Plastic is basically the earths equivalent of human’s smoking cigarettes. I apologise for starting with a metaphor but seriously think about it, between the 1930’s and 1950’s cigarettes were actually marketed as being healthy and approved by doctors. It was very unusual to be a nonsmoker. Then in the mid 50’s the links between smoking and health issues became apparent. Now here we are 60 odd years later and its only just become socially unacceptable to be a smoker.
Plastic has the same backstory. Plastic products became extremely popular in the late 1940’s and by the 1970’s had replaced most traditional materials. Just like cigarettes they were marketed as this must have that was going to drastically improve your life. Fast forward a few years and scientists started to discover that plastic is harmful to the planet and our health. Unlike smoking however the social norm of cutting this product out of our lives has been much slower, we are a long way away from systemically reducing the use of plastic.
So if your wanting to make that step towards a plastic free life here is 5 items you can easily swap out to get you started.
- Canvas grocery bags – I know this one is pretty obvious but that’s because its so easy. Canvas shopping bags are cheap, durable and switching to these can replace an estimated 500 plastic bags per person each year. Replacing plastic bags with cotton or mesh produce bags for fruit, vegetables and nuts is also a great switch to make.
- Glass or stainless steel drink bottles – 500 billion plastic bottles are sold each year! these are polluting our oceans, overflowing landfills and the chemicals from these bottles can leach into the water systems and impact our health. So once again a super simple swap to a sustainable drink bottle (that you take with you when you leave the house) can make a massive difference.
- Cut out single serve packaged food – I always preach fresh whole foods whenever I get a chance but if you are purchasing packaged food there’s still more sustainable options. As an example ‘buy the big popcorn’ instead of buying a pack of individually/single serve packaged popcorn for snacks. Buy the big share pack and pour serves into an eco food container.
- Buy a bamboo toothbrush – Another item that seems trivial but Australians throw out 900 tonnes of plastic toothbrushes each year. Bamboo breaks down in the environment and absorbs carbon from the atmosphere. Once your finished with a bamboo toothbrush remove the bristles and chuck the handle into a compost bin.
- Beeswax wraps – I’ve recently started making these and will be selling them on Etsy soon (shameless business plug) these wraps have completely replaced cling wrap in our house. They can be used on anything, they are easy to clean, keep food fresher, 100% biodegradable, can be reused multiple times for up to a year, have natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and after the initial investment are an economical alternative to cling wrap.