Easy Plastic-Free Swaps
When you start your journey of living sustainably. It can feel overwhelming, we are here to help make that journey easy. Our advice is to start small. When you need to replace something, whether it be a deodorant, your shampoo or a roll of clingfilm, make a pledge to replace it with something natural and plastic free. And I promise you, by switching to these products, you will not only be making a positive difference to this pale blue dot we call home, you will be giving your home & your body the love it deserves. Here’s our rundown of some of the easiest switches you can make:
1). Go natural with plastic-free skincare
One of my biggest fears when looking for natural, plastic-free products was changing my skincare routine. I know many of you reading this will agree that it takes many years to find the right products for your skin. But after waving a tearful farewell to our tried-and-trusted skincare friends, both Colette and I have found that our skin is so much healthier and more balanced since we began using no-nasty products on it.
Natural products are concentrated goodness without parabens or synthetic chemicals. Our favourite UK companies which tick every box when it comes to being natural, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and plastic-free are White Rabbit, Heavenly Organics, UpCircle Beauty, Purity Skincare, Vemel and Wild Sage & Co. Favourite product ever – White Rabbit’s Comfort Cleansing Balm with Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Lavender Essential Oils. It smells delicious, leaves your skin clean and moisturised, plus it comes in gorgeous bamboo packaging. What’s not to love.
2). Wax Wraps
The perfect replacement for clingfilm and foil, they come in all sizes. From ones big enough to wrap a loaf of bread in, to mini ones for sealing the top of a jar or bottle. Great for keeping sandwiches fresh, covering half a lemon, or wrapping leftover food.
They are one of the most useful things I have in my kitchen and are not only a lot more eco-friendly than single use plastic wrap, they are a darn sight prettier too. And they will save you money over time – look after them and they will last you for years. My favourites are GoodToBee’s Beeswax Wraps. Sustainable, biodegradable and made from 100% organic cotton.
3). Toothpaste & Toothbrushes
The next time you need a new toothbrush, try a bamboo one. They cost the same as the plastic versions but instead of taking 400 years to decompose, they are naturally biodegradable and can be home-composted. Plastic toothbrushes are a huge contributor to our plastic waste – over 264 million are thrown away every year in the UK and over a billion in the US alone. I love Truthbrushes which are made from sustainable bamboo and have colour-dipped ends. They also do a scaled-down Tiny Truthbrush for your little ones.
I also love Ben & Anna’s range of dental care. I’ve tried lots of natural toothpastes and struggled to find one I liked. Until I came across these. They taste just like regular toothpaste, leave your mouth feeling minty fresh and come packaged in a glass jar with a metal lid. Available in Sensitive, Charcoal, Whitening, Whitening Fluoride and Orange flavour with Fluoride, a handy bamboo spoon is also included. Their mouthwash is fantastic too.
4). Unpaper Towels
Households worldwide get through a staggering 6.6 million tonnes of disposable kitchen paper annually, most of which ends up in landfill. It takes 17 trees and 91,000 litres of water to produce just one tonne of kitchen paper–that’s 112 million trees and 600.6 billion litres of water every year. Gulp!
Unpaper Towels are a reusable, earth-friendly alternative to kitchen roll and paper towels. I hand-make our Vera-Bee Unpaper Towels, along with the rest of our Vera-Bee range, in our little studio. These are one of our best-selling products. They work better than paper towels, cost less in the not-so-long run, and they’re better for the environment. This is definitely one of my personal favourite swaps.
5). Soaps and Shampoos
This is such an easy switch to make. Swap plastic bottles of hand wash and body wash for soap. I always say to people “forget everything you thought about soaps”. Handmade 100% natural cold-pressed soaps are completely different. The main ingredients are coconut oil, avocado oil or rapeseed oil. Most commercial soaps take out the glycerine that occurs naturally in the soap making process so they can sell it or use in other skincare products. But it’s a natural humectant – it locks moisture in. So, if you have used a soap bar in the past and felt your skin was dry, I encourage you to try a handmade cold-pressed soap.
There are so many gorgeous ones available which use essential oils and natural ingredients, so you can choose your favourite depending on the time of day, how you are feeling or what your skin needs. I particularly love those by The Soap People, Wild Sage & Co, Friendly Soap and Our Tiny Bees. They are all Cruelty-Free, Vegan, 100% Natural and Palm-oil free.
