Avoid Using Plastic

Plastic is a big 'No-No' nowadays, so here are your options!

Why Avoid Plastic?

You’ve probably heard that plastic isn’t great, it’s often made from fossil fuels, it’s difficult to recycle and can only be recycled a certain number of times. In the best-case scenario plastic is burned and the gases are captured and reused but that doesn’t really happen much, mostly it gets recycled once or twice (if you’re lucky) then ends up in land f  ill or it ends up in the sea. So that said we can all agree we should be trying to use less plastic so here are ten steps to get you started.

Tips to Avoid Plastic

Re-use

When reducing your plastic waste it can be tempting to purge plastic from your life entirely. New shampoo bars, new bamboo toothbrushes, new metal containers to replace your Tupperware, new organic cotton clothes. The first rule of reducing your plastic waste is don’t waste it. If you have plastic item that is perfectly good from food packaging, to a mascara wand to clothing then don’t throw it away.

Top tip: You can make your own household cleaners with many common kitchen items. So if your anti bac spray is running out why not reuse that spray bottle and look up a recipe.

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Source: Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Bring your own

After reuse bringing your own should be your next step in your plastic free journey. If you’re not already try bringing your own bags to the supermarket and your own cup to the coffee shop.  If you go out to work bring your own lunch or take a real break and sit at your favourite lunch spots. Exchanging prepacked sandwiches for home made sandwiches will reduce your plastic use and save you money. Why not use the extra cash to buy some luxurious shampoo bars.

Top tip: if you want to buy meat and cheese why not try your local deli, butchers or supermarket meat counter and ask them if they can put your items straight into your own packaging.

Source local fruit & veg and use cardboard boxing

A lot of the worst kinds of plastic (the kind that gets used once and thrown away and can’t be recycled aka cellophane) are found in your fridge. The quickest and easiest step to take is to eat more vegetables and less meat and dairy which usually come in plastic which is often not recyclable. Some fruit and vegetables still come with plastic wrappers but we can avoid a lot of plastic by just selecting the veg that comes loose. It’s also a great excuse not to eat salad if that’s not your thing. You can also swap your protein for plastic free options.

Instead of going straight for that chicken why not try eggs (in cardboard boxes), chickpeas beans or lentils (in cans). Although zero packaging is always best it’s way easier to recycle cardboard than plastic and glass and cans can be reused forever unlike plastic which when it can be recycled can often only be recycled once or twice.

Top tip: Why not look into veg boxes. In a lot of areas you can get great local produce delivered to your house and it comes with little to no plastic packaging. Try your local farm if you’re in the Falkirk area or have a search for one close to you.

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Skip the Snacks

Going plastic free can be surprisingly good for your waistline as well as your wallet. Chocolate and crisps along usually come in non-recyclable packaging. Maybe switch to snacking on fruit and if you have a sweet tooth bake your own.

Top tip: if you fancy something sweet why not try peanut butter in a glass jar or hit the bakery isle with your own bag.

Swap Bottles for Bars

A very quick easy and cheap swap in your mission to reduce plastic is soap, next time you run out of hand soap or shower gel why not try a bar of soap instead?

You can also swap out your hair care products, this is slightly more challenging as it depends on your hair type and there but once you’ve found your perfect product you can always ask for it as a gift for your birthday and Christmas. A few bars will last you a long time (a lot longer than bottled shampoo) and make sure you get a present that you can use.

Top tip: There is a Lush store in the Thistles shopping centre in Stirling. They have a great range of soaps, shampoo and conditioner bars all without packaging and staff are always super helpful. They also have branches in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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Find a Milk Man

Sometimes the old fashioned way is best. Milk usually comes in plastic bottles these days but milkmen still do exist. McQueen’s diaries in Glasgow will deliver milk and orange juice in glass bottles right to your doorstep. Best of all they will take the bottles away for you when you’re done and reuse them time and again. You may find that you have a local milk man so why not ask around or do a quick internet search. If you prefer a vegan option you can try oat milk, if you have a blender and a sieve you can make your own at home easily all you need is oats and water.

Top tip: Scott’s porridge oats come without plastic mix with water and you have oat milk for a lot less money than the bottled kind.

Buy in Bulk

We can’t always get some core household items without plastic. Things like pasta, rice or even toilet paper can be difficult to source. So why not buy a bigger packet. It means you are using less items of plastic over all and is often cheaper in the long run. 24 toilet rolls will always be cheaper per roll than 4.

Top tip: some plastic free and organic suppliers will deliver bulk orders of items such as pasta and rice to your home so you don’t have to compromise. Try the Edinburgh based Realfoods.

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Buy Less or Second Hand

A lot of essential items contain plastic too. Think clothing, watches, phones, computers etc. Then when you buy the item it will often come in plastic packaging especially if you buy it online. So before you buy those new summer sandals or the latest iphone ask yourself if you can use what you already own? If you can’t avoid the purchase perhaps go to the shop to avoid the parcel packaging and consider buying second hand if you can.

Top tip: Charity shops aren’t just for clothes, you can find furniture and kitchenware in the charity shop for a fraction of the price. British Heart Foundation have their own chain of furniture stores where you can buy good quality second hand furniture and help a great cause too.

Make your own

You can make a myriad of things are home which would normally come in plastic wrapping. The most obvious and popular item to make at home is bread. It’s easy, you only need 10 minutes to put the ingredients together and knead the bread, then let it rise for an hour and half before cooking it. Why not do it whilst you do your cleaning.  You’ll be saving a lot of non-recyclable plastic bags.

Top tip: if you don’t have time to make your own why not try the local bakers. You can ask them to give you fresh bread without the packaging and bring your own bag and you’ll be supporting a local business too. 

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Try Zero-Waste shopping

Zero waste shops take you back to a more traditional way of shopping offering personal service and offer a wide selection of essential items without packaging (think dried stored cupboard goods, and milk). Rather than heading to the supermarket you can take your own tubs and jars and stock up your store cupboard. If there isn’t a zero waste shop near by it’s a great excuse for a change of scene and remember you can buy in bulk so you don’t have to go every week.

Top tip: Try Weigh Ahead in Dunblane (Dunblane High Street also has two butches and a green grocer so you can get other things too).
Other options include https://glasgowlocavore.org/Locavore in Glasgow or the Ecolarder in Edinburgh.

If you live in Forth Valley, read our own:

Article written by Emma Kapusniak

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