Everyone knows how bad plastic is for the environment. From the chemicals to physical debris, plastic is negatively affecting people, creatures and the planet.
Some of the easiest ways to help is to reduce the amount of plastic used in the kitchen and the home.
That’s why the editors here at pebble magazine have come up with a list of the best plastic swaps you can make to get that much closer to a plastic free kitchen.
How much plastic do we use?
The amount of plastic we use worldwide is rising exponentially.
In 1950, we created two million tonnes a year but by 2021, it increased to 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced.
In the UK, it is estimated that 5 million tonnes of plastic is used every year – with nearly half being packaging.
This means that for every person in the UK, 6kg of plastic waste packaging is created per person each year.
Yet our plastic usage doesn’t just affect those living in the UK, but everyone worldwide.
Roughly two-thirds of our plastic waste is sent overseas to be ‘recycled’, although there is little evidence that this is recycled.
- Learn more about the plastic recycling crisis and how you can help this with The Big Plastic Count.
This is similar in the US, with 91.3% of all plastic waste generated not being recycled in 2018.
Ultimately, we need to reduce the amount of plastic we use ASAP.
- For more info check out What Are Microplastics And Why Are They Harmful?
How much plastic waste comes from the kitchen?
Many of the items in the standard kitchen are made from plastic.
From single use items like cling film to plastic utensils, there is an overwhelming amount in every kitchen.
In fact, 40 billion plastic kitchen utensils are used and discarded each year and 1.2 billion meters of single-use cling film is used by households across Britain every year. Scary.
“1.2 billion meters of single-use cling film is used by households across Britain every year”
What about other aspects of the kitchen?
Did you know that parts of plastic sponges fall off while you’re washing up, go down the drain and into the ocean.
These microplastics never leave the ocean, and enter the bodies of marine creatures.
Cling film isn’t compostable and is made from ‘nurdles’, small plastic pellets that almost always find their way to the ocean, polluting waterways and poisoning living creatures.
3 top tips for going plastic free in the kitchen:
1. For a simple plastic swap, buy refills and not the bottles . Did you know that more than 90% of a typical bottle of cleaning product is just water?
2. Buy kitchen items plastic free via reusable or recyclable packaging. It is also estimated that 20% or more of global disposable plastic packaging weight could be replaced by reusable packaging.
3. Use solid versions of items, like soap, as liquid soap has around 20 times more packaging on average than solid soap.
5 Of The Best Essentials & Swaps For A Plastic Free Kitchen
At pebble, all of our products are independently recommended by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission which goes to help run our publication. Learn more about this here.
1. Sponge Cloths: alternative to sponges
If You Care’s Sponge Cloths are extremely absorbent, with the ability to absorb up to 20 times their own weight in water, making one cloth the equivalent of 15 rolls of paper towels.
This means that cleaning is made more effective in the kitchen, when wiping down countertops and tables – amongst other surfaces.
Made from a blend of cellulose, non-GMO unbleached cotton and a natural mineral salt, mirabilite, If You Care’s Sponge Cloths are made from 100% renewable resources and are plastic free.
These incredible cloths are also reusable and washable, extending its life beyond standard sponges with up to 300 washes.
Furthermore, both the sponge cloths themselves and the packaging is certified compostable – meaning once they are no longer usable, simply put them in the compost bin!
Pros: sustainably sourced | compostable | reusable
Cons: no scour side
5 x sponge cloths for £4.58. Buy via Ethical Superstore.
2. WaxWrap: alternative to cling film
WaxWrap is the leading UK supplier of plastic-free food preservation. Their eco-friendly wax wraps are made from organic cotton impregnated with beeswax, pine resin and organic jojoba oil, making them flexible and long-lasting.
They provide three easy and inexpensive forms of wax wraps: food bags, cloth sheets, and a food roll.
These provide eco-friendly alternatives to cling film and aluminium foil, with the food roll being most like cling film.
Just like cling film, cut the roll to the desired size and wrap the food item with it or bowl, and can be used on the go or stored in the fridge – but one metre of WaxWrap is equivalent to 200 metres of plastic wrap.
Not only is it less wasteful in that these wax wraps are reusable, but also the food has no need to be wrapped multiple times, as is the case with standard cling film.
With proper care, one roll of beeswax wraps can last up to a year! And after the wax wrap can no longer be used, simply put the wax wrap in the compost bin.
Pros: no waste during lifecycle of product | compostable | reusable | organic | vegetarian society approved
Cons: not vegan
From £12.00. View on WaxWrap
3. Smol Sprays: alternative to plastic spray bottles
Smol is a great waste-free company providing cleaning products for around the house.
Their surface spray kit comes with three bottles for life, and cleaning tablets for multi-purpose cleaning, bathroom, and glass and mirrors.
The concentrated cleaning tablets are simply diluted with warm water from home, meaning customers get more for their money.
Available upon subscription, customers pay for the tablet only, which saves unnecessary plastic, water and CO2 emissions.
Smol is an easy way to transition to a plastic-free kitchen!
Pros: reduces waste | reduced emissions | easy subscription | recyclable packaging | cruelty free
Cons: can’t change the amount of tablets received | can’t specify the type of tablets needed
4. Household Gloves: replacement for plastic gloves
If You Care’s Household Gloves are perfect for protecting hands from difficult chores that demand elbow grease.
Made from FSC Certified latex, a natural rubber sourced responsibly, they are made to stay super strong.
Whether the gloves are needed for dishwashing, cleaning with harsh chemicals or even gardening, If You Care’s Household Gloves will become a second skin.
The gloves are available in three sizes (small, medium, and large) and are made to be used over, and over again.
Finally, due to the natural materials, these gloves are entirely compostable – meaning once they’ve helped the last scrub, they won’t be sticking around to litter the planet.
Pros: compostable | FSC certified | responsibly sourced | no animal testing
Cons: only three sizes available
From £3.96. Buy via Ethical Superstore.
5. Dishwasher Powder: alternative to tablets
The team at Bide are conscious of the chemicals that go into cleaning products, and thus create their own non-toxic and entirely eco-friendly range of products.
Bide’s Vegan Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Powder is made to be kind to the planet but tough to grime.
Unlike traditional, plastic-wrapped dishwasher tablets, Bide’s powder comes loose in a recyclable bag.
Not only does this mean less waste, but also the powder form allows users to dictate how much powder goes in each wash – allowing more flexibility for consumption.
On a standard wash, simply put two teaspoons of the power into the dishwasher compartment, and then the dishes are ready to be cleaned!
Suitable for eco cycle settings, and at an affordable price, there’s no reason to not swap to this plastic-free gem.
Pros: vegan | non-toxic | positive social impact | subscription available | B Corp pending
Cons: only available in one size
1 x 400g pouch (25 washes) for £5.00. Buy on Bide.