Plastic Free July 2020: Reducing Your Wasteline Around the House

I’m starting the week with just a few more bits and bobs that can help you reduce your wasteline (and probably save a few bob in the long run!).

Cleaning supplies

I hate the process of cleaning (does anyone actually like cleaning?), but I do like the results of it. I have always been fond of bicarb and vinegar as cleaning products, but cleaning wipes were so convenient that has taken me a lot longer to wean myself from them than I care to admit. However, I switched to eCloths last year and they seem to do the job: just add water and a bit of elbow grease, and things sparkle. I have been impressed with them so far, and their 300-wash guarantee is encouraging.

They’re not cheap but the money saved not buying disposables, spray bottles, and other chemicals should add up quickly. There are also cheaper brands that are likely just as good. Regarding bicarb and vinegar, Wilko’s does bicarbonate of soda in a cardboard box (it can be found with their cleaning supplies so I wouldn’t use it for baking) and many refill shops do white vinegar.

If you’re looking for other cleaning supplies, check with your nearest zero-waste or plastic-free shop: many have a range of eco-friendly refillable cleaning liquids from hand soap and laundry detergents to toilet cleaners and other disinfectants.

Laundry (1)

We first changed from capsules to laundry powder in a cardboard box then switched to liquid detergent in refillable containers. I haven’t noticed any difference in cleanliness, so it must do the job! Most zero waste shops should have this available, and the brand Fill can be found at a lot of local farm shops.

Laundry (2)

I mentioned the problem of microplastics in the wash last week, and this is an issue that products like the Guppyfriend and Cora Ball promise to solve by trapping microfibres. After a trip to the wonderful Hampstead Norreys Village Shop last year, we’ve been using Hairy Ballz, which are supposed to do the same thing. I haven’t seen any research that compares the effectiveness of these methods, but may look into it for Plastic Free July 2021!

Office supplies

I typically save large padded envelopes to be reused when I ship things, and some places offer ink cartridge refills, depending on the type of printer cartridge you use. Some charities will collect old ink cartridges to recycle (they get a little money from it if the brand is right), and Stinky Ink used to recycle all ink cartridges, but this programme is currently on hold. It’s worth keeping an eye on their page though as I haven’t found any other place that recycles non-branded cartridges.

In the garden

Food scraps and garden waste get added to the composter and, since it’s been going 5+ years now, I get high-quality, peat-free compost. It’s been enough for the amount of gardening I do (i.e. not very much), and if you have the space in your garden, a composting area is a really beneficial addition.

For the birds

I’ve always tried to support my local wildlife, and the birds have been particularly entertaining this year. However, I tend to provide fatballs rather than seed as there’s less mess, but many brands produce them in plastic buckets. Twootz tend ship them without nets or plastic (occasionally they seem to substitute a different brand that comes in a plastic bag). You can get 300 for less than the equivalent of buying 50 at a time but you do need the storage space (or hungry birds).

If you want to check out my own Chippenham garden, swing by the MissElaineous blog for hedgehogs, badgers, and a less rubbish, more beautiful Britain.

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