16 Jan A Practical Guide to Plastic-Free Living
Wanting to go zero waste this year but feeling overwhelmed with where and how to start? I’ve identified a few critical zones in your life and home you can make a big impact in, section by section, paycheck to paycheck, with the products to support the switch.
In each section, there are obviously a host of alternative product options you can consider but for quick overview purposes, I’ve gone with the least expensive or my personal best recommendation for each necessity to give you a starting point idea of what some changes in lifestyle to plastic-free living would cost you.
You don’t have to be overwhelmed by going zero-waste. Instead, be realistic and empowered with this easy plastic-free plan. Then consider the collective long-term cost if you don’t.
This is essentially the mobile room you carry on your person 24/7. With a few small additions and changes, your handbag can help you cut plastic out at the point of purchase, so it’s not even entering your home.
Handkerchiefs – Take leaf out of your grandpa’s chivalrous book and go back to carrying some fabric hankies in your handbag. Tissues in little plastic sleeves might seem convenient, but are they convenient for the planet? Nope. Wash and reuse like an old-school eco-trooper. R52
Reusable straw – This basically becomes 2018’s mantra. Just say no to straws, in smoothies, in cocktails, in anything. And do so emphatically. One bamboo straw takes up minimal space in a handbag, it’s compostable down the line and the ocean will thank you. R15
Beeswax wraps – Can’t finish that last bit of pizza, wrap or padkos sarmie? Fold it up in a piece of beeswax wrap and snack on it later. No fuss and no polystyrene. R75
Tote – You can’t always plan when you’ll need to go to the shops. Sometimes you need milk or bunch of bananas for your smoothie tomorrow or you purchase a spontaneous gift at the market for someone. One small hemp tote that takes up little space gives you the awesome opportunity to say, “No thanks”, to that plastic bag. R85
Lip balm – Don’t go for those lip balms in a plastic tube. Get one in a little container that you can repurpose later for little knickknacks. There are other less expensive ones, but volume comparative and how long this one lasts – I’d recommend Oh-Lief lip balm any day of the week. R57
Reusable utensils – A quick bunny chow or soup from the market can be tasty. Eating off the once-off plastic spoon, not so tasty. Embrace casual and spontaneous eating with your own wooden on-hand cutlery.R30
This is probably the essential hub in your home for plastic products. Some things you can’t control, like milk coming in a plastic bottle (don’t we wish they still delivered them in glass bottles and wooden crates). But there are a host of areas, that, with a touch of mindfulness, you can easily cut out so much of your reliance on plastic.
Spaza covers – These fabric print stretch covers are ideal to cover your food serving bowls or the pasta bowl you just couldn’t finish the last few mouthfuls of. Cover it up, pop it in the fridge and reheat the next day. R345
Cleaning scourer – Those scrubbies and scourers don’t need to be plastic either. They may be less pricey but they have a limited life and don’t decompose after. And call me crazy, but I enjoy doing dishes with natural fibre scrubbers. R85
Glass storage containers – Duralex glass containers are great for pre-prepped veggies and keeping foods fresh and organised in a plastic-free fridge. From R74 for 1
Glass console jars – All your nuts, dry goods, spices and pantry items get a stylish home in these glass storage jars. And if you’re buying bulk you can cut a lot of plastics in this cycle altogether. R29 for 1
Countertop compost bin – A nice-looking, odour blocking bin on your counter not only provides a quick disposing spot for veggies scraps but it’s a plain site reminder of how much waste you’re reducing. R699
Straws for entertaining – I like having a light and inexpensive bamboo straw on my person at all times, but for serving cocktails or smoothies at gatherings, a few glass or stainless steel straws are really nice. One of their overlooked powers is in starting of conversations and slowly influencing friends to go plastic-free too. R340
Cast iron cookware – Non-stick Teflon coated pans come with their own dubious associations, so if you’d rather just avoid it all together, go with a decent castiron pot and pan. From R389
Yoghurt maker – If you’re making your own yoghurt then you’re not only getting a good hold on which probiotics go into your gut but you’re cutting out all those many plastic tubs from the shops. R590
IN YOUR CAR
Your car, if you’re fortunate to own one, becomes a little like your lobby on wheels, and if it’s anything like mine, also contains additional pairs of shoes and a cozzie and towel for unplanned adventure. Here are a few other things you can consider adding or replacing to enable a few more intentional plastic free lifestyle choices.
Air freshener – I grew up with bags of Staysoft rolling around under front seats of our car. However, this essential oil aroma diffuser does away with those and the hanging Christmas trees on your rearview mirror. As a non-essential item, it’s just a nice way to ensure your vehicle stays nice smelling in the long term. R510
Shopping bags – For the more regular or bigger shops, it’s nice to have one or two larger and sturdier bags living in your car. R539
Produce bags – Fresh bread or fruits and veggies from the market don’t need to be ferried home in thin plastic sleeves. A few cotton produce bags help you cut down on the packaging you’re bringing home. R200
Glass containers – In case you feel like picking up some takeaways on the way home, a ready-and-waiting Duralex glass container with a lid will keep your to-go lunch safe, warm. R74
Water bottle – Stay hydrated with intention and never have to buy a plastic water bottle from the garage again.
Reusable coffee cup or flask – Buying hot drinks on the go is another effortless place you can cut your footprint to landfill waste by helping to #stopthebillion.
IN YOUR BATHROOM
Makeup removers – Say your goodbyes to rounds of cotton in plastic tube sleeves. With one jute scrubbie or a magic mitt, your makeup removing waste is over. R145
Toothbrush – The average person goes through about 156 toothbrushes in their lifetime. Swop to a bamboo toothbrush and all that impact can rather be composted. R49
Loofah – Those lumo coloured floofy loofahs you love to lather yourself with are just coiled up pieces of nylon that end up being quite wasteful. Not so self-loving for you or the earth’s skin. Switch to a plant fibre loofah instead and feed it to the worms when you’re done with it. R 45
Sanitary products – Want your feminine cycle to remain truly discreet? Keep the disposables out of your solution and switch to a reusable menstrual cup for a decision you will never regret. R225
Bar soap – You can be squeaky clean without adding a bottle to your bin at the end of the month. Fragrant, natural bar soaps that don’t come packaged in plastic are where it’s at. R25
Make good choices, people. You can only do your bit to save the planet while there is a planet left to save.