5 ways to reduce plastic use

Since beginning my minimalist journey with decluttering my belongings, I’ve become more aware of other ways in which I am wasteful.

Plastic is a huge environmental issue and pretty much everyone contributes to it. Whilst I would love to be zero waste one day, I know that it’s a long journey and it won’t happen overnight. However, reducing the amount of plastic I bring into my home – and ultimately put into the bin – is an area where I think it’s best to act sooner rather than later.

Reducing plastic is relatively easy – because we consume so much of it! A few simple changes to our routines and purchasing habits can drastically cut the amount of plastic we use. Below, I have listed out 5 quick and easy ways in which I have started reducing the amount of plastic I use. I’d love to hear of any ways in which you have managed to reduce your plastic consumption as well.

If we all take small steps, we can make a huge difference.

#1 Food packaging

The most pointless (and annoying) form of plastic is often the packaging our food comes in. You can look for food that’s sold in minimal packaging, but I’ve found an easier way is to avoid supermarket shopping whenever you can.

Shopping at your local market, deli or butchers more often is an easy way to reduce plastic packaging. You can take along your own reusable containers. I also prefer shopping this way because it allows you to pick your own portions, preventing food waste.

Even if you only switch out one product, or only manage one non-supermarket shop per month, it all helps.

#2 Toiletries

Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Bubble Bath, Hand Wash etc. Most toiletries these days have made their way into plastic bottles. But it doesn’t have to be the case.

A simple bar of soap wrapped in paper packaging is still easy to find and buy (you can even get them at the supermarkets – though often in a waxed or plasticised wrapping). But bars of soap can be used as your hand wash, shower gel and instead of bubble bath. I haven’t bought bubble bath for ages, I simply pop a bar of soap in while the water is running and bathe in soapy water instead. Still smells fantastic and I’ve learnt to live without bubbles.

(Note – I don’t use a whole bar of soap for every bath, but I do tend to leave it in the water for the majority of the time and have found it still shrinks relatively slowly)

You can also get bath bombs if you want something a bit funkier, these are often sold without excess packaging and you can even make your own quite simply, with plenty of guides online – I haven’t linked any as I haven’t actually ever tried any out! (I’ve got used to simple baths)

And for shampoo and conditioner you can buy these in bar form as well now. So long plastic bottles!

(To go even further you could always try the No Poo method? I have done this before.. I may have to blog about it one day)

I source most of these things from LUSH, simply because they have a store in my hometown, they always smell fantastic and I quite like their ethics and principles. But I’m sure you can find other retailers and sellers online or at local markets.

#3 Sanitary Products

As a woman, having to use sanitary products every month is horrifying enough – from a landfill perspective (it’s nothing to be ashamed of biologically!) – as tampons and towels don’t decompose, which I always find quite upsetting.

Thankfully there are now soooo many options for us to try instead.

A small step in the right direction is to ditch tampons with applicators – especially plastic applicators. This helps reduce the plastic you’re using each time.

However, if the environmental issues of used tampons and towels concern you as much as the plastic you can also try using menstruation cups or period pants. Both seem to have seen a recent rise in popularity and I have linked to some further reading.

#4 Drinks bottles

Buying a bottled drink each day adds up really fast. Both in terms of the money you’re spending and also the amount of plastic you’re using and disposing of. It’s such a simple thing to change – buy a reusable water bottle and get used to using it every day.

We have recently purchased metal drinking bottles which are fab as they keep your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot! Reusable and multipurpose – win/win.

I’ve found that it’s also helped me to ditch fizzy drinks and increase my water intake.

#5 Shopping bags

Since we introduced the 5p bag charge in the UK,  people have started being smarter with their shopping bags already anyway. Which is great news! But we can all be guilty of having to get one occasionally.

J and I are the worst offenders because we actively seek out shopping bags so that we can use them to bag up our household waste. It’s a hard habit to kick, but I’m really working on being more organised and taking reusable shopping totes to the shops with us, however I still haven’t found a way to avoid plastic bin bags – any ideas?

