8 easy and affordable ways to use less plastic

In today's disposable world, single-use plastics are almost impossible to avoid. With plastic being prominent in our kitchen cupboards, cleaning supplies, bathroom cabinets and many other areas of our lives, it can be hard to know how to reduce the amount we're using. Is it even possible!?

In 2019 the 10 biggest UK supermarkets put 896,853 tonnes of plastic packaging on the market and annually, the beauty industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging globally. Pretty shocking stuff, huh?

Despite this, it IS possible to significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic you're using. Here are 8 easy and affordable way to use less plastic...

1. Take a reusable bottle with you wherever you go

Avoid single use plastic bottles and opt for a reusable one instead. You can get mini ones, big ones, colourful ones, plain ones... whatever your personal style, there's something to suit. Most cafes and bars fill up your bottle for free and there are more and more refill water stations popping up all over the UK, so you'll never be caught without refreshing H20!

Reusable water bottle, tub and reusable sandwich wrap
On-the-go essentials

2. Carry a reusable bag

The popularity of single-use carrier bags has reduced significantly over the past few years since the UK government brought in a 10p charge on them. The average person in the UK now buys four bags per year compared with 10 in 2019 and 140 in 2014... great steps! However, we still have a long way to go.

We use plastic bags for an average of twelves minutes. After that, people generally discard them, and we recycle less than 3% of single-use bags worldwide. The rest end up in landfill, or worse, polluting our oceans. Make the switch to reusable bags instead and cherish them for years to get the most use out of them.

The essential tote bag
The essential tote bag

3. Use reusable food covers

A staggering 1.2 billion metres of cling film, roughly 740,000 miles, is used by every home in the UK every single year! This unrecyclable material is a serious problem, and tonnes of the stuff is heading to landfill every day. Instead of using cling film, try reusable wax wraps and/or silicone or fabric bowl covers. These will save you money in the long run and are kind to the planet.

Wax wraps & fabric bowl cover
Wax wraps & fabric bowl cover

4. Try reusable cotton pads

As well as being non-recyclable and non-degradable, it takes a large volume of water to produce a single-use cotton pad, which, unless it’s made from organic cotton, is also grown with pesticides that damage the surrounding environment. Cotton pads are often packaged in non-recyclable plastic wrapping as well.

The solution is to invest in reusable versions made from organic cotton or microfibre materials. There are tonnes of these available to buy nowadays, and they'll save you money long-term. Check out Etsy to support a small UK business.

Reusable cotton face pads
Reusable cotton pads

5. Save water & money with dissolvable cleaning sachets

Did you know that a typical bottle of cleaning solution is made up of 90% water?

Stop replacing your cleaning products with new plastic bottles each time and re-use the bottles instead. Brands like Iron & Velvet, Ocean Saver and Neat offer plastic free, concentrated refills that you simply top up with water. You’ll get the exact same cleaning power without the plastic waste! These brands are very competitively priced too, so can save you some money compared to your regular cleaning brands.

Plastic free cleaning products
Plastic free cleaning products

6. Switch to compostable sponges & cloths

The sponges each household throws away in a year will take up landfill space for 52,000 years! Switch out sponges for biodegradable, natural options – wooden or bamboo brushes and reusable cloths are great and don’t wear out as quickly.

My favourites are Ecovibe sponges and Toockie Cloths. I also make my own hand made cloths from scraps of cotton fabric, so if you’re into sewing this is a great option too! These options are all affordable and long-lasting.

Compostable sponges
Compostable sponges

7. Make your own cleaning products

You may already have ingredients in your cupboards that can be used in homemade cleaning products. Yes, that’s right! If you have lemon, baking soda and white vinegar in your cupboards, you’re already well on your way to being able to make your own cleaning products.

A simple Google search will bring up a multitude of DIY cleaning product recipes that work and will save you money!

DIY Cleaning ingredients
DIY Cleaning ingredients

8. Switch to an eco-friendly toilet paper

Did you know around 2.3 billion people are living without a toilet worldwide? Who Gives a Crap is trying to combat this problem by donating 50% of their toilet roll profits to help build toilets for those in need. This premium toilet roll is made from forest friendly bamboo fibres, is 3ply, biodegradable and has no inks, dyes or scents added to it.

Don’t let the word premium fool you, the best part is WGAC toilet rolls are only 22.5p per 100 sheets. Which is CHEAPER than your standard plastic wrapped supermarket rolls (Andrex = 34.1p per 100 sheets). It’s delivered to your door completely plastic free and saves you money.. what’s not to love!?

What are your top tips for reducing plastic waste on a budget? I'd love to know! Follow me on Instagram for more tips on reducing your plastic use.


Meet the face behind Elm

Elm was born out of passion for the environment and a desire for a more sustainable, way of life, without compromising on quality or time.

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