30+ Easy Plastic Free Swaps for Plastic Free July (and Beyond)

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It’s Plastic Free July, a time to think about our use of single use plastics and see what we can do to cut down on this habit. Let’s be clear right away though — it’s definitely not a reason to chuck out the plastic you have! If you have it, use it! And use it until it falls apart! Those old Tupperware containers? The plastic reusable drinks bottle? They are perfectly good. The roll of sandwich bags in the drawer? Use them (a few times if possible) but just don’t buy any more. You get the idea. It’s all about planning to swap when your current plastic version breaks/runs out. So with that in mind, I’m sharing the easy direct plastic free swaps you could make to help you use less plastic every day, without it being a pain. I’d love it if you could choose just a handful: don’t feel like you have to do all of them!

Easy Swaps for Plastic Free July

Here are over 25 easy plastic free swaps you can start doing right now, or plan to use when you can, to reduce single use plastics in your home and when you’re out an about.

Remember, it’s not about doing plastic free perfectly — it’s about everyone doing it imperfectly! Just choosing one or two of these ideas will make a difference.

This list is by no means exhaustive — I’m sure there are lots I can add!

Plastic Free July is pretty daunting — I can’t say I won’t use any plastic all month and I don’t expect you to either. I am really trying hard to live a more sustainable, greener life. But not using any plastic is still a looooong way off for me. Use this Plastic Free Swaps guide as a planning list, so you can gradually cut down your plastic use over time.

Let’s start with the easy swaps you can make to reduce single use plastic when you’re out. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make these, and hopefully you’re already doing some or all of them. I’m starting with the plastic free swaps I hope everyone is already doing, but read on for plastic free ideas you may not have considered before.

PInk-Ohelo-reusable-water-bottle-in-a-cycle-bottle-holder
PInk-Ohelo-reusable-water-bottle-in-a-cycle-bottle-holder

My favourite reusable bottle is from Ohelo, (gifted years ago) and is 100% leak proof, double walled and lightweight. Did you know that lots of companies use a material that contains lead to create their vacuum insulation? Ohelo don’t: they use lead-free solder because it’s better for their workers, and for their customers.

The blossom pattern is etched onto the bottle, so it don’t peel off or fade away. The wide neck means you can add ice cubes if you like, and it keeps water really cold for hours. It fits perfectly in my bike holder too.

Shole plastic free reusable cup
Shole plastic free reusable cup

The majority of takeaway drinks cups are lined with some form of plastic. Some places, like the National Trust, have compostable ones, especially now during the pandemic. But a reusable is just better all round! It saves so much waste and the drinks taste better too.

I have a few and one of my favourite is metal from Shole (gifted years ago), and keeps drinks hot for hours and hours!

Plastic free essentials including Brew Tea tea leaves, a reusable metal coffee cup, glass mayonnaise, bamboo unpaper towels and a reusable organic cotton string bag, on a work top in a grey and white kitchen
Plastic free essentials including Brew Tea tea leaves, a reusable metal coffee cup, glass mayonnaise, bamboo unpaper towels and a reusable organic cotton string bag, on a work top in a grey and white kitchen

This is another no-brainer but taking reusable shopping bags is such an easy plastic free swap. The hardest part is actually remembering to take them with you. It’s all about getting into the habit of it — I leave some in my car for emergencies and have a string bag and one that packs down that’s made of recycled bottles, that I pop into my handbags.

I also have fab reusable net bags for loose fruit and veg at the supermarket. They work so well and are such an easy zero waste swap.

Storing red grapes in a Stasher bag
Storing red grapes in a Stasher bag

I wrote a whole post waxing lyrical about the benefits of plastic-free silicone Stasher bags (previous ad). They have so many uses, but one of their main ones is as a reusable version of the humble sandwich bag. They are fab for sandwiches and other food on picnics and they weight practically nothing they won’t be cumbersome to carry when you’ve eaten the food.

Apple in a beeswax wrap
Apple in a beeswax wrap

I am trying to use eco-friendly, re-useable Beeswax Wraps in place of clingfilm where I can. Made from cotton with a beeswax coating, they are flexible and breathable, keeping food fresher for longer. There are no nasties to leech into the food, and the warmth from your hands moulds them to whatever you’re wrapping up. I use one to wrap up an apple when I go out, to cover bowls in the fridge, and to wrap up blocks of cheese.

