Plastic Free July: A product guide to help you reduce your plastic use

Hello all, happy plastic free July!

While we are always looking for ways we as a family can cut down on the amount of waste we produce, this is the first time we have taken part in plastic free July.

I don’t think any of us truly realise just how much plastic we use- especially as a lot of it is in things we use on a daily / monthly basis and we don’t even notice!

But over time the waste from products we use time and time again can build up and are not only detrimental to the environment but our health too.

I hope this guide will help you all think of ways you can cut the plastic use in your household, and give you some ideas about alternatives that are better for the environment but also your well being 🙂

There are a few items that we as a family use a lot of (and most other families too), all of which are made from some kind of plastic. I never really gave it much thought before, but these things aren’t good for us when we use them, and are toxic to the environment once they are thrown away- even when recycled some elements are left behind because not all things are fully recyclable.

Here’s a list of our most used plastic stuff:

  1. Toothbrushes- We use these for ourselves and our children twice a day and yet we have never noticed or given it much thought that these are made of plastic, not to mention a lot of toothbrushes contain many toxic chemicals and (sometimes antibiotics) which are far from good for us.
  2. Water bottles- I don’t know about you guys out there, but we as a family consume A LOT of water- we go out most days and often consume 2-4 bottles of water between the four of us. Even when we recycle those bottles after It’s still not ideal to use plastic bottles due to the chemicals that can sometimes leech into the water through the plastic.
  3. Food containers- Lunch boxes, Tupperware, snack bags– I don’t know about you guys but the food containers we have always used have been plastic, we use these daily without even thinking about it.
  4. Straws- we use straws a lot, I often have lemon juice in the morning (mixed with warm water, I find it wakes me up better than coffee 😉 ) but of course that is really bad for your teeth so we have to use straws. We also make a lot of juices and use straws for the same reason.
  5. Menstrual products- tampons and pads are full of plastic, amongst other nasties.
  6. Bowls and cutlery- this is more about the children, they eat from plastic bowls and plates, drink from plastic cups and use plastic utensils- again, something we never even thought of before.
  7. Toys- mainly teething toys as they spend a lot of time in your baby’s mouth; but any non-green plastic toy contains properties that aren’t good for the environment, both during the manufacturing process and after they’re thrown away.
  8. Food wrapping– why packs of apples, bananas and other fruit and veg are wrapped in plastic is beyond me.
  9. Disposable nappies- goes without saying- these things are packed with various chemicals, polymers, and plastics. Nasty things.

All these things and more are used by us and millions of other families on a daily basis without much thought. I’ve always thought I was relatively ‘green’ when it came to the way I live, but when I actually sat and thought about it, I’m really not.

So many of the products we buy are made of plastic or contain plastic and we buy them without even thinking. We see a toothbrush on the shelf in a supermarket and put it in our trolley without giving it much thought. We praise ourselves when we opt for that bottle of water instead of buying a can of coke, believing we are being really good- but are we? Not when you look at what happens after that bottle is finished with.

However, it’s not the end of the world- its making the effort to change that is the most important thing. Even a little bit- it’ll be better for you, and our planet 🙂

SO. let’s look at some lovely alternatives to replace those everyday plastic items we have grown so attached to:

  1. Toothbrushes: I have discovered some really lovely non-plastic toothbrushes whilst doing research for this article, I’ve come across some really gorgeous alternatives. Here’s my two favourites:
  • Jack N Jill Bio Toothbrush: from Babipur -these are fantastic toothbrushes, suitable to use from the first tooth onward. These adorable toothbrushes come with a few different designs, but most importantly are:
  • BPA Free
  • Non GMO 100% Corn Starch handle – naturally compostable and biodegradable
  • Have nylon bristles which are recyclable.

Use with their lovely range of toothpastes

What else is in their range? How about their electric Buzzy Brush

Want some adult toothpaste? Check out the Weleda salt toothpast

I love these toothbrushes- not only do they looks stylish and beautiful, but they, like the Jack and Jill toothbrushes are made from bio degradable materials and aren’t made from loads of nasty chemicals.

There is a good variety in the range, from adult and children’s toothbrushes, family packs, as well as different colours. There are also lots of accessories and toothpastes to go with your new brushes!

2. Water bottles: As I’ve said before, we get through a lot of water bottles,that is until we invested in some Klean Kanteen bottles. We bought a 27oz bottle with sports cap each for daddy and me; and a Kid Kanteen sippy bottle for Jacob; we are also going to get one for Nic since he keeps trying to steal Jacob’s! These are by far the best purchases we have made in a long time, and such an excellent change to our lifestyle! We use ours everyday, I also use mine at night when I go to bed. I feel so much better knowing that we aren’t creating loads of waste, and most importantly- no BPA or other chemicals!

There are loads of different products in the range to suit all needs and lifestyles! They even do baby bottles  which are traditionally plastic too.

Fancy something different? How about a Klean Kanteen insulated container?

See also Insulated cups

3. Food containers: I often have leftovers sat in lunchboxes etc or food wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge for later, it’s not ideal. That’s why these lovely stainless steel lunch boxes from A Slice of Green are great! They can be used as lunch boxes and to keep leftovers safe.

