Reducing Plastic Waste at Home | HappyCleans

Posted on January 18th, 2022

Whilst we wait for Governments and Multi-National corporations to make the big changes that help to protect our planet, there are plenty of steps we can take at home to play our part in reducing plastic waste. Reducing how much plastic waste your household disposes of is easy, with a bit of thought and planning. In this blog, we look at 5 areas where you can act to cut your plastic waste significantly. 

Consider the Why?

Before we dive into tips to reduce your household plastic waste, first, let’s consider the why? Why is reducing plastic waste so important? Knowing the why, makes the logistics of what and how a lot easier. 

So, why reduce household plastic waste? 

A staggering 5 trillion pieces of plastic are floating in our oceans. 73 percent of beach litter is plastic, with shorelines littered with plastic bottles, food wrappers, polystyrene containers, and even sanitary products and filters from cigarette butts. The predictions are that by 2050, without rapid intervention, virtually every seabird species on the planet will be eating plastic. These statistics help us to gain a better sense of why it is important to reduce our household plastic waste. Reducing the amount of plastic, you dispose of ultimately helps to reduce the amount of plastic that makes it into our environment. Keeping on top of daily household chores can also reduce waste, as it will not build up and can be managed easily.

Recycle is Your Last Resort

It’s also worth bearing in mind that reducing your plastic waste may involve adopting a different mindset – one that sees recycling as the last resort in an arsenal of plastic-busting tools. Most local authorities now offer curbside recycling of plastics, and recycling of plastics is certainly one way to reduce plastic going to landfills. However, if you are serious about reducing your plastic waste, then it needs to be your last resort. Recycling still uses precious resources in the collection and processing of plastic. The mantra of the 4 R’s is helpful here:  

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse 
  • Recycle

In other words, look to refuse to purchase plastic items or support businesses that are not offering viable options to plastic packaging. Reduce the amount of plastic used by your household and, for any plastic items you do have – reuse and repurpose whenever possible. So, steer clear of companies that offer free plastic merchandise. Reduce your reliance on plastic bags by always using a reusable cloth alternative. 

Reuse plastic containers as seed trays in your greenhouse, or as storage boxes for odds and ends. These are all preferable options to recycling. The additional tips for reducing your household plastic waste within the remainder of this blog focus on refuse, reduce, and reuse. We are looking to find alternatives that tackle plastic waste before it makes it to any garbage container – whether it’s heading to a landfill or recycling. 

So – let’s dive into the 5 different household areas where there are plastic reductions to be made.  

#1 Shopping Smart to Reduce Plastic

  • Be prepared to refuse any form of single-use or plastic bag that stores offer by having to hand reusable grocery bags.  
  • Identify stores in your local community that offers paper bags. For example, many market stalls use plain brown paper bags to package fruits and vegetables. Paper bags – particularly when they are unbleached – can be reused and then easily composted as part of your home composting process.  

Look to purchase dried and long-life products in bulk. One large bag of rice or dried lentils uses less overall packaging than the equivalent weight of product packaged in, say, 5 or 6 smaller packs. 

  • You’ll save money too! 
  • Avoid processed food and cook from scratch whenever you can. Processed food and ready meals often come in significant amounts of plastic-based packaging. Cooking homemade is a plastic reduction tip that is also likely to benefit your family’s health and budget.  
  • Refuse to purchase Saran Wrap – there are plenty of plastic-free alternatives for storing leftovers. Consider reusable beeswax covers as an option. These can be purchased from local suppliers, or homemade, following instructions easily available on the Internet.  

#2 Keeping a Clean, Green, Conscience

Traditional cleaning products often involve significant amounts of plastic packaging. 

  • Look for plastic-free alternatives and streamline the number of cleaning products in your cupboard to reduce your plastic waste. Castille Soap is a great all-rounder cleaning product – the one bottle of product can be used for a wide range of cleaning jobs. Source dishwasher tablets that are plastic-free. Always steer clear of one-use disposable cleaning wipes which often contain plastics.  
  • There are plenty of green-cleaning homemade recipes that rely on vinegar, lemon juice, and bicarbonate of soda to clean – all of which can be purchased in plastic-free packaging. Search online for a plethora of non-toxic green cleaning recipes.   
  • If you are having a home clear out and declutter, look to donate usable items to thrift or charity stores.  

#3 Laundry Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste

  • Your laundry routine is another area where there is a range of plastic-free switches to be made. Avoid liquid laundry detergent packaged in plastic bottles. Instead, consider cardboard boxed laundry powder.  
  • Soap Nuts are another eco-friendly option. A natural product that grows on trees, Soap Nuts contain Saponin which produces a soaping effect, making them a fantastic compostable and plastic-free laundry detergent. 

Avoid dryer sheets that can contain plastics. There are reusable alternatives on the market. 

  • Alternatively, look to line dry whenever possible to further reduce your impact on the planet.  
  • Following a simple laundry checklist when cleaning clothes can also save time, therefore saving water as well.

#4 Reduce Your Plastic Use with Personal Hygiene Products

  • Ditch your reliance on female sanitary products that include plastics. A standard pack of sanitary towels can contain the equivalent amount of plastic as 4 carrier bags. Opt for plastic-free and reusable alternatives, such as Mooncups and period pants.  
  • Avoid plastic packaging for shampoo, hand soap and body wash by choosing soap block alternatives. Local markets are a great place to source artisan soap bar products. There are also plenty of online companies now selling soap bar alternatives to liquid soaps.  

#5 Keep Celebrations Plastic Free

Birthday parties and other get-togethers can be a plastic-free zone with some pre-thought. 

  • Paper plates and cups, and tablecloths can be used for large gatherings, and can often be composted. A finger buffet menu means no need to use plastic cutlery.  
  • Consider hiring glasses or crockery and table linens as a reusable option when catering to large numbers. 
  • When it comes to receiving gifts, avoid plastic products, and plastic packaging by considering asking for donations to a charity of your choosing. When giving gifts, consider experiences over-and-above items – movie tickets, or a day pass to a local attraction are plastic-free alternatives.