Thinking about going plastic-free? This eco warrior’s daily diary is all the inspo you need

If you care about the planet but have no idea how to help, you’re not alone.

New research from SodaStream revealed that 95% of Brits now believe they can personally make a difference to the plight of the planet, compared to just 36% in March 2017. Despite this, 6.2 million still haven’t made any effort to reduce their single-use plastic intake.

Legal & General Investment Management’s ‘Own Your World’ campaign reveals an impressive nine out of ten (92%) of the 18 to 55 year-olds surveyed said that minimising their impact on the environment is important, with 27% of under 35s saying it is *very* important.

Over half have pledged to buy less plastic bottles than this time last year and one third carry a reusable water bottle daily – in a bid to reduce the 19.2 million disposable bottles dumped in landfill every day *gasps*. We’re not just bottling it, as 79% are cutting down on supermarket 5p bags and half are saying no to plastic straws.

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So if you’re hoping to jump on the plastic-free bandwagon, we’ve enlisted eco campaigner and zero waste advocate, Kate Arnell, to share a day in her plastic-free life in the hope that it will inspire you to do the same.

Plastic Free Guide

9 am – I enjoy reading a chapter or two of a book with a cup of coffee in bed for an hour. I work from home so I’m lucky I can set my own schedule. I brush my teeth using my wooden toothbrush and use a sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda bought from bulk (loose!) instead of toothpaste.

9:15 am – Breakfast time! I either have a bowl of organic oats with full fat organic milk that is delivered by my milkman in returnable glass bottles, or two organic fried eggs on toast. And I love coffee, so I buy the beans loose and grind them in my blender and enjoy a french press. No wasteful coffee pods!

11am – Shower up. I know, I have a weird routine, but I like showering mid-morning! I use a bar of soap instead of shower gel, a reusable stainless steel safety razor to shave and a shampoo bar to wash my hair. I’m obsessed with Beauty Kubes at the moment – plastic-free shampoo “kubes” that are made in Cornwall and work so well! To condition my hair I rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar… I know it sounds really hippie and I never thought I’d be someone who uses vinegar on my hair, but it works.

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For deodorant I pat on some bicarbonate of soda. Some people have a reaction to this, like my husband, so he uses a bicarb-free deodorant that we buy in a compostable cardboard tube by Meow Meow Tweet. I also use an organic body butter that comes in a compostable cardboard container. Some people love to DIY their own beauty products – I’ve tried but it’s not my skill set, so instead, I use a few simple kitchen cupboard swaps and buy the rest. Acalaonline.com is a new site selling plastic-free beauty, which I love.

Makeup was one of the hardest things to find low-waste or plastic-free. I started out by simplifying and considered what I truly need: foundation, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick and bronzer. I managed to find an eye kohl by Fat & The Moon that works as both a mascara and an eyeliner and comes in a recyclable metal tin. I love it when a product is multi-purpose! The foundation I use is non-toxic and comes in a metal tin and I use cocoa powder as a bronzer, which I buy from bulk. The only product that comes with a bit of plastic is the lipstick I use but so far, I can’t find an alternative and only use it when I’m filming or at events. I look for brands that use a lot of organic ingredients and minimal plastic-free packaging.

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11:30am – At this point, I’ll either continue with some work at the computer or sit down to film a video for my YouTube channel. I used to work as a TV presenter but after 10 years, work was getting scarce and I had recently discovered the Zero Waste Lifestyle. I wanted to share my experience via YouTube, especially as there weren’t many people in the UK talking about it a few years ago.

1:30pm – Lunch time. I eat something at home most days, and usually rustle up a stir fry using leftover chicken and veggies or some other random concoction. If I’m out and about, I always carry a small reusable cloth bag with me and can easily find an unpackaged sandwich to go straight in from a bakery or deli. And yes, I eat meat. I was vegetarian for 13 years and it made me really ill. The more I read about meat, the more I appreciate the crucial role animals play in regenerating our environment, fighting climate change and nourishing our bodies. Not all meat is created equal, so I only buy local, organic meat, unpackaged!

Sometimes I’ll catch up with a friend for lunch and we’ll go to a nearby café. When eating out, I request no straw in my drink and return the unused paper napkin to the waiter to reuse – I don’t need it.

3pm – I shop for groceries once a week and then top up with store cupboard staples once every few weeks. If I’m doing the weekly shop, I take a few reusable metal tins with me and some cloth bags and an empty egg carton and walk 10 minutes to a local shop, where all of their produce is organic and loose. The butcher puts any meat straight into the containers (and deducts the weight of the container!), and I use cloth bags for bread and soft items like tomatoes and berries, but everything else just goes loose into the basket and then I carry it home in my larger reusable bags.

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If I’m stocking up on dry goods, I’ll visit one of the many bulk shops popping up across the country. London now has several locations to shop plastic-free (there’s a list on my blog!). I can also get beer, wine and oil refills, too. I simply weigh the containers and the shop deducts the weight at the checkout. Sounds odd, I know, but I’ve been grocery shopping this way for five years now and it feels totally normal.

My weekly grocery shop takes 30 minutes, including walking, but for those who are really stuck for time, there are now online stores now selling dry goods without plastic, try plasticfreepantry.co.uk or zero-waste-club.com and for veggies, the organicdeliverycompany.co.uk has a plastic-free veg box delivery.

4:30pm – Time for a cuppa! I make tea using loose leaf and a reusable metal tea ball strainer – a bit like a tea bag but reusable and no plastic. Yep, most teabags still contain plastic!

6:30pm – Let’s get cooking! Before adopting a Zero Waste Lifestyle, I wasn’t a fan of cooking. Now, I LOVE it. In the early days, it was difficult to find things like pasta from bulk, so I learned to make my own. Now it’s really easy to find, so I buy it loose, but I’m pleased I learned a new skill. I mostly buy British produce, so it’s seasonal and I just go with the flow in the kitchen. I rarely follow recipes, except when I’m making bread pudding (from leftover bread), homemade custard or homemade tortillas as I need a recipe for those.

We compost food scraps in our small worm bin on the balcony but some things like citrus peels, cooked meat and fats cannot go in there so for now, those get thrown away in a small paper bag. I’m constantly bothering my council to start offering a food waste collection service and they have just started to trial it in a small area. Fingers crossed it comes our way soon.

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7:30pm – My husband and I are real foodies and enjoy a good chat over our evening meal. To drink, we’ll either enjoy a bit of organic wine (from a refill) or a glass of sparkling water from my SodaStream Crystal, which comes with a glass bottle and turns tap water into sparkling in a few seconds. The gas canisters are returnable, too.

10pm – I’m definitely a night owl, and if I have a deadline, I will happily start working on it from 10pm until 2am. I’ve tried to fight it for years, but have come to realise I am most productive and efficient working at night. My husband is the complete opposite, so I try to go to bed early with him most nights. He’s been really great at embracing the Zero Waste Lifestyle, although his initial reaction was, “I’m going to fight you on this” when I tried to take away his beloved cleaning products and replace them with vinegar and reusable cloth rags! Since then, he’s seen the benefits: improved health and spending less (especially on cleaning products!) and he’s realised just how unnecessary and destructive plastic has become.

He’s now the first to start talking about it when people ask about zero waste and friends now send him pictures of their reusable coffee cups. If I had any advice for encouraging friends and family to start reducing plastic, it’s this: don’t preach and lead by example. Guilting people into doing something is the worst. Make it fun, laugh when things go wrong and leave perfection at the door. You do you, and hopefully others will feel inspired.

Ready to get started? Here are our picks of the best shampoo bars to get your ball rolling…