The plastic bag charge and reports of damage to the environment has led to a huge shift in consumer behaviour. Plastic is a big issue but there are many other products that require lots of energy, water and trees, all limited resources, in their manufacture. Alternatives are becoming more accessible and popular, so what can people do at home to be more sustainable?
Zero waste stores are becoming more common and have refill stations where you can top up on products such as shower gels, detergents and food products, using your own containers. Supermarkets are often happy for you to take clean containers along for purchases from the deli, fish and meat counters. A simple bottle of water refilled time and again saves money and waste.
The production of kitchen roll and toilet paper uses an enormous amount of water and trees.
Old clothes and towels can be repurposed as washable alternatives to kitchen roll or wipes.
If you prefer kitchen roll, bamboo ones are made from a sustainable source and can be machine washed. Toilet paper made from recycled materials is sold in many supermarkets.
Cling film is single use, but beeswax wraps are handy alternatives for sandwich wrapping or covering food. They can be re-used and are compostable when past their best.
Need a book? Borrow a good read, from the library or have a look at second hand shops supporting a good cause.
A bar of soap is as effective as hand wash pumps without all the packaging. Again, refills are available for hand wash if you prefer them. Shampoo and conditioner bars can last much longer than bottles and just like deodorant bars remove the need for plastic.
Colgate estimates the UK uses 264 million toothbrushes a year - a staggering amount of plastic that is usually thrown away. A rechargeable toothbrush would produce less waste; bamboo ones can be composted when worn out. Even chewable toothpaste tablets exist, removing much plastic and paper packaging.
Rechargeable batteries can be used hundreds of times, compensating for the initial cost.
Lastly, in a lifetime a woman will use around 11,000 menstrual products. Most contain plastic and sadly, most are not disposed of correctly. Washable pads, sanitary knickers and menstrual cups could save money over time and reduce the environmental impact.
Many things can be swapped, refilled or repurposed. Only a few have been mentioned here. What works for one may not for another, but even one swap makes a difference.