Simple sustainable swaps to make at home to eliminate single-use plastic. Why Plastic Free July is the perfect time to rethink.
PLASTIC FREE JULY – SMART HOUSEHOLD SWAPS TO MAKE NOW
Hands up who loves our planet and wants it to be as beautiful as possible for future generations? Me! You? I wanted to share some of my favourite items that we have adopted to help reduce our single-use plastic intake. It also happens to be Plastic Free July! The perfect time to think about small swaps you can make that add up over time. Or completely redo your home with eco-friendly alternatives. Below, I’ll go into a range of options I love from cleaning to food storage and a host more.
WHAT WE PRIORITISED FIRST AT HOME
When we moved in together, Mario and I made a commitment to buy new reusable food storage containers. Over the years have made sure we do away with other household items that we could be more considered about. Beeswax wraps and reusable silicone lids replaced plastic film. We’ve bought storage jars for our bulk pantry goods. Shop at the Farmer’s Markets and bulk food stores, using our own reusable bags. Reusable straws, takeaway cutlery and bowls make restaurant leftovers and pre-packed lunches low waste. We eventually bought a Sodastream to eliminate the amount of sparkling water we would buy. Take reusable coffee cups when we go out and keep some in the car.
Most recently we swapped from the eco-friendly cleaning products in single-use bottles from the shops to glass refillable cleaning bottles. Simple swaps like refillable hand wash and cleaning bottles reduce the need for shopping and recycling. I hated how full our recycling bin would get. Now it’s been just that little bit more manageable.
WANT TO MAKE THE SWITCH BUT NEED A LITTLE MORE HELP?
Are you yet to make these swaps or wonder if it is worth bothering with? Trust me, it makes a difference. If we all do it? It can make a much bigger impact. Need a little more guidance? See some of the ideas below or check out the resources on the Plastic Free July website here. You can even take a quick quiz to work out what plastics you can change. I took the quiz, it’s very comprehensive.
So what is Plastic Free July you ask? Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. Will you be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics?
PLEASANT STATE – REUSABLE CLEANING BOTTLES & NON-TOXIC CLEANING PRODUCTS
Our latest swap has been these handy glass reusable cleaning spray bottles from the Australian brand Pleasant State. Even better than the bottle design (more on that in a sec), is the vegan, non-toxic cleaning products. The bottles are filled with 97% water and 3% cleaning power via their cleaning bars. These are, in my experience, more effective than supermarket led cleaning products.
All you need to do is add water and one of their highly effective, plant-based concentrated cleaning bars. You can order the refill bars in bulk too. 12 bars of the entire Pleasant State range should keep the average home cleaner and greener for 12 months! At $5.99 per bar (24% saving when bought in the 12 MIXED BAR REFILL PACK) with a money-back guarantee and free postage, there is little excuse not to try them.
The formulas are non-toxic & plant-based, cruelty-free & vegan. Ensuring zero waste, even the wrappers are home compostable. I love that the bottles are drop protected with glass and silicone. They are super easy to refill. And slim, so don’t take up too much storage space and come with their own cleaning cloths.
THE FULL HOUSE CLEANING KIT
The Full House Kit gives you the following and is a great way to set yourself up. If you haven’t tried anything like this, you will love it! I was so happy with them. Could not wait to share with you all!
The Homebody Multi-Purpose cleaner is an all-rounder, great for all surfaces especially your kitchen and benchtops. Plus, the cosmetic grade Australian lemon myrtle essential oil means it smells amazing.
The Tub Scrub Bathroom cleaner is a powerful scrub for any surface you might find in your bathroom. Including your toilet. This plant-based formula packs a punch! It’s effective on soap scum, limescale and any other unwelcome ‘guests’. It features cosmetic grade Australian peppermint and Spanish rosemary essential oils that have natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. So you know you’re getting a deep clean where it counts.
The Stay Glassy Glass & Window cleaner gives you the no-streak glass clean you’ve been looking for. Without the nasty chemicals and mysteriously bright blue liquid. It features cosmetic grade Australian mandarin and lemon myrtle essential oils, meaning it has antibacterial properties and smells fresh.
ONYA BREAD BAGS AND PRODUCE BAGS
When it comes to shopping, there are lots of great options now that help preserves fresh food for longer. Plus avoid plastic packaging. For our own part, we tend to shop from one of our local farmer’s markets. There are fresh fruit and veg stalls, bakeries, butchers and fishmongers and more. For bulk goods and pantry items, we visit our local dry goods store and stock up. A carry basket and some bigger shopping bags make it easier to transport.
I even have small foldable bags that I keep in my handbag if I go shop for fashion, books etc. It takes more planning but those little swaps add up over time quickly and reduce your household plastic intake. Here are some of my favourite produce bags from local company Onya. (Available online or at Kitchen Warehouse).
Traditional single-use plastic bags can also cause ‘sweating’ making the life cycle of your fresh produce much shorter. The open nature of the mesh bags (see below) allows your benchtop produce such as apples to ‘breathe’. This gives it a longer life compared to plastic bags. We have really noticed how much longer our produce has lasted than when we used plastic bags.
