Create new plastic-free habits to help reduce and remove plastic use in your life with our 21 day challenge. Our brilliant head of product creation and plastic free guru Claudi has created this challenge inspired by her decision to go plastic free in 2016, and she still swears by it in 2021!
Claudi’s inspiring move to reduce and remove plastic use in her life is one of the many reasons why she’s our resident plastic-free guru. Her challenge is to avoid using or buying any plastic products or generating any plastic waste for 21 days; the amount of time it takes to form a habit.
We wholeheartedly recommend everyone trying this, it will make you aware of just how much plastic you interact with and how much waste you generate. Do the challenge for Plastic Free July, as a New Years Resolution, or take the leap and simply start today!
Don’t be overwhelmed and begin by thinking about the day ahead. What is the first thing you do when you get up? What do you have planned for the day? Making a list of a ‘day in the life’ will help you pinpoint your plastic use and begin to curb your habits.
We don’t recommend simply throwing away usable plastic products in favour of eco alternatives. Claudi suggests picking one or two new items that you want to replace and make a point of using these items every day for 21 days in a row to bed in your new habit.
Keep a note of the disposable (or short life) plastic products you use during your day, then when it comes to replacing them you can source a plastic- free alternative. Our handy zero-waste shop map is brimming with places to find plastic-free products.
Some of the biggest plastic use in the home (excluding food and drink) comes from toiletries and cleaning products. Shampoo, soap, washing up liquid, toothpaste and toothbrushes are all used for a relatively short period of time and then the plastic is left forever.
When you next need shampoo, soap, and washing up liquid, why not switch to a solid bar? Long lasting and completely plastic-free, you can buy them from most zero-waste shops, wholefood stores, and places like Lush. Many zero-waste shops also offer refillable liquid soaps and shampoos which we love too.
When it comes to toothbrushes, Claudi has some eye-opening and unpleasant facts:
“Did you know how bad plastic toothbrushes are for you and the environment? The material alone needed to make a plastic toothbrush is made from a mix of plastic materials, rubber and crude oil. Developing plastic toothbrushes uses plenty of oil resources and the oil itself is non-renewable. On top of all this, every plastic toothbrush you ever use will be around for hundreds of years in landfill, and many of them end up getting washed away in our oceans, endangering marine life.”
Switching from plastic brushes to a bamboo alternative is a seriously simple swap which can make a huge difference. Mao bamboo is a fast-growing and sustainable resource which is naturally antibacterial, win win! Our favourite is Blue Rock Livingtoothbrushes, and they are available to buy on their own or as a subscription for the whole family.
Similarly, toothpaste not only comes in plastic packaging which leaks all sorts of nasty chemicals, but these tubes mix seven layers of polymers making them harder to recycle. You can buy great plastic free alternatives from companies such as Georganics, who also make plastic free dental hygiene products.
Claudi makes her own homemade toothpaste using a few natural ingredients; mix 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate, with 1 tsp of vegetable glycerine and finish with 3 drops of peppermint or fennel essential oil!
Food & Drink
When it comes to what we eat, it’s very easy to end up with bundles of excess plastic wrap. Whether from pre-packed fruit and vegetables, meat and fish packaging or snacks, everything these days seems to come with a layer of unwanted plastic.
This is why we’ve worked really hard to build our plastic-free shopping map to help you find stock-cupboard items and fresh food and groceries that are low or zero- waste at a zero waste shops near you. Not only do these shops help in your 21 day challenge, but also uplift and support small independent stores too.
Even if you can’t buy everything low-waste, pick your battles and choose one or two items of food and drink that you can swap for a plastic-free alternative. We particularly recommend bulk buying loose pasta, rice and grains in glass jars as they’re long life and easier to store that way!
On The Go
This really goes without saying these days, but if you’re often out and about when you get caught out by plastic; plan ahead! Always carry a tote bag, a reusable water bottle, and if you’re a fan of coffee shops then a reusable coffee mug too. This easy change will help to prepare you for three key stumbling blocks in your challenge.
Our Final Five Tips
We want to help make this transition as easy as possible, and be honest about the fact we’re not perfect and plastic- free all the time! These final takeaway tips should help you maintain your steps to become plastic-free:
If you can’t find any item which is completely free from plastic, buy it in big quantities to reduce the overall plastic waste which may otherwise be used. For example, if pasta was only available bagged in plastic, buying 5kg would be much better than buying 500g!
Look at the whole supply chain of an item before buying it. The product you want may be plastic free, but if you order online it could arrive wrapped in plastic and therefore undermine all of your efforts. Don’t be afraid to ask if you’re not sure!
When you’re buying a packaged item, take note of the container to see just how easy it is to reuse, how long it will last and what and how it’s made. Technically, you could choose to use a single-use water bottle more than once, but it would only last for a short while before being unfit for purpose and may leach nasty chemicals into your drink.
Always take your own containers. Whether that’s a tote bag or beeswax wraps, don’t be afraid to ask to use your own packaging! Getting your loaf wrapped directly into a beeswax wrap will save on any waste, whether it’s plastic or paper.
Ask yourself, do I really need this? And if so, can I buy it in a different way? Or borrow it? Sometimes habit forming is about having a new outlook!