food in plastic packaging

How to go plastic-free and save money

author: Adele Kitchen

By Adele Kitchen

As we know, plastic is terrible for the environment and sealife. According to National Geographic, by 2040 the amount of plastic that will end up in the ocean per year could triple - unless changes are made.

Find out how you can do your bit to reduce your plastic usage and save yourself money at the same time.

Plastic-free food shopping 

With all of the plastic wrappers and boxes you’re faced with in supermarkets, it’s hard to imagine doing a plastic-free food shop. But by being a bit savvier, plastic-free food shopping is achievable and it’s likely to save you money in the long run.

Go to farmers' markets

Instead of shopping at your local supermarket, try shopping at your local farmers’ market. One survey of London markets found that you get better value for money too – saving up to a third of the price compared to local supermarkets.

It's also a good way to reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, when you buy food from the market, it usually comes as loose produce rather than pre-packed goods. This means you can take it home in your own reusable containers.

Grow your own

An even better alternative is to grow your own fruit, veg, and herbs at home. If you're not sure where to start, there's plenty of information online.

You could try YouTube channels like LoveTheGarden and Vegan Organic Network, which offer useful tips and tutorials. Or you could head to the RHS website, which has a handy calendar, showing you which months certain gardening jobs should be done.

Do batch cooking

Instead of buying ready meals or pre-packed lunches, you could consider batch cooking. Preparing a big meal and then freezing portions to be used later in the week can save you time and money - as well as plastic. Read on for our top batch-cooking tips.

Choose non-plastic alternatives

When you're in the shops, keep an eye out for food that's sold in packaging that isn't made out of plastic. For example, you could buy tinned food, frozen food packaged in cardboard boxes, and sauces and jams in glass bottles and jars. 

Sometimes (but not always), plastic alternatives are more expensive, but there are ways you can reuse items like jam jars so you feel you're getting more value for money. For example, you could turn a jar into a lantern, use it as a plant pot, a pen pot, or even a piggy bank.

You could also make other simple swaps, like using beeswax food wraps instead of clingfilm. Not only are they biodegradable, but they are reusable too, which saves you money in the long run.

Take reusable shopping bags

In May 2021, the fee for single-use shopping bags increased from 5p to 10p a pop. It might not sound much, but if, for example, you go through half a dozen bags a week, over the course of the year you'll spend over £30 on shopping bags. That's how much you could potentially save by taking reusable bags with you instead.

Plastic-free cleaning products 

There are loads of environmentally friendly ways to clean your house - without nasty chemicals and without breaking the bank. 

Try homemade cleaning hacks

You could consider making your own cleaning products at home, which will save you money on expensive cleaning products. For example, you could use:  

  • white vinegar and warm water in reusable spray bottles, to clean your windows, glassware and showerhead
  • a halved grapefruit to clean your bath (add some coarse salt for some extra scrub)
  • half a lemon to clean your chopping boards
  • baking soda mixed with water to clean your kitchen appliances

Read on for more homemade cleaning hacks.

Bulk buy 

If making your own products is not for you, you can still reduce your plastic consumption significantly, by buying cleaning products in bulk. Faith In Nature sells eco-friendly washing up liquid in 5 litre bottles for £25.99.

That might seem a lot to pay upfront, but it's around the equivalent of 11 regular bottles of washing up liquid, which would probably last you a whole year. Their large bottles are refillable, so you can use them over and over again, meaning less plastic will end up in landfill.

Swap to cardboard and paper packaging

Another good option is to go for diswasher powder or laundry detergent that's sold in cardboard boxes, which can be found at any supermarket.

Good Housekeeping have done some research into the best eco-friendly laundry detergents. One of their recommendations include Smol Non-Bio Capsules, which come with plastic-free packaging as part of a subscription service. Visit Smol's site to get a free trial.

When it comes to buying toilet paper, it's often wrapped in plastic, but there are alternatives out there from the likes of Who Give A Crap.

Plastic-free toiletries 

Bathroom products like shower gels and shampoos usually come in plastic packaging, but plastic-free toiletries are available for both men and women.

Research online 

If you have a look online, you’ll find plastic-free products such as:

  • bamboo toothbrushes and combs
  • mouthwash tablets
  • deodorant bars
  • shampoo and conditioner bars
  • traditional razors
  • reusable makeup wipes
  • cotton makeup pads

You may need to fork out more for these items upfront, but they tend to last longer than their plastic counterparts, which could save you money over time. For example, soap bars last longer than liquid soaps and body washes. Natural bars of soap are better for the environment too. Plus, a traditional razor will last you for years and you only need to replace the razor blades (which are recyclable). 

You can buy these products from many online stores such as Ethical Store, Plastic Freedom, Peace With The Wild and Wearth

Get creative

If you're into arts and crafts, this could be a good opportunity to get creative and make some homemade products. The blog, Moral Fibres, shows you how to make reusable cotton wool pads, with their free crochet pattern. Or try their homemade banana hair mask recipe using products you may already have at home: two bananas, 1tbsp of honey, coconut oil and olive oil.

Consider using menstrual cups

A pack of conventional sanitary towels is the equivalent of five bags worth of plastic. This is a personal choice, but you can save a lot of money and reduce wastage by using a menstrual cup instead. There are many options available, including the Mooncup for £20.95 or the Talula menstrual cup for £17 - both of which would last you for years.

Use refillable products

Everytime you buy a beauty product, you're not just paying for the product itself, you're also paying for the packaging. So you can save money and reduce plastic wastage by switching to refillable products.

You can find refillable and plastic-free makeup products at Glow Organic. Plus, a lot of well-known brands, like Aussie Miracle, Herbal Essences, Pantene, and Head and Shoulders are offering shampoo refills at high-street stores such as Superdrug and Boots.

Disclaimer: We don’t receive any financial gain from the companies mentioned above.

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.

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