Environmentalism is on the rise due to an increased collective awareness of just how much damage we do to the planet each day. Environmentalism involves living more sustainably, and a big part of that sustainability means swapping everyday products for more environmentally-friendly options.
If you’ve decided to take control and make a conscious difference this year, then you’re in the right place. Read on to learn more about living a plastic-free lifestyle and why it’s so important to start making those changes now.
Why is it important to swap everyday items for plastic-free alternatives?
If you ask those who live plastic-free lives why they do it, there’s a high chance they’ll mention the ocean. Billions of plastic products are manufactured globally every day, 40% of which is used just once. Much of this plastic ends up in landfills or, even scarier, the ocean. It is believed there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, weighing around 269,000 tonnes. Each day, 8 million more pieces are believed to follow. Clearly, we need to do our part to reduce these startling statistics.
12 Top Plastic-Free Swaps to Make This Year
So, how can we start seriously reducing our plastic use in our daily lives? Here are 12 swaps to start making today.
1. Plastic-Free Tea Bags
Most teabags will biodegrade, but there are some companies that use polypropylene bags, a form of plastic, to prevent the bags from falling apart. Some also use plastic glue, which makes them non-recyclable. Since we all drink a lot of tea (60.2 billion cups according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association), it’s worth knowing what you can do to avoid these.
Firstly, consider using loose leaf tea and purchasing a metal strainer. Not only will this drastically reduce the number of tea bags you use, but it actually offers you a better taste and more health benefits from the tea. If you need to stick with bags, some brands to stick to are:
Teabag companies to avoid (at the time of writing – be sure to do your own research in the future):
- PG Tips
- Twinings (heat-sealed & string and tag)
- Yorkshire Tea
- Lidl’s own brand
2. Plastic-Free Toothpaste
So, how do you make the switch to plastic-free toothpaste? Well, you’re going to adapt to life without squeezy tubes. Yes, they’ve been a staple in our lives, but unless you’re a bodybuilder, you really aren’t getting the full amount from the tube anyway before you send it to the landfill. Here are some of the best brands to make the switch to:
- Truth Paste (truthpaste.co.uk is handmade in Brighton, is all-natural, vegan, and uses a recyclable glass jar as a container)
- Georganics (vegan, plastic-free, recyclable glass jar, and organic)
- Ben & Anna (vegan, natural, and recyclable glass jar)
- Boobalou (tablets, recyclable tin, vegan)
- LUSH Miles of Smiles (tablets, natural, vegan, recyclable plastic)
3. Plastic-Free Shampoo
Switching to plastic-free shampoo is another one that may take some getting used to, but is totally doable. Here are a few of the best:
- Ethique Shampoo Bars (zero-waste, easy to travel with, vegan, and natural)
- Little Goat Soap (bar, handmade, wrapped in paper)
- Natural Soap Company (based in Norfolk, all-natural, vegan)
- LUSH Shampoo Bar (vegan, plastic-free)
Most of these companies also offer a conditioner.
4. Plastic-Free Shower Gel & Bath Soap
Ditch the shower gel and swap to bar soap. It’s a plastic-free option that is often cheaper and longer-lasting than most commercial shower gels. If you prefer baths, look to bath bombs and salts so you can avoid plastic bottles. Some of the best are:
- Shop on Etsy and support small businesses; you’ll have a world of choice on there!
- Wearth London
5. Plastic-Free Deodorant
Making the switch to plastic-free deodorant will also help you use much healthier products on your body. Some of the best are:
- Fit Pit (balm, handmade, natural, organic, delivered in reclaimed and recyclable packaging)
- Pit Putty (balm, natural, vegan, recyclable tin)
- Ben & Anna (stick, vegan, natural, recyclable packaging)
6. Choose Plastic-Free Produce
Buy loose produce at the supermarket (or better yet, from your local farm or grocer). Most fruits come with their own handy, in-built little plastic-free packaging anyway- oranges, bananas and kiwis all have peels! For everything else, just make sure you wash it when you get home. Most of us scan and shop nowadays, so there’s no reason not to put things straight into your bag.
7. Plastic-Free Toilet Paper
There isn’t actually a shortage of plastic-free toilet papers; the problem is many of them ship from East Asia. While you avoid the plastic, you don’t avoid the huge effects of getting it shipped to you, so make sure that whichever you choose is being shipped from a UK location. Some brands we love are:
- EcoLeaf (recycled paper, competitively priced, compostable outer wrapper)
- The Cheeky Panda (uses bamboo, is cost-effective, hypo-allergenic, ant-bacterial, packaging is 100% recyclable and degradable, and soft – be aware that it is made in China, but it can be found in some supermarkets like Tesco)
- Essential Trading Soft Recycled Toilet Tissue (packaging is compostable, only costs around £1.99 for 4)
8. Buy (or Make) Fresh Bread
Buy fresh bread in paper bags rather than loaves in plastic packaging. You may want to get there earlier in the day so your loaf is fresh, but it’s much better for the environment. Head to the local bakers if you’re feeling a little fancy, or break out those bread-making skills you learned during quarantine!
9. Switch to Soap Nuts or a Plastic-Free Detergent
Wash your clothes using soap nuts instead of laundry detergent. If you haven’t heard of soap nuts, they’re an ancient Indian tree nut that is a member of the lychee family. On contact with water, these nuts release mild suds, making them a super cheap, plastic-free alternative to laundry detergent. If you’re going fully plastic-free with your laundry but will miss the smell of fabric softener, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the muslin bag of nuts. Alternatively, there are plastic-free detergents available.
10. Plastic-Free Vitamins
Our vitamins come in eco-friendly pouches, and we offer reusable glass jars so it’s easy to keep your vitamins fresh. Stop looking in the supermarket aisles and source eco-friendly vitamins that are as good for your body as they are for the environment!This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are myriad other ways you can live life ethically and sustainably. Transitioning to a plastic-free life may take a little time to adjust to, and it may take some trial and error as you learn what works for you. Living life plastic-free can also often mean saving money, so why not give yourself a challenge this new year and see which products you can swap out first?