You just wash them in cold water with dish soap and they are ready to use again. You can reactivate them a warm oven and eventually when they wear out you can compost it. The Beeswax Wrap Co have a great range of clingfilm alternatives here. We save so much single-use plastic by using them every day!

So we have covered the easy plastic free swaps you can make when you’re out of the home, but what about inside? Don’t worry, I have plenty!

Nothing Wasted Refill Shop makes eco shopping easier
Nothing Wasted Refill Shop makes eco shopping easier

OK so this could also fall under ‘out and about’ but as you’d use the products at home, I’ve popped this plastic free idea here. I am so happy to see Refill Stores popping up around the country. I’m lucky enough to have two refill stores close to me. You just take your containers, and refill them with whatever you need — no packaging required! Find out more about the benefits of refill stores here.

You can find a great list of zero waste and refill shops shops here, hopefully there's one near you.

Whilst some plastics can be recycled, that can only happen a finite number of times before becoming useless. Eventually, it ends up in land fill, one way or another, so the best thing to do is avoid it where you can. Glass, however, doesn’t lose its integrity no matter how many times it’s recycled.

Milk bottles in front of a pink door
Milk bottles in front of a pink door

We have swapped plastic single-use milk containers for glass ones thanks to our milkman or lady. Plastic milk containers are a typical single-use plastic and according to Friends of the Earth, “The number of times an average glass milk bottle is reused is around 15. And it can be as much as 50 times. Overall that makes re-usable milk bottles a more energy-efficient choice than disposable plastic.”

It’s a really easy zero waste swap. The milk (and other goodies) get delivered to your doorstep, and then the empty bottles get collected for reuse.

We use Milk & More and have been really pleased with the service. You can sign up to Milk & More here. It is a bit more expensive than buying milk from a supermarket but for us, it’s worth it.

Swap plastic sauce bottles for glass ones to reduce waste
Swap plastic sauce bottles for glass ones to reduce waste

I now also buy glass condiments bottles and jars instead of the squeezy ones. It feels a bit retro, but glass is so much easier to recycle than plastic for recycling.

I think changing back to glass is a small, easy zero waste swap. We are now used to storing our ketchup upside down again, like in the 80s.

I also try to buy a glass version when I buy things like spices, honey, peanut butter etc. It all helps!

Tony's Chocolonely is the ethical plastic free chocolate and available in so many delicious flavours
Tony's Chocolonely is the ethical plastic free chocolate and available in so many delicious flavours

Most chocolate and sweets come in plastic wrappers now. But Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate comes in foil and paper. They are ethically produced and the company is fighting child labour and slave labour which is rife in the chocolate industry. They also taste ah-ma-zing so you can enjoy the taste and knowing you’re helping a great cause. They are available in some super markets and in independent shops, including lots of refill shops.

I don’t think I’m alone in being shocked that tea bags contain tiny particles of plastic. I was horrified, especially as we used to put them on our compost heap, thinking they are biodegradable.

Loose leaf tea and a strainer are easy zero waste swaps
Loose leaf tea and a strainer are easy zero waste swaps

So I now use a tea pot and strainer, and also a stainless steel tea infuser, which you can buy here for £6.99, with loose leaf tea. I get mine from Brew Tea Company on subscription as they have paper packaging and compostable inner wrapping and it tastes unbeatable. Follow this link for £10 off your first order of £25 or more and I’ll also get £10 off my next order. They have the most gorgeous teapots and other accessories too.

Apart from reducing microplastics, this tea tastes so much better, so it’s a win/win.

Splosh refills
Splosh refills

When your washing up liquid or spray cleaner runs out, get them filled up at a refill store. If you don’t have one nearby, I recommend Splosh. They also do refills for toilet cleaner and hand soap, laundry liquid and dishwasher tablets, and some beauty products.

The refills come in a cardboard box and although the actual refills are made of some kind of plastic, the formula is highly concentrated so you get 3 or 4 bottle’s worth from one pouch. And they take them back for recycling. Ive been impressed by them and you can give Splosh a try here using the code W2Z4W51ZQ7 and my name (Becky Pink) to get 15% off.

A black sink with a range of eco-friendly plastic-free kitchen essentials
A black sink with a range of eco-friendly plastic-free kitchen essentials

SaveMoneyCutCarbon have a fab selection of plastic-free cleaning goods. Pop over to see how easy it is to swap to plastic free kitchen items. And how much nicer do they look too? I also like compostable sponges and loofah sponges.

