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Simple swaps for Plastic Free July

It’s Plastic Free July – a time to take action to reduce our reliance on plastic and the negative effects it has on our planet. Over the past few years plenty of issues have been highlighted, from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the Giant Wet Wipe Island in the Thames.

It’s time to think about what we can each do to make a difference.

This guest blog is from Celina Mendoza, founder of The Refill Pantry, where you can shop for a wide range of food and household goods packaging-free

When I opened The Refill Pantry in London Road in June 2018, I wanted people local to the area to have the option to buy as many products in their own containers as we were able to supply. My primary aim was to reduce single use plastic ending up in landfill. So we started by stocking a wide range of staple goods such as pasta, rice, cereals, lentils, nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

But it quickly became apparent that we could offer even more to reduce both single use plastic waste and plastic waste in general. Here I am going to highlight some products that we stock and the reason why they are better for the planet than what you may normally choose to buy. If each person chooses just one of the items below to swap to, we could collectively make a huge difference!

Kitchen Swaps


Did you know that nearly all sponges contain plastic? And those colourful cleaning cloths in your cupboard probably contain microfibres that are entering our ecosystem and slowly destroying the planet. So, make the switch to one of these fully compostable alternatives – cleaning cloths, sponges and loofah scourers – and at the end of their life you can put them in your garden waste bin (yes you can as they are made of PLANTS!)


Iron & Velvet have created one of the best Zero Waste products there is – water soluble cleaning sachets. We use tens of bottles of cleaning products annually in each household. Their simple ‘drop and dissolve’ cleaning pods mean you can reuse the same bottle over and over again. Plastic free, cruelty free, plant derived and sustainably sourced. Use these alongside our compostable sponges and cleaning cloths for a truly zero waste cleaning regime for the whole house.

Read more in our blog on kitchen swaps.

Bathroom Swaps


Bamboo toothbrushes need little introduction – we have all seen the images of plastic toothbrushes being washed ashore across the globe.  But did you know that you can get plenty of other bathroom products plastic free? From toothpaste in endlessly recyclable aluminium tubes, to dental floss in refillable glass containers.

Read more about our dental products here.


Faith in Nature are a well known ethical UK brand who say that ‘everyone should benefit from what nature provides’ and they now make shampoo bars – these come in a cardboard box and look just like a bar of soap. They lather well, take up little space, and best of all NO PLASTIC!

Read more about our hair care here.


Kutis deodorants are handmade in Wales and come in a cardboard push up tube. With key ingredients such as bicarbonate of soda, arrowroot powder and coconut oil this deodorant gives you the lasting freshness without all the nasty stuff that can be found in commercial deodorants. 

Beauty Swaps


Reusable make up wipes are one of best long term swaps you can make. Made from sustainable bamboo or organic cotton, these wipes can be used again and again and can be washed in a little pouch with your regular laundry load. 


To complement these zero waste beauties, what better company to use for your beauty regime than Upcircle – who started in 2015 collecting used coffee grounds from one London cafe to create face scrubs. Their best-selling cleansing balm contains used finely ground powder from discarded apricot stones to gently cleanse the skin, leaving it soft and hydrated.

Read more about beauty swaps in our blog here.

Food and Drink Swaps


Who doesn’t need these? But with so much packaging it’s hard to find a savoury treat that doesn’t add to plastic pollution. That’s why Just Crisps are such a fab find! 100% British Crisps made from potatoes and rapeseed oil both produced on their farm in Staffordshire. They supply their crisps to The Refill Pantry in reusable tubs that are collected at the same time as the next delivery, so no extra travel and zero packaging. Simply bring your own container to the shop and fill with the crisps. And while you’re there why not pick up some wasabi peas, pretzels, Bombay Mix or Dry Roasted Almonds?!


Most tea bags contain plastic, and the tea is often lower quality ground up leaves. Loose leaf teas are often fresher, taste better, and have a tenth of the carbon footprint of tea bags. At The Refill Pantry you can get a range of loose leaf teas from English Breakfast and Green Tea to Chamomile Flowers and Peppermint Leaves. 

Sadly, due to Covid and a rent rise, we closed our London Road shop last month but we are fully stocked at our branch in Carpenter’s Farm Shop (Sandridge – free parking, locally grown fruit and veg, great café and stunning nursery) and Berkhamsted (just opposite Waitrose car park so very convenient for those with plenty of containers to fill!)

If each person chooses just one of these items to swap to, we could collectively make a huge difference!

We look forward to seeing you at one of our shops where we will happily talk you through all the alternatives we offer! 

Happy Plastic Free July!

The Refill Pantry at Carpenter’s Nursery St Albans AL4 9LJ and 41 Lower Kings Road Berkhamsted HP4 2AB

Further reading

Want more inspiration? Read our five Plastic Free July blogs from 2020, covering simple swaps to make for your food shopping, bathroom, kitchen, snacks and drinks, and finally your desk and gifts.    

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