Going plastic free: 5 small ways you can make big changes in your home

15th April 2021

Now more than ever, many people are starting to consider their impact on the environment.

Now more than ever, many people are starting to consider their impact on the environment. Thanks to groundbreaking documentaries like Blue Planet II, we know all about the devastating consequences of the global plastic crisis – and many of us have either been spurred into action or are already doing our bit to reduce our plastic consumption. A report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation warns that the ocean is already filled with 165 million tons of plastic and, by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish.

The average person living in North America or Western Europe uses 100kg of plastic each year, mostly in the form of packaging – and this will exist on the planet for up to 1,000 years.

Plastic is disposable but indestructible. So limiting our use of single-use plastic items is the key to protecting wildlife, the oceans and the health of future generations.

Small changes, accumulated over time, add up to a big difference. Then when you factor in that there are lots of like-minded people making the same positive changes as you, to reduce the plastic waste they are creating, you can see that together we can make a massive difference for the better.

If you’re looking to make some small, but mighty, changes to your lifestyle to reduce (and eventually eliminate) the amount of plastic you use, we’ve brought you five handy tips on how you can take some small steps towards being plastic free. 


i. Swap plastic containers for glass in the home

Glass is not only more environmentally friendly but it is also a very safe food storage option. One of the great advantages of using glass is that it creates a true oxygen and moisture barrier, it also does not leach toxins into the food.

Glass jars are ultra easy to be re-purposed for any use such as leftovers, storing any dry goods or condiments, for bringing our lunch to work, or on our travels. You can use any size or shape of jar, but you will soon find which ones are most useful for you, and may even find yourself buying a particular brand based on how useful the jar it comes in is, rather than because of its contents! 

Glass jars are readily available and extremely versatile, even if you can’t use them you can pass them on to others who will.


ii. Bring your own bags

Plastic bags are generally used for a matter of minutes before being discarded, thrown in a cupboard and left there for a long time… did you know that it can take hundreds of years to break down a single use plastic bag. 

Say no to single-use plastic produce bags when out shopping, instead opt for totes or reusable bags which are light enough to keep in your car or handbag, yet sturdy enough to be used for years to come.

If you often forget to bring reusable bags a very easy trick to remember is to always keep a reusable bag (or bags) by your front door, in your handbag, car boot wherever works for you. If you do forget, instead of accepting a plastic bag on autopilot, see if you can manage without.


iii. Have a bottle on hand

‘Refill’ is an award-winning campaign to help people live with less plastic, they shared that “Every year around the world we create more than 300 million tonnes of plastic – and half of this is single-use plastic. One of the worst offenders are plastic bottles, with a million of them sold every minute around the world–a figure that’s expected to grow by 20% by 2021.”

“Here in the UK, not only does our ‘lunch on the go’ habit generate 11 billion items of packaging waste a year, but we get through a whopping 2.5 billion coffee cups each year –enough to stretch around the world roughly five and a half times!”

Whether it’s a water bottle or coffee cup… pack yourself reusable water bottles so that you can refill these if you get thirsty. The same goes if you are a tea or coffee drinker, bring a reusable coffee cup with you so that you enjoy your beverage completely guilt-free. For an added bonus it may also save you pennies as many coffee shops will offer you a discount for reusing and bringing your own, you may also decide to make your own hot drink at home.


i.v. Buy refills

One of the easiest tips to take on board is to refill rather than replace. There are a number of zero waste stores around the UK and some of the bigger supermarkets such as Asda are also piloting refill schemes. These shops encourage customers to refill their own bags and containers for foods like pasta, rice and cereals, as well as fruit and veg, shampoo and household detergents.

It doesn’t just have to stop there, look for other products such as disposable razors, shampoo and conditioner bars and cleaning products.

If you want to try some easier actions, why not go for products that are not ready packaged and not using the plastic produce bags. If you don’t want loose fruit or vegetables in the trolley why not consider buying some lightweight reusable mesh produce bags to take when you do your grocery shopping. Or look into a local home delivery veg box scheme, as they tend to use less plastic packaging than the supermarkets.


v. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush.

Swapping a toothbrush is something that anyone can do with ease. These toothbrushes brush exactly the same way, the only difference is the handle.

Toothbrushes can take over 1,000 years to break down meaning they are left in landfill and contaminate oceans. We all use toothbrushes every day and by switching our plastic toothbrushes for biodegradable ones, we would save a minimum of 4 kilograms of plastic each across our lifetimes. Brushbox toothbrushes are a great option and they are made from carbonised Mao bamboo, an environmentally sustainable timber that is water-resistant and antibacterial. The brushes are fully biodegradable within six months and can be put into the compost bin (although the bristles need to be removed first).

Not only that, every time a customer buys a toothbrush, Brushbox plants a tree on their behalf.


So, remember that every time you load up your cloth bag at the supermarket, order your morning latte in a reusable coffee cup or take a sip from a stainless steel water bottle, you’re taking an important step towards reducing plastic pollution.