The reusable Bread Bag from Onya (a local Fremantle based company that ships globally). These are made from up to 10x recycled plastic drink bottles and is designed to replace single-use paper or plastic bread bags, plastic toggles and ties.
The Bread Bag is big, having been made to Australian Bakers Industry Standards. The bag dimensions were modelled off the size of single-use plastic bags normally given out at bakeries. So they truly have your bread covered! Due to the unique roll and clip closure, you can simply roll down the closure as the loaf is eaten. This ensures maximum freshness is maintained by reducing air movement around the bread.
Bread stored in one of these bread bags can last up to 3 months in frost-free freezers. Plus they won’t sustain freezer burn due to the unique double lining and airtight roll and lock closure. This was one thing we were particularly drawn to. We often freeze up to half a bread loaf from the farmer’s markets or local bakery.
Not pictured, because they were already in our car ready to go to the farmer’s markets, the Onya Produce Bags. The award-winning Reusable Produce Bags are an easy alternative for single-use plastic fruit and vegetable bags when shopping. Crafted from special rPet fabric, the produce bags are made from recycled plastic drink bottles.
Weighing in at only 10 grams per bag, the bags barely register on a scale. Each bag can hold up to 2 kilos of produce and feature a gusset and drawstring tie. The see-through mesh bags allow shop assistants to know exactly what is inside your produce bag at a glance. The bags let water/air flow through so you can use them to wash your produce. Then simply take your washed produce out and hang your bags to dry. They are so handy! We have a pack of 8 but you can also opt for a pack of 5.
The bags stuff down into a pouch the size of your fist when not in use. You can attach it to a belt or bag by way of a strong carabiner clip. This is very handy when you are juggling a basket of heavy veggies at the farmer’s market!
POTTERY FOR THE PLANET CERAMIC BOWLS & COFFEE CUPS
Pottery for the Planet is an Australian company hand-making ceramics that make a difference. Their aim is to save over 10 million disposable coffee cups going into landfills each year. Pottery For The Planet exists to contribute to the Earth’s long healthy life, by eradicating single-use culture and plastic waste. More people and homes are switching from mass-produced items to something more personal. No two ceramic pieces are the same, every product is unique. Clay is one of the few natural resources which is being created faster than humans are using it. Thus making it one of the most sustainable materials on the planet.
Ceramic Travel Cup. I have had my 12oz pink ceramic takeaway coffee cup for well over a year now. Mario has this beautiful ‘Midnight on Mars’ rippled cup. The colours of each cup are stunning, the cups keep hot drinks warm and are easy to clean. They come with silicone lids that prevent spills too.
Ceramic Travel Bowl with Lid. We also have one of the ceramic travel bowls, which comes with a silicone lid too. They are perfect for taking food to work, picnics, or having takeaway meals put into when you order. Designed to stack, these ceramic serving bowls with a lid make picnic dates, group lunches, or shared meals super easy. This is a large size in ‘Desert Ochre’.
SILICONE LIDS & BEESWAX WRAPS
One location we go to all the time for kitchen items is Kitchen Warehouse. They offer great prices and a huge range overall. To be fair, they are also a five-minute drive from our apartment. They also have a large range of storage and reusable solutions. Alternatively, Amazon can be a good resource too.
Swapping out plastic wrap to preserve food for beeswax wraps and silicone lids was one of the best decisions. So too were storage bags that can be used for everything, from fresh, dry to frozen. Some of our favourites are pictured below, but essentially finding what works for you will depend on your needs. We ended up getting extra storage bags quickly as we used them all the time. Beeswax tends to degrade over time. You can iron them to make them more sticky and tactile again or replace them when they are done. Making some is a fun activity too. I won’t share individual brands here because there are so many options available.
STORAGE BAGS & REUSABLE STRAWS
These Davis & Waddell Ecopocket storage bags are so so good we bought more a week later. They come in packs, we ended up with two sets of the 6 piece assorted size packs. In truth, I could add more. Particularly of the larger sized pockets as I use them most as freezer bags.
I tend to freeze bananas, avocado and mango to pop in my smoothies and these are excellent for that. Also, I often buy too much kale or spinach so I blanch them and pop them in these pockets in the freezer too. They are also great in smoothies but I add them to soups, stews and other veggie dishes too. The pockets are handy for snacks if you are on the go-to portion out nuts, seeds and dried fruit. We store cut lemons or limes in them in the fridge and the medium size is perfect for a half avocado. You don’t end up with brown avocado!
Even leftover crackers are stored perfectly in these without going stale. Honestly, they are a top buy and much better than disposable ziplock bags.
As for reusable straws? We’ve had a set for years and they are amazing. Carry one set in the car for on the go, or in your handbag. That way when you are out and you can easily avoid plastic or paper straw waste all the time. Bonus, taking a set of reusable cutlery if you ever need it in the car or your handbag. And a water bottle, reusable bowls and thermos. Every little bit counts!
