More ideas to use less plastic

More ideas to use less plastic

In March 2018, I shared some of my ideas of how to reduce plastic use and try live more sustainably.  I love our planet, I want to do all I can to protect our world, this is an important issue for me.  I’d love to help you to find new ways to live sustainably and happily, saving money and having fun along the way!

The idea of sustainable living is a complex topic, with complex topics like this, I think the best thing that we can do is to put suggestions forward and discuss them respectfully.  If we all work as a team together, we could all learn from each other – united and working together we could achieve so much!  I think everyone agrees that we need to eliminate plastic from our lives, but opinions differ on some aspects, for example, whether it is better to order drinks in cans or in glass.

There’s no point feeling smug if you open a packet in a shop and just take the goods home with you, if that shop will just bin the packaging, and the store selling the product without any packaging is without sales.  Having said that, I definitely think that it’s wise to contact your supermarkets and any stores you shop from, informing them that you don’t want to purchase plastic and you wish to purchase sustainable, ethically sourced products will help enormously.  Perhaps explain to the retailers that you’re not ordering products from why that is, what would it take for you to return as their customer?  Let others know how you feel and what is important to you.  I am open to ideas, I want to learn more and give more to the planet.

Since I last wrote about this topic, I have been evaluating my life, thinking of more ideas to reduce our plastic use and live more graciously.  If you missed my first article listing the ways that I was reducing my plastic use, to live more sustainably, please read it, here’s a link.  Meanwhile, here are some more ideas!

If you have a stack of plastic plant pots that you no longer want, see if any of your family or friends would like them, offer them to your work colleagues or post on Freecycle or on social media.

Recycling

It’s important to recycle plastic, but it is also important to use the plastic and other goods you currently have, for as long as you possibly can.  If you have plastic you have no use for perhaps you know someone else who could use it?  Maybe you could post on Freecycle, or on social media, or offer your unwanted items to family, friends, and neighbours.

Supporting organisations that help the planet

Did you know that a fungus known as Aspergillus tubingensis has the capability to break down some plastics after a period of just a few weeks?  Without contact with this fungus, these same plastics would be still intact some years later.  The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew hold the world’s largest Fungarium, it’s home to 1.25 million fungal specimens!  By providing more financial support to organisations like Kew, more studies can be taken to enable us to learn more about fungi and plants.  If you’d like to sign up to be a Friend of Kew, here’s a link.  To donate to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, here’s another link.

Having your own tea or coffee cup to use whilst at work, can eliminate the need to purchase a drink in a disposable cup.

Drinks

We are so fortunate to have beautifully clean drinking water available to us at any time by simply turning on a tap, this is a true luxury, which is often taken for granted.  Bottled drinking water is widely available, but we can save on plastic by drinking tap water at home, and taking a re-usable drinks bottle with us when we go out.  Transporting bottled water around the country causes extra pollution, I cannot think of a good reason to drink bottled water.

Reusable bottles and cups

Do you have your own reusable drinks bottles?  How about a flask?  Or a reusable coffee cup, teacup, or mug?  These can all make such a difference, you can save yourself money, as well as help to reduce the amount of plastic being produced, by using a variety of reusable drinks bottles.

These refreshing summer drinks are served with paper straws.

Sparkling water

I love drinking sparkling water!  It’s so much fun to feel the energy of the bubbles in the water as you drink!  You can buy sparkling water by the bottle, but you could also buy a carbonator to inject CO2 into your tap water, to create your own sparkling water at home!  If you want to avoid as much plastic as possible, look out for carbonators that use glass bottles rather than plastic bottles.  The gas cylinders that drinks carbonators use can be exchanged and re-filled, so they are not wasted.  But does carbonated tap water taste as good as shop bought sparkling water?  The answer is, yes it does!  I used to purchase bottled sparkling water, but I have now switched to carbonating tap water, I can tell you it tastes just as lovely – it’s just the same!  If you make your own sparkling water, you can also make your water as fizzy as you’d like, so whatever your preference, you’ll enjoy your own home-made sparkling water.