 

Personally, I think that all of the things I have listed out above are quite easy to implement. And even if you only do it some of the time as you get started it will make a huge difference.Plus as it becomes more normal and more ingrained in your routine you should find it easier and easier to keep moving away from plastic.

I know that I am a LONG way off from being an eco-warrior and there is so much more I could do, but for now I’m taking small steps in the right direction, and surely that’s a good start!

Have you found yourself becoming more concerned with the environment as part of your journey into minimalism? Do you have any more tips I could try?

Minimalism and Mess

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I’d say the thing that has surprised me the most about minimalism is that a minimalist home doesn’t equal a tidy home.

I’d also say this was probably the most disappointing realisation!

I’ve talked before about how I can easily maintain my home in times of stress, as it becomes an area of control and peace.

However, when I’m feeling more relaxed the mess creeps up on me.

And lately our home has been quite untidy! We have been carrying on with our seemingly endless renovations and DIY tasks. This has involved ripping out flooring and overhauling the garden. We’ve had to move furniture, pile objects onto tables and invest in new tools and equipment as we develop our green fingers.

Ironically, I find mess really stressful. So I constantly find myself in a vicious circle of being stressed and tidy, then relaxed and messy, which then causes stress…. and so on.

And when the mess started to build up again over the last few weeks, my initial thoughts were:

‘I’ve let the clutter build up again.’

‘Where has all this stuff come from?’

‘We need another big clear out!’

But I found that when I searched through the house, there wasn’t really anything else to get rid of. It’s not that we have too much stuff, it’s just that we’re not keeping it tidy.

After all, even if you only have 5 things – if you leave all of those things scattered on the floor or the dining table, your house will still be messy.

So unfortunately for me, minimalist doesn’t equal mess free. You will still need to tidy up. So here are my tips for keeping your minimalist home clean and tidy!

Regular Decluttering

I still declutter every week. Sometimes I only find 1 thing, other times I can fill a small box.

Even with the best intentions we still manage to bring new possessions into the house frequently. Whether it’s simply junk mail, stationary from the office or a tool that someone has lent us for our latest project. Doing a quick run through of your house can keep you from holding onto the new items of clutter than you collect.

I have also found that things I initially held onto and are making their way out of the door – slowly but steadily.

Keeping clutter to a minimum is a sure fire way to help keep things tidy and manageable.

Everything in its place

This is the most important tidying rule in my opinion. Everything you own should have a home within your home!

If your items don’t have a place to go when your done using them then it’s no wonder your house gets messy! I love a clear surface and having anything on the sides feels messy to me. I have to reach compromises with J who likes having some things out, but anything we’ve agreed doesn’t have to stay out gets put away into drawers, cupboards or onto shelves.

But without a designated home, those drawers, cupboards and shelves will soon become unmanageable. To give items a home, you just need to use some common sense. So any stationery goes in our spare room/study, kitchen utensils and cookbooks stay in the kitchen, shoes and coats live in the cupboard under the stairs and so.

To me a tidy house has clear floors, tables, windowsills and countertops. Everything needs a home to make this happen!

Spend time every day

To keep it tidy you’ll need to spend some time picking up after yourself everyday.

Sadly, we need to use things to get by. I wish it wasn’t the case but it’s unavoidable. From the mug and spoon you use for your morning brew, to your toothbrush, the book your reading or the TV remote. Everyday we take things out of their homes and use them.

Now, when I’m being messy, I just put them down after using them. And that’s where it all goes wrong!!! You must return things to their rightful home, ideally when you finish using them, but you could also do it at the end of each day. Which brings us onto…

Bedtime pick up

Even if you’re the type of person that puts things away straight after using them, it’s still worth building in a fifteen minute slot each day before bed where you flit through each room setting things in order. This might include putting things away, taking out the rubbish, straightening cushions or giving the sink a wipe down. Just make the time to do what’s needed to reset your home and have it nice and tidy for when you wake up.