ALTERNATIVES FOR YOUR BATHROOM
Your bathroom is another place to consider when swapping to sustainable alternatives. Reusable hand soap dispensers reduce the plastic ones. You can switch to recycled toilet paper. Opt for bamboo shower mats and towels. Even washing your hair less often (I have so much hair and wash once a week) makes a difference. Try shampoo, conditioner and cleansing bars instead of containers. Swap out disposable cleansing pads for reusable ones. Adopt a metal reusable razor instead of disposable ones. Try a bamboo toothbrush. So many ideas! Below are some of my favourites.
Face Halo. – A reusable microfiber makeup remover that wipes away even heavy makeup, using only water. These are eco-friendly and non-toxic and removes makeup using just water. No need to use extra products. Face Halo can replace up to 500 makeup wipes, making it both an eco-friendly and money-saving alternative to traditional wipes. I also gift these as presents for Christmas all the time. They are so good!
Happy Human Foaming Hand Soap. We have a hand soap dispenser from Happy Human, which uses foaming hand wash sachets. The antibacterial formulation is enhanced with native tea tree essential oil fragrances. Bought in bulk the satches cost as low as $3 per refill. Use the code “BYESINGLEUSE” throughout July for 10% off. And 1% of sales will be donated to the Plastic Free July Foundation. Since launching in Feb 2021, Happy Human’s community has helped prevent 50,300 plastic bottles from entering the ocean.
WHY GOING PLASTIC FREE FOR YOUR PERIOD MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE
It’s estimated that each menstruator uses 11, 000-16 000 sanitary items (30 large wheelie bins or 140kg) in their lifetime. Crazy right? Absorbent sanitary pads are made from around 90% plastic and will take up to 500 years to break down. There was more plastic produced in the last 10 years than ever before in the history of plastic. Unbelievable! Personally, I am taking a little break from periods while I am pregnant. But I wanted to share some of these solutions all the same.
The majority of people will continue to use the same sanitary product that they were introduced to during early puberty. Luckily sustainability being incorporated into the Australian school syllabus is making a difference. The launch of SustainablePeriodProject.org which provides free sustainable sanitary education kits to schools is key in this. So the era of plastic periods is rapidly coming to an end.
ALTERNATIVES FOR PERIODS
Lunette Menstrual Cup. A menstrual cup is definitely the top pick for the most environmentally friendly and waste-free way to manage your period. Holding a mighty 20-30ml depending on the brand, they can be worn during sport and overnight, and last years. Best of all you only need one.
Modibodi period underwear. With the advancement in modern absorbent fabrics, there is now a whole range of period underpants to suit your flow. These fit and feel just like regular underpants but have a super-thin absorbent built-in liner. The liners can hold 1-3 tampons worth. Use with a menstrual cup. They last the same as your regular underwear (around 2-3 years). Friends of mine rave about these.
Biodegradable pads and tampons. Look and feel just like the conventional plastic-containing disposable pads and tampons, but are made of natural fibres. They decompose in around 6-12months in landfill which is much better than 500 years! They are now available in most supermarket chains and pharmacies. Personally, I’ve used the brand Tom Organic for years.
ALTERNATIVES FOR BABIES
The same company also make Tooshies by Tom, biodegradable nappies and wipes which I’ll be using initially with our newborn before I transition to reusable nappies. I’ll have to let you know how I get on with the reusable nappies when I have tried them out. When it comes to other baby gear, I’ve been doing my research on the most sustainable items. Again, I will touch base again later when I have the gear thing all sorted. If you have any recommendations for me, please drop them in the comments below. Missed my baby news? Catch up on the announcement here.
Oh and side note, for gifts, (baby showers, presents etc) we use recycled brown paper and string. It keeps presents looking chic for one. And we aren’t wasting money on paper or plastic wrap that will be thrown away straight away.
WHICH SUSTAINABLE SWAPS ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE FIRST?
When it comes to reusable items, it may feel like you are dishing out a lot of money upfront. I get it. Personally, I am very selective about where I spend my money on anything. But in particular, there is forever a joke that I am stingy when it comes to anything non-fashion or beauty-related. And it’s true. I don’t love wasting money on some things, but my hard-earned can’t all go toward my wardrobe! However, I have never regretted any of these swaps. Not only does everything last longer, reducing the need to shop, you feel more organised. Better still? It all adds up to make a difference.
If everyone gets on it, imagine how much landfill we can reduce. Imagine how much toxic plastic we can avoid. Is that something worth investing in? You know it. Putting our heads in the sand doesn’t cut it. We’ve learned how much we can do to avoid excess waste so it is up to us to take action. Even small ones. In turn, it is up to us to educate future generations to do the same. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read about all of these swaps. It means a lot to me. I am happy to have a platform like this blog to share with you.
So, which sustainable swaps will you make first? Got any products to recommend? Let us all know in the comments. Thank you again, we are in this together. Your choices make a world of difference. We have a few days left of Plastic Free July. But it acts merely as an example to follow all year round.
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