinner than our usual toilet roll and because of that we probably use a bit more but it is just as soft and I was happy to make the swap. If you use my link to order from Who Gives A Crap then you and I will both get £5 off our order, just click here.
Plastic Free Periods
Still sticking with bathroom / personal care eco- friendly swaps, I have been having plastic free periods for almost four years now. After Gabe was born I found I couldn’t use tampons any more as they were too uncomfortable. For about a year I just used cloth sanitary pads. They’re great but I’ve never really been a big fan of pads so about a year and a half ago I decided to give a menstrual cup a try. It was a complete game changer for me and I love it! In fact I’m going to write a whole post about reusable sanitary products soon and I’ll tell you a bit more about why it’s so great.
I have still been using cloth pads occasionally as back up at the start of my period though, and as much as they are way better than disposable ones they still aren’t always practical, especially when I’m dancing or doing yoga. I have been keen to try some washable period pants for a while so I was super pleased when Modibodi sent me a couple of pairs to try. Now, I haven’t actually had a period since I got these so I haven’t had chance to use them yet, but I’ll be giving a full report in my plastic free period post soon.
Eco-friendly Kitchen Swaps
The next place to look for easy eco-friendly plastic free swaps is the kitchen. Admittedly we’ve still got a way to go to reduce our plastic waste in the kitchen but every bit helps and these are some of the swaps we’ve made so far.
When I was growing up my mum and dad always had a washable dish cloth (you know the white ones with red stitching), and a washing up brush, in fact they still do. At some point as an adult though I started using washing up sponges, which although I never really thought about it, are made from plastic. We would use one for a month or so and when it started to get worn or really grotty just get a new one. We don’t even wash up very much as we have a dishwasher so I went on the hunt for something reusable to replace our sponges with. I decided to try these ‘None Sponges’ – fabric with an absorbent middle and different backings, one is bamboo and the other heavy duty one has a hessian backing.
They do look pretty and do the job to a degree but I have to admit they don’t work as well as our old sponges, and the heavy duty one is already starting to fall apart, perhaps a victim of our very sharp knives. So, I’m on the lookout for something to replace them – I was thinking of getting a coconut scourer and then just using our little washable wipes for everything else. What do you use for washing up? I’d love to know if there were any other options.
Reusable Water Bottle
(Sample) We have been using reusable water bottles for quite a long time now, the boys and I all have Klean Kanteens which are fab, and have stood up to nearly two years of battering by the boys so far! How pretty is this bottle from Wilko though? And with a screw on lid which is completely leak proof it’s great for just chucking in your bag for a day out. More and more places seem to be getting switched on to people using reusable water bottles too and we’ve never had a problem asking for our bottles to be filled in cafes and coffee shops when out and about.
Reusable Coffee Cups
I have to admit, I do love a Starbucks and we have a drive thru one just near to us. I made a pact with myself about a year ago though that I would never get a takeaway coffee if I did have my cup with me. You can get all sorts of fancy coffee cups but I actually love these bamboo ones. My green one was from Amazon and I picked the other one (which is exactly the same) up in Aldi a couple of months ago. I don’t want a high tech insulated mug that keeps my coffee hot for 5 hours, I just want to buy one and drink it, and these do the job perfectly!
Again, we have been using reusable straws for quite a while. We have some metal ones with silicone tops which are great for the kids. I have a little waterproof bag that I keep in my bag so that I always have them with me (that I’ve also recently added some cutlery to for when disposable is the only option), and the boys use them at home too.
For something a bit more grown up though I was sent these Vaso Glass Straws to try. They’re made of toughened glass so they won’t break easily and can last a lifetime. They come in three different sizes too which is fab – there’s nothing worse than a tall straw in a short glass! I have to mention top marks to Vaso for totally plastic free packaging too – even down to using paper tape on the box!
Plastic Free Bowls
(Sample) Are you even a parent if you haven’t got a cupboard full of plastic plates, bowls and cups? Especially those IKEA rainbow ones. I know we have and if I’m honest I think plastic like this has it’s place. It’s definitely not single use – our IKEA set has been in constant use for nearly 6 years now and is still going strong. But there are alternatives if you would rather go plastic free (but still want to avoid using your best china with the kids!)
We were sent these Vie Gourmet Coconut Bowls and Spoons to try. Each one is 100% natural, hand made, vegan, eco-friendly, lightweight and durable. They are beautifully handcrafted from reclaimed coconut shells, which means that each bowl is 100% unique with its own colour, shape, design and pattern. And if you don’t want to eat your cereal out of them they make beautiful decorative bowls or planters. You can get 15% off anything at Global 1st with code TGB15 – just click here to go to the website.
So there you have it – 13 easy eco friendly (mostly) plastic free household swaps! There are other things we do that I haven’t mentioned here, like always taking our own bags shopping, washable wipes instead of disposable baby wipes, and also trying to buy ethically made and sustainable clothes wherever possible, or buying second hand. If you want to read about more ways we try to live a more sustainable life then you can read this post.
The next big area I need to tackle is food packaging – I know we still have a lot to do to reduce our plastic waste from food packaging, especially after watching the BBC’s #WarOnPlastic and seeing what actually happens to the waste we think is getting recycled! If you have any tips on how we can reduce our food packaging, while sticking to a budget, I’d love to hear them!
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