16 household plastic items that can easily be replaced with alternatives.
In the early 1950s, plastic became the invention of the century – a material that could be used in every single industry and household. 70 years later, we are struggling to stop our plastic addiction, witnessing the so-called “the paradigm of progress” destroying our planet. Every day around 8 million pieces of plastic makes their way into our oceans and only 9% of all plastic ever made has been recycled. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. And if you don’t care about marine habitats (why though?) – every person on earth consumes 40,000 micro-plastics each year. Here are the best plastic alternatives in your everyday life (Amazon link attached to each product):
1. REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS vs. plastic bags. Ditch plastic bags for tote bags (cotton or recycled plastic) of any size, color, and design. They are incredibly functional. Invest in something that can stay with you longer.
2. GLASS FOOD CONTAINERS vs. single-use packaging. Bring your glass storage containers and shop from supermarket bulk bins – instead of buying dozens of plastic/carton bags of cereal and other products, stock up on oats, rice, beans, chia, spices, sugar, protein powder, and dried fruits in the store. Firstly, no bag/box means no plastic. Secondly, no plastic means there are a bunch of great deals, primarily because you aren’t paying for packaging. In the US, the best stores for bulk shopping are Rainbow Grocery, Berkeley Bowl, and Whole Foods.
3. REUSABLE MESH PRODUCE BAGS vs. annoying plastic bags at the store. Set of reusable mesh produce bags will give you over 3 years of plastic-free vegetables and fruits shopping. They can also be used when traveling or going for a picnic. Don’t limit your imagination about how you can use them – whatever you would put in a small plastic bag would perfectly belong there.
4. METAL/WOOD/GLASS STRAWS vs. single-use plastic straws. Well, well, well… If you’re still not frightened every time you see a plastic straw in your drink, we can’t be friends. Also, metal versions look so much cooler. Stainless steel straws are the best for just stashing them in your bag to use in the cinema or at a party.
5. METAL/BAMBOO SILVERWARE SET vs. take-out plastic utensils. Decline plastic forks, spoons, and knives when ordering food online – eco-friendly sets usually come in a pouch, so they’re optimized for easy travel wherever you go.
6. SILICONE LIDS THAT STRETCH to cover all sizes of the dish vs. plastic wrap. There’s a 99% chance you never even reused your plastic wrap. Silicone lids do the same job, covering all shapes and sizes, whether it is a pan or a watermelon. As another alternative – beeswax food wrap that functions as a plastic wrap but plastic-free, reusable and perfect for packing your lunch.
7. STAINLESS STEEL MESH TEA BALLS vs. single-use tea bags. It might sound surprising, but most teabags brands use plastic either while sealing the bag or in a production of a bag/packaging itself. Since they aren't biodegradable, turning to loose leaf tea would be a great (and even more delicious) solution.
8. BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSHES vs. regular toothbrushes. A pretty obvious choice, considering the fact that all of our toothbrushes end up in a landfill. Bamboo toothbrushes are also a good way to save money – one costs around 90 cents.
9. TOOTHPASTE TABLETS IN A COMPOSTABLE POUCH vs. regular toothpaste. Same logic.
10. BAR SOAP AND SHAMPOO vs. liquids in plastic bottles. These beauty brands are on a mission of seriously reducing plastic usage in our everyday lives. Only one solid beauty bars brand Ethique has prevented the manufacture and disposal of 5 million plastic bottles worldwide.
11. REUSABLE COTTON SWAB vs. plastic cotton buds. According to WWF, 1.5 billion cotton buds are produced every day, with the average person disposing of 415 a year. One LastSwab, made of a compact nylon core with medical silicone on each end, is meant to replace 1,000 single-use cotton swabs.
12. GLASS SPRAY BOTTLES vs. regular cleaning products. Ironically, even eco-friendly cleaning solutions come in plastic bottles. Glass spray bottles will give you a chance to make your own cleaners and control what kinds of chemicals are used in your routine. Believe me, you don’t need all these complicated advertised solutions just to clean your house – the mix of water and vinegar is the most mainstream and the best alternative (castile soap, baking soda, and lemons are pretty helpful, too).
13. CERAMIC EGG CONTAINER vs. single-use store egg containers. To embrace your new package-free habits, just take your lids and hit the farmer's market.
14. MEDICAL-GRADE STAINLESS STEEL SIPPY CUPS vs. plastic baby bottles. If you have a kid, this is an alternative to consider. If you are child-free, this can be the perfect gift for someone who just became a parent.
15. COMPOSTABLE TRASH BAGS vs. plastic trash bags. If your trash doesn’t include plastic, your bags don’t have to, too. Once the trash is out, so-called BioBags are consumed by microorganisms that live in our soils. Following the link attached, you can find any kind of green bag, including garden leaf bags, pet waste bags, household plastic alternatives, and even sandwich bags. If you are still skeptical, compostable bags are made out of organic waste (don’t panic, it’s organic!).
16. B2P PENS vs. plastic ballpoint pens. Bottle to pen invention is officially the success of the recycling industry – all pens are manufactured with 89% post-consumer plastic, all you have to do is to change ink refills and later recycle empty pens, giving them another life.
If you are interested in reducing plastic waste in your home, check out a fascinating website called My Plastic Free Life where the author talks about the challenges and rewards after changing her approach towards plastic-related behavior.