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?

5 Truths of Minimalism

img_7906Truth #1 – You’ll still buy things

Yep. Minimalism won’t stop you from buying things. In fact, you’ll probably be more likely to go on full blown shopping sprees rather than just buying bits here and there. For the simple reason that you won’t shop often and you’ll only shop for a purpose. I recently found myself gearing up to go shopping with the intention of buying a new crockery set, new towels, a pair of sandals, a scented candle, some denim dungarees and several new items for my makeup collection. (That counts as a shopping spree right?!)

The crockery had been on the cards for a while since our set was damaged and wasn’t suitable for our lifestyle (guilty secret – we often microwave things and the square plates J bought just didn’t fit!)

I lusted for some new towels after reading this post by Miss Minimalist. I didn’t get a full set, just two bath robes to test them out and I can confirm I am onboard. So I will probably invest in a few more and clear out of mountain of old bulky towels once I do.

My sandals, which I must have owned for at least 10 years, finally bit the dust. I replaced them with a pair that ended being uncomfortable so I have since returned them. And I haven’t felt the need to replace them since finding I could wear the pair I wore to my brother’s wedding in their place. Such a great result since I didn’t buy these myself so hadn’t imagined I would get any use out of them. Plus my brother and his wife love seeing me wearing them – happy memories!

I still like to keep a stash of scented candles around the home. I find candles so calming and peaceful and take real joy in lighting them each evening, these are an item I will also buy and keep because they bring me joy.

The dungarees evaded me. But I still really want a pair. I have been trying to define my style more and more as I have reduced my wardrobe, banning certain items from ever re-entering and developing some wardrobes rules to live by. And dungarees feature! I’ll probably share more about my wardrobe rules once I have 100% decided.

Make up. I have never had a great stash of makeup. I’m not particularly good at applying it so I stick to the basics, and these run out occasionally! So they get replaced when they do.

Truth #2 – White paint can get dirty – fast

More and more rooms in my home keep giving in to the white paint revolution. I love how much brighter and bigger they make the space feel. However, since painting our kitchen white I have noticed that it doesn’t hold up particularly well when you are sloppy with your tea bags! We seem to get an inordinate amount of splashes and sprays onto the walls when we prep drinks or meals. Luckily, pure white paint is a colour that’s easy to find for touch ups! But it does mean we have to keep a tub handy for this.

Truth #3 – People will have an opinion

I have been working towards a minimal lifestyle for almost a year now but people still find it amusing, or refer to it as a phase or a crazy idea I’ve had. It can be really frustrating but I have learnt to brush it off. You get a mixture of views from…

‘You can’t have anything left to get rid of!’

‘What’s next – the dog!?’

‘I thought you were a minimalist – you can’t do that.’

‘You’re not a minimalist, look at all this stuff.’

For some reason it just seems to be a type of lifestyle that people must have an opinion on, and that opinion must be shared loudly and repeatedly.

Personally, I think it’s a defensive mechanism, I think people feel insecure that you might be judging them for being materialistic, wasting money or may see their belongings as mess or junk. I don’t think of it this way and have found the best way to get through to people is just to never make comment on their lifestyle. I will talk about my minimalist choices and experiences and will answer questions, but I never offer advice or suggestions if I haven’t been asked. And I have found this works in getting people to soften and open up. Once they know you aren’t trying to force your choices on them, they seem much more eager to find out more. And it’s even been rubbing off, with my trinket loving mother even asking me to help her minimise and expressing a desire to have more space and empty surfaces. And once help has been requested, I am more than happy to dive in!

Truth #4 – It takes time

I have been moving towards a more minimal lifestyle for almost a year and I am still no where near ‘done’. I don’t think there ever will be a time when I am ‘done’. It’s a lifestyle choice after all… Clutter can creep back up on you if you don’t regularly evaluate your belongings, but minimalism isn’t just about clutter.

For me it’s about making more time for the things I love and spending less time merely existing. But I still get caught it TV traps, or get sucked into a marketing campaign. I will still scroll social media for far too long and run out of time to start that new book or work on my crochet projects. I can still find myself prioritising things over people. But I accept that it takes time, and effort!

Truth #5 – It’s not just about clutter

See above!

So many people see minimalism as an absence of things, but I think once you’ve done the typical step one of becoming a minimalist (AKA a huge declutter), that is when you make the choice between pursuing the lifestyle or simply being glad that you’ve tidied and organised.

For me, it goes beyond the decluttering. It’s about making time and space for more meaningful pursuits, and reducing the brain space I assign to material objects and meaningless activity.

What truths have you discovered on your minimalist journey?