Easy Alternatives to Plastic Products at Home
Updated: Jan 25
It’s the end of July. Have you heard of Plastic Free July? It the time of the year during which people reflect on the vast amounts of single-use plastic products that they use every day and that often end up polluting our streets, oceans, forests, islands, well everywhere.
Start making some small and easy changes first!
We have been wanting to reduce the crazy amount of single-use plastics in our lives for a long time but you know how it is. Life is already super busy and the last thing we have is time to stop and just think...
And then came Covid-19 and with it self-quarantine. We stopped rushing from one place to another and spent 24/7 at home for several months. Lots of time to fulfill that new-years resolution and get started. Over time, we successfully made some changes. This month, we intensified our efforts a little and in this article, we want to share with you our easy tips and show you how easy it is.
Trying to reduce the use of single-use plastics in your home may seem overwhelming at first because you need to make changes to your already busy lives.
Where to begin?
What difference does it make?
What if there is no good plastic-free alternative?
The answers to these questions are...
Start with small changes that do not require major adjustments.
Every little bit counts.
It is ok to use some plastic products.
In the end, it is all about awareness and reduction. Think about every single-use plastic item that you don’t throw away in the process. Each item that you manage to replace by a more sustainable option is one item less that gets discarded into the landfills or worse the environment.
Also, it is a process.
We have been reducing the amount of single used plastic for the past seven months and we are still working on it. Make little changes every day, eventually, they become habits and you can turn your attention to another part of your life, where you can reduce single-use plastic.
Start by looking at different areas in your house or items that you use every day. After you identified the areas with the highest number of single-use plastic, begin searching for alternatives there. Step by step.
Here are easy ways to switch to plastic-free alternatives!
We all have some reusable bags lying around somewhere at home. By using those at the supermarket, you can ditch countless single-use bags from the store. Additionally, for fruits and vegetables, we use reusable fruit and vegetable bags. They help us to group different items easily and make it convenient for the cashier to weigh.
Another tip is to buy locally as much as possible. Hit the local farmers' markets at the weekends to get fresh products. It not only supports local businesses but also reduces the carbon footprint of the products you buy. In our case for example, why should we buy tomatoes from the Netherlands, if Malaysia produces them too?
Think about how many plastic bottles you can save each year with this? Every bit counts. This alone makes a huge impact.
For movie night, we like to eat some snacks. Our personal go-to's are chips, maybe ice cream, nuts, and chocolate. We can buy nuts and chocolates at our local zero-waste store and we make the ice cream, granola, and chips at home.
It’s surprisingly easy to make, and often tastes better!
Give it a try.
In the Bathroom
Instead of buying shampoo in single-use plastic containers, we have switched to shampoo bars.
While Navvin sticks to what he knows and that is ok, I don’t like using commercial deodorants anymore simply because I prefer using a product with all-natural ingredients. I was positively surprised when I found out that there are plenty of sustainable all-natural alternatives out there.
Currently, I am using a deodorant that I actually made myself. I bought the ingredients in a zero-waste store and mixed them at home in a matter of minutes.
Another option would be to buy deodorant in a zero-waste store. They often sell solid deodorants made of natural ingredients that you can simply rub under your arms.
Stainless Steel Razor
Consider switching to a stainless-steel safety razor. While the price of the razor itself may seem daunting at first but the blades are cheap.
Bamboo Cotton Swabs
I like wearing a little bit of make-up every day. It simply makes me feel better. To remove the make-up in the evening, I switched to a plastic-free facial cleansing routine. Instead of using commercial wipes, I am now using washable cotton ones.
Additionally, instead of the cleanser from the drug store, I am now using a make-up remover made out of 100% coconut oil. It works so well and the bottle is refillable.
reusable silicone stretch lids
This is a bit of an uncomfortable topic. Let’s talk about it quickly gals. I recently discovered menstrual cups. While I was skeptical at first, they actually work really well and you can reuse them for years.
You can easily wear them between a few hours to a half-day. Then empty them when needed. They are easy to clean and then they are ready to use again immediately.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy to use, comfortable to wear and clean they are.
Another option is to wear reusable pads during your period. Once used, just wash them in the washing mashing at the highest temperature and they are good to go again.
For the ladies who prefer tampons, there are plastic-free options out there.
In the Kitchen
Forget the single-use plastic baggies, these silicone ones are made to be used time and time again. They are dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe and come in a variety of colors and sizes.
Consider using trash bags that are biodegradable. Made from plant materials, they are certified compostable and come in a variety of sizes.
Leftovers & Food Storage
There are so many great alternatives to single-use plastic bags. We like to use reusable silicone stretch lids. Safe for dishwasher, microwave, and freezer, the lids come in different sizes and can stretch a couple of inches.
My personal favourite at the moment, however are my newly acquired Bee Wax Food Wraps. They look cute with their locally made Batik design and can be used for over year. Simply wrap it around your bowl and let the heat from your hands do the rest.
For things like rice, sugar, nuts, oats, pasta, beans, and lentils, we bought glass containers, which we can refill in one of the zero-waste stores in the city.
We are happy to report that in Kuala Lumpur, more and more shops are swopping single-use straws for metal ones. We have also seen straws made out of bamboo or paper. Any of these solutions is a step in the right direction.
Not all shops however have made that step yet.
Whenever we are at one of those shops, we specifically ask for NO STRAW or we bring our own stainless steel straws.
Think about how long you will use that water bottle from the convenience store? 15 - 30 min? Now guess how long that bottle will need to decompose when it is not correctly disposed.
The correct answer is 450 years!
We have two adorable furry friends running around at home. We love them to pieces but they need to eat and poop. For the latter, we found a great sustainable solution. The brand 'Green Kat' is using recycled newspapers. The litter pellets are completely natural with no chemicals or additives and they are highly absorbent for fluids and odor. Our cats love it.
When we clean their toilet, we wrap the inside of the litter box in an old newspaper and then throw it out.
Like it or not, face masks are here to stay. Might as well make them fashionable and sustainable. Get one made of cloth with a filter so that it's safe. When needed, just wash them quickly.