45% of the UK’s household waste was recycled in 2018, according to a 2020 report from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, with the amount of UK waste sent to landfill falling from approximately 7.4 million tonnes in 2017 to 7.2 million tonnes in 2018.
As environmental concerns grow, recycling is high on many people’s priorities. As the public choose recyclable alternatives to single-use plastic, plenty of companies are finding ways to create recyclable packaging.
But what about things that don’t need to be thrown away or recycled at all? By replacing throw-away items with reusable alternatives, you can significantly reduce your household waste…
Replace clingfilm with beeswax wraps
We’re all familiar with using a canvas ‘bag for life’ instead of a supermarket plastic bag – but what if you could do the same for single-use plastic in the kitchen?
Perfect for keeping food fresh, natural wax wraps are made of breathable organic cotton soaked in beeswax, pine resin and jojoba oil, making an ideal alternative to clingfilm or tin foil. Simply wash your wraps in soapy water and reuse them for up to a year. When they’ve come to the end of their life, you can compost them.
Replace sandwich bags and freezer bags with reusable containers
Whether you’re taking a packed lunch to work or school or freezing leftovers, reusable food storage containers offer a durable, reusable and frankly tougher alternative to single-use plastic bags.
If you’re feeling thrifty, save, wash and reuse food containers from your next takeaway, or invest in freezer-safe iterations that will last for many meals to come. From bamboo to stainless steel, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Replace plastic scourers with eco-friendly washing up sponges
Breaking down as they scrub the dishes, plastic scourers release tiny plastic particles that are too small to be filtered out, called microplastics, down the drain and into the sea where they can harm sea life. Plastic sponges are usually not recyclable and so are sent to landfill.
From biodegradable scourers made from naturally-grown materials such as hemp and coconut fibres, to sustainable bamboo scrubbing brushes, there are a range of sustainable washing up tools available on the market.
Replace cotton pads and cotton buds with sustainable alternatives
Approximately 1.8 billion plastic cotton buds are used in England each year. Sadly they are often found washed up on beaches and polluting waterways. Thankfully, beauty products are next to get a sustainable makeover! To swerve the plastic, choose a biodegradable bamboo version, made from bamboo which can be grown without pesticides or fertiliser, or opt for cotton buds with paper steams.
You can also replace disposable cotton wool pads, often used to apply makeup remover, with washable, reusable fabric versions which do the same job without impacting on the environment.
Replace takeaway coffee cups with a reusable travel mug
From insulated stainless-steel travel mugs to decorative bamboo cups with rubber lids, there are plenty of alternatives available – even collapsible cups that are convenient to carry in your bag.
Prefer cold drinks? You can also buy stainless steel drinking straws to replace the disposable ones usually offered at fast food chains. These often come with a wire brush for hygienic cleaning.