This year, we are taking part in Plastic Free July. As the COVID-19 pandemic changes the way we socialise, eat, shop and more, it’s vitally important we do not lose focus of the easy plastic free swaps we can make.
Like us, you may have seen an increase in recent months in plastic usage, a great example in the U.K. is the re-introduction of single use carrier bags, after all the campaigning and fighting to get them removed previously.
We each have a responsibility at an individual level to choose the ways in which we want to contribute to the future, and the easiest way to do a little good every day is to pay very close attention to what you consume.
Consumerism has a power most of us do not fully appreciate or understand; it’s effectively a vote for the planet (and world) you want to live on (and in).
Not sure why you should make plastic swaps today? Read this handy guide to the seven types of plastic you need to know about.
To help us all choose wisely, and in full support of Plastic Free July, here are 31 easy plastic free swaps to beat plastic pollution.
1. Plastic Free Deodorant
We have trialled around a dozen plastic free deodorants. From salt blocks to creams, nearly every single one of them failed us in some way. We found ourselves resorting to plastic roll-on deodorant feeling deflated, but still searching for ‘the one’.
Please stop buying aerosol deodorants if you haven’t already. Read more on the effects aerosol cans have on the environment.
Then we found Kutis, the first plastic free deodorant that worked for us. It keeps us dry and smelling fresh, and comes in a cardboard tube, not a plastic one. Try our favourite, the Kutis Lemongrass and Tea Tree Deodorant.
When it comes to chemical free and plastic free deodorants, please don’t give up if the first one you try isn’t suitable for your body type.
2. Plastic Free Soap
Rather than having traditional bars of soap next to our sinks (plastic free option), many of us opt for liquid hand wash that comes in single use plastic bottles with pumps. Swap that!
Old fashioned soap works just as well to clean your hands so give up the plastic bottles and swap them for simple, non-fussy and plastic free soap bars. We love these natural and plastic free soaps from Acala.
3. Eco Friendly Bags
You may feel there’s a justifiable health reason to increase your use of single use plastic bags, and we understand your fears. But scaling bag on plastic bags and introducing a variety of plastic free ones instead was one of the best environmental decisions made in the last decade by many nations across the world.
Consider hygiene and shop mindfully. In most circumstances, it is enough to wash your hands and keep the handling of your plastic free bag limited to yourself. Not convinced? Read the latest scientific advice.
If we all raise our standards of hygiene, we can still continue to make plastic free progress. It’s challenging right now, we know, but let’s all do what we can to continue to say no to plastic bags.
What’s the best thing about this combo? They go in the wash! We believe this is much more hygienic than relying solely on anti bacterial gels and nasty disposables.
4. Bamboo Toothbrush
Plastic toothbrushes take over 400 years to decompose. Not only that, but they pollute the ocean and beaches, breaking down into smaller pieces that are then consumed by marine life.
Plastic free toothbrushes work in the exact same way as a plastic one. We don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t convert. Even Matt, who was a religious electric toothbrush-er has now crossed over to the plastic free toothbrush side. Yes!
Are you looking for a plastic free toothpaste as well? Georganics English Peppermint Toothpaste is our favourite plastic free option.
5. Plastic Free Hairbrush
A plastic free hairbrush is now also a swap option, and one that is much better for the environment. Here’s the plastic free and vegan hairbrush I use on my hair.
6. Eco Friendly Food Wrap & Tuppaware
Plastic Free Lunch Essentials
7. Plastic Free Water Bottles
Single use plastic water bottles take 450 years to decompose. There are a variety of other options available to help you avoid water that comes in a single use plastic bottle.
Whilst we can and should put pressure on both local and large companies to no longer stock plastic bottles of water (there are canned and boxed water options out there instead), it’s also important to make one of the most impactive swaps each of us can by owning a plastic free refillable water bottle.
8. Plastic Free Phone Case
If you take pride in your phone and its case, please also consider where all the cheap plastic cases go after you change phone or change the style or functionality of your phone case.
Don’t buy the case that will exist for hundreds or thousands of years; swap your next one for a compostable Pela phone case.
9. Plastic Free Shampoo
This is one of the easiest swaps to make. Shampoo bars are now more popular and easier to get hold of than they were a few years ago. There are also some simple tricks to make sure you get the most out of your plastic free shampoo.
We like to add a little water to the soap dish to help create a good lather. Try it with Wild Sage + Co Rosemary and Lavender Shampoo.
