This year one of my biggest New Year’s resolutions is to cut down on the amount of plastic I use in my day-to-day life. Mostly because Blue Planet Two chilled me to my very core. I’ve already tried to cut out using straws completely (which you can read about here), but I’m still finding myself using a silly amount of non-recyclable and single-use plastics that I can really do without.
I’ve been taking a lot of inspiration from Lauren Singer, who lives completely waste-free, and other YouTubers that live their lives completely free of plastics, and now I’m really trying hard to cut down on the amount of waste I’m producing. The thing is, a lot of the people at the forefront of the “Zero Waste” movement shop at farmers’ markets (which I can’t really do), buy expensive products that last for ages (which saves money in the long run, but right now I can’t afford), or buy zero-waste beauty products from shops like Lush, that I love but can’t really justify buying right now.
So my solution is to find ways that I can reduce the amount of plastic I use and cut down on waste, without spending any more money than I already do, and without having to devote all my time and energy to the cause.
Here are the easiest and cheapest ways I’ve found to reduce plastic; hopefully you can find a way to adopt these habits too!
Cut out using straws
This is probably the easiest one, because many of us only really use straws out of habit; once you get used to not reaching for them at restaurants, or asking your bartender for your drink without a straw, you’ll stop missing them and save a huge amount of plastic. It’s estimated that around 70 million plastic straws are being thrown away each year, so this resolution can have a big impact.
As a side-note, I’m aware that some people with disabilities have to use straws, but stainless steel straws are a great alternative to plastic. You can buy them cheaply here.
Use re-usable bags
Everyone has a bunch of plastic bags stuffed in a drawer somewhere, or a backpack, or a cloth bag. Get into the habit of carrying one around and you’ll save a bunch of plastic, and 5p every time you go out shopping.
Avoid microbeads and glitter (I know, I’m devastated too)
Microbeads in face washes are so damaging for the environment that they’ve now been banned in the UK, but if you live in a country where they haven’t been banned, you should seriously consider cutting them out in favour of natural exfoliants.
Glitter is along the same line; glitter is tiny particles of plastic, so it can damage the environment and harm marine animals. I was gutted at the thought of having to give up glitter, but I looked it up, and you can buy biodegradable glitter which is safe for the environment.
Use bar soap rather than liquid soap
You’ve probably heard the joke that millennials are killing bar soap in favour of liquid soap, but bar soap has come a long way in recent years. It’s a similar price to liquid soap, it’s usually wrapped in paper so saves a lot of plastic in the packaging, and it doesn’t have to dry your skin like old soaps used to. I’m using a Dove moisturising bar soap right now; it’s cheap and I think it lasts longer than liquid soap.
Use face wash and a flannel rather than disposable face wipes
Okay, so this one isn’t a zero-waste tip, more like a reducing-waste tip, but using a flannel and face wash to remove your make-up could really cut down on the amount of waste you’re producing. Make-up removing face wipes only last me about a month as there’s usually 25 in a pack, whereas a bottle of face wash goes a long way, and saves a lot of waste, especially if you’re using a recyclable bottle.
Use a Mooncup or Divacup for your period
Menstrual cups last about ten years, so as well as helping the environment, they also cut down on a lot of expense. A Mooncup costs about the same as five or six boxes of tampons, so over the years this saves an enormous amount of money, as well as cuts down on a lot of plastic waste.
For more information, visit the Going Zero Waste website.