One of the problems we sometimes run across when working to ditch plastic is that some of the common products we buy seem to be only available in plastic form. We’ve wisely grabbed ahold of reusable canvas shopping bags, BPA-free water bottles, and are working hard on returning to glass jars over plastic ones. But for those of us looking to further our efforts and do away with more plastic, what are some possible new ways we can do it?
There are many new and innovative products available on the market to replace common plastic items that extend far beyond the typical plastic-free offerings. With a little know-how, you can find many sustainable alternatives for everyday plastics that not only benefit the planet but are more durable and perhaps, friendlier on your wallet as well. Here are five to get you started.
For many, straws are the new plastic bag. They are something we take mindlessly, that we are offered constantly, and they are absolutely horrible for the environment. It seems common sense that we either ditch them altogether (drinking straight from cups and glasses worked for a long time) or that we find a different way. Currently, there are a few options to choose from, with long lasting, swanky alternatives like glass and stainless steel. However, the sensible choice to me — compostable, plant-based, and cheap — is bamboo. If a straw is a must, just carry one of these reusable options.
2. Non-Stick Skillets
This is another one of those products that manages to slip under the radar a lot of times, but it’s no big secret that those Teflon-coated non-stick skillets (pots and pans) are falling out of favor. The coating has been found to leach toxic chemicals, not a particularly nice thought for something we cook in, and most of us are quite familiar with the pieces of it eventually flaking off into our food. The answers is easy and has been here all along: Get back to cast iron. Cast iron skillets are of great quality, can be seasoned to be virtually non-stick and last lifetimes.
If there is one plastic item that you (hopefully) use multiple times a day without really thinking about it, it’s a toothbrush. These useful items are sadly plastic through and through and need to be replaced with reasonable frequency. While it might not seem like the most impactful plastic product out there, when you consider the fact that the average person replaces their toothbrush around four times a year, the footprint of these items grows considerably. Luckily, ecowarriors have caught on to this and are now providing alternatives. Once again, bamboo rocks.
Sometimes it feels like we have been a bunch of disposable suckers, and when it comes to extremely expensive diapers, how have we come as a society to rely on something so environmentally and economically wasteful? Plus, disposable diapers are full of toxins and irritants that the baby might not appreciate too much, either. Buy some reusable cloth diapers, as surely any parent is over the grossed-out by poop part of life, and do the pocketbook and planet a solid (pun intended all the way). It seems the safer option for our offspring is probably the right choice.
Sponges and other cleaning brushes are often comprised by plastics. To good news is, there are many natural alternatives to these wasteful scrubbers. Plants provide the best solution, and indeed, the luffa gourd is simply amazing for the bathroom and the kitchen. It’s a tropical plant — but it can be grown in the states — that dries out, leaving stiff fibers behind that hold up great to scrubbing pots and pans or fingers and toes. This version is completely affordable, compostable, and functional.
Maybe individually none of these options will save the world, but that’s not the point, is it? We know that the cumulative effort of leaving plastic behind will help the planet and our health, and that’s that. So, let’s keep working at it.
Lead image source: KishR/Flickr