Many people think that reducing your plastic footprint is something that’s going to cost more money than you are spending right now. I don’t have a lot of spare money and need to stick to a budget. So once I’d made some initial changes of taking 5 simple steps (of which the cost to me was nothing), I started to look for ways to make further changes which would save me money.
The very idea of living sustainably is based on reducing the amount of waste we produce, and reusing / utilising what we already have. So, as a next step, here are some of the changes I started to make:
1. Start buying loose leaf tea
There has recently been a lot of attention in the media on teabags, and how they contain plastic. Many people, including myself, were shocked by this. After looking around several shops, I’d been unable to find compostable teabags, and I came to the conclusion that the best option right now would be to switch to loose leaf tea.
I’ve found that loose leaf tea is available at local tea shops. I started to buy mine from a well-known tea company, where there was a large selection available. I bought some tins, and was told by the shop assistant that if I brought the empty tins back to refill, I could get a discount on my next tea purchase. Great!
Although this was initially more expensive than the teabags I’d usually buy, it works out to be cheaper in the long run. I was able to buy in bulk, and it goes further than teabags. It’s also a great zero waste option, as it can go straight into the compost bin.
2. Use bars of soap
One of the things I’ve personally found with liquid soap is the bigger the bottle, the more I seem to use in one go. And although the plastic bottle can be recycled, the pump itself is more difficult to, if at all. Going back to David Attenborough’s recent messages about the current state of our oceans on Blue Planet II, I couldn’t bear the thought of such waste accumulating in our oceans for marine wildlife to endure.
I decided to try switching to bars of soap. I found some great ones in local shops, that just came in a cardboard box. No plastic wrapping in sight – it was great!
Again, although initially more expensive, I found that they worked out to be cheaper than the liquid soap in the long run.
3. Invest in reusable cleaning cloths and sponges
I use Safix scrub pads for cleaning which I recently bought in a pack of 4 from an online store which sells a large amount of eco friendly products. They’re both compostable and biodegradable, and I’ve found them to be much more durable than some of the more widely available sponge / scourer pads available in the UK. Once they break down, I put them straight into the compost bin.
In addition to using cotton cloths for washing up, I now use a silicone sponge with a scraper and a squeegee. It’s hygienic and the scraper works really well on stubborn stains. It’s ideal as a “buy me once” option.
4. Switch to reusable cotton wool pads
Most packs of cotton wool pads come wrapped in plastic bags (and it’s not always obvious whether they’re recyclable). While I was looking for alternatives, I found cotton wool pads in biodegradable bags. I then found out that biodegradable doesn’t necessarily mean compostable. So at the time, I didn’t know what to do with the packaging.
I’ve since found a much more eco friendly and cost-effective alternative; reusable, machine washable cotton wool pads. There are a number of suppliers online, and you can also make your own too!
Biodegradable doesn’t necessarily mean compostable. So I didn’t know what to do with the packaging.
5. Use a laundry egg
I recently came across an eco-friendly laundry egg. The egg contains natural detergents, and can be put into the washing machine in place of regular washing powder. Given that one egg should last up to 3 years on 3 washes per week (refills are also currently available), this is a great cost-saving option.
6. Invest in a reusable water bottle
Many people are now becoming more aware of the global issue of plastic pollution. One cost-effective way to help tackle this problem is to buy a reusable water bottle. There is also a Refill App which shows where refill stations are so that you can fill your water bottle for free. Initially this initiative started in Bristol and London, and is now becoming more widespread across the UK.
7. Use containers to keep food fresh
Many of us, myself included, have frequently bought rolls of plastic sandwich bags from the supermarket to keep food fresh. Instead, I decided to start using food containers and jars that I already owned. It cost me nothing, and I saved money through not having to buy sandwich bags every month.