One of our most-asked questions is about the easiest ways to reduce single use plastics in our homes. Our top 10 tips for going plastic-free and zero waste at home are all about low-cost and low-waste alternatives for cleaning and personal care.
Creating a plastic free home sounds completely unrealistic, but it’s a lot easier than you think! It doesn’t have to be a whole load of faff or an expensive commitment to create a zero waste household. Our top ten tips will help you make big changes with little budgets and not a lot of work!
We started using Soap Nuts last year, initially quite sceptical that they would actually work, it’s over 11 months now and we swear by them. They are from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree which is part of the lychee family. They sound weird but they work just as well as any other laundry detergent plus they are a lot cheaper, they are organic and you can compost them after use. You put 4-5 soap nuts in a cloth bag and pop them in the drum of the washing machine, you can use them for up to 4 washes before you need to replace them. You can buy a bag of Soap Nuts for £8.99 that will do 240 washes! We add 15 drops of lavender oil on the cloth bag before we put them in to give our clothes a nice smell. We buy ours from Living Naturally.
House Cleaning Spray
This is probably the cheapest plastic free swap we use, using soap nuts we boil up approximately 20 soap nuts in a pint of water for 10 minutes, let it cool and sieve through muslin or a paper coffee filter, then mix with the same quantity of white vinegar and then add 60 – 70 drops of a combination of these essential oils which all have antibacterial properties – Eucalyptus, Lemon, Pine, Tea Tree, Rosemary. We have a brown glass bottle with a spray top as the brown stops the light from breaking down the essential oils. It is a great natural spray for cleaning work surfaces, sinks, stove tops plus it smells lovely.
Washing Up Liquid
This is a very easy swap, we go to our local refill shop in the village and refill our ecover washing up liquid every few weeks. To find your nearest refill shop check out our plastic free shopping map. As you can see from our very tired looking bottle we have refilled it quite a few times!
I dread to think how many of the green and yellow scouring pads I have used in my life time, we swapped last year to scouring pads made of bamboo, they are just as tough but rather than ending up in landfill you just put them in the compost to biodegrade. We use Safix Scrub Pads which we buy from our local refill shop but if you search these online you will easily find lots of stores selling them.
Most of us can remember when loo roll came packaged in paper, but it is impossible now to buy it without a plastic outer. There is a great company that we order our toilet roll online from called Greencane. We buy their Box of Naked Toilet Paper which is £25.20 for 48. The toilet paper comes in a cardboard box and the rolls are unpackaged so no unnecessary packaging. The paper is made mainly from fast growing bamboo and recycled sugar cane. They also sell paper towels and tissues.
A bit of shameless self promo here but they really are game changers! Not just for wrapping leftovers and sandwiches but also for making plastic-free piping bags if you’re an avid baker, for rolling out (and storing) pastry, for covering open jars and bottles and for making snack pouches! The uses are honestly endless… and, if you’re a fan of a bit of DIY, you can make your own! Our DIY Kits include everything you need to make three of our own beeswax or vegan wax wraps.
Claudi, our workshop manager and plastic free guru, shared this seriously easy three ingredient recipe with us last year and it’s a game changer. Just mix 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate with 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerine to create the paste and then finish with three drops of peppermint or fennel essential oil!
Lip Balm, Face Balm, Deodorant and Face Oil
Okay we know this is more than one thing! But they all use almost the same ingredients, so you may as well make all four if you’re making one. Whether to use yourself, or to make as gifts for friends and family. You can find all of the recipes in our Plastic Free Hamper blog.
Whatever your preferred choice of protection, there are plastic-free and reusable alternatives to suit anyone. They may have a higher initial cost than a box of tampons, but they’ll last far longer and won’t end up polluting our waterways and beaches.
My personal favourite are ModiBodi underwear which act just like sanitary towels, are super comfortable, easy to clean and don’t harm our environment! There are many other brands out there are various price points, and they are a real game changer.
If period pants aren’t for you, try a mooncup! They can be cut to fit comfortably and are easy and discrete to use.
And we’re not just talking about plastic bin bags! No matter how hard you try it’s almost impossible not to accumulate rubbish in the home, but it’s what you do with it that counts. Keep up the household curb-side recycling, make an effort to separate food waste and start your own compost pile if you have a garden. And for those bits and pieces that can’t be curb-side recycled? Find your local terracycle collection (often by your local supermarket for ease!) for all of those difficult-to-recycle products, and they’ll do the hard work to make sure they really are recycled.