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This post gives you 8 easy ways you can replace the single-use plastic you use at home with more sustainable products.
In the 21st century, there are few products that exist that aren’t made completely from or contain some form of plastic.
And when I say few I mean very few.
It’s not surprising though.
From a manufacturer’s point of view, plastic is an easily accessible material that can be shaped into almost anything. It’s also cheap which means more profits.
For you, the consumer, plastic products are usually more affordable than their alternatives, so you save more money.
It’s a win, win, right?
The problem with plastic
As affordable and easily accessible plastic products are, they do have their downsides.
Here are 4 disadvantages of plastic products:
1. Plastic is hard to get rid of
Although you may toss a plastic item into the trash without a second thought, getting it out of the environment is not as easy as getting it out of your home.
According to Vedantu.com, plastic can take anywhere from 400 to 1000 years to decompose naturally.
And not all plastic is even degradable!
So when that little plastic item leaves your home and heads to the landfill, don’t think that’s the end of it. It’ll be around for a loooong time.
2. Plastic is harmful to the environment and to animals
Although all pollution of all types affect animals and the environment, plastic is known to be the biggest culprit.
One reason may be because it’s so hard to decompose.
Regardless of the cause, plastic pollution is a major problem all over the world. Plastic has found its way into all sorts of places, contributing to both air and ocean pollution.
Sadly, this means it also ends up in ecosystems, where animals sometimes eat them and die.
3. Plastic is ugly
Plain and simple: plastic is ugly.
No, not that pretty pink bottle your shampoo came in or your toothpaste tube with the aesthetic design.
No, plastic isn’t ugly when it’s in your home.
But, the moment plastic finds itself on the street or in the ocean — or anywhere else it shouldn’t be — it becomes ugly no matter how much thought went into the packaging.
Plastic waste is unsightly and can ruin the beauty of any place, especially in nature.
4. Plastic may cause health problems
Studies have proven that some plastics can have absolutely awful effects on your body.
Some plastics that are used in the packaging of many products (including food, cosmetics, and baby items) can cause ulcers, cancers, and birth defects.
You can read more about that here.
It’s a little scary… I won’t lie.
We can’t escape all plastic
Because plastic can be such a problem to both the environment and our health, it’s really important to make an effort to reduce our plastic use however and whenever possible.
But of course, getting rid of all the plastic from our lives (especially outside of our home) is pretty much…. impossible.
It isn’t impossible to remove all of it from our homes, but it can be incredibly difficult.
So the bad news is that we can’t really escape it.
The good news, however, is that there are little things we can do that can make a significant difference in the amount of plastic we consume over time.
One easy way to do this is to replace the single-use plastic items we use — single-use plastic is the kind that easily finds itself where it shouldn’t be– with more sustainable options.
Below are 8 easy ways to replace single-use plastic products with more sustainable and healthy options.
How to reduce your use of single-use plastic
Use a reusable bamboo Toothbrush
You can keep your teeth and the environment clean at the same time!
Instead of using a regular-degular plastic toothbrush, try one made from bamboo.
Bamboo toothbrushes aren’t only good for the environment, they’re also antimicrobial which means they collect a lot less bacteria than your regular plastic toothbrush.
Use toothpaste tablets
Stop buying toothpaste in a tube and switch to toothpaste tablets. They’re healthier for your body and are another great way to reduce your single-use plastic consumption.
If you’re interested in making the switch to toothpaste tablets, check out some of these:
Replace plastic water bottles with a reusable water bottle
Carrying a bottle of water with you is another great way to reduce your daily plastic consumption.
Don’t buy a bottle of water every day as you go to work, class, or the gym.
(I actually did this at one point)
It really is no good — that daily purchase adds up over the years and you already know how plastic can affect the environment.
A reusable water bottle will save you money and is also a great way to drink more water throughout the day.
If you drink bottled water at home, try using a water jug with a filter, that you can easily refill from the tap.
The filter ensures that the water you drink is always clean and free from impurities.
This is the one I recommend:
When I started using a Brita water filter, my water actually tasted different! I have no idea what I was drinking before and I don’t even want to think about it.
