It is widely accepted that we are slowly destroying our world with plastic. This resilient material takes 1,000 years to decompose, which means it is filling our landfills and our oceans with no intention of disappearing anytime soon.
One way in which we can help our planet is to reduce how much plastic we use. This is a challenging task simply because so much of what we consume comes with plastic, whether it’s the packaging from online purchases or the plastic microbeads in our cosmetics.
Finding reusable materials today is quite easy. Many companies are championing efficiency through their products and packaging as a way of making their business more sustainable. However, things such as plastics, fibres, glass and polystyrene that make up a big part of the things we consume are still not recyclable. The human race has become rather reliant on these materials but even though they may be non-recyclable, that doesn’t mean they aren’t reusable. Let’s take a look at some of the best reusable materials that can be found in your home and how you can make the most out of them.
Finding Uses For Reusable Materials
Glass and metals are great reusable materials. Their durable and hardwearing nature means that they can be used for an abundance of craft, storage and repurposing ideas, it all depends on what you’re looking to create. When it comes to reusable materials, the internet is your best tool, there are hundreds of ideas and step by step guides that you can use for inspiration. Whether it’s a desk organiser, store for dry food or a mini herb garden, there are lots of alternative things you can use glass jars and cans for.
Crafting With Reusable Materials
Art supplies and craft materials can be quite expensive, but they don’t have to be. There are lots of reusable materials around the home that the kids can use to get crafty. Old lollipop sticks, plastic bottles and fabrics are just some of the things that usually make it straight to the bin. Keep hold of anything that could be made interesting and suitable for kids and you’ll have a whole world of craft opportunities to explore.
Textiles As Reusable Materials
Fabrics and textiles are your friends when it comes to finding new uses for old items; these reusable materials open up new possibilities for creating your own unique fashion pieces or home interior decorations. Cutting up any old fabrics and materials is a great way to not only make new pieces of clothing, accessories and soft furnishings but to enhance existing ones with the reusable materials at hand. Whether you’re creating rags to wash up with or doing some DIY denim patchwork, every last inch of fabric and piece of unwanted textile are reusable materials that can serve a purpose.
Enjoying reusable materials doesn’t always have to be centred around personal DIY projects, encouraging items to be reused can be a case of passing things on for others to make use of. If you find yourself no longer watching that DVD, wearing that ill-fitting top or hoarding unused bedding, it might be time to pass them on. Whether you donate your items to a charity shop, a homeless shelter or just a swap them between friends, passing on what you no longer use is a positive way to improve someone else’s life and free yours from clutter.
Using Reusable Materials In The Garden
Growing your own plants and food is a great way of making the most of the reusable materials in your garden. Create the base of your garden using recycled wood, plastic or glass to encourage stability and drainage whilst giving your garden a unique look. You can then begin to make your own compost by using leftover food waste from your kitchen, and plant seeds that have been reused from fruit and veg to start your crop. By maximising on the reusable materials around you, this sustainable process can be as continuous as you like.
Reusing materials is about more than just adding a little DIY to your home, it’s a lifestyle that comes with an abundance of benefits for both you and the planet. Reusable materials allow you to create interesting pieces for your interior as well as being great gift ideas that are cheaper alternatives to mass-produced products. Reusing what’s around you isn’t just cost-effective, it’s also much better for the environment. Keeping non-recyclable materials out of the waste stream by finding alternative uses for reusable materials lightens the impact on the environment by making sure there is less pollution and a reduced amount of hazardous waste.
But it can be done – and the easiest way is to start with one aspect of your life at a time. Here are some tips on how you can reduce plastic waste in your kitchen.
Buying your food loose
A lot of the food in supermarkets comes wrapped in plastic, especially fruit and veg. Try and pick up fruit and veg that is on offer in its loose form – i.e. that is not pre-packaged in plastic. If big-chain supermarkets do not have such vegetables, it should be easy to find food like this from your local greengrocer. Because we buy food so often, cutting down the plastic you buy in this form can really make a difference.
Choosing beeswax food wraps
Cling film is an integral part of any household; it is just a convenient way of keeping your food fresh. But it also generates a lot of plastic waste. An environmentally friendly way of running your kitchen is to switch to beeswax food wraps. These wraps are reusable, recyclable and made out organic materials that decompose easier. And their product lifecycle is longer: you can use beeswax food wraps for about a year before you consider buying new ones, which means they are an excellent alternative to cling film.
Carry cloth shopping bags
This one is simple and obvious, but startlingly effective. If you have ever collected the number of plastic bags you receive when shopping in a supermarket, you will know that it adds up to a large amount. Simply carrying a cloth bag each time you shop can make a huge difference. So much so that supermarkets are now on the bandwagon, offering you reusable cloth bags instead of plastic ones.
Stop using plastic sponges
One of the most intriguing things about plastic is that it comes in many forms, making it difficult to identify it. Did you know our everyday kitchen sponges are made of plastic? The soft yellow part (which feels like natural sponge) is a plastic-based polymer and the green, scrubbing layer is a harder polyethylene mesh. You can find several alternatives to a plastic sponge that are both more sanitary and will make your kitchen greener.
Use alternatives to plastic food bags
Several of us have plastic Ziploc bags that we use to store our greens and our veg in the fridge. These bags act as an easy form of organisation, and are a great way to keep our vegetables fresh. But you don’t have to choose plastic – there are now several great eco-friendly alternatives, such as Vejibags and other eco-friendly bags, for exactly the same purpose. There are also several ways in which you can keep your fruit and veg fresh without resorting to bags. The HuffPost does an excellent breakdown of what your options are if you don’t want to use plastic.
Tackling the plastic problem can sometimes feels like a Herculean task. There is so much plastic in our environment and our lives that the material seems omnipresent. But each action counts. De-cluttering your kitchen is an important step in removing plastic from your life – it will leave you feeling greener, cleaner, and happier!
Take a look at our upcycled items for your home