Living a life less toxic…

by Faith Canter


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The Plastic Free July Challenge

The 1st of July means the start of Plastic Free July. This gives us all a great excuse to try and reduce our plastic usage.  But why should we do this?  Well, plastics are not only incredibly toxic to our environment but also to our own health.  I recently wrote an article for the Ragged University  that explains exactly why this is.  If you would like to read this article then please click here.

I’m not suggesting you give up on all plastic, but that you either reduce or remove single use plastics (carrier bags, straws, coffee cups, food and general packaging within the home) for July.  I have put together the list below to give you some ideas of how you can reduce your plastic usage for your own health and that of this amazing planet.

  • Start to replace all your plastic storage containers with glass or metal ones.
  • Do away with cling film. Use scraps of material to wrap dry food, and glass storage containers for wet stuff.
  • Purchase a metal or glass water bottle and take this with you and fill it up as you go, rather than purchasing drinks in plastic bottles.IMG_20140618_194655
  • Take your own thermos cup/mug out with you and ask to have it filled rather than making use of the shop’s takeaway plastic cups.  Everywhere I go to now is happy to fill up your mug rather then use one of theirs, as it saves them money.
  • Take a metal (or wooden) camping cutlery set with you rather than using throw away plastic ones.
  • Join a veg box scheme. Most of their produce comes loose or in paper bags.
  • Buy locally. This way your food is less likely to have been sat in plastic wrappings for long periods of time whilst it’s been shipped from wherever it was produced.
  • Buy fresh produce or food that comes in cartons for things like tomatoes.
  • Take your own jars and containers to health food stores, fast food takeaways, and local farmers markets and asked for these to be filled rather than using their plastic containers.
  • Ask the store what their packaging is actually made from. I have been in two shops recently where I thought they were serving up their items in plastic packaging and it was actually vegetable based packaging instead.  I’m happy to say Neal’s Yard was one of these places.
  • When putting veggies at the supermarket in plastic bags you can either keep using the same bags every time you go10477308_902845176399265_7320564021015987526_o back (just take them with you or you can replace the need for these with using paper bags (mushroom bags are usually hanging around somewhere in the supermarket) or take your own veggies bags (as seen the the picture).
  • Buy or make yourself some reusable shopping bags. If you forget to take your bags into the shop then pop everything back in the trolley loose and take the trolley to the bags in your car. Buy twice as many reusable bags as you need, so that when you forget to put them back in the car after using them, you still have a spare set for the next shop.
  • Lose the bin bags! These days almost everyone has kerbside recycling/waste removal or composting facilities so there is no need for wet foods, drinks and produce to be put into your kitchen bin. You no longer need bin bags. Simply empty your bin directly into the main kerbside bin outside and do away with nasty bin bags.
  • Replace kitchen roll with a basket of scraps of material that you just reuse and wash. This eliminates all that single use plastic packaging around those single use kitchen roll sheets.DSC_1785
  • Either make you own bread (which will also be healthier) or buy it from a bakers, so there’s no plastic packaging.
  • Buy any sort of deli food, meats, and cheeses direct from the store, deli counter, or butcher and place them in your own containers.
  • Use a natural deodorant like a salt stone as although some of these are packaged in plastic they last about 18mths, so you’ll be using a lot less of them.
  • Buy a metal razor and completely metal blades. These may seem expensive to start with by they actually work out a lot cheaper as they last a lot longer.
  • Make your own natural cleaning products. The ingredients will often still come in plastic but they will last much, much longer so again, you’ll be buying less plastic.
  • Make your own natural body products. These will last much longer, so you’ll be buying far less plastic. You’ll also have the added bonus of putting less chemicals on your body.
  • Avoid body scrubs/exfoliators that are not made from natural ingredients as they have very small plastic beads in them. These get into our water supply and then our food chain as fish eat them believing them to be food.  Make your own easily with epsom salts, rock salt or ground fruit stones.
  • Use bio-degradable dog waste bags (or nappy bio-degradable nappy bags are often cheaper).   I’ve even heard of people using newspapers.
  • Bulk buy as many items as possible so that there is less plastic packaging produced used.
  • Buy (or make your own) bars of soap instead of liquid soaps to reduce the bottles used.
  • Keep a box for all the packaging you have received through the post and then reuse this when you post things out yourself.
  • Do away with zip lock and sandwich bags. Store food in reusable glass containers or wash out plastic single use containers and use these again. TIP: Microwave rice pouches can be used again for storing wet foods.
  • If there’s an option to buy food in glass instead of plastic (like with sauces and other wet foods) then take this option and then reuse the jar afterwards.
  •  Reuse plastic packaging where possible. Microwave rice pouches are great for storing wet items in the freezer or large yoghurt or soup pots can hold homemade stock, soups or other wet items in the fridge or freezer.
  • Or if you don’t want to reuse plastics for food then use them as seedling or plant pots.

 

Since implementing the above I am actually spending a lot less money, creating less waste, reducing the toxicity levels of my body, home and environment and feeling great about it. In my book that’s a winner!

Here’s some other tips from some other sources:

My Plastic Free Life, click here.

A Year Without Buying Plastics, click here.

Life Without Plastic, click here.

A Plastic Free Year, click here.

Life Less Plastic, click here.

Life Without Plastic Blog, click here.

No Impact Man, click here. (This blog is a great all rounder for environmental hints and tips and the book is ace).

 

Do you have any tips you would like to add to this list?