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Ideas to help you use less plastic

It seems that the tide is finally beginning to turn against plastic. As the full realisation of what we are doing to our oceans begins to hit us, it’s time to look at the wealth of alternatives out there, which often actually work better (and look nicer) than their plastic counterparts.

I appreciate some of the suggestions here might be things you have already made part of your life, but if you are anything like me it’s always good to have a gentle reminder.


–  Buy in bulk – wherever you can, buy dry goods and spices in bulk. Save your old glass jars to refill with loose grains, lentils, nuts and seeds. If you can take them with you to the store and fill from there all the better.

–  Bottled water – I keep glass bottles too to fill with water from the tap which I then keep in the fridge to save running the tap if I want cold water to drink. I use a charcoal filter inside the bottle to make the water taste better.

–  Straws
– try straws actually made from straw (which is what they were named after in the first place) or stainless steel straws. Refuse plastic straws when out and about.

Buy unpacked fruit and veg – use little canvas bags, or clean totes to store vegetables in the fridge or freezer. This stops freezer burn and helps keeps veg moist.

Storage containers – Swap your plastic for glass storage containers or try some enamel storage pots, which can go straight from the oven into the fridge.

Replace cling film – use wax wraps instead. Health food stores and some grocery stores carry them and they are easy to find online. There are some great blogs with how to make your own, too, which is easy and cheaper. Use a clean damp tea towel to wrap things like pastry and dough while it rests.

Bowl covers – linen bowl covers are a great way to avoid cling film too.

Cleaning cloths – you can buy reusable cloths, which go in the washing machine rather than jay cloths and sponges. One made of natural fabrics and not plastic derived ones are obviously the ones to go for. Use wooden handled brushes for pans and veg scrubbing, I keep one for each.

– Make your own all-purpose spray.
I use an old spray bottle and make a kitchen spray with some boiled water 50ml of white vinegar, a couple of tablespoons of ecological washing up liquid (which you can refill at the store) and a few drops of essential oils which I switch up depending on the seasons.


–  Coffee cups – this is a very obvious one but use a reuseable coffee cup. Mine is made from old recycled coffee cups, but there are so many good options. I keep one in my handbag and one in my car, my new rule is if I don’t have it I don’t buy a coffee, it makes me remember it much more often.

Water bottles – I use a steel bottle for water instead of buying bottled water, an obvious but vital step we should all be taking. If you forget yours most coffee shops and restaurants will give you a glass full if you ask, even.

Grocery shopping – Lots of stores now let you bring your own containers to fill with loose veg or cheese from the deli counter or dry goods if they sell them in bulk.

Plastic cutlery – I try and avoid using this, if there is a choice I will eat in or there are lots of affordable wooden options, I keep a set of reusable wooden cutlery in my handbag and one in my car, pack your kitchen cutlery for picnics.

Homemade lunches will always be lower on plastic. If you get a daily lunch/dinner or breakfast, try to eat in for less packaging or better take your own in reuseable containers.


– Plastic free Hackney and Plastic free East Dulwich are both great local resources
– Positive News regularly report on plastic usage and what we’re doing to tackle the problem
– Plastic Fantastic on Radio 4 is a great listen
– Microplastics, a short film via Finisterre

Posted: 05.09.18 11 Comments


Posted by leonie at 7:24 on the 05.09.18

Any ideas/suggestions on where to buy little canvas bags for food storage from?

Posted by Lyn at 12:37 on the 14.09.18

Like Leonie, I’d like to know where to buy small canvas bags for keeping veg in the fridge.

Posted by Charlene at 1:07 on the 14.09.18

I really appreciate this. More ideas might be to write to your grocery store/MP calling for a ban on plastic bags, and to ask them to only have compostable bags for veg and fruit and to never package in styrofoam or plastic.

Posted by Naomi at 1:36 on the 14.09.18

We are trying to seriously reduce our single use disposable plastic. What I can’t find anywhere is cream in glass bottles, cheese unwrapped in plastic, and butter in paper. Maybe we should just go dairy free?! Any suggestions anyone?!

Posted by Marina at 7:58 on the 15.09.18

I was going to ask this too – small canvas bags and/or totes for storage? Also where can I get charcoal filters. I already use a glass bottle to fill from the tap

Posted by Anna at 7:55 on the 19.09.18

I usually use clean canvas totes for veg, or save any that clothes or gifts come in. Try these charcoal filters: https://charcoalpeople.co.uk/

Posted by Angharad at 7:30 on the 01.10.18

I use those charcoal filters, they’re great! I buy butter from the supermarket in paper/foil. It’s near all the other spreads. Cheese in paper is more expensive, but Morrisons have it. I can’t help with the cream though 🙂 You could make veg bags from baby muslins, I just cut squares out of old shirts and sew them together then use string or ribbon to tie them closed. put a couple of stitches on the ribbon to make sure it doesn’t get lost. Pretty and easy to wash.

Posted by Linda at 9:30 on the 03.10.18

Try Lakeland Limited for re-usable food storage bags

Posted by Madeleine at 10:23 on the 15.10.18

I am new to reading this site and I love it. I have been using glass jars for a couple of years and now buy washing powder in boxes again. Also have dispensed with liquid soap and am going for soap bars. Have yet to try washing my hair with soap but it is available. Will linen bowl covers work in the microwave as I have stopped using clingfilm.

Posted by Thea at 8:30 on the 15.10.18

If you already have plastic storage containers, it doesn’t make sense to swap to glass ones if you have to buy new – that’s just more consumption. I have plastic sandwich boxes I’ve been using for more than 20 years.

Posted by Kali at 6:50 on the 22.04.21

Thank you for this wonderful newsletter.
I am vegan and I try to be as mindful of the environment as possible.
Sometimes it can feel lonely and overwhelming to do the right thing.
It really is uplifting to see I am not alone and it gives me hope for our beautiful planet.

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