In the past few years, a lot of us have realised that what we buy for our homes can have a serious impact on the environment, and the amount of single-use plastic in our houses can be huge! Data from Everyday Plastic Report suggests that the UK throws away 295 billion pieces of plastic a year, which would work at around 12 pieces per person per day.
We're shocked by that figure too!
In light of our efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste in our homes, we're bringing you a simple guide of swaps you can make towards a plastic-free home. Remember, when it comes to reducing plastic waste, every little helps - quitting plastic cold turkey is not really realistic yet, but a few small changes can make a big difference!
So here are some suggestions of how you can reduce plastic waste and take steps towards a plastic-free home, with a rating of hassle vs the making-a-difference factor.
1. Plastic-Free Hair Care
For our first plastic-free home swap, we've partnered with KinKind, who are committed to bringing you lovely-to-use shampoo and conditioner bars, with no plastic in sight! Having won the Indy Best Buy 2021 Award and the 2020 Pure Beauty Global Award for Best New Sustainable Hair Product, it's obvious that KinKind are making leaps and bounds into the plastic-free product world.
Hassle Factor - 1/10: KinKind offer a subscription and delivery service that comes right through your letterbox, easy!
Making-A-Difference Factor - 10/10: Their shampoo and conditioner bars last up to 50 washes, saving 2 x 250ml bottles every time. Since their launch in December 2019, they've saved 184,028 bottles from ending up in our landfills or oceans.
2. Plastic-Free Tea?
This one might shock you, but most tea bags actually contain plastic, making them not compostable. A study from the University of East Anglia found that Twining's, Tetley and Yorkshire Tea tea bags all contain a high percentage of non-biodegradable plastic, meaning they'll be sticking around in our oceans and landfills for a while! While these companies have said they've got plastic-free bags in development, we've found a much less wasteful way of enjoying a cuppa is to use a tea infuser. This way, the only thing you throw away is the tea leaves, which are obviously compostable.
Hassle Factor - 4/10: We'll admit, it's a little extra effort to fill, use and wash your tea infuser than to use a tea bag. If you are going to stick to bags, search for 'plastic-free' on the box (hint, Pukka tea bags are 100% compostable!)
Making-A-Difference Factor - 9/10: The UK drinks over 100 million cups of tea a day, which is potentially 100 million pieces of plastic being thrown away daily. If even a portion of Brits switched to a tea infuser instead, the difference could be huge. Change the world one cuppa at a time!
3. Plastic-Free Laundry
You might have seen this one coming, but obviously we had to mention our plastic-free laundry and clothing care products!
Clothes Doctor detergents and specialist washes are all packaged in 100% aluminium bottles, which can be recycled infinitely in a closed loop system, with a compostable label too! Bursting with natural fragrances and essential oils, our detergents have scents that really linger, giving you a supercharged clean for your clothing while making your wardrobe smell amazing.
Hassle Factor - 1/10: Clothes Doctor products can be bought on subscription with the frequency of your choice and sent directly to your door. Plus, we've got a specialist kit for every laundry personality, from knitwear lovers to active busy-bodies, so everyone is covered!
Make-A-Difference Factor - 10/10: We believe that Clothes Doctor's ethos of garments being a friend for life encourages small changes that make a big difference - we encourage our customers to love their clothes rather than throwing them away, so that's fewer garments in landfill. When it comes to our aluminium bottles, 75% of all aluminium made since 1880 has been reused and recycled and is still in use, however, only 9% of plastic EVER made has been recycled. That stat speaks for itself!
4. Plastic-Free Bathroom Products
When you think about it, a lot of items that we use and throw away daily or weekly are plastic and will go straight to landfill. Bathroom products are particular offenders in this area - now obviously there are some products that you do have to chuck after one use, but you may not have considered switching these single-use items for plastic-free alternatives, so even though you're throwing them away, they won't live forever in our landfills and oceans!
"I swear by bamboo earbuds - they're just the same as plastic ones but obviously won't hang around on earth for thousands of years!" - Lulu, Clothes Doctor founder.
"I've swapped from disposable plastic razors, which I'd throw away every week to a reusable razor with changeable blades. Much less waste!" - Macey from Instagram.
Hassle Factor - 3/10: A razor with changeable blades does mean actually having to change the blades quite often, which can be fiddly and you obviously need to take your time to be careful not to cut yourself. However, if you're disposing of razors as often as Macey was, it still seems worth it to switch to a plastic-free alternative.
Make-A-Difference Factor - 9/10: According to Statista.com's poll, over 60 million razors were sold in the UK in 2017, with most of them ending up in landfills and thus creating microplastic pollution. Of course the difference it'll make on a personal scale will depend on how much you use these specific bathroom products. If, like Macey, you throw away razors regularly, a reusable one will make a lot of difference, but if you don't often use razors, it makes less of a difference. But like we say, every little helps.
5. Plastic-Free Fruit and Veg
Hilary, a friend and fan of Clothes Doctor, told us over on Instagram about her favourite plastic-free home swap.
"I used to buy the fresh food that came in plastic packaging - plastic on all my fruit and veg, bread, everything! Unfortunately, that's how most supermarkets work, but in one shop I found a reusable mesh fruit and veg bag. I thought, 'brilliant' and grabbed it immediately. Now I take that bag with me every time I shop to put my fresh produce in and it's reduced the amount of plastic I'm buying!" - Hilary.
Hassle Factor - 3/10: After having looked around supermarkets, it seems this kind of reusable produce bag is available in some, but not all shops, but you could always pick one up online - just need to remember to take it with you! Some products are still always packaged in plastic, so this won't solve all your supermarket shopping woes, but you can't deny it reduces the plastic waste!
Making-A-Difference Factor - 8/10: It can take up to 1000 years for plastic packaging to break down, and around 500 billion plastic packaging bags are used every year. Any steps we can take to reduce this, however small, will be effective!
6. Plastic-Free Plasters
Along the same lines as tea bags, we bet you've never even thought about how plasters aren't compostable! Both of the usual waterproof and fabric plaster designs contain plastic that'll take years to break down, and as we don't use plasters very often (thankfully) we hadn't even considered that they're another single-use plastic we throw away at home. One of our team here at Clothes Doctor has suggested bamboo plasters as a plastic-free home alternative, recommending the brand PATCH for their cruelty free, compostable and irritant-free plasters.
Hassle Factor - 2/10: Bamboo plasters are admittedly more hassle than normal plasters, as you can't yet just pick them up at the supermarket, but PATCH plasters are available to buy online quickly and easily.
Make-A-Difference Factor - 5/10: Many of the items we've suggested swaps for are every-day plastic products; we've given bamboo plasters a lower score here simply because of the frequency of use. Hopefully you're not going to have to use plasters very often, so switching from plastic to bamboo might not be making the biggest difference. However, one less piece of plastic in the ocean is still always a win!
A plastic-free home can be a tall order, but it's making a start with simple swaps that's the first step, and small changes can lead to big differences. We hope we've given you a little inspiration for some super easy plastic-free home swaps so you can live cleaner and greener.
Got any more sustainable swap suggestions? Let us know over on Instagram @clothesdoctoruk.
Shop our full range for a slice of laundry luxury every day (and don't expect to see any plastic!)
And enter our giveaway with KinKind, where you have the chance to win a KinKind Relax Beauty Gift Set of 6 Shampoo and Conditioner Bars, and a Clothes Doctor Cashmere Care Kit - good luck!