Replacing your bottles of shampoo and conditioner with bars is another simple change. We stock pH balanced shampoo bars, so if you have struggled with transitioning to a shampoo bar look no further. They even work in hard water areas. You will not get any sticky or tacky residue left just soft, supple hair! I use a couple of different ones depending how my hair is feeling but my absolute favourites are Beauty Kubes, Bean and Bee and KIND2 which smell delicious, and leave my hair so soft and healthy-looking, I don’t even need a conditioner. They lather up as well as any commercial shampoo but without the nasties.
One of the other great benefits of shampoo and soap bars is they are so easy for travel – simply pop what you need into a soap saver tin or wrap in a beeswax wrap. If you are taking on a flight they do not need to be declared as liquids and they are lightweight.
Switching to a reusable metal razor will drastically reduce your plastic waste over your lifetime. Millions of plastic razors, razor heads and their plastic packaging find their way to landfills and our oceans every year and take hundreds of years to decompose. A metal safety razor will last you for years and because the blades are made of stainless steel, you can recycle them. You can also recycle the complete razor once its shaving days are over.
Not only that but they will give you a much closer and cleaner shave and shave (sorry!) you money. A pack of 5 blades is around £2. For most women a blade will last at least a month and for men shaving every day, a blade will last the week (if not more depending on the coarseness of hair). So that’s under £2 a month! The fact that they look gorgeous doesn’t hurt either. We even have stainless steel razor blade disposal tins so you can recycle your blades.
Most regular deodorants contain an obscene amount of chemicals. And because most of their poor-grade plastic housing cannot be recycled, they create a lot of waste.
There are quite a few natural deodorants on the market and Vera-Bee have tried and tested loads to find one that really works – mainly on Colette’s excessively sweaty husband (sorry, Joseph). You won’t find better than the earth conscious range. These use Sodium Bicarbonate which neutralises the smell caused by the bacteria that love to live in your armpits. Coconut Oil and Shea Butter soothe and moisturise while Arrowroot helps to keep you dry. They come in a range of different scents but, if you need extra protection or you are swapping from a commercial deodorant try the Peppermint & Spearmint extra strength or the Lavender and Tea Tree. If you are sensitive to bicarbonate of Soda we also stock bicarb free deodorants.
8). Cotton Pads
I used to go through bags of disposable cotton pads. Not only do these mainly come in single-use plastic packaging, they are not recyclable and end up in landfill. Cotton is one of the world’s “dirtiest” crops. It requires huge amounts of some seriously potent insecticides which pollute rivers, damage local wildlife and impact the ecosystem. And all for less than 5 minutes use.
So, making the move to washable, reusable pads makes a big difference. Unlike cotton pads, these tough little things won’t fall apart or leave bits in your eyes. They are available from lots of different sites but we make our own range using the softest brushed cotton, so they are as gentle on your skin as a bunny’s tail.
9). Dish Washing
Finally, there are lots of easy changes you can make in the kitchen to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals and microplastics which are washed down your sink and into the waterways where it can cause harm to marine and wildlife. Microplastics cannot be seen by the naked eye but regular sponges (like the common green and yellow ones) are made from plastic and small amounts break off every time you use them. This is also true for dish brushes with plastic/synthetic bristles.
Try replacing your normal dish-washing liquid with a dish washing soap bar and your regular sponge for a washable, reusable one (I love Rowan Stillwater’s Unsponges). Plastic-free dish brushes are another great swap – coconut husks make a great sustainable plastic-free alternative as well as those with plant-based bristles.
Save the planet and a little money…
So, there you have it. My round up of the easiest plastic-free swaps you can make. By making a few simple choices, you can make a big difference. In addition to the amount of waste I produce being drastically reduced, because a lot of these products are designed to be washed and reused, I’ve noticed that my weekly shopping bill has gone down too. It really is a case of buy better, buy less. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
If you have any questions at all, please get in contact with Colette and me here. Or you can comment below. We both love hearing from you and we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have. And if you have any tips or suggestions to share, we’d love to hear them too.
Thank you for reading.
Let’s all bee perfectly imperfect together.