When looking at images of mountainous landfills or densely cluttered shorelines, it can be hard to remain hopeful about the future of our planet.
But while it’s important to recognize the reality of what we’re facing up against, it is equally important to set our sights on what we can do to shift it in a more positive direction.
Single use plastics are harmful to the environment for many reasons, but mostly because they cannot biodegrade. They simply break down into smaller microplastics and continue to pollute the environment for hundreds or thousands of years. Fortunately, you can help relieve some of the demand for plastic goods by adjusting your purchase and lifestyle habits.
As the world becomes more conscious of environmental health, the option to swap out popular plastic products for more sustainable alternatives becomes easier.
If you’re looking for a simple but effective way to fight the good fight against excessive plastic manufacturing, these five swaps are a great place to start.
1. Glass water bottles
The number of plastic water bottles we produce and consume is almost unfathomable. But here’s a number to help you understand: 481.6 billion in a single year. Yup—they’re one of the most commonly found objects in the average landfill.
And when you consider how easy it is to switch out single use plastic water bottles for a vastly more sustainable option like glass or metal, this figure becomes even more incomprehensible.
Glass water bottles are highly accessible, better for the environment, and available in a wide variety of price ranges. They also have great aesthetic appeal. Next time you need a water bottle, invest in a glass one that you can carry around for years to come.
2. Organic cotton wet wipes
Regular wet wipes are made of a type of plastic called polyethylene. When you throw them away, they break down into small plastic fibers. If they reach a water source, those fibers can become toxic and dangerous to marine life.
Organic cotton wet wipes are much softer, much more sustainable alternatives to polyethylene wet wipes. They also tend to be gentler on sensitive skin. You can find them in most stores for an accessible price, and the planet will thank you for buying them.
3. Reusable cutlery and paper straws
It’s hard to avoid accumulating plastic cutlery and straws, but not impossible. And when you invest in your own reusable versions, the whole process becomes a lot easier.
Whether you’re at a festival or tucking into some takeout, swap out plastic forks, knives, spoons, and straws for your own reusable kinds you can bring from home. There’s no need to get new cutlery items every time you eat out, and it’s a small change that makes a big difference.
With regards to straws specifically, these little critters make up 0.025% of all plastics in landfills and the ocean. Swapping to reusable metal or bamboo ones is a simple but effective way to start slowing down the buildup of these common plastic items.
4. Toothbrush and toothpaste
Most dentists will recommend that you change your toothbrush every three months, which is great for oral hygiene, but not so great for the planet. Plastic toothbrushes are another one of the most commonly found objects in landfills, making them an important item to swap out.
Fortunately, there are lots of alternatives available for us to try out. Bamboo toothbrushes are the most popular, with a 100% biodegradability rate.
On the same note, toothpaste tubes also contain a variety of harmful and unsustainable materials, including plastic, aluminum, and steel. But once again, we’re fortunate enough to have access to sustainable alternatives such as glass-bottled toothpaste tablets.
5. Beeswax food wraps
Plastic cling film is a household staple across the world. However, it’s almost impossible to recycle and it's produced at far too high a rate to be kept sustainable.
Instead of buying roll after roll of single-use cling film plastic, why not opt for a beeswax-coated fabric food wrap? These ingenious products can naturally mold into whatever shape you need, making them perfect temporary covers or wraps for leftover sandwiches or bowls of food.
Not only are these wraps better for the environment, but they come in a wide variety of colors and patterns and you can even make your own with a few simple ingredients.
Extra Tips For Living A Zero Waste Life
Eager for more inspiration about how to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle? We’ve got you covered. These tips focus on easy, accessible, and uncomplicated ways to greenify your world.
Another great way to make an impact is to educate yourself and those around you about the unsustainability of excessive plastic manufacturing. You can do this on social media, by sharing open-minded conversations and leading by example.
Help The World Clean Up
It’s more beneficial to the planet for millions of eco-conscious people to practice zero-waste habits imperfectly than for a hundred to practice them perfectly.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to take responsibility for the entire world’s plastic waste—just focus on making small changes every day. They make a big difference in the long run.