10. Plastic Free Conditioner
Whilst shampoo bars are easy to use and lather well, similarly to regular shampoo, conditioner is a different product entirely. Whilst I have used conditioner bars for nearly three years (on long, thick hair that is often tangled), conditioner bars are not the easiest product to use, mainly because unlike shampoo, conditioner does not lather.
That doesn’t mean we can’t find plastic free conditioners. We love this glass bottled Wild Sage + Co Lavender and Rose Conditioner.
11. Eco Friendly Toilet Roll
Supermarket toilet roll always seems to come wrapped in unrecyclable plastic that ends up in landfill. Luckily, we discovered Who Gives a Crap. They make and ship their toilet rolls plastic free AND build toilets for people who need them with the money you spend.
And they don’t just do toilet roll. Take a look at their plastic free paper towels too.
12. Plastic Free Razor
How many disposable razors do you or your household get through in a year? Plastic free razors help all of us to reduce the plastic that gets thrown away. Try this Muhle Safety Razor.
13. Plastic Free Masks
Depending on where you live and what your daily routine is will depend on whether you are required to use a face mask at the moment. For example, in the U.K., all users of public transport are being asked to use masks on their journeys.
Single use plastic face masks are terrible for the environment, not to mention required by medical staff first and foremost. Instead of buying plastic masks, if you need to use one, there are already lots of companies offering plastic free alternatives.
Ruth Woodham in the U.K. is one such hero! Whilst a pack of 50 disposable masks will cost you £20 and require you to dispose of each one after every single use, Ruth sells homemade reusable masks from as little as £3.50 each.
The Cost Saving of Plastic Free Face Masks
If you purchase five of Ruth’s homemade masks for your working week, that’s a one off payment of £17.50 for an endless supply that go in the wash each weekend. A far better environmental and price alternative to having to buy a pack of 50 disposable masks every 25 working days, costing you over £20 a month.
If you were required to wear a mask every working day for the next year, working full time, you could save over £200 by purchasing a pack of five reusable homemade masks! Plus, you alone would be saving 520 single use plastic masks from landfill.
Get in touch with Ruth Woodham on Instagram today for your own unique face mask design.
14. Plastic Free Bath Salts and Oils
Instead of buying the super cheap, super large, plastic bottle of bubble bath, opt for a healthier option for your skin and the planet. Essential oils and plastic free bath salts are a swap that provides a whole host of medical benefits to the skin and positive overall health to the body too.
We keep Epsom salts and 3-4 small bottles of different essential oils at home so that we can choose the mood we fancy creating at bath time. Two fragrances that always feature in our selection are English Lavender Essential Oil and Tea Tree Essential Oil.
By making a purchase from one of the links in this blog, you are supporting small business. We are proud to work with ethical companies and invest time and money into finding the right ones to share with you.
15. Plastic Free Straws and Cutlery
If you’re still using plastic straws, where have you been? Plastic free straws can be found everywhere now, which is wonderful news.
If you regularly like to use straws, perhaps on outdoor picnics, try this Bamboo Travel Cutlery Set. Alternatively, you can purchase a whole host of colourful and fun reusable straws, like these coloured stainless steel straws.
16. Plastic Free Toilet Cleaner
Toilet cleaners also bring forth an image of cheap plastic, right? We LOVE this natural toilet scrub powder from Planet Detox instead.
17. Plastic Free Plasters for Kids
Plasters are an essential part of any household first aid kit. Another super easy plastic free swap to make, we love these cute panda plastic free plasters for kids from PATCH.
18. Plastic Free Hand Sanitiser
You may be buying hand sanitiser in much larger quantities or far more regularly than ever before. We understand why, but most hand sanitisers are sold in unrecyclable plastic bottles.
19. Bamboo Coffee Cups
Before a 6 month eco conscious travel adventure around Australia, we invested in two reusable coffee cups. During this time, we saved over 300 single use plastic coffee cups from reaching landfill in this one trip alone.
Choose your favourite colour and design from these Bamboo Coffee Cups.
Follow Transform Me Travel on Instagram for more eco friendly travel tips.
20. Plastic Free Sanitary Towels
We get through approximately 20,000 tonnes of menstrual waste products in the UK per year.
Ditch the disposables for reusable and plastic free sanitary towels. It’s easier than you might think to rinse, wash and reuse them. Trust us, it’s a hygiene swap worth making, and a huge cost saver too!