Use reusable shopping bags instead of single-use plastic bags
When you go shopping, bring your own shopping bags instead of using the plastic ones offered.
Reusable shopping bags can come in various sizes and are easy to wash and carry with you.
They won’t burst like plastic bags sometimes do and will also help you save money since you won’t have to pay for grocery bags.
You can also use a reusable produce bag for your fruits and veggies.
If you’re only picking up a few things from the store, just say no thank you to those ‘thank you’ plastic bags.
Replace plastic straws with reusable straws
Straws make it easy to drink on the go (sans spills), reduce teeth stains, and are pretty fun!
(Am I the only one who thinks drinking from a straw is fun??)
An easy way to reduce your single-use plastic consumption is to replace plastic straws with reusable ones.
All you need to do is keep one in your purse or backpack and use that whenever you get yourself something to drink, instead of the plastic straws available.
I got this pack for my friend last year and she loves them!
Stop using plastic containers and jars
Containers are great for storage in just about anywhere you can think of: your car, kitchen, dorm, bedroom.
While it may not be easy to toss out all the plastic containers you already own (that’s actually counterproductive) if you’re looking for new containers to store your stuff, avoid the plastic ones.
You can also mason jars instead of plastic ones.
Use non-plastic Disposables
The next time you’re having a party — where your fancy porcelain dining plates won’t do — do not buy plastic (or styrofoam) cups, plates, utensils, etc.
Instead, try disposables made from paper, wood or bagasse.
They’re durable, attractive, and a great way to reduce the plastic used by you and your guests.
Avoid plastic Sandwich bags, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap
You may be thinking: “How am I going to store my food??”
If your food items can’t be stored in containers or mason jars (like I mentioned earlier), you can try one of the following:
- beeswax wraps to replace plastic wrap
- muslin bags for storing dry goods like oats, rice, and pasta
- mesh bags for storing produce like fruits
Other ways to make more sustainable choices
Plastic isn’t the only bad guy out there — as I’m sure you know.
Besides swapping plastic items for non-plastic ones, here are more ways you can try to be more conscious of the products you use and the way you live:
Read blog posts and books about sustainable living
It’s a good idea to be informed about how our actions affect the environment and learn how you can make more sustainable choices.
Some resources that you use to learn more about sustainable practices are:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Going Plastic Free
- Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too
- Tips to Start Low Waste Living
- Transitioning Into Plastic-free and Sustainable Living
- Old World New
- Sustainable Jungle
Support sustainable brands
Some brands have made an effort to be more environmentally conscious by using little to no plastic in their packaging and products.
If you’re looking for sustainable alternatives to items you use on a daily basis, Etsy is a great place to start!
Some sustainable brands to check out are:
- Conscious Skincare – organic and natural skincare
- MartinaliCo – reusable cotton pads, face masks, etc
- Willowearthbags – sustainable bags and accessories
- VENTforChange – sustainable stationery
Never, ever litter
There’s never a good reason to litter.
If there are no garbage bins nearby, just hold on to whatever it is until you find a one.
Take it home if you have to.
It may be uncomfortable, but think about how uncomfortable it’ll be if everywhere you looked was covered with garbage.
Make use of recycling bins
Recycling bins are one way to ensure that your trash goes to better use than just dumped in a landfill somewhere — or worse, in the ocean.
Be sure to put your trash into the appropriate bin.
Look for products in packages marked as biodegradable
When an item is biodegradable, it means it’s made from natural materials that disintegrate easily once disposed of, and won’t harm the environment.
Biodegradable items are usually labeled with the word ‘biodegradable’, ‘sustainable’, or using a symbol like one of these:
Try products made from more sustainable material
Whenever possible, avoid materials like plastic, styrofoam, and aluminum and try alternatives made from bamboo, glass, bagasse, or paper.
We can find plastic almost everywhere and in everything. The problem is that it’s not so great for our health or the environment — but it’s impossible to remove all of it from our lives!
The good news is that there are little changes you can make that will make a significant difference in your plastic consumption over time.
Using the tips above, you can easily reduce your single-use plastic consumption and be kinder to yourself and the environment.