5 Easy Tips to Initiate your Plastic-Free Journey
From the 1950s until today, over 8 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced, half of it since 2004.
And as plastic does not naturally degrade, most of it is sitting in landfills, floating in the oceans or piling up our streets and will remain there for centuries (if we don’t act on it!).
As years pass, plastics fragment into tiny pieces called microplastics, pretty much invisible, which are eaten by animals and that eventually end up in our plate and our bodies.
A study done by the University of Newcastle in Australia found that on average, people ingest 5 grams of plastic every week – the equivalent of eating a credit card. Quite sure you wouldn’t be choosing that as a dessert.
And it’s on our hands to reverse this situation, or at least not making it worse!
You might be wondering if your personal choices will actually contribute much in front of this disaster, yet introducing small individual changes in habits - and with more and more people making these changes - industries will have to adapt, whether they like it or not.
It may seem impossible living without plastic since we are surrounded by it. But don’t worry, you can count on us to help you! Starting below you will find five easy swaps that can save the planet a lot of plastic :)
Let’s get into it.
These are used for a few minutes and are quickly disposed. More than 500 million straws are thrown away every day only in the US. Big numbers.
Most of us could live perfectly without them, but we keep using them many times regardless of its environmental impact. They are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter, so they mostly end up in landfills, or even in rivers and oceans.
If you were thinking about paper straws as an alternative, they are a no-no. They have a plastic layer to make them waterproof. Not a great alternative.
So, if you really can’t get rid of straws because you love them but still want to reduce the amount of waste you generate, you have 2 choices: you can go for straws made of stainless steel - which can be reused thousands of times - or choose straws made of bamboo - which are biodegradables and with a low impact production chain -.
A cool feature about bamboo is that this fast-growing plant is one of the very few which is not hurt when cut out! In fact, it will grow faster and stronger after cutting the top.
Luckily, we’re seeing more and more stores that opt for not using this product, and instead go for paper bags, but still they can only be reused a few times until they break up and require an insane amount of water to be produced.
A good alternative would be bringing your own fabric bags when shopping.
We recommend you the ones made with organic cotton - which drastically reduce water consumption compared against regular cotton -. You can keep nuts, fruits and vegetables you buy in any store, carry them back home and be ready for the next time.
Just think about the amount of plastic you’ll save by adopting this change!
Source: Soil Association: https://www.soilassociation.org/
Another great alternative are crystal jars, especially if you go to a bulk store to buy spices, flours, nuts, and other grains. Most of them allow you to carry your own.
It is indisputable that plastic film is very comfortable and that helps to preserve food. However, this plastic is rarely recycled because it can clog machinery.
The good news is that there are several alternatives you can use that are reusable. Here we propose you our favourite three:
- Food wraps are fabrics that have been treated with natural wax (either bee wax or vegetal wax). This fabric adjusts to the shape of its containers and remains stuck, isolating what’s inside.
- Cloth wraps for your snacks. They usually come with a waterproof layer to properly seal whatever you carry, and also velcro strips so it can adapt to its size.
- Silicone zip bags. Thanks to the zip, you can remove the air inside and they are great to preserve all sorts of food inside. They are reusable and won’t leave any toxic substances. The only setback is they are not biodegradable.
There are lots of products that can be replaced for solid alternatives.
For instance, a soap bar can replace a 1L shampoo, without using any plastic packaging at all. It can be made of all sorts of ingredients like rosehip, charcoal, sea salt, coconut, shea butter and much more. They are gentle on the most sensitive skin, and what goes down the drain is natural and unlikely to damage the environment.
Soap bars are the easiest and fastest swap to be made but there are many other natural cosmetics like solid deodorants and natural toothpaste.
Let’s face it: our cleaning cabinets are a plastic festival.
Brushes, scourers, cloths, containers, they are all made of plastic, so in each cleaning session we throw microplastics into the environment and, when we are finished with a product, a big solid piece of plastic is dumped.
Don't think this is a dead-end, because there are other ways to clean too:
Luffa sponges to replace synthetic sponges. Luffa is a plant of the cucumber family that is dried and peeled to obtain a fibrous structure that gets soft when is wet. Unnecessary to highlight that since these are made of plants, they are 100% compostable.
Cotton & cellulose rags and cloths. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle! It is always a great choice to reuse any old clothes to wipe surfaces to clean your home, but if you are looking for a more absorbing alternative, you can also use compostable cellulose rags, which can be washed several times.
There you go, 5 simple alternatives that you can start introducing in your daily life to diminish the amount of plastic you use. There is certainly more room to go, but we think it’s easier to make changes step by step than introducing a bunch of different new habits that may overwhelm you.
It’s always better to start small and keep growing from there!
See you in our next chapter :)