Naked Sprout eco friendly toilet roll delivery
Naked Sprout eco friendly toilet roll delivery

The majority of toilet paper is wrapped in single-use plastic. But there is an alternative that’s way more eco-friendly, as well as being plastic free. I’ve compared three types of toilet roll and you can see the results in my in depth review. Naked Sprout bamboo toilet paper came out top in the eco stakes and you can save 10% off your first delivery using the code PINKSCHARMING through this link.

Looking for easy plastic free ideas? I have 25+ easy swaps you can make to reduce your plastic use, for a greener, more sustainable life. You may not want to (or be able to) make all of them but every eco friendly swap you make will make a difference and you can add more when you have the time! | #pinkscharming
Looking for easy plastic free ideas? I have 25+ easy swaps you can make to reduce your plastic use, for a greener, more sustainable life. You may not want to (or be able to) make all of them but every eco friendly swap you make will make a difference and you can add more when you have the time! | #pinkscharming

Most households go through plenty of big plastic bottles of laundry liquid so if you have one of them already, why not get it refilled at your local refill store? If not, here are some other laundry solutions with no single-use plastics in sight. And how about swapping to plastic-free dishwasher tablets too?

We love our SMOL eco-friendly dishwasher tablet subscription which comes in cardboard packaging that’s easy to recycle. We’ve also been using SMOL’s non-bio laundry capsules too, and we’re impressed by both the cleaning power and convenience. They both have a bio plastic film which dissolves in the water.

Both products use less chemicals than leading brands, and use ethically sourced essential oils for fragrance. SMOL use recycled and recyclable cardboard packaging in clever child-lock boxes for safety.

Smol eco-friendly dishwashing tablets in recyclable cardboard safety pack.
Smol eco-friendly dishwashing tablets in recyclable cardboard safety pack.
Smol eco-friendly non bio laundry capsules in recyclable cardboard safety pack
Smol eco-friendly non bio laundry capsules in recyclable cardboard safety pack

It’s really easy to order these eco-friendly capsules online. You tell them how often you run your dishwasher or washing machine and they automatically work out when you’ll need a new packet, and send it to you.

Because the capsules are super-concentrated they don’t take as much packaging or energy to deliver. The package fits through the door, so it’s much more convenient than lugging big bottles home from the supermarket. They are also up to 50% cheaper than leading brands, at 16p a capsules.

SMOL do not test on animals or use any animal products, so they are great for vegans, and have Leaping Bunny and Peta certification.

You can order a free trial of SMOL Dishwasher Tablets here. You can order a free trial of SMOL Laundry Capsules in bio or non-bio here.

Hand holding a lilac Eco Egg
Hand holding a lilac Eco Egg

I have experimented with making my own eco-friendly washing liquid, which works really well. It’s not totally waste free as the ingredients have packaging, but it is super-concentrated, so does generate less waste. Years ago, I tried Soap Nuts, but to be honest I didn’t think they worked very well. So I’m now using a Laundry Egg from Eco Egg with great results.

“Just pop it in the drum of your washing machine — no powder, liquid, tablets or gels required. The two types of mineral pellets inside the egg get to work, producing cleaning foam which powers through the fibres lifting off the dirt and grime.

Eco Egg

You can read my full review of the Eco Egg here, and see how much money it saves us.

Plastic free paper parcel tape, one with a black house pattern and one plain
Plastic free paper parcel tape, one with a black house pattern and one plain

Hopefully you’ve already stopped buying shiny or glittery wrapping paper (it’s impossible to recycle) but if you’re still using plastic tape, there is a great alternative! You could use washi tape, but that’s not always strong enough. But paper tape definitely is!

You can buy basic plain brown paper tape which is ideal for sending parcels. Or how about some pretty patterned tape like this one? It’s great for presents, especially when teamed with brown paper.

Our bathrooms are mostly crammed full of plastic — from shampoo and shower gel bottles, to toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. Going totally plastic-free is a huge challenge (we certainly haven’t managed it!) but even one or two swaps would make a big difference.

Every plastic toothbrush and tube of toothpaste the human race has ever used is still hanging about on Earth. Swapping a plastic toothbrush for one with a bamboo handle is such an easy zero waste swap.

