Break up with single–use plastic this February – Our 14 top alternatives

Published: 1 February 2021

Plastic free products on surface

Plastic free products on wooden surface

This February, the month of Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together our top 14 alternatives to single-use plastic that anyone can try. It’s time to break up your toxic plastic relationship!

  1. Milk bottles – Did you know that milk men still exist and deliver in Derby? Ditch those plastic bottles and get fresh milk delivered in glass bottles!
  2. Cling film – It’s either a godsend or a nemesis. Either way, it can’t be recycled and leads to soggy sandwiches. Beeswax wraps are a great alternative! They’re washable, reusable and once they’re completely worn out, can be composted at home.
  3. Face coverings – Did you know that the average disposable face covering costs around 50p and is contributing to plastic pollution across the planet? A fabric face covering made of several layers is just as effective and kinder to your pocket and our planet. You can either buy them or if you feel like saving more money, you can make your own!
  4. Washing up sponges – Not everyone realises but that multipack of kitchen sponges in the cupboard is 100% plastic. The good news is that there is a wealth of alternative options like hessian and crocheted cotton that can be washed and reused time and time again. If looked after properly, they could even work out cheaper in the long run.
  5. Sellotape – ‘Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favourite things.’ Sticky tapes on paper and card stops it from being recycled so make brown paper and string your favourite things when it comes to wrapping gifts and parcels.
  6. Liquid toiletries – With natural ingredients for happy, healthy hair and skin, solid toiletry bars can be kinder to your pocket too (shampoo and conditioner can be purchased for the same prices as the liquid equivalents). They’re longer lasting and can be bought packaging free.
  7. Sandwich and freezer bags – These can be reused but if you don’t fancy the hassle of washing out plastic bags then bag yourself some reusable alternatives. There are hundreds of types and designs to choose from.
  8. Face wipes - Most face wipes are made from plastics and also work out to be pretty expensive. There are lots of great alternatives out there like cotton and bamboo which are kinder to your skin, your pocket and the planet. 
  9. Cutlery – It’s all too easy to end up in a rush and grab some lunch on the go. But, plastic cutlery is often a plastic double whammy with the cutlery itself and the plastic film wrapping. There are lots of great pocket and handbag sized cutlery kits available to keep handy for busy days.
  10. Water bottles – Millions of plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the UK and very few of these make it to recycling. A reusable water bottle will save you money and there are a growing number of refill points across the city. If you haven’t already, download the Refill app.
  11. Shopping bags – Whether you have a stash of bags for life in the cupboard or prefer a canvas version, reusing any carrier bag is better than sticking to single-use. If you’ve got a growing collection of carrier bags that you want to clear out then take them to be recycled. Most supermarkets have collection points for bags and other plastic films and wrappers.
  12. Cleaning wipes – Just like those kitchen sponges, wipes are made of plastic. The best alternative is a good old cloth and spray. We found some great low cost, family friendly DIY cleaning spray recipes so you can reuse your spray bottles. 
  13. Straws – With a ban on plastic straws set to come into force from April this year, if you haven’t already it’s time to start thinking about swapping. If a metal reusable straw sets your teeth on edge, there are lots of other types to try including silicone, glass and even bamboo. They won’t go soggy like the paper versions either!
  14. Choose loose – More and more products are being made available without packaging at all. Choosing these items reduces the amount of packaging produced altogether. Where items are packaged, try and choose recyclable options like metal tins (that can be recycled endlessly) over plastic pouches and pots.

You can make your plastic break up even more effective by making sure you're popping the right items in your blue bin to be recycled. There are some types of plastic, like bags and films, that we can't accept. Find out more in our handy plastic recycling guide!

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