We all know that humans are doing a lot of damage to the planet. Our waste is surpassing anything the Earth has ever seen in the past, and we’re literally burying parts of the world with our trash. Most of it – plastic. Single-use plastics that we use every day for convenience sake that we just discard and don’t give a second thought – until it flies in our face carried by wind or wraps around our leg in the ocean. And if all of this got you feeling a bit depressed – don’t worry. There are things you can do right now that will help the world and make it a cleaner and safer space for everyone. So here are several plastic alternatives that will help you live a better life:
A Reusable Water Bottle
There are a few things as useless as a plastic, single-use water bottle. Not only do we tend to use them only once because it’s convenient, but even if we wanted to reuse them, it might not be that great for you, as the plastic will leak into the water over time, especially if exposed to higher temperatures. While some projects have been started to reuse plastic bottles and give them a new life, most of them just end up in landfills. Instead, you should get a glass or metal bottle that you can carry with you everywhere and fill it up when it gets empty. The most important part here is a habit – if you’re in the habit of carrying the bottle with you, you’ll cave and buy a plastic one when you get thirsty. So just never take it out of your bag, and you’ll be golden.
In the never-ending search for an alternative for plastic, a lot of focus is being placed on hemp – a byproduct of cannabis. It has many features that are similar to plastic, but it is completely natural and biodegradable. As this useful guide points out, there are so many benefits of hemp, but a lot of the production is being held back by the sheer connection to cannabis, which makes it harder to grow in many countries. However, if you happen to stumble upon hemp products for sale, give them a good look, because not only are they better for the environment, but they are more resilient than traditional plastic and heat-resistant.
In our day-to-day life, most of the plastic we throw away is food packaging. So let’s go through some basic alternatives you can look for in grocery stores: Firstly, ditch the plastic bags. Carry several tote bags and reusable mesh bags for weighing out products. Secondly, say no to products with excess plastic packaging. You really don’t need to buy bananas that are in a plastic bag. Thirdly, always look for products that you can refill in your own containers. If you can find a low-waste store that allows you to buy everything this way – it’s the best option, but many stores offer refills on things like nuts, seeds, cheese, and deli, as well as cleaning products.
Let’s talk about gifts. Many people might be hesitant to buy plastic alternatives for themselves because they either don’t believe that they will use them enough to justify the cost, or just don’t think about it. But if they receive it as a gift, they will at least give it a shot, so start with small things like stainless steel straws, a reusable coffee mug, or some glass containers for food. Also, be mindful of the packaging – a lot of gift wrapping paper is coated in plastic, so stick to things like butcher’s paper, which is completely compostable and can be decorated however you like. You can also take the gift in a box or bag which they can later reuse for another gift or as storage in their home. If they are aware that you’re trying to cut back on plastic waste, they will probably be completely fine with an unwrapped gift that has a sweet note on a piece of twine hanging from it. Your gift can be a push for someone to turn their life greener, so go for it!
Our hygiene and grooming are important, and it’s not something where we want to risk anything being unsanitary or potentially harmful. But you don’t actually have to worry about that because everything sold in a store needs to pass rigorous inspections, so even things packed in cardboard or paper will be sanitary. You should also go for solid shampoos and soaps, as they usually come in refillable or compostable packaging. For things like razors, instead of the single-use plastic options, go for stainless steel, which is not only sharper but will last longer with proper care. When the blade gets dull, you can sharpen it or replace it, but still keep the rest of the razor. Makeup is another big one, where you want to stick to products with as little plastic packaging as possible, and shopping locally and cruelty-free will usually help you get these. Remember that you can get multi-purpose everything, so you can use one product for blush and lipstick, for example, lowering the amount of packaging you’re throwing away.
Community is very important, and if you’re the only person in a group who is trying to get into plastic alternatives, you might be discouraged by the amount of plastic still sued around you, or the extra work you need to put in. But if you find local low-waste and plastic-free groups and encourage people around you to join in the path, it will be much easier. If one of you forgets to bring a tote – the other will have a spare, and you’ll be able to share tips and tricks to living a plastic-free life. So, make sure you give these plastic alternatives a try and keep your mind open and sharp to spot any opportunity in your life where you can cut back on the plastic you use and discard.