Frugal Family

Going Waste & Plastic Free

A few days ago I wrote a blog post about a Weigh-and-Save future. It talked about ditching the supermarket and starting to buy items from independent shops that don’t sell products in ridiculous packaging and where you only buy what you need.

Imagine that you can only afford £1 worth of laundry detergent because you’re skint. You would go to a shop where you only have to buy £1 worth of laundry detergent. It’s best to go ahead and buy that £1 worth of detergent, rather than not being able to afford a whole box. It would be amazing to spend less when pennies are tight. When buying loose food, it would reduce the amount we waste and also reduce the amount of packaging that ends up in the landfill. Many of us are guilty of buying too much. We can purchase a bag of bananas (eugh plastic bag alert!) and end up binning the odd banana that wasn’t eaten in time. In our house, any bananas that start going a bit off, I mash and freeze to use in cakes or smoothies. I am epic at freezing food to reduce waste!

Whilst I was writing the post about a Weight-And-Save future, I suddenly realised that despite being very frugal- only using cloth nappies, cloth sanitary protection, not buying kitchen roll and various other methods of saving money (such as preserving food), I do not think twice about buying something that is wrapped in plastic. I know how terrible it is, and when I get home I feel a pang of guilt when I throw something away that cannot be recycled.

I care about the planet, I do not want our oceans to be full of plastic bags, bottles and plastic trash. We only have one Earth, and if our generations are starting to see the effects of rubbish on Earth, imagine what it will be like for our children, grandchildren and other future generations. Suddenly I realised that I throw away lots of things. Only things that are no good to anybody else. I send stuff to the charity shops and I give things away to friends but my black bin is full on a weekly basis.

I decided that I want to try and throw away as little as possible. I see friends living a waste-free life or are living plastic – I find it inspiring. Admittedly one of them hasn’t got any children the other one only has one child, where I myself have four children. We are a large family of 6. Maybe it’s easier to do when there are less of you in a household?

Despite being very frugal I’ve always been careful not to waste food. Leftovers get used for future meals and scraps are fed to our chickens, dog and cats. Any food that really cannot be eaten goes into our huge compost bins.

Below is a list of a few things that we already do that reduce our household waste

  • Cloth Nappies- We have used these for all 4 children. Many of the nappies we use are some of the 1st we ever bought.
  • Cloth baby wipes- These are washed with our nappies. We have separate wipes for faces and hands.
  • Cloth sanitary towels and a Mooncup- My period has been waste-free for 3 years.
  • Knitted dishcloths- The first things I ever learnt to make. They last years and clean better than dish sponges, plus you can just throw them in the washing machine to use again and again.
  • Baby Clothes- Very rarely do we buy the kids clothes. Friends and family pass on old bits, which we then pass on when no longer needed.
  • Reusable bags- We always take a canvas bag to the shops and never buy the plastic bags available.
  • Many plastic items are reused again and again- Plant pots, plant labels and plastic food trays are used as plant pot trays. They are only binned or recycled when completely broken.

As you can tell we are very frugal and we do not waste much at all. But if we live a frugal waste minimal lifestyle why are we still friends so much away? Is it really possible as a large family of 6 to live a waste-free or reduced plastic lifestyle?

I asked some other bloggers what they do to waste less

Victoria who blogs at HealthyVix says “I am eco-conscious and one thing we do is order an organic fruit and veg box each week, it cuts down the amount of plastic packaging waste dramatically and we can also recycle the cardboard box.”

Katie from Living Life Our Way loves reusable straws and reusable food wraps! She also made the switch from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo one. She has lots of tips for green living on her blog!

Carla from Our Amanahs Our Futures says “I try and live as plastic free as possible. This week I swapped my children’s plastic water bottle and sippy cup with stainless steel ones. I have purchased a safety razor, so no more plastic disposables. One hour ago I received my first glass bottle of milk. I was so excited about it lol. Not only is going plastic-free better for our planet and our health, it also makes our homes look more stylish.”

Kate from Counting To Ten says “I bought some big packets of flannels when my eldest started weaning (you can get them in packs of 10 from Ikea) and I have used them for the last 6 years for cleaning up after meal times, wiping sticky fingers and clearing up spills etc. We have about 40 so I just stick them in the washing machine when they are all dirty. It must have saved us using a huge amount of kitchen towel and baby wipes over the years”

Naomi from Nomipaloni is a huge fan of reusable menstrual products, like me! “Update your menstrual products. I use a menstrual cup and have Thinx period panties. Reusable cloth sanitary towels are also a great product and have gorgeous designs these days.”

Ayse from Arepops says “Buy loose fruit and veg rather than pre packed and use reusable bags when shopping.” 

Irina who blogs at Wave To Mummy says “Stop buying stuff and where you already have stuff, reuse it until it is unusable and then recycle it. Don’t just replace with new better products or think that recycling is the key- first reduce, then reuse, then recycle!” Spot on, Irina.


Do you already live a waste free or plastic free lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below with your best tips.

Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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1 Comment

  1. Fab post. I don’t think I’ll be able to live plastic free but can certainly try. We always try reuse plastic bags and also always take fabric bags with us. And cloth nappies are a must!

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