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My Plastic Free Week

plastic free reduce eco friendly

Did you know that 79% of plastic waste ever created by humankind still remains in our environment? This is due to the fact that over half of the plastic that we use on a day-to-day basis is used just once and then thrown away, where it takes between 500 to 1000 years to fully degrade. Plastic waste ends up polluting our earth and oceans, resulting in devastating effects on the land, water, animals, and us as humans too. Thankfully, the plastic reduction movement has been gathering more and more steam lately, with intiatives such as WWF's #EarthHour being instrumental in educating people about just how damaging plastic use is for our planet. WWF aren't the only organisation doing great things for encouraging us to think more about our environmental impact. Steamer Trading Cookshop are doing their bit by challenging people to go plastic-free for an entire week as part of their #ReduceAndReuseWithSteamer campaign. They kindly invited me to be a part of their sustainability drive and have sent me a whole host of products from their eco-friendly range to help me along the way. This post shares a series of tips based on my plastic free week experience, showing exactly how I put Steamer Trading Cookshop's products to good use. Keep scrolling to find out what I learned!

1) Save the planet and your pennies!

As I mentioned in my recent moneysaving post, buying lunch whilst you're out can turn into a massive drain on your finances, but did you know that one of the biggest offenders of single-use plastic waste is the takeaway food packaging that your lunch comes wrapped in! That Tesco meal deal sarnie isn't looking so appealing now, is it? Packing your own lunch up in my Joseph Joseph GoEat Lunchbox was a breeze over the course of the week, however. The three seperate compartments kept all of my food secure and fresh. A big perk of this particular lunchbox is that it folds down to half its original size when empty, meaning it won't take up loads of space in your bag either. Of course, if you're a salad muncher on the go such as myself, you may be tempted to grab a disposable plastic fork as let's face it, having your fork rattling around in the bottom of your bag all day isn't the most hygienic. With the Joseph Joseph GoEat Cutlery, this isn't a problem. The metal knife, fork, and spoon nestle together inside a handy silicone case - the perfect solution!

plastic free reduce lunchbox cutlery straw

2) Ditch single-use carrier bags

Back in 2015, the English government introduced a plastic bag levy, meaning that customers are charged 5p per plastic bag at the checkout of any large store. This was a revolutionary act, meaning that plastic bag use in the country dropped a whopping 85%! Alternatives come in the form of cloth tote bags, such as the adorable designs on offer from my favourite indie shop, Pastel Elixir! Armed with my gorgeous bag from their range, I had no problem avoiding carrier bags for my plastic-free week! Many big brands are cottoning on to consumers' interest in eco-friendly alternatives, which is fantastic. For example, in their 44 UK stores, Steamer Trading Cookshop are also doing their bit, handing out super-strong reusable carrier bags to their customers. These bags are not only fit for multiple uses but are also fully biodegradable, decomposing in just one year!

3) Switch to a reusable water bottle

We've all seen the images of beautiful beaches littered with plastic drinks bottles, most of them discarded after just one use. We all contribute towards this every time we buy a plastic bottle. These bottles aren't fantastic for your health either as they are thought to contaminate the water that they hold with tiny plastic particles. Ew. Finding this out made my switch to the metal Built Insulated Bottle Flask very easy. What I loved most about this flask is that it really fulfiled its promise of keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. I was very impressed when I put a cold drink into it in the evening and took a sip next morning to find it still cold! The lid is also super secure meaning no dodgy leaks in your bag. It's easy to love aesthetically too, I mean it is rose gold! What's not to love?!

plastic use reduce less water bottle

4) Stop sucking it

Anyone else love going out for cocktails? I'm partial to a cocktail or two or three at a local pub but when ordering, I always try to remember to ask for my drink to be served without a plastic straw. We use a straw for an average of just twenty minutes before they get consigned to the bin, which is an astonishingly quick lifespan for an item that will remain om the planet forever. We've all seen, or at least heard of, the shocking video where a plastic straw is removed from a poor sea turtle's nostril which is enough to convince anyone that these disposable items just aren't necessary. Very many pub venues these days are switching to paper straws which do decompose, but you can also purchase reusable metal straws for as little as 99p and take them with you when you're out and about if the no-straw life really isn't for you.

