Going plastic-free doesn't have to cost the earth
3 minute read
With the prices of essential goods sky rocketing and the cost of living crisis taking hold in the UK, many of us are looking for ways to reduce our spending where we can – something that may limit our ability to make sustainable, plastic-free purchases.
Marketing vs reality
When you look online for plastic-free tips, you’re often bombarded with brands claiming to be eco-friendly and marketing lots of flashy eco-gadgets as a solution to the climate crisis.
The truth is, many brands aren't living up to their sustainability claims, and are instead cashing in on the desire of consumers to make positive – and sustainable - lifestyle changes.
In an effort to make environmentally-friendly swaps and purchases, it’s easy to be sucked into the marketing hype. You may feel you should buy certain items or brands – often with a high price tag – to be more sustainable and reduce your plastic footprint.
We’re here to show that isn’t the case.
Going plastic-free doesn’t need to cost the earth. Many planet-friendly swaps are affordable. There are often cheaper brands or alternatives to the big-names which are all over social media.
For some swaps, you can save money in the long-run and help the environment at the same time – what's not to love about that?
Swaps that are a win for the planet and your wallet
Instead of shelling out for bottled water, taking a reusable bottle wherever you go is an easy way of saving money and plastic. You don’t need to buy a branded bottle, most supermarkets and bargain stores sell reusable bottles for reasonable prices. Most cafes will refill your bottle when you're out and about for free, so it's easy to stay hydrated and sustainable.
Reusable bottles are a cheap and eco-friendly swap
I know, I know, you hear us talking about soap bars a lot, but there's a good reason for it! Soap bars last longer than liquid options so you buy less over time. There’s a whole range of soap bars available – some supermarkets have options starting from 50p.
Soap bars last longer than liquid and can cost from around 50p
Washable make-up wipes
Moving away from packets of disposable make-up wipes is a great way to save money and plastic. Switching to reusable bamboo, organic cotton or microfibre pads can be super cheap when you buy a multi-pack, and they’re really convenient too. You can even make your own out of spare or old cotton items like t-shirts or pillowcases.
Reusable make-up pads are a money-saving gamer changer
Although the upfront cost of a menstrual cup can be steep, at around £20, you can reuse them again and again, with the average lasting for 10 years. This works out at just 16p per cycle, compared to single-use plastic tampons and pads that cost anywhere between 40p-£2.50.
Menstrual cups save money - and plastic waste - long-term
Instead of buying one of the many razors which are made from plastic and don’t last very long, why not switch to a safety razor instead? You can buy one of the handles (you replace the blades) for around £15 - but make sure to shop around and see what’s available for your budget. Like the menstrual cup, these holders last for years so you’ll start saving money after the initial cost. The safety razor blades are often less than £2 and are available to buy in bulk.
Safety razors are a great alternative to disposable plastic ones
Vinegar and lemon
One of the largest plastic culprits in our bathrooms are the range of bathroom-specific cleaning products. A great way to save money and the environment is by ditching the chemicals altogether and opting for the trusty combination of white vinegar, lemon and water in a reusable spray bottle.
Ditch the chemicals in plastic bottles and opt for lemon and white vinegar instead
Credit: Precious Plastic Melbourne
Small changes, big overall impact
Remember, this Plastic Challenge is all about seeing what swaps you can make in your bathroom – and that means swapping what you can comfortably afford. You don’t need to be perfectly plastic-free to be doing well. It’s all about making small swaps that help towards the bigger picture.
Being sustainable should be - and can be - financially sustainable, too.
Our Campaigns Officer Ella Daish shares her own experience of switching to sustainable on a budget:
"Before I stepped into environmental campaigning, I spent years working in retail and as a postal worker. I was paying rent and had a small budget, so looked at ways I could reduce spending. I started making switches to products like reusable bottles and washable make-up wipes.
"Moving away from the disposable products I consistently purchased, to reusables, saved me a lot of time and money. I was delighted and later made the connection to the environmental benefits my actions had too."