Fizzy drinks

Using tap water and a carbonator you can make fizzy water, by then adding a drop of cordial or syrup to the carbonated water, you can create your own fizzy drinks.  You could make home-made lemonade, elderflower cordial, cherryade, or any number of recipes, using shop bought or home-made fruit or vegetable juices, cordial, or syrup.  As shop-bought cordials and syrups are diluted, each bottle lasts a lot longer than ready made fizzy drinks.  Naturally the most environmentally friendly drinks are ones you make at home.

Home-made lemonade is a wonderful thing – perfect for summer!

Food

Ice lollies

Ice lollies are a wonderful summer treat, but ice lollies are often sold wrapped in plastic, if you want to enjoy an ice lolly without the plastic, you could make your own home-made ice lollies: ice lolly kits are available from many retailers, both online and on the high street.  You could make a simple lolly by pouring fruit juice into the lolly mould, or you could pour in just a little fruit juice, pop the ice lolly mould in the freezer, then once the juice has frozen, pour in another type of fruit juice and freeze, then continue with different juices or layers until your moulds are full.  You could make your stripes of fruit juice more visible, by alternating with contrasting colours.  You could blend, chop, or mash up fruit and make your lollies from blended fruits or vegetables, or you could freeze lemonade, or elderflower cordial, or make lollies in layers with a mix of all of these: the possibilities are endless!

Fair Trade Products

When I am shopping, I always look out for Fair Trade Products as I want to support fair trade and pay people fairly.  You can buy Fair Trade bananas, wine, fruit juice, coffee, tea, rice, cereals, sugar, herbs, chocolate, cotton, flowers, gold, and much more besides, look for the Fair Trade logo on products, or search online.  Look for bananas, fruit, and vegetables sold without any plastic wrapping.

Grow your own

I love growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, and cut flowers!  If you grow your own courgette plants each summer you will never need to purchase a shop bought courgette again!  Realistically though, there are few people who have sufficient land or the time to grow and maintain their crops to be self sufficient, but every bit helps and you may be surprised how good a harvest you could achieve if you took on an allotment, or turned an area of your garden over to fruit and vegetable production.  Even if you only have a few pots, you could still grow herbs.

Pick your own

You could purchase freshly harvested, locally grown produce from a Pick Your Own Farm.  If you bring along your own bags, tubs, or containers, you could enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid the need to purchase or use any additional plastic.

Buy locally grown produce

It’s possible that you might be able to purchase locally grown fruit, vegetables, flowers, and herbs, from allotment gardeners who are producing a surplus.  Look out for local allotment, college or school open days, or village or church fetes, when surplus fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers may be sold, or contact the chairman or secretary of an allotment group for more details.  Naturally, many of those with an allotment will already be growing for their own family and friends, so you may want to ask any of your friends, if you can buy any of their left over courgettes, fruit or vegetables!

Batch cooking

By cooking and preparing meals in larger quantities and then dividing your left over food into portions and freezing at home, you can save money and save on plastic, creating your own delicious ready meal for another day!  This is a great way to make the most of your home-grown food and any special offers, as well as reducing waste and saving energy in cooking a large quantity at once.

Delicatessen

If you shop at your local local delicatessen and take in your own clean, re-usable containers, you can purchase all manner of food from cheeses to coleslaw, pies to potato salads, without the need to use or take home any additional plastic.

Buying fruit and vegetables without plastic

Look for fruit and vegetables sold loose without any plastic packaging at your local market stall, in your local grocer, or at the supermarket.

If you’re passionate about caring for the environment and our planet, you may also want to look beyond the plastic and evaluate whether you actually wish to purchase and consume the goods contained inside the plastic.  It’s so easy to go shopping, where you can find all manner of delicious foods lined up for sale, and tired from a busy week just focus on whether or not you will enjoy their flavour.  You may also want to consider the true impact of the products in your shopping bag and the effects of their farming and harvesting.  Did you know for example, that scallops are often harvested by fishing dredgers that plough into and penetrate the sea bed as they dig in to collect the scallops, causing lasting damage to the flora and fauna and the structure of the sea bed.  It can take many years for an area of sea bed and its plants and associated creatures to recover following dredging, this practice harms the number of seaweed, seagrass, sponge, and algae species in a dredged seabed for many years after the event, and it affects the other shellfish and fish numbers.

