If you've noticed an abundance of children (and traffic) everywhere you go, or tried to book a last-minute holiday on a budget, you'll know that August is upon us. As July comes to an end, we're looking back at Plastic Free July - the worldwide campaign to get people ditching at least one piece of single-use plastic for the month.
We took on the challenge by choosing a different area to tackle each week - the kitchen, housekeeping, the bathroom, and the working day. Each week, we asked you to share with us your plastic-free habits and tips. Here they are...
'Beeswax wraps, I love them. Such a great idea.' Michelle
When it comes to the kitchen, we learned that reusable cleaning wipes are your commonest plastic-free swap. A few of you also use old clothes and towels to do the job - both great alternatives to disposable wipes with plastic fibres and packaging. Many of you have switched from non-recyclable cling film to reusable wax food wraps for environmentally-friendly (and super stylish) food storage. Great stuff!
'I make a homemade cleaner using white vinegar water and essential oils using a glass bottle to keep it in to clean my home.' Kirsty
This week showed us that with just a handful of basic ingredients, we can create our own simple, homemade cleaners for pretty much any use at home. These are the gems to have to hand for anyone wanting to limit plastic and toxic chemicals:
Bicarbonate of soda: it seems there is little this traditional store-cupboard staple can’t do! You're using it to clean fridges and freshen carpets, and as a go-to ingredient in many of your homemade cleaning mixes. You're also leaving it in a bowl with your favourite essential oils to create an air freshener.
White vinegar: another multi-purpose ingredient that works well with your favourite essential oils to make a fragrant fabric conditioner, and a general surface cleaner. Just add water to dilute. Mixed with lemon and warm water, it works as a white soak mix, to revive dull undies and summer whites. On its own, you're also using it with a reusable cloth or newspaper to get sparkling clean windows.
Lemon: the natural acidic properties in citrus works well in all-purpose cleaning. We love your microwave cleaning mix (lemon juice, vinegar and water)! Or use half a lemon to wipe down surfaces.
Essential oils: you're using these beautifully scented oils, mixed with other natural ingredients, for various natural and chemical-free options, to keep your furniture and home looking and smelling clean. Our favourite ideas are the fruity fabric freshener, made with essential oils, citrus peel and water, and the fresh anti-bacterial spray, made from a lavender and tea tree oil mix and added water.
"[I use] soap, scrub & shampoo/conditioner bars, which I store in a beautiful bamboo box." Cheryl
In the bathroom, lots of us love soap and shampoo bars; they leave hair clean, shiny and soft, without the wasteful packaging. Also popular are toothpaste tablets and bamboo toothbrushes. Some of you are even making your own toothpaste with bicarb of soda.
In recent months, many of you have started using reusable make-up removal pads and cloths. You've also shared some of your natural beauty tips: using apple cider as a conditioning hair rinse, and coconut oil for make-up removal and baby’s cradle cap.
To avoid plastic-packaged bleach when cleaning the bathroom, we tried making our own toilet bombs. All you need for these is to mix baking soda, citric acid, drops of essential oil and just enough water to bind the powder. Pat these into an ice cube tray and leave them to set, then pop the toilet bombs out. Drop one into the toilet every day to help keep it clean - children will love these!
'I used to get really frustrated that there were only single use plastic cups for the water fountain! I spoke to purchasing and managed to get this swapped to paper cups and I also try and encourage everyone to bring in refillable bottles. We also have a recycling box that I take home weekly and empty myself.' Natalie
Plastic-free solutions at work might not seem as simple as at home (did somebody say vending machines?) Unlike at home, work isn't always a place where we have control of the waste we create or what happens to it, but you still had some great stories to share of positive changes you've managed to make.
On an individual level, many of us are using paper folders as an alternative to plastic polly pockets, and the increasingly popular reusable flask cups and bottles. These are more convenient, nicer to use and more environmentally friendly than wasteful plastic vending and water filter cups. Bringing your own cup to work also means you can use your favourite choice of coffee or tea, and your own reusable bags, saving money in the long run, and getting a better cuppa for it. Especially impressive are those of you who can sit your home brew on your desk next your bamboo lunch box and cutlery!
Thank you so much for sharing your advice and ideas with us this Plastic Free July. We've learnt a lot from you and hope you also enjoyed hearing about what others are doing to remove plastic from the everyday.
Going plastic free doesn't have to stop at July, and can't if we're to do something about the 8 million pieces of plastic that find their way into our oceans every year. We'd love you to join us on the journey going forward as we discover and adopt new aspects of sustainable living.
If you'd like to join us, sign up to our monthly email at the bottom of the page where we'll continue to share stories and inspiration for sustainable, plastic-free living throughout the year.