It isn’t news to anybody that something needs to have changed yesterday in terms of saving the planet. The lifestyle of people in the Western world, including our excessive plastic consumption, has had a detrimental effect on Mother Earth. Thanks to TV shows such as BBC’s Blue Planet II and Drowning in Plastic, people are much more aware of the impact their lifestyles are having on the planet. While the really important changes to society are very much in the hands of large corporations and governments, there are a number of ways that the small fry (you and I) can easily make small alterations in our lives that have a positive impact. It may not feel like much, but small changes can add up in a positive way. Personally I have made some changes to my lifestyle and the decisions I actively make in my day to day life in order to reduce my impact on the environment as much as possible. The following are simply suggestions of the changes you can make, which have little to no impact on your life, but if considered en masse they would help us to be kinder to the world we live in. If you’re looking for easy ways to change up your lifestyle and think more consciously about the repercussions that your actions have, then keep on reading.
Swapping one use plastic bottles for a reusable metal one is such an easy change to make to our lives. This change has already been made by many people and I’ll be honest, I’m surprised when I see people using one use plastic bottles. I have found that this change has also caused me to be healthier. Because I am so much more conscious of my plastic consumption I tend to restrain from buying bottled soft drinks and thus drink far more water than I used to. Chilly’s is one of the leading reusable water bottle companies, they are very good and extremely popular. TK Maxx also supply metal bottles that look similar to the ones from Chilly’s at a fraction of the cost. I recommend metal bottles over reusable plastic bottles as it has been suggested that plastic releases chemicals that are harmful to humans.
Disposable coffee cups are lined with polyethylene which means they are not recyclable. The government introduced a ‘latte levy’ of 25p on disposable cups in 2018. This has urged many people to take it upon themselves to make that one-time purchase of a reusable coffee cup to help limit their contribution to plastic waste. Many chains and individual coffee shops also offer discounted prices for those who supply their own reusable cup as an incentive to take matters into our own hands. My personal choice is the KeepCup. KeepCup offer a variety of sizes and designs, as well as an option to design your own! Many chains also offer their own reusable coffee cups, literally at the counter, so there’s really no excuse not to be infiltrating this alteration into your daily life.
Here are some reusable coffee cup options:
Surfers Against Sewerage Bamboo Coffee Cup
This one is for those of us who experience that time of the month. Half of us put up with this natural process once a month, and unfortunately the most convenient ways of dealing with it are not sustainable. The average woman uses 11,000 tampons or sanitary pads in her lifetime. That’s an awful lot of landfill. Since switching to a MoonCup I’ve realised that this is an issue that people don’t really talk about and treat as a taboo subject. This is such a shame as it is so important that we educate each other on environmentally friendly alternatives. The Mooncup is a silicon menstrual cup that claims to start paying for itself after 6-8 months. This indicates that it not only positively impacts the environment by saving all that waste, but it is also cost effective. There are many options for people interested in switching up their period habits. Reusable sanitary towels do exist for those of you who prefer a pad, but personally I find the idea of the cup far more appealing as it leaves no mess once rinsed, and can easily be sterilised. Furthermore, I’ve found the MoonCup so simple to use, and it’s infiltrated my daily life with ease. I recently learned that some people use a ‘menstrual sponge’ as an eco-friendly alternative. I myself would appose this as the sponge is a living creature, a sea sponge, which seems morally wrong to me. In addition, this post from Dr Jen Gunter explains the risks that the sponges could pose to our health. I really think that this is such an easy thing to change in your personal life, and you can do so privately and in your own time.
Remember when everyone got their knickers in a twist over the 5p plastic bag charge. I didn’t know my eyes could roll that far. It felt the same when people got all moany over the reduction of plastic straws. It really isn’t the end of the world, and even so I am still hearing people complain about our paper straws at work. The wonderful Nia and Doug from Cardiff University set up The No Straw Stand, urging businesses to go cold turkey on plastic straws. Their aim is to make their city a greener place to live, and steps like this really matter and make a difference, both environmentally and psychologically. Once we start caring about straws, this can only catalyse into caring more about a multitude of environmental factors. Their website includes a list of businesses who have taken the No Straw Stand, and I really recommend taking a look at their projects and blog. I own a collapsible metal straw, and it goes everywhere with me in my bag. It comes with a cleaning brush and fits snugly into a compact case. So if I ever feel that real need for a straw, it’s always there. I do think this is a nicer option to have than paper straws, as you are still producing waste with paper.
