As we head to Plastic-free July, we thought it would be a good idea to share some easy plastic-free options that we all can implement irrespective of where we live, what we do, what stage of life are we in or our financial situation.
Going plastic-free is not a fad or fashion, nor it is a status or a statement but a necessity for all humans if we wish to have a future for ourselves and generations to come on this planet.
Why Go plastic-free?
Plastic is all around us now. Since the advent of plastic in 1930's, both the production and consumption of plastic has gone up exponentially. And the fact is, plastic does not go away- we recycle plastic and make it into another form of plastic !
The worst is that the majority of single use plastic does not even get recycled for multitude of reasons. Globally, less than 9% of the plastic produced gets recycled.
It has reached a point now where plastic pollution has gone beyond our capacity to deal with it. Majority of plastic ends up in landfill or our waterways where it keeps on polluting through micro-plastics and toxic chemicals or gets consumed by animals and birds leading to their death.
What we don't talk much about is the impact of plastic on human health. Plastic is a cocktail of toxic chemicals and research has proved that it impacts us humans at every stage of it's lifecycle right from drilling to processing to use of products and end of life as well.
Going plastic-free is not easy as it is ingrained into our daily lives but saying so doesn't mean it is impossible either. All we need is a consistent and conscious effort.
Having a good support system around definitely helps as this journey can be a bit overwhelming at times so look around and connect with like minded people and groups, support one another, celebrate the wins and ignore the failures.
Committing to Plastic-free July is a good way to get started on this journey. For a whole month commit to ditch single use plastic products from our daily lives starting with some easy simple products like shopping bag, disposable coffee cups etc.
The idea behind this is if you do something for 30 days it becomes a habit which would hopefully be there to stay. Secondly, conscious and consistent effort is the key to long term change in habits.
By taking your journey one step at a time, you’re making sure that you’ll stay consistent without getting overwhelmed.
We have tried to come up with a list of easy Plastic-free swaps that most of us can easily implement into our daily lives with a bit of effort & persistence.
Would love to hear back from you- your feedback and thoughts on how we can make it better and easier for everyone in their plastic-free journey.
1. Reusable shopping bags & Produce bags
One of the easiest plastic-free switches anyone can pick up is a reusable shopping bag.
It is always best to reuse any bags that you already have at home, and only invest in a sturdy cloth bag once they break.
Aside from a shopping bag, it’s also a good idea to get some reusable produce bags, to help you avoid plastic packaging during your grocery trips.
Natural fibers such as organic cotton are the option you’ll want to choose since synthetics such as polyester are still plastic!
2. Carry a reusable drinking bottle or Takeaway cup
Want to make sure that you never have to buy bottled water again? Get yourself a glass or stainless steel reusable water bottle and fill it up at the tap or drinking fountain while on the go.
Reusable water bottles also make for great plastic-free gifts for other members of your household, so that you can help everyone get on board with your sustainable home mission.
3. Bring your own takeaway containers & Cutlery
More and more businesses are welcoming customers bringing their own containers, as they’re looking to reduce their contribution to plastic pollution as well. If you’re eating on the go, make sure to also bring your own cutlery from home.
4. Say no to the straw or BYO
Whether you’re getting a smoothie or having some drinks at the bar, you can avoid unnecessarily contributing to plastic pollution by asking for no straw.
If you want to give up plastic but still want to enjoy your favourite drinks with a straw, there are many plastic-free reusable alternatives you could try – including metal straws, glass straws or bamboo straws!
5. Skip the tea bag & Single Use Coffee pods
Did you know that some tea bags are made from plastic and most others use plastic-based glue? This means that your daily cuppa is contributing to plastic pollution. Aside from that, they also release microscopic plastic particles into your tea!
Switch to loose leaf tea to reduce your impact – not only is it plastic-free, but it also usually tastes much better. All you’ll need to prepare it is a small tea infuser.
There are refillable coffee-pods now available in the market that suit most of the coffee machines- it may look like a bit of effort to fill the refillable pods but if you think about the positive impact on the environment, then it's worth all the effort.
6. Explore package-free bathroom products and cosmetics
From soap to makeup, look for package-free or refillable options which will significantly reduce the environmental footprint of your bathroom.
If you can’t find any packaging-free options that suit your needs, search for ones packaged in glass, cardboard or metal, without plastic.
7. Reusable or compostable menstrual products
Single-use tampons or pads may not be what you think about swapping on your plastic-free journey, but there are many options which are completely plastic-free and often much better for your body.
If you’re not feeling like switching to reusable products yet, try tampons or pads in fully compostable packaging, to avoid plastic. If you want to kick it up a notch and make your plastic-free lifestyle even more sustainable explore reusable options such as the menstrual cup, period underwear or reusable pads.
They may take some getting used to, but they make your lifestyle much more eco-friendly. They are also better for your intimate health, as they aren’t drying like tampons and aren’t treated with any bleach or harsh chemicals.
8. Reuse glass jars to store food
Say goodbye to plastic food containers or plastic wrap – one of the simplest solutions for a sustainable home doesn’t cost a cent and actually saves you money. Simple reuse any glass jars that you already have at home!
From pickle jars to jam jars, they can be used for much more than storing dry foods – they work just as well for any leftovers. If you want to get rid of any labels, it’s as easy as soaking them and scrubbing any leftover glue off with a mixture of dishwashing soap and baking soda.
9. Bamboo toothbrush
Plastic toothbrushes may seem like some of those items that don’t really make too much difference – but over time, they pile up. In addition, switching to a plastic-free option is super easy.
Bamboo toothbrushes have been becoming more and more accessible across the world and you’ll likely even find one in your local drugstore.
Brands like Brush with Bamboo have created world's first 100% Plant based bristle bamboo toothbrush providing an option that does not use fossil fuels at all in its making.
10. Don’t throw away the plastic you can reuse
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they decide to create a more sustainable home with plastic-free switches is getting rid of any plastic that’s currently in their home. However, this is the worst possible thing you could do with it!
No matter whether the plastic is in your home or in a landfill, it will damage the environment. That’s why it’s important to get as much use as you can out of the item before you throw it away.
Some items you may want to reuse for a different purpose because they could release plastic particles into your food and drink – such as plastic food containers – but make sure you don’t throw them away.