Deodorants purchased at the supermarket are usually either roll-ons packaged in plastic or aerosols, which are recyclable – but not always easily! According to LUSH UK, 79% of people include deodorant as part of the weekly shop, and so, as part of my ongoing plastic reducing campaign – I decided the next plastic product to cut out my beauty routine would be just that.
As those who follow me on Instagram will already know, on Sunday 16th September, I took part in my first (official) charity organised beach clean – the 2018 “Great British Beach Clean”, and it was awesome! For the last 25 years, thousands of volunteers have gathered at locations around the country for a weekend event of litter picking, which the charity Marine Conservation Society credits as being the biggest in the whole of the UK.
It was my first time taking part in an official event, and I have to say the day was extremely well organised. The team of 30 or so volunteers was made up of an entirely different group of people: Some old, some parents with young children, students, and quite a few fans of Blue Planet (Proving the power of mainstream TV). Ultimately whatever reason they had for being there, our goal was all the same: To rid our 100m stretch of beach, in a lively Somerset seaside town, of as much litter as possible. Turns out that’s a lot easier said than done!
I saw an argument erupt on Twitter the other day where a man claimed it wasn’t his country polluting the world with plastic so it “wasn’t his problem”. He was right, technically it isn’t his problem, he’s just one individual living in a country not in the top 5 for plastic consumption or waste. So when (or how) did we get to the point as human beings where something affecting our planet, our eco-system, our animals, our environment, even ourselves, is no longer our problem?
I agree living a plastic-free life isn’t easy. I myself do not lead a 100% plastic-free life. Currently, it’s more of a “plastic-reducing” one.
I also think it’s difficult for people to feel they’re helping, myself included when they have others telling them that they’re not doing enough. Don’t give up on trying to be environmentally friendly if you have to use a straw for medical reasons, don’t give up if you can’t afford biodegradable wipes. Reduce harm as much as you can and just do your best. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! We have the power to make a difference.
So, with it being #plasticfreejuly I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share 5 super easy plastic alternative swaps* I’ve recently made, and ones I really recommend to others looking to reduce their plastic consumption. I hope you all enjoy my photos – I’m pretty confident nobody saw me snapping a photo of a toothbrush in the grass!
1. Bamboo Toothbrush
Probably the most reluctant of my changes and I have no idea why! I’d been debating whether to take the bamboo plunge for a while but the idea of a wooden toothbrush just seemed weird, I finally made the swap when the facts could no longer be ignored.
In the United States alone it is estimated that between 850 million to over a billion of the plastic pests are dumped in landfill every single year. That represents more than 24 million kilograms of waste! Traditional brushes (which account for 99% of the market) are made from a combination of plastic and rubber, nylon for the bristles and plastic/cardboard for the packaging.
My bamboo toothbrush was purchased from https://www.zero-waste-club.com/ and retails for £6.99 (+ £1.99 UK shipping) it is slightly more expensive because the head is replaceable, but they have non-replaceable ones too, I chose replaceable because there’s less to throw away, it uses less bamboo and you save money in the long run!
The brushes from Zero Waste Club are 100% biodegradable and made from sustainable bamboo.
Needless to say, I definitely recommend making the switch to a bamboo toothbrush. It can feel strange to begin with, but I got used to the feeling quickly. I will never go back to using a plastic one again!
2. Tote bags
Perhaps the easiest of all plastic swaps! I’ve been using reusable canvas tote bags for years now. They’re pretty self-explanatory so I won’t go into tons of detail, but you can literally buy these anywhere and in all sorts of cool designs. I picked this one up from my recent trip to Monkey World in Dorset.
Of the 160,000 plastic bags used globally every second – that’s 5 trillion a year and enough to fit around the whole world 7 times every hour, only 1 to 3% are recycled. Plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose, meaning the 10% of bags in our oceans will be floating around for a long time.
3. Reusable cotton pads
My newest plastic free purchase was these reusable organic cotton pads, perfect for removing makeup or applying facial toner, these ones come with a super cute drawstring cotton wash bag too!
Unlike the cotton pads I had been purchasing from the supermarket, these are 100% plastic free – a super simple but effective swap for anyone looking to decrease their plastic consumption.
These retail at £8.50 for regular or £10.00 for organic cotton (+ £2.00 shipping to the UK), have 12 pads in a bag and measure 8cm round. I brought them here https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/576187431/reusable-cotton-pads-12-makeup-remover?ref=shop_home_active_3
4. Reusable coffee cup
Another super easy change! Most people can barely get through the day without regular caffeine intake, myself included. Humans love coffee – it’s a survival tool. Except for me, I hate coffee. Tea or hot chocolate for me, please!
Anywho… Did you know the UK throws away around 7 million disposable coffee cups a day, totalling 2.5 billion a year? Every day half a million of these cups end up as litter along our roadsides, in our parks and on our beaches. Less than 1% are recycled. The cups that do make it to the bin, are either incinerated, exported or sent to landfill.
Half a trillion disposable cups are manufactured annually around the world, that’s over 70 cups for every person on the planet.
In the UK some coffee shops are offering customers discounts when they bring their own reusable cup into a store. Pret A Manger offers a 50p discount, while Starbucks and Costa are offering 25p.
I brought my cup from https://ecoffeecup.eco/ for a price of £8.95 for 340ml ( + £3.95 or £5.95 UK shipping) I think this is a super reasonable price considering how expensive some alternatives are on the market!
Ecoffee cups are made with natural bamboo fibre, and they are BPA and phthalate free. They’re light, comfortable to hold, sturdy and look stylish but can get very hot! So be aware… Regardless I would still recommend grabbing yourself one.
5. Bamboo straws
Plastic straws end up in our oceans for a few reasons, usually they are either 1) littered, 2) disposed of incorrectly or 3) blown out of bins or away from landfill sites because they are so lightweight. It is estimated that 71% of seabirds have consumed plastic products – by 2050 the figure is expected to rise to 99%. Plastic found inside birds include everything from bags and bottle caps to synthetic fibres from clothing and lighters. Albatross chicks, a pilot whale and a turtle with a straw stuck up its nostril, all these animals have been victims of plastic pollution in some way.
The UK throws away 8.5 billion straws every year, enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall a thousand times over. I’ve been there. It’s a big building. The Americans use 500 million every single day! Compared to the plastic bags, that’s enough straws to circle around the planet 2.5 times daily.
There a few alternatives to plastic straws already on the market including glass, metal, silicone and paper, but I chose to purchase a pair of bamboo ones because they are reusable and biodegradable.
Recently I read an article regarding plastic straw bans negatively affecting people with disabilities, and while people might be quick to recommend alternatives such as metal or paper, they can be seriously problematic. It was an educational read and I can 100% understand why people rely on them, why alternatives might not work and why some may consider a plastic-free life a “luxury lifestyle”. Forcing people to chose between the environment and their health is no doubt incredibly selfish, so more work needs to be done here to find a solution that works for everybody.
For those interested, my straws were purchased from https://www.zero-waste-club.com/plasticfreeshop/reusablebamboostraw for the price of £2.99 a pair (+ £1.99 UK shipping)
* Everyone of these products was purchased by myself, with my own money. All opinions are genuine and my own!
So, have my plastic swaps inspired you to make the change?
What single-use plastic products are you skipping this Plastic Free July?
Have you already made a swap and can recommend another product for me to try?
Do you consider a plastic-free or plastic-reducing life as “luxury”?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!