Nearly every single piece of plastic ever made still exists. We produce around 300 million tons of it every year – half of which is for single use, and scientists now predict that the ocean will contain more plastics than fish by 2050. It’s clear we have a plastic problem. And although many of us said no to single use plastics this July, it’s time to start saying no full stop.
With Plastic Free July over – and many of us battling our way through just trying to avoid using plastic straws, bags, coffee cups and water bottles – going totally plastic free for the rest of the year seems like a daunting task, but one we all should be working towards. We’ve put together a handy list of alternative products, as well as all the information you need to motivate you to ditch plastic for good.
Our 7 Plastic Free Alternatives
1. Buy a reusable water bottle
Humans produce almost 20,000 plastic bottles every second. The number of bottles sold in the last year alone, if placed end to end, would extend more than halfway to the sun. It’s time to ban the bottle. Thankfully, there’s plenty of reusable options available.
2. BYO bag
Around the world, over one million plastic bags are used per minute – that’s around one trillion per year. These bags then sit around for about a thousand years and all too often end up in our oceans. But now you know just how bad they are, you’ll never forget to bring you own again. The best thing to do is always keep a spare bag in your car, or carry a small one on you. Jute and bamboo are the best materials to use, as they’re 100% biodegradable.
Brute Jute, founded by teenager Alexander Erling, have a range of beautiful jute bags on offer that stand up and hold their shape, so they can be packed easily. The handles are made of bamboo, so they won’t hurt your hands when you’re carrying heavy loads. But if you’re after something smaller that you can keep in your handbag, The Simply Co. is the place to go.
3. Say no to plastic straws
Did you know that disposable plastic straws are used for an average of just 20 minutes? Your straw could then spend the next seven hundred years sitting in a landfill – or end up in the sea and harming marine life.
4. Get your own reusable coffee cup
Annually, over 500 billion disposable paper, Styrofoam and single-use plastic cups are used worldwide – with most of these being sent straight to landfill. So when it comes to buying your morning coffee, either drink-in or BYO cup.
Australian brand KeepCup is helping people all over the world ditch their disposable coffee cups. Although they are made of plastic, they’re BPA free and can be recycled at the end of their life. There’s five sizes to chose from, and you can even design your own. If you’re against the idea of using plastic entirely, there’s also JOCO cups, which are made from high quality, non-porous, borosilicate glass. With so many colours and designs on offer, you’re spoilt for choice.
5. Ditch the pre-packed fruit and veg
Earlier this month, Stuff revealed that what Kiwis shoppers want the most is less packaging and waste. But supermarkets are led by consumers – the more we care, the more they care. So stop buying packaged veg, and buy loose, seasonal produce instead. Better still, visit your greengrocer or local market. You can get your own reusable veggie bags from Biome, here. Don’t forget, if you see any over-packaged food at your local supermarket, take a photo and call them out on social media, and use the hashtag #GoPlasticFree.
6. Use a bamboo toothbrush
Every year, 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the US alone – that’s enough to go around the Earth four times. Making the simple switch to bamboo can make a huge difference.
Charles and Olivia‘s bamboo toothbrushes have a biodegradable handle, and soft recyclable nylon bristles. Not only this, but for every toothbrush sold, they’ll donate one to a child in a developing community. It’s a win for everyone.
7. No more plastic wrap
Like most of the plastic products in this post, plastic wrap is used once and more than likely ends up in a landfill or in the ocean, either leaching chemicals or suffocating marine life. There’s so many alternatives available, once you stop you’ll never want to use it again.
Instead of covering leftovers, use tupperware – like these glass ones from Lifefactory. Or, if you’d rather stick with covering or wrapping up your food, try using Bees Wrap. It’s a reusable, natural and biodegradable alternative made of organic cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. At the end of its life, it can be composted or used as a fire starter – just cut the wrap into strips to add to your compost heap, or wrap them around pieces of kindling.
If you want to go the extra mile, you could also switch your deodorant to a more natural, environmentally friendly version. Bee Fresh is an eco-friendly and totally compostable alternative made from Beeswax. We’ve tried it, love it, and we’re never going back. But if you’re up for even more of a challenge, you could always try making your own.