Earth Day 2020: 10 easy ways to use less plastic and save money

Today the world is celebrating Earth Day – in fact it’s the 50th anniversary – making now the perfect time for all of us to do something kind for the environment. We’re constantly told we need to be consuming less single-use plastic, and most of us have been making changes to do so. However, with most of us also being money-conscious, how can we take easy eco-friendly action and save cash at the same time? Discover our 10 best tips for doing just that below.

1. Swap laundry gel and capsules for powder

Laundry capsules are really convenient but if you’re watching your pennies and your plastic, it might be time to go back to powder. Not only does powder generally come in cardboard boxes rather than plastic tubs or bottles, cost wise, it works out at roughly 30% less per wash. Keep in mind powder usually comes with a plastic scoop but it’s still less waste than the plastic tubs and bottles that capsules and gel are sold in, albeit recyclable.


2. Go back to soap bars

If you’re concerned about the amount of shower gel and hand wash bottles you get through, try switching to old-school bars of soap which are often cheaper and come in plastic-free packaging. You can pop it into a soap pouch for a firmer grip, better lather and gentle exfoliation.


3. Fruit & veg

Certain types of fruit and vegetables are cheaper to buy loose than packaged, or at least are the same price but you’ll need to check the cost per kg as it can vary. Supermarkets are also introducing brown paper bags, as well as reusable mesh bags to buy so you can avoid using unnecessary single-use plastic. Or even better, go without the bags for larger items – there’s no need for your produce to be separated on the journey home.


4. Fill for free

More and more free water stations are appearing in shops, cafes and train stations, allowing you to fill up your reusable water bottle at no cost, and you often don’t even need to be a customer. Even better, refill stations can be found at some airports after security, so you no longer have to spend over the odds for a bottle of water in the departure lounge.


5. Buy in bulk

Although more packaging-free refill shops are popping up around the country, they’re not always convenient or the most affordable option. If you have the budget and the space, consider buying your dry groceries in bulk. Rice, cereals, pasta and spices may still come in plastic, but generally larger volumes require less packaging than the equivalent amount split into smaller packages. Plus, you’ll find the cost per kg is considerably cheaper.


6. Coffee cups

Most of the big coffee chains (and many independents) offer a decent discount if you bring your own reusable coffee cup. Pret and Paul will give you a whopping 50p off your drink, Leon gives 45p and Nero will double your loyalty stamps – not to be sniffed at when you’re partial to a daily cappuccino on your commute.


7. Plastic bags

We all know by now to reuse our plastic bags, but did you know you can even make money on them? If you get your groceries delivered from Ocado, simply give the driver your unwanted plastic bags and you’ll get 5p back for each one (up to 99 bags) – they can be from any supermarket. Morrisons will give you 5p per bag too but you can only return their own bags.


8. Make a meal plan

A meal plan helps you reduce the amount of food waste you produce, in turn reducing the amount of packaging that ends up in your bin. So, make a list, stick to it and have a fridge-raid at the end of each week and use up any odds and ends in a soup, omelette or fritter.


9. Get cooking

Those of you who are willing to put in that extra effort, remember each time you make your own loaf of bread, pizza base or cake, you’re generating one less piece of waste, and often spending less cash if you already have some basic ingredients in.


10. Avoid pre-prepared fruit & veg

Not only can pre-peeled and cut produce cost up to three times more than when it’s bought whole, it’s hard to avoid the plastic packaging it comes in. Yes, loose onions, carrots and pineapple are a bit of a hassle to prepare but try setting aside half an hour each week to do the prep. Google is your friend when figuring out how best to store prepared fruit and veg for optimum freshness.