Want to know what the most sustainable way to live plastic free is? I’ll give you a clue, it won’t cost you a cent. The answer is something I talk about a lot, and that is to ‘use what you have already!’
By training yourself to use what you have already you build up valuable skills like creativity, innovation, initiative, resilience, and adaptability. You increase your general knowledge and learn to see ‘waste’ as a resource. You consume less, so you waste less. Your everyday decisions and actions become more sustainable in all parts of your life.
So I’ve listed nine common items used by plastic free living advocates that you might be tempted to buy, with a suggestion of what you could do instead.
Keep Cup or Mason Jar: Are you sure you don’t already have some sort of travel mug in a drawer somewhere? If not, why not reuse a jam jar? Consider sitting down to enjoy your drink rather than getting takeaway.
Stainless steel or glass water bottle: Water bottles tend to be given away by companies so I’m betting you have a water bottle already. It might be plastic but you should use it instead of single-use packaging. My husband reuses a large glass ginger beer bottle as his water bottle.
Cutlery kit: Use the cutlery you already have in your kitchen drawer and wrap it in a reusable napkin. If you don’t have napkins, you probably have old linen or clothing that can be made into some. If you want to get a bit fancier, my DIY Cutlery Holders tutorial has two options you can try.
Reusable straw: Use your lips.
Stainless steel or glass tubs: Reuse a container you had already, for example, takeaway tubs that you saved, Tupperware containers, or reused jars.
Reusable shopping bags: Make bags from old clothing and other pieces of fabric from around your home. There are lots of online tutorials to help you. To learn how to make your own bread bags visit my Waste Free Bread post.
Reusable produce bags: Again, look around the home for suitable materials like old curtains or saved citrus bags. Check out what I did with a body sponge in my post Ditch the Disposable Produce Bags.
Beeswax wraps and other food covers: Use plates on top of plates, containers, and tea towels. If you really want to try beeswax wraps and can get beeswax somewhere, try making your own with scrap material.
Brushes and sponges made from natural materials: Sure, these things are aesthetically pleasing but they can be really expensive and easily replaced by rags and even egg shell as an abrasive. You can even knit your own wash cloths from spare yarn.
For more frugal ways to reduce single-use plastic and waste, read Our Plastic Free, Zero Waste Family Home. If you really do find it impossible to use what you have already, I strongly urge you to seek secondhand items first.
Can you add anything to this list? Share it in the comments below, or let me know your thoughts. How many of these things have you done, or did you buy everything new?