January – the month that’s dedicated to starting fresh, doing things differently, or setting a better path heading into your new year.
If one of your New Year's Resolutions was to take better care of the environment then you likely had reducing your reliance on plastic in mind.
Let’s face it plastic pollution is our greatest environmental issue today, and working on eliminating as much of it from our daily routines as possible is a constant struggle — even for the most ardent anti-plastic person!
If you feel like your New Year’s Resolution of reducing plastic hasn’t quite gone to plan so far, or you’re thinking — “oh I should have put that one on my resolution list” don't despair, it’s never too late to start the process of reducing plastic from your daily routine.
Sometimes in order to move forward we need to look back at the past and ask ourselves: "What methods have worked in the past that we can carry into the future?"
When we look back at how our grandparents or great grandparents tackled daily tasks such as cooking, preserving and cleaning, you’ll notice a very comment element. They didn't have a need for plastic. How did they do this, and is it realistic to go back to some of those tried and tested methods and put them to use today?
The answer is a resounding yes. In some cases it may require adjustments to the way you do things, and in other cases it may simply mean switching to a more sustainable product that contains no plastic in both product and packaging.
#1 Dishwashing Detergent
This is one product that has many people stumped. How can one wash dishes without liquid detergent? The good news is there are so many options out there that there really is no excuse to go back to buying bottled liquid detergent ever again.
What are the plastic free options?
- If we’re going to back to the past then a simple bar of kitchen soap will do the trick. Want to take a step further back to the past? Place that kitchen soap bar into a soap cage, simply shake the cage under running water while filling your sink, or into a sink full of water. You’ll get instant bubbles and be able to wash your dishes just as you would with liquid soap.
- One type of soap that’s been used for centuries, is Castile Soap. This soap is made from 100% olive oil and is perfect for all types of cleaning. If you’re wanting liquid soap and you have a bar of Castile soap on hand — grate the soap bar, place flakes into warm water until the flakes have melted and you’ll have liquid soap that you can add to a used container. Like a little scent with your dish soap? Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil.
- If the above options don’t fit with your dishwashing choices, then you can always seek out a refill store and fill up an empty bottle of detergent.
- Lastly if you’re not one for hand washing dishes and you’re seeking out solutions to replace plastic that dishwashing tablets come with, then try a dishwashing powder that’s packaged in cardboard. Or better yet purchase dishwashing tablets that are packaged in cardboard and sealed with heat sensitive biodegradable plastic.
That’s one (or perhaps two) plastic items you’ve now eliminated from your kitchen.
#2 Brushes and Cleaning Cloths
Most dishwashing brushes today are made from 100% plastic. If you’re trying to remove plastic from items used in your daily routine then you’ll want to opt for something that is going to break down naturally and not cause harm to the environment while doing so.
What are the plastic free options?
- Choose cleaning brushing that are made from wood, and or natural fibres and bristles. You can add these cleaning tools to your compost pile when they are no longer of use (be sure to remove any metal first).
- For cleaning cloths the same concept applies. Be sure to choose natural fibres — skip cloths with fibres that will eventually break down into micro-plastics. These types of cloths are commonly known as micro-fibre cloths. Cleaning cloths such as Swedish Dishcloths are made from 100% natural materials, they dry quickly and will also biodegrade in nature — no composting required.
Now you can add another two plastic items to your elimination checklist.
#3 All-purpose Liquid Spray
Spraying down surfaces is an everyday occurrence and using a spray bottle for this task not is something that most people are willing to compromise on, and rightfully so! If that's the case how can we reduce plastic yet still use a spray bottle?
This is one that we don’t need to look back to our grandparents to find a solution, but rather look forward at future innovations.
What are the plastic free options?
- Ethique has come up with an innovative solution to solve the spray bottle issue — yes you’ll still need a spray bottle but they aren’t exactly hard to come by! Simply break apart a soap bar (it looks more like a bar of white chocolate than a bar of soap). Place in warm water and stir. Once it has completely dissolved add the liquid to your favourite spray bottle.
Spray bottles don’t need to be made from plastic, you can find metal spray bottles — the actual spray function will however be made from plastic. However this is a great way to say no to purchasing another plastic bottle every time you need a new surface spray. An added bonus — Ethique products also smell amazing!
- As with your dishwashing detergent try finding your nearest refill store and simply refill your spray bottle with multi-purpose cleaner.
These are just a few options that will help you on your way to having a plastic free kitchen. There really are so many choices that can be made that don’t involve using plastic that you no longer have any reason not to go plastic free in the kitchen!
Do you have a particular plastic free cleaning methods that are part of your everyday routine?
Share your ideas and solutions below. I’d love to learn more.
Author Bio - Catherine Anne Earle
Thanks for reading. I'm Cathy the founder of EORTH Australia, an online store that stocks only plastic free products.
I started EORTH after participating in a Plastic Free July many years ago. A few days into the Plastic Free July challenge I soon became aware of just how damaging plastics were to the environment, and although I was conscious of my consumer choices, products packaged in single use plastic and household products from of plastic materials were still very high on my list of purchases.
After lengthy searches for alternatives to plastic products I soon realised that there were a lot of eco stores that sold some plastic free products, but very few really got down to the heart of the plastics issues and said a big hard "no" to selling products that contained plastics — and that is exactly what EORTH is all about.
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Management and was the owner and founder of Sun Peaks Independent News, a community newspaper based in British Columbia, Canada.
After moving back to Australia several years ago I now reside in Palm Cove a beachside suburb in my hometown of Cairns — the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.