We all want to live greener and more environmentally-friendly lifestyles, but sometimes life just gets in the way and prevents us from doing our best to help the planet. It’s so easy to buy a coffee from Starbucks and throw away the cup, or run into the supermarket and buy a single-use plastic carrier bag rather than bring our own tote, but over time, these habits can generate significant amounts of plastic waste that will pollute the environment for decades to come. The good news, though, is that you can make some small changes that have a lasting impact on the world around you. Below, we’ve put together 20 hacks that you should try…
Buy reusable wax wraps
Forget plastic sandwich bags and cling film - reusable wax wraps are made from organic cotton and either beeswax or plant-based wax and can be reused hundreds of times to store food securely. Not only do they look great, but they help you cut out unnecessary waste.
Switch to glass jars
If you love to be organised and want to reduce the amount of food you throw away, then buy some glass storage jars for your leftovers. Whether it’s rice, pasta, seeds, shavings, powders or sauces, there are tonnes of ways you can hold on to ingredients. The best part is, you can take them with you when you go shopping, reducing your food plastic waste in the process.
Add some cotton produce bags to your cupboard
Pick up some cotton produce bags on Amazon to store fresh foods like potatoes, avocados, and oranges. Whether you shop in your local supermarket or in local grocery stores, it’s easy to resort to plastic bags for your fruits and vegetables, but cotton produce bags eliminate the need for such wasteful plastic or paper bags, and they can be reused for years to come.
If you take a packed lunch to work, the chances are that you’ve got a plastic container in your backpack. And those containers and boxes are great, but they perform poorly if you take in pasta and other dishes that stain. Over time, plastic containers scratch and look dirty, which makes you more likely to replace them. Stainless steel containers and lunchboxes, on the other hand, look great, they’re easy to clean, will last for years, and they’re BPA-free.
Replace cleaning equipment
Replace your dishwashing equipment to compostable, durable utensils. Yellow sponges are fine, but they smell after a while and need to be replaced often. Oh - and those sponges are made from petroleum and are 0% biodegradable, so opting for washing-up pads made from the loofah plant is a sensible choice. Granted, they’re more expensive, but they’re flexible, non-toxic, hygienic, compostable, they last a lot longer than a standard plastic wash sponge.
Go reusable with straws
If you like to prepare cocktails at home, then you’ll probably have a cupboard full of plastic straws that are bad for the environment. Reusable straws made from bamboo, glass or steel are a sensible replacement - and they’ll last for a long time if you look after them properly.
Get pasta your stirrers
Rather than buying disposable plastic stirrers, switch to fettuccine, which means fewer plastic and wooden stirrers end up in landfills. Don’t worry - your latte won’t taste of pasta, provided you stir quickly. Oh, and add the pasta sticks to your composter when you’re done.
Learn to love tap water
Do you really need bottled water, or could you make do with tap? Start introducing more tap water to your diet, and if you don’t like it, add some cordial or buy an eco-friendly water filter.
Refill bottles with bulk shampoo
Rather than buying shampoos, conditioners and body washes from the supermarket, buy in bulk and refill bottles to reduce plastic waste. One large bulk shampoo purchase will not only save money but reduce waste over time, and you can recycle or reuse your large container.
Exfoliate with baking soda
Stop wasting money on expensive exfoliating products and creams, and go old fashioned with some baking soda instead. Multi-use products like baking soda can help to eliminate plastic waste and stop you from drying or breaking out - synthetic products are bad for you!
Buy a stainless steel nail file
How many nail files have you purchased over the years, only for them to go in the bin after a single use? Switch to a stainless steel version that lasts for years and cleans in seconds.
Use baking soda and vinegar as drain cleaner
Stop spending money on toxic cleaning products that damage the environment, and switch to natural alternatives. Baking soda and vinegar can be used as an effective drain cleaner.
Stop shopping to avoid compulsive buys
If you love to spend money on clothes and accessories, limit the number of trips you take to the shopping mall. If you’re serious about reducing waste, put a block on fashion websites for a month or two. You’ll make do with what’s in your wardrobe and save a tonne of money!
Keep a handkerchief in your purse
Cut up old dresses and tees to create handkerchiefs for your purse or handbag. That way, you won’t have to buy disposable paper tissues wrapped in ‘convenient’ plastic wallets.
Let houseplants absorb toxins
If you want to clean the air in your home, you might plug in an air freshener or buy a can of Febreze, but opening a window and buying toxin-removing house plants will do the job.
Sign up for electronic bills and statements
If you haven’t already done so, switch to paperless billing for phone and energy contracts, and download bank statements on your computer rather than printing them out every month.
Keep only a minimal supply of medication
It’s natural to want to stockpile medications, but the chances are that many of them will go to waste or expire before you need them. Keep only a minimal supply, and remember you can head to your pharmacy or supermarket if you need pills or medicines. When you do buy medication, choose tablets in glass bottles rather than plastic blister packs where possible.
Preserve food to reduce waste
Fruit and vegetables are so commonly wasted, but there are lots of ways to preserve them to extend their lifespan. Soft fruit is still good in smoothies, and wilted vegetables can be used to make soups. If your bananas are overripe, make a loaf of banana bread. Another great way to get more from your grocery shop is to pickle veggies using vinegar and some spices.
Rely on your freezer
Your freezer is one of your most useful assets, so use it to your advantage. Freeze leftover foods and liquids in airtight containers, which you can later defrost and serve. Pro tip: date your foods so you can consume within their shelf life - in most cases, three months is safe.
Keep it closed
If you’re one of those people who opens and closes their fridge magically waiting for a tasty snack to appear, stop. Open your fridge once when you start cooking and once when you’re done to store leftovers to reduce energy waste and ensure your home is as eco-friendly as possible. Better yet? Use your fridge less and install a pantry. It worked in the olden days!
There you have it - twenty simple hacks to help you reduce waste and live a greener life. Do you have more to share? Let us know on Twitter using @UltraTeeBrand, and check back to the Ultra Tee blog soon for more tips on living your greenest, most eco-friendly life!