15 ways to reduce plastic waste in your home

By Nell Matzen  |  16 Jun, 2021

The shift in our attitudes toward reducing single-use plastic can be seen everywhere from the rise of keep cups to an abundance of B.Y.O. shopping bags. The move became more mainstream when major shopping outlets, states and territories banned single-use plastic bags.

Now, more and more people want to do their bit for the environment, looking for ways to reduce plastic use in their lives and homes. Whether you’re completing a month challenge or looking to make permanent changes, our 15 tips to reduce plastic waste in your home will have you reducing and reusing in no time.

Reusable bags when shopping

The easiest way to reduce your plastic waste at home is to B.Y.O. your bag next time you go grocery shopping. Whether it’s a cool canvas bag or a reusable number offered by the grocery store, it doesn’t matter, as long as you remember to bring it. Keeping a bag in your handbag, the car and next to the front door is an excellent way to stop you from walking out of the shops with an arm full of groceries, or worse yet, paying 15c for a thicker plastic bag that will take even longer to break down. If you do forget, simply wheel your trolley to the car, put the loose groceries in your boot, and grab a bag or two when you get home to bring them inside. 

No fruits in plastic wraps

Eliminating fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic is easier said than done. Half cabbages and the like are extremely handy for whipping up dinner with minimal waste, but unfortunately, they come wrapped in plastic
Purchasing whole fruits and vegetables may take a little more meal planning, but it will reduce plastic in your home whilst helping your wallet with all those yummy leftovers.

Canvas bags for loose fruits and vegetables

Anti-plastic crusaders have thought of a solution for nearly every situation you might encounter single-use plastic. Take your fruit and veg shopping to the next eco level with a reusable bag for loose items. No more reaching for those liberally placed rolls of plastic bags in the fresh produce section; just pop your apples and oranges into your reusable bag.

Purchase glass jars over plastic

They may be more convenient, but squeezy sauce bottles are a big offender of plastic waste in the home. Swapping out the brightly coloured bottles for plastic jars will add a minuscule amount of effort to your prep time, but the environment will thank you.

Shop at bulk food stores

Take your new collection of glass jars to a bulk food store and reduce even more plastic waste. Every dry food item comes in a plastic bag rice, pasta, legumes, nuts, you name it. Bulk food stores stock all of these things and more, all with no plastic waste. Browse the rows and rows of giant tubs and fill your own vessels as you please. You can also find other pantry staples like oil, honey and readymade peanut butter. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s cheaper too.

Silicone and wax paper instead of plastic wrap

Break up with plastic wrap and opt for reusable silicone or wax paper options. Wrap meat and cheese in wax paper and cover bowls of leftovers with stretchy silicone lids. Ditching plastic wrap doesn’t have to mean a Jackson Pollock in your microwave, as silicone lids are microwave safe. Wash wax paper in cold soapy water and leave it to air dry. Wash silicone lids as usual or pop them in the dishwasher.

Bar soap, shampoo and conditioner

Switching back to bar soap should come quite naturally, as we can all most likely remember our bar soap days. Unfortunately, you’ll no longer be able to display your expensive bottles of hand soap, but you can pat yourself on the back for reducing plastic waste. Bar shampoo and conditioner may feel a bit more foreign, but new formulas will give you that same lustre and shine without unnecessary plastic.

Refill cleaning products

There are a few options for refilling your cleaning products. Until recently, only a few boutique companies were offering the option to refill your many plastic bottles of cleaning products, most companies delivering refills right to your door. Now both retail giants are offering the service in flagship stores, where you can bring in your bottles and fill them in store. For now, they are only offering a few of the most popular brands, but more will follow if the trend takes off.

Choose your fashion wisely

Fast fashion has a massive environmental impact even before considering the abundance of synthetic fibres used in the clothing. Moving clothes around the planet and shipping them to the shop front or your home also involves a tonne of plastic packaging. Choosing your clothes carefully and opting for better quality pieces made of natural fibres will mean less plastic in landfill. They may cost more initially, but a quality item will last much longer than a $5 t-shirt.

Razors and toothbrushes

Most of us replace razors and toothbrushes more frequently than any other household item. Thankfully, there are a plethora of reusable options to reduce plastic waste in your home. Choose an electric toothbrush or a razor with a changeable head to keep plastic waste low. Or go one step further with compostable bamboo toothbrushes and a reusable razor with recyclable blades.

Make your own cleaning products

A single spray bottle and some common household ingredients can replace many of your cleaning products and ultimately reduce plastic waste. Dilute white vinegar and eucalyptus oil in a glass spray bottle to make an effective, delightful smelling surface spray.

Natural fibres in the bedroom

In addition to making for a sweaty sleep, bedding made of synthetic fibres leeches micro plastics into the waterways every time you wash, which we end up eating and drinking. Choosing natural fibres like linen and 100% cotton is a great way to eliminate sneaky plastic waste in the home. The upside is these natural fibres are an absolute dream to sleep on.

Limit takeaway food or choose wisely

However convenient, getting takeaway food comes with a lot of plastic packaging. You don’t have to completely cut take away out of your life limiting your consumption will make a big difference in the amount of plastic waste. Thankfully, many restaurants are also trying to reduce their plastic waste and are now offer recyclable packaging.

Cloth or eco nappies

Many people draw their eco line at cloth nappies, as the cleanliness and convenience of disposable nappies are too hard to ignore. There are a multitude of companies taking most of the dirty work out of cloth nappies, offering nappy laundering services delivered right to your front door. If you’re still not convinced, there are many biodegradable options on the market.

Switch up your monthly routine

Monthly sanitary items come with a lot of plastic waste. Making the switch to a period cup may seem daunting at first, but the eco and financial upsides will quickly win you over. Wash in hot soapy water at the end of your cycle and store in the convenient little case until it’s that time again. If looked after correctly, your cup can last up to an astounding ten years.

Words by Nell Matzen

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