As the world rapidly approaches 8 billion people, trying to squeeze 1.3 billion tonnes of annual waste (projected to soar to 4 billion tonnes by 2100) into overflowing landfills is no easy task. In fact a lot of our waste ends up in our environment where it can impact on wildlife and take thousands and thousands of years to break down. But we can all take steps to minimise the amount of waste we create, by swapping single-use items for ones that are more durable. Here’s how.
Unfortunately, the flow of waste into our environment is made up of millions of single-use items that could largely be avoided with a little forethought. As fashion and earth conscious readers here at Good on You, I know you are excited to reduce your impact on the environment. Below are some easy ways to swap those common single-use items for more sustainable and reusable options! Read on. I got your back!
When You Are Out and About
Most of the single-use traps are set when we are caught up in our daily routines at work, or out and about on the weekends. A bottle of water here, a take-away coffee there, then wash it all down with an overly priced cocktail not so elegantly presented with a plastic straw. Well here are some alternatives to these easy to grab single-use items:
First of all, do your best to say no to plastic straws in the first place. Unless you have a medical condition or disability that makes plastic straws necessary, just say no. They are a massive nuisance on our beaches and are a common death trap for marine life (especially turtles). If you are a real straw fanatic, bring your own stainless steel or glass straw and whip it out whenever you sit down for a refreshing drink on the go. Check out this amazing cafe who swapped plastic straws for Pasta Straws! Awesome!
Take-away coffee cups
The billions of (mostly unrecyclable) coffee cups that we dispose of each year have been well documented. Considering the massive environmental impact they have and how easy a swap it is, there is no excuse to not bring your own reusable. For a sustainable and aesthetic looking reusable coffee cup check out Keep Cups, SoL cups, Joco cups, or Frank Green. If you are really looking for something unique, check out Pottery for the Planet for a handmade ceramic coffee cup that is sure to turn some heads! And for all you coffee fanatics who are interested in sustainability, be sure to check out GOY’s article on your morning latte.
Plastic water bottles
There is literally zero upside to buying your water in plastic. The expense, the waste, the resources required to make the bottle, the chemicals etc. Just buy a reusable water bottle and be done with it. It will quickly become your little sidekick and most treasured daily carry item. There are thousands of different water bottles out there, but if you like something with a little more design and consciousness, check out Alex, Cheeki, and 24Bottles.
The threat of plastic bags on our environment and marine life in particular has been a major topic of discussion over the last few years. France and Italy have banned lightweight plastic bags, along with California, some states in Australia, and soon, New Zealand. In England, a 5p charge on plastic bags has seen usage drop 85% and there are varying levels of charges or bans in place across the USA and Europe.To avoid getting stuck at the grocer without a bag, or to avoid those thick plastic bags at your favourite department store, bring a tote bag (check ecobags) with you everywhere! You never know when you might need one, and you will feel like a better human being saying no to those dreadful plastic bags!
What About in your Home?
Your home, and in particular your kitchen, can be a hub of single-use items. Think food packaging, glad wrap/cling film/shrink wrap, toilet paper, disposable dinnerware (I do hope not!), and nappies (for those of you with young children). Luckily, there are a suite of options for those of you who want to go the extra mile and swap some of these for reusable options.
Nearly everything you purchase from a typical supermarket is concealed in a pretty package that is destined for the bin after a single use. Even some of the fresh fruit and veggies from my local supermarkets are pre-cut and placed on a plastic tray with some plastic wrap. Convenience…maybe. A totally unnecessary use of landfill destined waste….absolutely! Be a legend and avoid those like the plague! For your other groceries, bulk food stores allow you to fill up your own containers with dry goods, oils, and cleaning products package free! Awesome.
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For those food wrap aficionados amongst us, I have a couple easy peasy swaps that will have you give up the cling wrap life forever. Enter the wax wrap. Wax wraps are grippy waxy squares of different sizes that can wrap around your left overs and keep them fresh in the fridge until your next meal. If you don’t want to fork out the cash for a set of these, you can get really creative and make your own. Alternatively, just buy a set of glass tupperware or collect come large glass jars and be done with it!
Toilet paper and nappies
All I want to say here is that it is worth your while to check out Who Gives A Crap. They specialise in recycled fibre and bamboo toilet paper and deliver it to your door in a plastic free and recyclable cardboard box. Essentially, you no longer need to cut down precious trees to wipe your b****m (and they donate 50% of profits to WaterAid). Lastly, for those of you who are expecting a little one, or who have a child of nappy wearing age, you can have a hugely positive impact on the environment by using reusable nappies. The amount of disposable nappies that end up in landfill is eye opening (about 20 billion a year in the USA, three billion in the UK, two billion in Australia). Reusable nappies have come a long way since your parents, or your parents parents used them, so do a google search and find a company that resonates with you. As parents of a 4 month old, we decided to purchase GroVia nappies and we haven’t looked back!
A Final Word
If you are excited by these suggestions and are looking for more ways to reduce your plastic footprint, or you want a one stop shop for single-use replacements, check out these three great websites; Ethical Superstore, GreenShop, Biome, Flora and Fauna, and Seed & Sprout.
Have you started switching to reusable items? What single-use items do you find the hardest to stop using? Let us know in the comments if you have any tips that were not covered in this article!