Plastic free dental care on a white marble background
Plastic free dental care on a white marble background

Bamboo has loads of environmental benefits, as one of the fastest growing plants on the earth. It’s actually not a wood, but belongs to the grass family. It is renewable, as bamboo forests can be grown in a few years. As well as reducing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, it also consumes a lot of nitrogen, which can help reduce water pollution. Bamboo also biodegrades, unlike plastic.

My Little Eco has a fab range of bamboo toothbrushes and you can find this pink one here. Use the code PINKSCHARMING for 15% off your order.

You may be wondering what the little tablets are — well they are toothpaste! You crush them between your teeth and brush with a wet toothbrush. They take a little getting used to but do foam up pretty well. They work so well and you can get versions with or without fluoride but I prefer with. These little tablets are perfect for travel and take up very little space. Plus the metal container is plastic-free as well. Don’t forget your 15% off code: PINKSCHARMING

I swapped conventional deodorant for a natural, plastic free version years ago. My favourite is from Natural Deodorant Co and it has never let me down!

Two glass jars of The Natural Deodorant Co zero waste deodorants
Two glass jars of The Natural Deodorant Co zero waste deodorants

These natural deodorants from the Natural Deodorant Co are my favourites. A little goes a long way so one glass jar lasts ages — about three months for me. And they actually WORK, even thought it’s made of all natural, non toxic ingredients.

It has glass bottom and a tin top so both parts are easily recyclable but they are also reusable if you wash them out well after use.

These jars of creamy paste have minimal ingredients and no aluminium so they are so much better for your skin. It comes in a few ranges including Active which is perfect for your busy days and Clean which is ideal the rest of the time. I have both and they both work brilliantly but the Active one smells nicer, of bergamot and orange: gorgeous. So I use that one all the time now.

SHOP NATURAL DEODORANT HERE

If you want to see other zero-waste natural deodorants that work, take a look at this review, where I compare three more.

It is possible to have a (more) comfortable and eco-friendly period! Here are some easy swaps you can try that don’t have any single use plastics at all.

Period Pants are a game changer and I’d encourage you to buy one pair to try them out. My favourite brand of period underwear is WUKA, because they are ethically made, sustainably sourced, and carbon neutral. Unlike the vast majority of disposables.

A close crop of Becky wearing black WUKA High Waisted reusable Period Pants and a t-shirt with Strong Girls Club printed in red. Becky stands with one hand on her hip and is wearing pink nail varnish
A close crop of Becky wearing black WUKA High Waisted reusable Period Pants and a t-shirt with Strong Girls Club printed in red. Becky stands with one hand on her hip and is wearing pink nail varnish

These pants are surprisingly comfortable and much less bulky than wearing normal pants and a traditional sanitary pad. It’s also lovely not to have the wings poking out! They feel quite silky and are true to size.

You’ll need a few pairs, and they are an investment. But even if you rely on tampons, cups or pads for some of the time, using these pants will cut down on your waste.

I know you’ll have lots of questions about period pants — don’t worry I have answered them all — read Everything You Need To Know About Reusable Period Pants.

SHOP ALL WUKA REUSABLE PERIOD PANTS HERE

Another easy plastic free swap is using a menstrual cup. They are are worn internally like a tampon, but they collect blood, rather than absorbing it. The Mooncup is probably the best-known menstrual cup, which is £17.95 at Ethical Superstore. Ethical Superstore also sell the OrganiCup, which is £18.95.

Both makes come in two different sizes. They are made from medical grade silicone, which is hygienic and easy to clean. That means they are free from bleach, glue, perfume, chlorine and lotion, unlike most tampons and sanitary towels. OrganiCup say “the average woman uses 30 tampons or pads per month, that’s approximately 360 per year.” That’s per person. So investing £20 will easily save money after just a few months, as they last for a few years. And the environmental benefits are even better!

Finding a good natural sun cream is really difficult. I’ve tested loads of clean sun creams and found a few I like, but they are mostly still in plastic bottles. Shade is different, as it comes in an aluminium tub.

Shade organic All-Natural Sunscren SPF25 with swatch on hand smoothed in
Shade organic All-Natural Sunscren SPF25 with swatch on hand smoothed in

Shade sunscreen is 100% natural, and has just four ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil, zinc oxide and beeswax. It’s also great value, with an SPF of 25. The girls like it and like putting it on themselves, and I got a couple of trial sizes for their school bags. As it’s a more solid texture, it takes more rubbing in, but for some reason that doesn’t bother my kids. It feels a bit heavy on the skin for my taste.