I like to use solid toiletries when travelling, partly out of convenience at airport security. High street brands such as Lush are really paving the way and making plastic free products incredibly easy to source. Their shampoo bars come with a metal case making them easily transportable. I use Brazilliant, which smells incredible and works wonders on my dry curly hair. I also use the Sugar Daddy-O solid conditioner, a purple conditioner which helps keep the yellow tones from my hair. I don’t use these products exclusively, but I aim to fully transition into a plastic free bathroom before too long. I also adore Karma, a solid perfume which kicks a powerful punch. In terms of soap/skin care, I like to use Dudu-Osun black soap which has incredible natural cleansing and nourishing properties, and is massively versatile. I do wish that the packaging that this particular soap came in was more plastic free. Nonetheless, the longevity of the product reduces the need for frequent repurchase, and thus plastic consumption. All of these products are extremely long lasting and much more portable than their plastic bottle counterparts. I am excited to experiment further with solid shampoos and conditioners because I would love to limit my plastic waste as far as possible. Lush offer a huge array of products for a variety of hair and skin types, including massage bars, packaging-free makeup, and an assortment of skincare products. Alternatively, there is a plethora of blogs and websites at your fingertips which give you the means to make your own products! This gives you the opportunity to make custom shampoos and conditioners with ingredients that would suit you.
Below are a list of other brands and companies offering solid toiletries that I’d like to try out, and that might inspire you:
Peace With the Wild
No Plastic Shop
As an aside, I recently switched to using a microfibre face cloth rather cotton pads. I use these with my normal makeup remover/cleanser and they work just as well if not better. The face cloths are readily available all over the place and can generally be picked up fairly cheaply, depending on where you’re looking of course. This is a good alternative to cotton pads as conventional cotton farming has a major pollution problem and wastes vast quantities of water.
Billions of disposable plastic toothbrushes are disposed of every year, finding their final resting place in landfill. Just like every single piece of plastic ever made, the toothbrush you learnt to brush your teeth with still exists. Last year I vowed to never buy a plastic disposable toothbrush again, and instead invested in a bamboo alternative. This change has made literally zero difference to my life, the toothbrushes are just as good as a plastic toothbrush, with none of the guilt. Many of these bamboo toothbrushes have plant-based, biodegradable bristles.
Beeswax Food Wrap
Clingfilm, or cellophane, is a common dweller of the kitchen drawer, and I’m going to say nearly everyone reading this has a roll of the stuff in their house. It is a non-recyclable plastic that will sit around for years after it’s initial use, leeching chemicals into the environment. Beeswax wrap is a wonderful, reusable alternative, although it’s not exactly readily available. We do have some in our household but it isn’t enough to completely replace clingfilm. It does, however, cause us to really consider what we use clingfilm for, and whether it’s always necessary. I would love to see the costs of beeswax wrap decrease some time soon, and I hope it isn’t too long before we can completely replace plastic wrap. There are Beeswax wrap DIY’s available online, which don’t seem to take a genius to execute. I would really love to try this out and add to our Beeswax wrap collection. I know people who have made their own plastic free wraps and they have worked out really well for them! A simple, cheap, alternative to both clingfilm and beeswax wrap, is just making more use of glass jars and Tupperware. We all have them in a cupboard somewhere, and we can all utilise them in a way of reducing our plastic waste production.
I think the aim of this post is simply to encourage people to be more actively aware of the impact their day to day decisions have on the planet. Many of the ways that we can reduce our individual plastic waste production are very simple, and can easily be infiltrated into our daily lives with little to no personal impact. People are so much more aware of the way our consumer lifestyle is damaging the planet than we were five years ago. With this in mind, I really hope that this post inspires somebody to change up their habits, and to think more ethically about the repercussions of our choices.
A little list helpful links:
The Eden Project Shop
How to Live a More Ethical Life – The Green Tribe
Nia’s YouTube channel
Jack Harries – Climate Change Projects
13 Easy Ways to Use Less Plastic in Your Beauty Routine
Thank you for reading! I’m Rosie and I post every Wednesday and on the last Sunday of every month. Please leave a like/comment or follow my Instagram to know as soon as a new post drops X