We love these Flux Boy Brief Period Pants.
21. Eco Friendly Tampons
Tampons come wrapped in single use plastic. Plus, they contain chemicals and fibres that aren’t good for the inside of your body, or the environment. We recently reviewed these 5 best eco friendly period products.
What’s the alternative to single use tampons? In just two years of owning an eco friendly tampon (a menstrual cup), I have saved over £250 when compared to buying disposable tampons. Try the award winning OrganiCup; you’ll be saving money and the planet.
22. Plastic Free Pegs
Plastic pegs might look colourful but at the rate washing line pegs break and need to be discarded, can you imagine how many plastic pegs are thrown away each summer?
Opt for wooden pegs! If you want to make this easy plastic free swap, we use these traditional wooden pegs.
23. Plastic Free Wrapping Paper
Once upon a time, wrapping paper was not plastic (sold wrapped in even more plastic). Traditionally, all over the world, far more creative wrapping inventions were used, from classic brown paper to beautiful cloth wraps instead.
Skip the plastic wrapping paper and go for something far more traditional and classy the next time you gift.
24. Plastic Free Cards
Birthday cards, Christmas cards, anniversary cards; how many plastic coated cards do you buy each year? Then there’s envelopes coated in plastic, business cards coated in plastic, gift note cards coated in plastic. Gifting is a serious plastic offence!
Starting a new business? We LOVE our upcycled business cards from Moo, ethically made from cotton t-shirt offcuts. We want you to love yours too with 25% off your first order. Design yours now.
25. Plastic Free Tea and Coffee
It might surprise you to think about plastic waste when it comes to drinking tea or coffee. Check the packaging the next time you shop. We love our new ‘tea egg’ which we use with fresh tea leaves, best brought from zero waste stores if you want a completely plastic free brew.
Love your coffee machine but hate the plastic pod waste? Try reusable coffee pods too.
26. Plastic Free Lip Balm
Whether you live in cold winters, blistering summers or a constant confusion of both, lip balms are something it’s always handy to have more than one of. At any given moment, I’ll have one in the car, one in my bag and another besides the bed.
One of the easiest swaps to make, ditch the plastic cased lip balms for a plastic free option instead, like this Naked Lip Balm from KiteNest.
27. Plastic Free Make Up Wipes
Instead of buying the cheap disposable make up wipes that come wrapped in single use plastic, opt for re usable plastic free make up wipes that simply go in the wash after you use them.
If you’re crafty, create some unique homemade rounds or, if like me, you can’t sew, you can purchase reusable hemp make up wipes instead.
28. Eco Friendly Suncream
Yep, it’s even possible to get plastic free suncream! There are many great brands to choose from. Look for reef safe options, especially when you know you and your family will be using suncream in the ocean, a river or a lake.
We love this SPF 30 vegan suncream from Amazinc.
29. Plastic Free After Sun
Nothing works better as after sun than aloe vera gel. Instead of buying the plastic bottles, opt for pure aloe vera gel. You can either keep an aloe vera plant growing at home and cut off the stalks as and when you need aftersun, or purchase a jar of aloe vera gel here.
30. Eco Friendly Nappies
We recently partnered with Acala, an online plastic free focused store. When it comes to plastic free nappies, here’s what they had to say:
“8 million nappies are thrown away every day just in the UK. That’s almost 3 billion disposable nappies a year! On average that is 6,300 nappies per baby. Alternatively, using reusable nappies you will end up with on average 40 nappies and 12 wraps per baby.
Littlelamb nappies are not plastic free, as they contain components such as the velcro and snaps buttons but at the end of your baby’s nappy years this waste will be equivalent to just a one litre milk carton in weight! A huge improvement on disposables.”
Try the Little Lamb Nappy Wrap and start saving money and plastic pollution today.
31. Bamboo Ear Buds
A simple and easy plastic free swap to make, bamboo cotton buds are now common place. Seriously, why wouldn’t you?
By making a purchase from one of the links in this blog, a small portion of the money you spend goes to The Natural Essex Girl. Thank you for supporting small business.
Have a food item, hobby or medical need that you feel forces you to use plastic? You can find plastic free support over at Plastic Free July.
We hope you found these easy plastic free swaps useful. Together, let’s find proactive solutions to the plastic problem, starting with old irresponsible habits and our fast paced daily routines.
We’d love to hear from you if you are doing Plastic Free July! What has been difficult so far? Leave your comment below.