5 tips to reducing plastic waste in your house
I did a waste audit back in 2020 through EcoLiving Ideas. I think what shocked me most was just how much plastic we threw away from food and other things. Plastic that genuinely couldn't be recycled via the council. Altogether it's given me a real focus to try to do more to reduce our use of plastics that will just end up in the bin. Here's my Top 5 Tips on how I'm trying to reduce plastic waste in our house
1. Take your own bags to the supermarket
I have to say this is one thing we are pretty good on. We don't use one-use disposable plastic bags. We haven't done since they introduced the 5p charge in 2015. According to this article from the Guardian, use of plastic bags has dropped 95% since they introduced the 5p charge in 2015. Make your own bags (I like using Whitney Sews tutorial for mine) - they are a good beginner project.
2. Pick things in alternative packaging
What about tins? Or glass? I used to buy soup in cartons or plastic tubs. No longer. I either make my own or buy it in tins. It lasts longer, it's fully recyclable and it's generally cheaper too. Also if you can, try not to buy the multipacks of tins - they come in plastic. Princes have started doing tuna in cardboard, but I find it just as easy and sometimes cheaper to buy supermarket own brand in single tins.
3. Make your own and freeze it
Now that the children are back at school, I've taken a real interest in making soup to have for lunch. Yes even on warm days! This is my vegetable soup recipe that my Mum taught me. I live off this during the day and it takes around 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook. It's also vegan!
Ingredients: 1 leek, 1 baking potato, 1-2 carrots, 2 oz rice, 2 oz red lentils, stock (I use vegetable bouillon from Marigold), olive oil for cooking
Method: Wash and slice your leek and gently saute it in a large pan in a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes. Don't let it burn. Peel and chop the potato into large chunks (at least an inch/2.5cm), wash and chop your carrot into the same sized chunks as your potato. You can peel the carrot but I prefer mine with the skin on. Pop them in with the leek and give it a stir. Make up 1 litre of stock and add it to the pan and give it a good stir. Rinse your rice and lentils under cold water and add them to the pan and give it another good stir. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for half an hour until the potato and carrot are cooked.
This is a super chunky soup - the kind you can dance on - and will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, or you can pop it in the freezer for up to three months. Best served with crusty bread - also sometimes cheese on the top!!
4. Use Refill shops if you can
Go completely plastic free where you can by using refill shops where you take your own containers and refill them, or use their plastic free options such as paper bags.
We're not all lucky enough to live near refill shops, but I discovered EcoRefill who will deliver. From Brighton to Leeds even, as I've even had deliveries from them and it was surprisingly simple. It's also good to support smaller more local businesses! A local one to me, Giddy Arts in Saltaire, lets you pick up from the shop - they have it all ready for you in advance. Small shops can often be much more flexible than bigger ones.
5. Use your own coffee cups and pots in shops
I don't drink coffee, but there is an increase in the number of coffee shops who will allow you to fill your own cup rather than use a disposable one. Don't like to scare you, but this Guardian article helped me understand the issues with disposable coffee cups.... The pandemic of course hasn't helped with a ban for a while on using reusable cups, but once we're all allowed back out into the wilds again, taking your own to refill is a good step forward to cutting plastic waste.
Another trick I use is to take my own tub to the butchers for them to fill. I try, where I can, not to buy meat from the supermarket, I much prefer to buy less and through my butcher and he's got used to me and my plastic ice cream pots now. This works best if you know the shop you're going to - I'm not sure it would work too well in Morrison's at the Butcher's counter, but maybe one day I'll give it a try!
How do you cut down on plastic in your house? Do you have any other tips that you could share? I'd love to hear from you to help me with my own journey!