5) Keep it loose at the supermarket

One of my biggest challenges during my plastic free week was shopping. My local supermarket definitely isn't in the minority for its plastic policy - absolutely everything from bread to veggies is coated in protective plastic. I tried to do what I could by buying loose fruits and veggies, packing them up in paper bags where possible rather than the plastic alternatives. Something that I really need to get into the habit of doing is buying all of my vegetables fresh from the local farmer's market which takes place very regularly in Leicester city center. There I'll be able to cut the carbon footprint of my shop by buying local, as well as buying loose veggies which aren't coated in plastic. Plastic wrapped food is a necessity for some, for example those who are disabled who have a mobility impairment, but for those of us who can make this change, it's a great one to try!

reduce waste plastic use coffee cup  use less plastic coffee cup reusable

6) Counting the Cost-a to the environment

Bad coffee shop puns, anyone? Disposable coffee cups are no joke, however. Contrary to popular assumptions, single-use coffee cups are not normally recyclable, due to the plastic inside lining that makes them waterproof. Carrying a reusable travel mug is the perfect solution and with many coffee houses such as Pret A Manger now offering money off any hot drinks purchased with a reusable cup, there are benefits all around! I was kindly gifted a Stojo Collapsible Travel Mug which I thoroughly enjoyed testing out in my campus café. The mug pops out when it's ready for use and slots back together when you're finished, ideal for on the go. I was initially worried that the collapsible shell might make it a bit flimsy but I needn't have worried, this mug was the ideal solution. And it's made from recycled materials too!

7) Don't be silly, wrap your.... vegetables

Get your mind out of the gutter! We're talking food storage here, people. This week I took cling film and sandwich bags off my shopping list in favour of Beeswax Wrap. This nifty wrapping is entirely biodegradable, made by infusing organic cotton with beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. The antibacterial oils contained within the wrap are meant to keep your food fresher for longer and it certainly delivered on this promise. Since I can never eat an entire avocado in one go, I always keep the uneaten half in the fridge for the next day and in this wrap, it did not go as brown as usual from exposure to the air, which made me very happy! The wrap can be a little difficult to secure, but using a piece of string or just weighing your wrapped item down with something else works a treat. This product is obviously not vegan friendly due to the wax content but it is still a fantastic initiative - I'm sure that there will be plenty of vegan reusable wrapping coming our way in the future.

plastic reduce use environment

8) Do what you can with what you can't do without

Sometimes, plastic use is unavoidable. But instead of beating yourself up about it, try to reuse all of the plastic that you can in an effort to breathe a second life into it. For example, I've been collecting my old plastic hummus pots and washing them out, filling them with sequins and other bits and bobs in my craft drawer. It's handy to have all of these supplies readily to hand when I'm scrapbooking and it's a great way to reuse something that would otherwise just end up in landfill. 

9) Simple swaps

I'm all about making easy changes, so here are just a few more ideas for simple switches that you can make to reduce your plastic use that won't massively impact convenience or price!

  • Buy cloth based toys for your pets instead of plastic ones
  • Opt for rechargable batteries above those which are single-use
  • Look for convenience food items contained in cans or glass instead of plastic 
  • Choose laundry powder that comes in a cardboard box rather than the plastic bottles
  • Use matches instead of a plastic-encased lighter
  • Visit the deli counter at your supermarket and get your produce wrapped in paper
  • Got a sweet craving? Get your ice cream in a cone rather than a plastic tub
  • Purchase bar soap instead of liquid hand soap in plastic bottles
  • Get yourself a reusable razor where you only need to replace the head, subscriptions like Friction Free Shaving will be your saviour!
  • Switch your feminine hygiene products for reusable moon cups or cloth menstrual pads
  • Replace your plastic toothbrush with a wooden alternative.

What environmentally friendly changes have you been making in your life lately? Do let me know in the comments below! If you're tempted to invest in a few of the gorgeous products from Steamer Trading Cookshop that I've featured here, I have a 20% off code valid until 14th May: ABBEY20. Make sure you enter it at the checkout!

Until next time,

A x

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*The products mentioned in this post were kindly provided free of charge by Steamer Trading Cookshop