Living a more sustainable and eco-friendly life means actively buying less stuff that eventually needs to be chucked in the bin. This includes the actual product as well as the packaging that it comes in as it’s important to consider both of these.
When I swap items for more eco-friendly options I try to consider the entire lifecycle of the item I’m buying so thinking about where the raw materials are sourced right through to the end of life throwing away point.
Here are 12 of the things I stopped buying as part of my eco friendly, sustainable and low waste lifestyle:
1. Shower Gel
Shower gel comes in a plastic bottle and often contains a lot of chemicals and preservatives that you can’t necessarily pronounce. Until recently most shower gels also contained parabens, so who knows what is lurking in that little plastic bottle.
Handmade bar soap is a good alternative for shower gel, it usually comes in cardboard packaging and uses fewer chemicals to produce. You can actually make bar soap in your kitchen at home if you’re brave enough!
One of my favourite brands are The Little Soap Company, but there are several local handmade soap companies to choose from if you do a bit of digging online.
2. Liquid Hand Soap
I loved fragrant liquid hand soaps and used to buy a bottle for each bathroom sink, cloakroom and the kitchen. However, I’ve also swapped liquid hand soap for handmade bar soaps. Add a lovely soap dish to keep the soap from going soggy and you’re good to go
Read my post about bar soap vs liquid soap if you’re concerned about bacteria that might breed on the soap.
3. Plastic Food Wrap
Plastic food wrap is single-use, rarely recycled and is very wasteful overall. It contributes to the marine plastic problem, is dangerous for animals and most likely leach chemicals into your food. Need I say more. I’ve swapped plastic food wrap for sustainable beeswax and vegan wax food wraps.
If you’re in the UK this company in Leicestershire makes a mean vegan wrap find them on Amazon.
4. Plastic Kitchen Sponges
Yes, those nasty little yellow or green sponges that most people use to do their washing up is made of plastic.
I have opted for a dish brush, but if you’re on the hunt for an alternative see our guide to eco friendly washing-up sponges.
5. High Volume Fashion
Fashion has always been a weakness but, having studied fashion and knowing what it takes to make good quality garments I’ve learned to have great respect for clothing and the people who produce them. I wouldn’t say that I ever bought something that I won’t wear.
My motto now is to buy from sustainable brands or second hand as much as possible, to choose with intention and always mix and match items that you can wear over and over again!
6. Pouf Bath Sponges
These little plastic loofahs were my favourite and it is all that I used for many years. We’ve now switched to sisal soap bags which are made from eco-friendly materials, is reusable and solves the hair on the soap problem quite effectively as each person in our house has their own soap and bag.
I love hummus or an egg on toast for breakfast, which means I bought at least one of those plastic hummus containers a week until I started to make it at home. You can use canned chickpeas or dried if you have time as that is even better.
Why not try our Tahini free Hummus recipe?
8. Plastic Single-use Water Bottles
Unless you’re living in a third world country where tap water isn’t safe to drink, there isn’t an excuse for buying plastic water bottles. Tap water is safe to drink in most of Europe, Australia, the USA and some parts of Africa.
If you like the feel of plastic, you can get a reusable one or even better opt for a stainless steel bottle from a brand like 24 bottles
9. Protein Bars and Breakfast Bars
In general, I’m always hungry, mainly because I love long-distance running, and protein or breakfast bars used to be a quick fix to the problem on a busy day. But these are usually full of sugar and comes in a foil-like plastic wrapping.
Now I opt for pre-packed snacks and lunches instead.
10. Basics range or economy supermarket veg
Veggies bought from the supermarket is often wrapped in plastic and sprayed with pesticides unless you are lucky enough to have a local organic supermarket. The basics or economy range is the worst offender.
We have been happy Riverford organic veg box subscription customers for a few years now. I find this to be cheaper and they reuse the cardboard box if you leave it out for the driver to collect. It’s a win-win all round. If we do need veg in addition to our regular order it becomes a bit more tricky, but choosing wisely in those instances or going to a local farm shop is our first point of call.
11. Paper Napkins
Reusable cloth napkins remind me of dining in a posh restaurant, so we have upgraded our homecooked dinner times by replacing paper napkins with cloth ones instead. They are so easy to clean and come in a range of colours to complement any dining room table. If you do replace yours, opt for organic natural fibres to make sure there are no microplastics that shed when you wash them.
12. Plastic Straws and Party Cups
Using plastic party cups and straws for kids or adults are so easy to do as they don’t break and you can just throw them in the bin, saving washing up time. But it’s better to get reusable options especially if you’re hosting kids parties due to the plastic waste problem. I always have a stash of kids cups etc for when my friends with children come to visit but have made sure that they are not the single-use variety.