Prawns are often collected by trawlers, which can also have damaging and lasting effects to the seabed, and seagrass, sponge, and seaweeds in the areas they are used, as well as to the creatures living in these areas.

This beautiful trug was made by Kevin Skinner from Trug Makers in Hailsham in East Sussex. This is trug No. 7, it is very versatile, I have used it to harvest all manner of fruit and vegetables. This beautiful trug is very strong and robust, it’s much better than a plastic bag!

Knives, forks, and spoons

It’s a good idea to keep a couple of spare sets of cutlery in your bag, to avoid the need to use a disposable knife and fork, which let’s face it aren’t always easy or nice to use, so by having a spare set in your bag, you’ll be doing yourself a favour in more ways than one.

Be prepared

You may want to carry spare cutlery, bags, tubs, and drinks bottles for hot and cold drinks in your car, so you’re prepared for any eventuality!

Cling film

There are so many alternatives for cling film: store your lunch for work or pack a picnic using tupperware containers, or you could wrap your sandwiches by re-using the inner wrapping inside a cereal box – you know the plasticy bag inside a box of cereal, or you could wrap sandwiches in home-made or shop bought candelilla wax, beeswax, or soy, cotton sandwich wraps.

Libraries

Your local library may offer you the chance to borrow books, audio books, CDs, DVDs, as well as the opportunity to use computers, printers, wifi etc.  Using a library can save you money, it can also save on resources and prevents materials languishing unused and unloved.

Library of Things

Library of Things offers users the chance to borrow all manner of things: from equipment like drills, steam cleaners, carpet cleaners, to tools like strimmers, gardening tools, and saws, to large items like gazebos.  The Library of Things offers the chance to borrow toys and games, music, and more!   Currently operating at: Library of Things Upper Norwood Library Hub, 39-41 Westow Hill, Crystal Palace, London, SE19 1TJ.  I am sure that more locations will be added in future, it’s such a great idea!

Celebrating

Crackers

Crackers are notoriously expensive, yet they often contain plastic toys or small gifts that are not usually beautiful, lasting or useful.  Crackers and their contents are usually left behind on the table, unwanted by folks of all ages after the meal is over, before being thrown out with the rubbish.

Why not make your own crackers?  You could write your own jokes, or instead of jokes ask trivia questions.  If you would like to, you could make your own celebratory paper hats, and if you choose to add gifts, you could include a gift especially chosen for the recipient, which will be much more likely to be appreciated and valued.  How about adding a packet of seeds as a gift inside your cracker?  Or you could do away with crackers altogether and instead leave a small gift by each placemat, or just concentrate your efforts on creating a table arrangement with seasonal foliage and flowers.  If flower arranging is not your thing, yet you’d like some beautiful, seasonal British flowers, you may be interested to read my guide to British florists.

For more ideas of how to celebrate any of life’s events with plants, please click here.

Donating unwanted gardening items

If you have any gardening items languishing in your shed, why not donate them to a charity or organisation that can make use of them?

Gardening gloves

If you have any unwanted, unused gardening gloves, perhaps you have a pair of gardening gloves that are too small, or too large, why not donate them?  The Therapy Garden, a charity based in Guildford, in Surrey can make good use of any new pairs of gardening gloves you can offer, although it’s worth noting that this charity can only make use of new, unworn gloves.  The Therapy Garden works with adults and teenagers with learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and mental health challenges, providing horticultural education and support to bring about positive change to the lives of those they help and inspire.

You’ll find more suggestions of where you could donate unwanted items to, in this article.

Other articles that may interest you………..

To read the first article I wrote where I listed the ways that I tried to reduce my plastic use and live more sustainably, here’s a link.

To see my ideas for how to garden more sustainably, please click here.

Other articles you might like:

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