“…and this is all the plastic shit I found in my house” Image: Plastic Planet Documentary (2009)
We brush our teeth with it, eat and drink from it and even wear it: from the moment we wake up until we go to bed, plastic is all around us. As I type this sentence, I use my keyboard – made of plastic. Today is Earth Day which is a beautiful reminder that our planet is our home and that we should love it and treat it with respect.
In 2015 I visited a landfill in India. Wading between huge piles of plastic with protection covers wrapped around my shoes, I felt dizzy and nauseous. The next day I got really sick. I was wondering how the workers there could be exposed to the pollutants all day without protection? How could we make these huge piles of plastic smaller and the waste less toxic? Here are 15 easy ways you can change the world by reducing your plastic consumption now.
1. Reusable Bags vs. Plastic Bags
Fact: A single plastic bag takes up to 1,000 years to decompose.
Solution: Always carry a reusable cloth bag with you when shopping and say no to plastic bags offered at the checkout.
2. Reusable Bottles vs. Plastic Bottles
Fact: Every minute 1 million plastic bottles are sold worldwide. Pretty much all of them end up in landfills and stay there for the next 1000 years. They do not only harm our planet but also contain questionable substances that over time can be absorbed in the drink itself. That ain’t healthy!
Solution: By making a reusable water bottle your new partner in crime, you save time, money, and the environment, win-win!
3. Reusable Cup vs. Disposable Go-to-Cup
Fact: Take-away coffee in disposable cups creates unnecessary waste.
Solution: Bring a reusable cup when you order your coffee-to-go ☕️.
4. Wooden Toothbrush vs. Plastic Toothbrush
Fact: Every single toothbrush that has ever been used is still on the planet. Yikes.
Solution: Get a wooden, compostable toothbrush instead. They are usually available in organic shops but more and more regular drug stores are selling them too. You can also easily find them online.
5. Classic Steel Razor vs. Disposable Razors
Fact: Disposable razors are the most wasteful product we use in the bathroom. Billions of them end up in landfills every year.
Solution: Invest in a classic steel razor. It is not only cheaper in the long run as it can last a lifetime, but the results are better too – trust me.
6. Recyclable & Reusable Packaging vs. Plastic Packaging
Fact: Most products we buy are packed in plastic.
Solutions: Solutions: Avoid buying products in single-use plastic packaging. Think refillable glass bottles/jars, paper bags, and everything you can get without extra packaging, e.g. loose fruits & veggies, and make sure to order food from places that use eco-friendly packaging!
Here are some tips:
- Instead of buying juice in plastic bottles, make your own freshly squeezed juice at home or eat fruit.
- Buy loose fruits & veggies from fresh markets, and never packed in plastic!
- Choose natural beauty products in eco-friendly packaging. Think coconut oil in refillable glass bottles, salt/sugar/coffee peelings in glass jars, and natural soaps in paper bags.
- Make your own beauty products at home. Toothpaste, peelings, and more are super easy & quick to make. Here are our tips on how to make your own beauty products at home.
- Use natural cleaning products that are packed in biodegradable packaging. Some organic shops offer refillable bottles.
7. Natural Wrap vs. Plastic Wrap
Fact: Disposable plastic wrap is neither good for your health nor for our planet.
Solution: Pack your lunch either in reusable glass tupperware or use compostable natural food wrap made of beeswax. During our Conscious Loft event, we collaborated with gaia – they do an amazing job in keeping our food fresh!
8. Reusable Period Products vs. Disposable Period Products
Fact: Disposable period products (tampons, disposable pads,…) generate insane amounts of waste. Each month hundreds of millions of tampons are dumped worldwide and pads that are made of up to 90% plastic is not biodegradable, and stay in landfills for about 800 years.
Solutions: Try alternatives such as reusable cloth pads, period panties, or a menstrual cup. All of these options are better for your health and our environment. Read our article on how the menstrual cup changed my life.
9. Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers
Fact: The same as for disposable period products applies to disposable diapers.
Solution: Try to use cloth diapers. They are safer for your baby’s health, reduce your baby’s carbon footprint, and save you money.
10. Natural Fibers vs. Synthetic Fibers
Fact: Clothing made of synthetic fibers such as viscose, polyester or nylon releases microscopic plastic fibers with every wash. Our skin also absorbs these chemicals through our clothes; toxic dyes must be avoided too! Read our article about toxic fibers.
Solution: Choose clothes made of natural fibers such as linen, hemp, or certified organic cotton.
11. Bamboo & Metal Straws vs. Plastic Straws
Fact: In most bars/restaurants drinks are still served with plastic straws.
Solution: Always carry a metal straw in your bag, just in case. Oh, and don’t forget to order your drink without a plastic straw!
12. Phone Cases Made Of Sustainable Materials vs. Plastic Phone Cases
Fact: Most phone cases are made of plastic.
Solution: Opt for brands that make phone cases out of cork, glass, or wood.
13. Peppermint Oil vs. Bubble Gum
Fact: Chewing on flavored synthetic rubber is actually pretty gross.
Solution: For some fresh breath use 1-3 drops of peppermint oil. It’s good for your digestive system too.
14. Refillable Metal Lighters vs. Plastic Lighters
Fact: Disposable plastic lighters are something we lose ALL THE TIME. And for that, they are pretty unsustainable.
Solution: Invest in a refillable metal lighter or use matches instead.
15. Eco-Friendly Toys vs. Plastic Toys
Fact: Around 90% of the toys on the market are made of plastic. This makes the toy industry the sector with the highest “plastics intensity” on the consumer goods market. To make matters worse, almost half of the toys gifted to kids during the holiday season break by spring.
Solution: Donate functional toys, reuse second-hand toys, and buy toys made of natural materials such as wood, wool, or cotton.
How many of these 15 steps do you already have a good grip on? Did you learn anything new? I forgot to mention one more way to reduce plastic consumption: spread the word! Inform others about how reducing the use of plastic in our lives changes the world. Tell your family and friends about how these changes may seem small but have a big impact. Happy Earth Day!