World refill day – my favourite plastic free swaps

In honour of #WorldRefillDay on the 16th June 2021 I’ve written about some of my favourite plastic free swaps and how I tried to reduce my plastic use by refilling.

It’s hard to go anywhere or do anything now without hearing about how humans are affecting the planet. We are consuming too much, producing too much waste and polluting our planet with rubbish and plastic waste. I started looking for ways that I could help after the legendary David Attenborough put a program on the television about how human’s plastic waste was killing our planet. I would have been one of the thousands of people affected by it and became part of the ‘Attenborough affect’ which saw plastic usage and pollution plummet. I’ve spent a lot of time researching and trialing plastic free alternatives and wanted to share them so everyone can start making changes toward living more sustainably and looking after the planet. Because even if you only make one small change, it still adds up!

The first step for me in this fight was to actually reduce my own consumer consumption. By reducing what I owned and used, and being content with what I had, I wouldn’t need to buy as much ‘stuff’ therefore reducing the amount that would go to waste and potentially pollute the planet. After I had reduced what I owned, I donated and sold as much as I could so that other people would get use from what I no longer did. By owning less, and knowing what I actually owned, I got more use out of my possessions and didn’t feel the need to keep buying more and more to make myself feel good. Me and my partner share a wardrobe space and typically, girls will dominate a wardrobe for clothes, shoes, bags, accessories and everything else we ‘need’ to make ourselves feel ‘happy’. My whole wardrobe fits into one shelf, one three foot rail and three drawers. That’s it. I don’t need anymore space, I use everything I have and have no need to buy more. Because of this, I am contributing significantly less to the £140 million worth of clothing that ends up in landfill every year. Any clothes I no longer use, I will sell or donate and I tend to buy better quality clothing that will last rather than ten items of fast fashion that will fall apart at the first wash. My best tips for reducing clothing waste is to evaluate what you already own before you buy more, shop second hand or in charity shops where you can (there are loads of amazing bargains to be had!) and learn how to repair your clothes that might otherwise end up in the bin. Anything you do want to get rid of, sell or donate so someone else can enjoy it.

Even if you do reduce what you buy and consume, there are some things that we just need. Toiletries, sanitary products, food and more are things that we can’t really live without, but I’ve found some amazing plastic free alternatives that not only will reduce your impact on the planet but can also save you money in the long run! So far I have swapped; some food items, kitchen wrappings, cleaning products, using a refillable water bottle, washing powder, cotton buds, nail varnish remover pads, our bathroom toiletries, sanitary products, make up and likely more that I have forgotten. Below I’ll talk about my top five swaps to date and why I love them!

Sanitary products About a two years ago, I made the switch to using period underwear. At first I was very skeptical and nervous about it but I can honestly say it has been the best swap I have ever made! I don’t know how but my periods are so much better from making this swap and the reviews speak for themselves! I’ve always used the brand Modi Bodi which post in thick paper packaging and they have saved me money over time from not buying disposable sanitary products.

Clothes washing and cleaning products – I’ve tried so many different cleaning products and washing powders that I was worried about switching over to a more natural alternative. But I am so impressed with the swaps I’ve found that I won’t be going back! For all our household cleaning, I’ve been using Smol. You can request a free trial of the products to start with but trust me you’ll be going back for more! We use all the spray cleaners (bathroom, all purpose and glass) the dishwasher tablets, and the washing capsules and our home and dishes have never been cleaner and our clothes are so fresh smelling and clean! What’s even better is you can see on your online account how much plastic and chemicals you have saved over the time you’ve been using Smol! You can set the deliveries to come automatically depending on how much you use so you’ll never run out.

Make up remover For taking off my make up, I used to use a plastic bottle of make up remover and a cotton pad which would also come wrapped in plastic. I looked around for alternatives and my absolute favourite is the Face Halo. Although this does come in a plastic pouch, the overall waste reduction is huge. To take off make up, all you do is wet the Face Halo and rub off your make up, it’s that easy. You don’t need to add any other products and you can wash them in your machine along with your towels (please check washing instructions to help keep them tip top.)

Bathroom toiletries For years I’ve used popular brands of shampoo, conditioner and body washes all packaged in plastic bottles which are often not recyclable. Now, I use beautiful brown glass bottles which I can refill at my local plastic free shop! It costs about £7.50 to refill each bottle but they last for a couple of months even when I’m using them everyday. Not only am I not producing any waste with them, they work just as well as any other brand I’ve used and they look amazing in my bathroom!

Food packagingFood is something we all need to buy but sadly, a lot of it comes wrapped in so much extra, pointless plastic that it’s hard to get away from. I always buy fruit and vegetables loose where I can from the supermarket or even better from a local market. I also have big glass jars in my cupboards for pasta, rice, noodles and cereals which I take to my local plastic free shop to have refilled. As well as getting these dried foods, I can also buy nuts, spices, dried fruits and chocolate all without packaging and at much better quality than in the supermarket. As an added bonus, I only buy the amount that I need so I don’t risk anything going out of date before I’ve used it.

It’s generally more difficult to buy plastic free alternatives in your local supermarket so here is where I shop:

  • Local markets are fantastic for loose fruit and vegetables and butchers will generally put meat into containers for you if you bring your own!
  • For dried foods, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, gifts and so many other amazing things, I support local and shop in Something Good located in Newcastle. Use this link to find your own local plastic free shop.
  • For sanitary products I shop online with Modi Bodi. If you use this link, you’ll get a discount!
  • For cleaning products, candles, chocolate, gifts, make up and anything else you can think of, I shop online with either Plastic Freedom or Peace with the Wild.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my summary of my favourite plastic free and eco swaps! Let me know of any swaps you’ve made or what you think of mine in the comments box below.

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