I understand it is a pricy switch to make, we are doing it slowly as we simply cannot afford to do it all in one go, but baby steps are better than none at all!

Klean Kanteen also have some lovely food canisters that’ll keep your food airtight and safe, and best of all (unlike their plastic alternatives) there is no transfer of flavour from the containers o the food as they are made from stainless steel! 🙂

Not sure about carrying lunch boxes around and want something smaller? How about the Keep leaf food wrap or planet wise sandwich bags? They’re reusable, washable and beautiful to look at 🙂

4. Straws: Once again, Klean Kanteen to the rescue! We have recently invested in some stainless steel rainbow straws with silicone tips for comfort. They are absolutely fab! The set we bought is a pack of four stainless steel straws with silicone tips and a brush to clean them. They are really comfortable to drink from and are fairly wide so they can take in a lot of liquid in one sip! The kids love them too! 

Not feeling the rainbow colours? Nevermind- Klean Kanteen do a black set too <3

Not keen on these ones? Babipur also have U-Konserve stainless steel straws in packs of 2 🙂

5. Menstrual Products: Menstrual products are an essential for most women, we use them every month, and yet they are so bad for our health- among some of the less harmful side effects from using tampons and pads such as rashes, odour and yeast infections; there are more harmful side effects such as various types of cancers and toxic shock syndrome.

For more details see my previous articles about making the switch to csp here.

For menstrual cups see here .

So why do these products that we are A. taxed for, B. charged a fortune for and C. more importantly supposed to use for our health and comfort so bad for us? Yup, you guessed it- plastic. Amongst other chemicals, perfumes and other toxic ingredients, these disposable nasties are made from various types of plastic. I think they feel like plastic bags, which; isn’t entirely untrue when you see their ingredients lists.

If you are only going to choose to make one change in your life ladies- let this be the one. I cannot explain how important it is for your health.

6. Bowls, cups and other utensils: Whilst writing this article I had a little rummage through my cupboard to have a look at the bowls and plates we use for the children. Most of them are a number 5 plastic which is mostly recyclable and are considered to be safe. However; they are still not the most environmentally friendly products to make, and are still made from non-green materials; so if you want to make the switch to a greener more environmentally friendlier version, its never a bad thing!

There are loads of green feeding sets out there for you to choose from, here’s some of my favourites:

7. Toys: Now before I start, I think it’s important to say that I have no issue with most plastic toys; my children have plastic toys and some of my favourite children’s toy brands are LEGO, Playmobil and B.Toys. I had to put that out there in case I’m accused of being a sanctimummy or toy snob 😉

With that said, I am a big fan of wooden toys, I do prefer them to plastic toys, and yes when I do buy non-wooden toys I like to know that they are sustainable and green to some degree, but as said before; we don’t exclusively buy wooden and green toys as that’s just not realistic in this day and age.

The reason why I love wooden toys is that they are quite often made by smaller companies, each toy if often handmade which I feel makes the toys more personal. I love that they are more green than conventional toys; and I love that they encourage open-ended imaginative play; which a lot of plastic toys don’t. I also like that they are of course made with reusable or sustainable properties, and are not so harmful to the environment to make.

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It’s the same with teething toys. I like to get teething toys that are made with friendly plastic or rubber, or even wood. I do this not because I’m a toy snob, it’s purely because I don’t want something that’s going to spend a lot of time in my child’s mouth to be made from toxic ingredients.

My favourite teething toys are Lanco– we have several, but my favourite by far are the fruit teethers– they can also be great as play food 🙂

Other lovely teethers can be found here

However, despite what I’ve said above, to every parent out there I’ll say the obvious: the toys we buy for our children are largely down to personal taste, and of course what we think our children will want/ like. There is no right or wrong- do what you feel is right, children aren’t going to grow up better than anyone else because they played with wooden toys instead of plastic ones 😉

8. Plastic wrapping on food: In any supermarket I see endless rows of fruit and veg wrapped in plastic. I understand that the food needs to be protected, but it would be better if they were wrapped in a better alternative. If you’re conscious about this one option is to bring paper bags with you when you go shopping and choose loose fruit and veg 🙂

9. Nappies: While disposable nappies are convenient, good for the environment and health they are not. They are full of polymers, chemicals, toxins and plastics. They have been known in extreme cases to cause chemical burns, and of course they really are just one of the worst things you can throw away. for more info see my previous article

Thankfully, there are wonderful alternatives to disposable nappies, and they are of course cloth nappies! <3

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Cloth nappies are wonderful things. They are beautiful to look at, easy to clean and dry, chemical free, sustainably made, and retain their value. They can last years when properly looked after and are far more comfortable for your baby to wear!

Some of my favourite brands are Close parent, Milovia, and Baba and Boo– though there are so many amazing brands out there; these are just the ones that work best for us!

New to cloth? Not sure where to start? There are loads of forums and Facebook groups out there for cloth users, and many starter packs to help you start your journey!

And there we are, I realise this was a long article- well done for getting this far, and of course thankyou!

I hope that this article has helped you guys out there think of ways you can change your plastic use and hopefully reduce it with friendly alternatives 🙂 any questions please feel free to post a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

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