BUY HERE

I love these shower gel tablets by Ben & Anna, which come in a recyclable paper bag and foam up beautifully, without drying skin out. Each of these little tablets lasts for at least 5 showers and they come in two scents. I popped mine in an old glass jar as I didn’t want the paper bag to go mushy.

Ramie natural exfoliating mitt
Ramie natural exfoliating mitt

I used to love those net exfoliating gloves for smoothing my skin in the shower, but then I realised how bad they are for the planet. Now I use these Ramie plant-based mitts, and they are the perfect swap.

Rose gold Mutiny Shaving safety razor, shaving brush and shaving soap
Rose gold Mutiny Shaving safety razor, shaving brush and shaving soap

This is a swap I am on the fence about as I cut myself so much whenever I try it. But my husband is a convert so I recommend looking in to swapping your razor to a metal safety razor to see if it will work for you.

Using a plastic free safety razor does mean a bit of re-learning. You need to angle the razor in a different way, and apply less pressure. You even shave in the opposite direction!

The new blades are so cheap — just £1.50 for 5, and no plastic at all.

Aside from the plastic bottles shampoo and conditioner comes in, what about hair bands, styling products and dry shampoo? They are good swaps to make when your old ones run out or break. (Or get lost in the case of hair ties!)

Rowdy Kind Plastic Free Shampoo and Conditioner bars and reusable tin
Rowdy Kind Plastic Free Shampoo and Conditioner bars and reusable tin

I’ve tried a lot of solid shampoos over the last few years and some are good. But many have really not worked well. And the conditioner bars are even more of a minefield. But I use Rowdy Kind plastic free natural shampoo and conditioner bars on the girls’ hair and am impressed.

They do take a little longer, as you have to work up a lather more than normal shampoo. But the girls’ hair looks great and they smell amazing.

Plastic free zero waste biodegradable hair bands
Plastic free zero waste biodegradable hair bands

When I buy new hair bands, I buy plastic-free, natural latex and organic cotton hair ties like these from Ethical Superstore. They work the same as high street brands but don’t damage the planet as much.

Plastic free beauty is an area I am still looking in to. But I do have a few plastic free swaps I can wholeheartedly recommend!

Evolve Organic Beauty Gentle Cleansing Melt
Evolve Organic Beauty Gentle Cleansing Melt

Most cleansers come in plastic bottles. But not this gorgeous cleanser from Evolve Organic Beauty, which comes in glass. This was the first 100% natural cleanser I tried and it’s one of the best. It feels amazing on the skin and you can reuse or recycle the glass jar when you’ve used it up. The lid is plastic, but since I reuse the jars I think that’s OK but of course it would be great if they could swap to tin.

The vast majority of make-up comes in plastic containers, and often are very difficult to recycle. I have found a fab range of plastic-free mineral make-up, and what’s more, it gives great result! Read all about it and see the results here.

Love The Planet: Zero Waste Make-up That Works

I love this plastic free lip balm from Beauty Made Easy. It’s 100% natural origin and comes in cardboard packaging.

If you’re a parent to a baby, or a parent-to-be, have you thought about using reusable nappies? They are a brilliant plastic free swap but can be daunting. Emma Reed has written a great blog post for newbies to reusable nappies!

Where Do I Start With Cloth Nappies?

SAVE 15% AT MY LITTLE ECO SHOP

For 15% off your order at My Little Eco Shop follow this link and use the code PINKSCHARMING — they have a great range of eco-friendly and plastic free beauty, dental and home products.

SAVE 15% AT SPLOSH

Use the code W2Z4W51ZQ7 and my name (Becky Pink) to get 15% off.

SMOL FREE TRIALS

You can order a free trial of SMOL Dishwasher Tablets here. You can order a free trial of SMOL Laundry Capsules in bio or non-bio here.

SAVE 10% ON NAKED SPROUT BAMBOO TOILET PAPER

Save 10% off your first delivery using the code PINKSCHARMING through this link.

GET £10 OFF AT BREW TEA LOOSE LEAF TEA AND TEA POTS

Follow this link for £10 off your first order of £25 or more and I’ll also get £10 off my next order.

Please Pin these Plastic Free Swaps for later and spread the word!

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