The Beginners Guide – Reducing Plastic Household Waste

When it came to reducing my household waste and my use of plastic, I knew I wanted to try, but I really didn’t know where to begin. I did a large family shop one week and the amount of plastic waste just from packaging was unbelievable. The rubbish bin was completely full of plastic before I had even eaten any of the food. My efforts up to this point had been to start wrapping kids lunches in kitchen paper and buy reusable straws, but this was the tipping point where I knew I had to do more.

A bring your own shop
Twig, Spillers Lane, Clonakilty

..And Along Came ‘Twig’

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. ‘Twig’ opened its doors in Clonakilty in August and I thought “Ok, here is my chance. Lets go and have a look at what I can do”.

My aim was to go around the shop slowly and list the changes I would make, executing them gradually. Small changes are much more sustainable than a big jump. I planned to buy some small essentials and then set a challenge every couple of weeks to try something new. 

Bring your own tubs to refill pulses, rice and fruit
Pulses, Rice and Fruit – All Unpackaged

Where Did I Begin

I decided that I would start small. Browsing the store gave me lots of  ideas on all the changes I could make. I made some decisions on which changes I would implement straight away and which ones I would make over the coming weeks. I needed some shampoo, beauty products and oral hygiene products immediately along with an alternative to clingfilm for school lunches so this is where I started.

Herbs and Kitchen Condiments

reusable glass jars
Everything sold in reusable glass jars

In the picture above, all these small jars hold herbs, pepper, and lots of other things that I need in my kitchen cupboards. But for now, I have plenty of those things in stock, albeit in plastic grinders that cannot be refilled. These will go on my ‘later’ list!

Household Goods

Cleaning and Hygiene Products
Cleaning and Hygiene Products

The toilet rolls are all wrapped in recycled paper and the rolls themselves are recycled. I will be doing a cost analysis on that one as I didn’t compare prices on the day. But it makes sense to me that even though we need trees to use the paper, at least the wrapping can be recycled. Regular, soft plastic wrappers on the toilet paper we buy weekly cannot be recycled. 

My use of cleaning products is something I will be assessing over the coming weeks. I am coming to the end of my spray bottles of cleaning fluids and my materials for washing clothes. These containers are the first things that will be washed out and refilled once they are empty. The shop encourages you to reuse the plastic that you do already have in the house as opposed to dumping it. 

Oral Hygiene

Toothpast
Toothpaste

This toothpaste was the first thing I bought along with some bamboo toothbrushes. We haven’t opened the toothbrushes yet, but I have used the toothpaste. I bought the English Peppermint flavour. It is not unpleasant to use. The flavour is minty and does leave your breath fresh. The only downside is the taste of bicarb but that isn’t the end of the world either. My teeth do feel pearly afterwards and I don’t think it is my imagination that they look whiter too.

Spices and Reusable Mugs
Spices and Reusable Mugs

Most of the herbs and spices I buy are housed in a cardboard box with an inside packet made of plastic. I am slowly collecting small glass jars to use for my next herb and spice haul. As you know, one packet often lasts for an age so this change will be over a longer period of time.

My  Plastic Free Purchases

My Purchases
My Purchases

I am going to list these numerically so you can see clearly what changes I started with. 

  1. My first purchase was the toothpaste highlighted above and a toothbrush for everyone in the family. 
  2. I swapped my foot scrub wash with a pumice stone. Maybe you guys don’t focus on foot care, but when you run, you really have to mind those toes! 
  3.  Shampoo in a plastic bottle has been swapped out for soap bar shampoo (wrapped in muslin in the pic above). I still use my conditioner for coloured hair though. 
  4. I bought bars of soap and wrapped them in muslin like the shampoo bars. These have replaced my plastic bottles of body wash.

Hanna’s Bee Wraps

These little wraps were my favourite purchase. I swapped to paper sandwich bags in the last year or so but even at that, I was concerned that this paper (as it was often dirty with smears of butter or jam) was not recyclable. These wraps are material coated in bees wax and oils. They are extremely versatile and so easy to use. If you aren’t close to Clonakilty, you can buy these online directly from  Hanna’s Bee Wraps. They have some gorgeous designs and there are long term care instructions printed on the inside of the packaging which is all recycled paper. 

Alternative to cling film
Wraps From Hanna’s Bees

What Next?

This week, I plan on refilling my cleaning and washing containers with biodegradable cleaning products. This includes anti bacterial kitchen counter sprays, cleaning sprays, floor cleaner, clothes washing products and glass spray. 

Oils and Vinegars
Oils & Vinegars

I usually buy my balsamic vinegar, olive oil and other oils for dressings in glass bottles, but I will use this opportunity to reduce my waste of glass too and just refill the bottles I currently have. These oil drums provide a great opportunity to do that. 

Will I Stop There?

So, with all these changes made, will I stop at that? Of course you know the answer! We will make ongoing efforts to only buy veg and fruit that is not housed in plastic. I am also keeping plastic containers and anything else I do buy and making a big effort to reuse them at home. 

‘Twig Refill Shop’ has opened its doors in Clonakilty and it has really given me the kick I needed to start off. Have you taken any steps to reduce your waste at home? If you have, I would love to hear them. Comment below and I will share your tips on my social media 🙂

Have a great week everyone, and keep up with your efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle x

The store encourages reuse of plastic
Weighing Scales, Kombucha and Coffee

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