Photo by Beth Jnr on Unsplash
Our daily routine, our homes and, literally, our entire life is flooded with plastic! Plastic in places and objects that we cannot even imagine, except for plastic bottles and containers. And the biggest trap is not which can be recycled or which is the proper way to put them in the recycling bins (always empty and washed without residues) but the fact that only 9% of plastic is recycled eventually*!
But what can we do in order to acknowledge and limit this reckless consumption and rejection of everyday plastics?
Below you will find some thoughts and suggestions that may widen your horizons give you ideas for an eco-friendlier life posture.
A very large percentage of plastic packaging – including the majority of non-recyclable packaging – relate to personal hygiene products. Plastic bottles of shampoo, shower gel and cream soap are some of the most obvious examples of plastic that overwhelm our bathroom. Thankfully, there are new products in the market, such as shampoo in the form of a soap bar (like the old, classic soap), which come from natural oils and ingredients but also require less product use. There are also dissolvable tablets that you can drop in water to make cream soap! As for the shower gel, there is always the solution of the classic soap bar. Another thought is to create your own homemade soap and shampoo based on aloe and essential oils.
The deodorant is a very tricky product too as its packaging is entirely plastic but not at all recyclable (leave aside that the empty packaging cannot be properly cleaned). Pick an alternative, such as deodorants in biodegradable or recyclable packaging, or even go for some new products such as deodorant bars or creams. Even razors can be replaced by the traditional multi-purpose razor in which you will only need to change the blade.
For sponges, hairbrushes and combs, there are alternatives from natural and biodegradable materials and now you can also find toothbrushes – mainly from sustainable bamboo – with replacement bristles. Just make sure the bristles of the brush are made of sustainable, natural materials. There are also new solutions for toothpaste and mouthwash such as dry toothpaste, powder or tablets. Another special product is the dental floss which ends up in the garbage and, although it looks small, its high volumes discarded in the bin as well as its plastic packaging contribute significantly to plastic waste! So, just choose silk dental floss which usually comes in packages without any plastic.
When it comes to women, menstrual products are a huge chapter. Sanitary pads and tampons contain large proportions of plastic per se but also come in plastic packaging. If we consider the volume of menstrual products used each month by the entire female population, it goes without saying that the plastic waste is huge (obviously non-recyclable!). In recent years, products such as reusable sanitary fabric pads, period underwear and even menstrual cups have emerged and do the work! Similar solutions exist for wet wipes (including baby wipes), which are not made of cloth or paper but from a mix of plastics.
CLEANING / HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
Dishwashing sponges are one of the main problems as they are 100% plastic and need to be replaced quite frequently. Use alternatives such as sponges made of natural materials or reusable cloths and towels. Regarding cleaning liquids (detergents or dishwashing liquid) there are products similar to the ones mentioned about cream soap so that we both avoid plastic containers or replacement liquids (that also come in plastic packaging). You can also experiment with your own homemade products from natural materials to reduce the consumption of plastic and the disposal of chemicals in the sewer! Some new products are detergent strips that break down in the washing process and do all the work of a regular laundry detergent.
When it comes to house cleaning, products like Swiffer have made a huge revolution but, unfortunately, they are overwhelming landfills with a lot of plastic waste. Go for alternative dusting cloths that are washable and reusable, or even pieces of clothing that you no longer wear. It is both cheaper than constantly buying replacement dusting cloths and a more sustainable solution.
Sustainability as a mindset extends to all life aspects, including food, and in particular, to the packaging we buy food in – apart from the content obviously. Choose to buy bulk products with your own containers (e.g. for legumes, cereals, nuts, etc.) or, at the very least, pay a little more attention to the packaging in which the product you are buying is (biodegradable or recyclable). Also, try to reduce the plastic film and plastic bags with alternatives made of fabric or natural materials. And, of course, replace the plastic straws with paper or biodegradable ones!
These are just a few ideas and thoughts on how we can reduce the consumption and use of plastic in our daily lives. Stay tuned for more ideas!
Bonus tip: did you know that there are cell phone cases made from recycled natural materials?