In the UK this month there has been some media coverage of reducing plastic use. The Government has vowed to eliminate UK’s plastic waste by 2042 (follow this link to see coverage from The Independent). A major retailer (Iceland) has been the first to commit to remove plastic packaging from their own brand products by 2023 (follow this link to see coverage from The Telegraph).
Here at Grow, Make, Mend reducing plastic use was already one of our intentions – we talk about it in First Steps. We’ve been working on it a bit last year and this year marks the start of a determined effort.
Here are three of our changes so far.
Reducing plastic use with… paper straws
We switched to paper straws mid 2017. Bright, lovely and don’t disintegrate as soon as they make contact with liquid. If you leave them too long or chew them they taste cardboard-y but this has actually beneficial. Robin has lost the horrible habit of gnawing straws and finishes drinks promptly, which is great for hydration.
They are also so pretty they sometimes end up in craft collages!
These paper straws are biodegradable. Until we get our composting up and running, we recycle them.
Amazon uses mostly eco-friendly packaging and this product came in a cardboard box. Inside the box, thin cellophane wrapped each packet of the 25 straws. Not an absolutely plastic free option – but pretty darn close. Especially given we no longer throw away about 50 plastic straws each month! It’s looking like this 150 will last us a good six months.
Reducing plastic use with… concentrated cooking sauce
We love stirfries and we have two favourite sauces: black bean and hoisin.
Every week we would pick up two plastic pouches of ready made sauce from the chilled section in the supermarket. It was easy. Far too easy. Every week, two plastic pouches at least the size of my hand were being squeezed out and then straight in the bin.
We reduced our plastic use by substituting these for a glass jar of concentrated black bean garlic sauce. The instructions suggested 1 tablespoon of concentrate and 1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar. A stronger taste suits us better so we doubled this, and added a few shakes of light soy sauce.
A jar of this will do us for about three or four meals which is great.
Use it sparingly: this is concentrated paste!
Our local supermarket stocks this – we aren’t yet ready to sever our dependency on supermarkets, one step at a time – so we got it with our regular shop. If you can’t find it locally and want to give it a try, it’s currently Amazon’s Choice for black bean sauce – available on Subscribe & Save in packs of 6.
We really look forward to trying the hoisin sauce in the same brand!
Reducing plastic use by… exfoliating naturally
For some years Theo has enjoyed using scratchy bathroom sponges from a high street retailer to get a good scrub and essentially exfoliate, particularly after running. They did the job and were reasonably cheap. Their cheapness was fortunate, because every other month I would find one lurking in the corner of the steamy shower cubicle – discoloured with mould and reeking.
Yuck. In the bin. Buy a new one. They’re ever so cheap.
Except I’m reasonably sure those sponges were made out of foamed plastic polymers.
So – new year, new ethos. Less plastic – one item at a time.
This time we’ve replaced a plastic sponge with a sisal sponge from Hydréa London. Sisal comes from a plant – the Agave sisalana – not plastic.
It looks and feels appropriately scratchy. Having made more of an investment in this item, it seems more likely that it will be dried out properly between uses. When it needs replacing it looks like most of it can go into a compost bin too!
Theo promises to let you know how it works out for him.
What about you?
Is there one plastic item in your household that you can swap out?
What is it?
Let us know – share your journey in the comments below!