We’re all aware that plastic is bad for the planet, but unfortunately plastic is difficult to avoid.
If you walk into any store and take a look around, it’s likely that nearly every product on the shelves contains plastic in some form or another. Even if the product isn’t made of plastic, the packaging likely is.
Plastic takes hundreds of years (hundreds!!!) to biodegrade. While many plastics are recyclable, it’s an unfortunate fact that this doesn’t always happen. It’s often less expensive and easier to produce new plastics in factories than it is to recycle used ones, so the amount in circulation just keeps getting bigger. There’s just nowhere for it to go except to landfill or floating in our oceans.
Because of this global crisis, I decided to make a conscious effort to reduce the plastic products and packaging in my life, both at home and as a traveller. It certainly hasn’t been easy and there’s still room for improvement, but there’s been definite progress.
I started by swapping out the products I regularly use for a more sustainable version, one at a time. With every new purchase, I questioned how sustainable the product was before buying it. Is it made of plastic? How much packaging does it come with? Is there a way I can replace this with something more eco-friendly?
My first step was a tote bag for my groceries. Then it was a keep cup for my daily coffee. Items like my toothbrush and hairbrush were swapped for bamboo versions, and I started looking at sustainable options for my other beauty products. At home, I also started recycling all my soft plastics from packaging. I was slowly but surely becoming an eco-warrior!
If you’re interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle, one of the best things you can do (after switching to a vegetarian diet, of course) is to swap plastic for more natural products! Together, we’ll do a tremendous job of reducing the amount of toxic waste that ends up in landfill and in our oceans. Here’s some natural products to make your next trip eco-friendly.
Eco-friendly bamboo products:
Ever since I discovered the sustainable properties of bamboo, I’ve been on a mission to replace plastic with this natural material instead. Bamboo is similar in structure to wood but it grows more quickly, making it a more sustainable choice, and once disposed of, bamboo biodegrades in only a few months.
So which products can be made from bamboo? A surprising amount! I’ve replaced each of the following items with a bamboo version:
Toothbrush – The first plastic item that I replaced with bamboo was my toothbrush. I found one by Go Bamboo in a health shop for around $3.50 AUD. Bamboo toothbrushes are becoming way more common as more people jump on the sustainability bandwagon, so you may even find them in regular pharmacies and grocery stores.
Hairbrush – I searched for a bamboo hairbrush when my old plastic one needed replacing. It was somewhat difficult to find one that I really liked as there wasn’t a huge range, but I eventually got lucky in a discount chemist in Sydney and I’m fairly happy with it.
Cotton buds – I bet you didn’t even realise that cotton buds have a plastic core! I discovered a packet of 200 bamboo cotton buds that cost $8.50 AUD at an organic food/health store in Sydney. While they weren’t particularly cheap, this packet of biodegradable buds will last me forever. Alternatively you can buy a reusable cotton swab from LastObject which fits neatly in your toiletry bag and helps to reduce waste!
Tissues & toilet paper – Bamboo fibres can also be used for tissue products. I purchased a cardboard box of No Issues Tissues to stock up our bathroom supplies, and they’ve been great. Next, I’m going to try the bamboo toilet paper and tissues from Who Gives A Crap.
Cutlery – I recently purchased a bamboo cutlery set by Ever Eco so that I could eat lunch on the go without accepting plastic cutlery. I’m not entirely convinced that they’re as easy to use as regular cutlery, but at least they’re lightweight and sustainable!
Other products for sustainability:
Tote bag – Canvas tote bags are the easiest way to avoid plastic bags, and most of the time they are made of natural materials like cotton. These reusable bags are lightweight and can fold up inside your handbag or backpack for emergency use. Say no to plastic bags and use a tote instead!
Keep cup – Most single use coffee cups have a plastic liner and can’t be recycled. To stop these cups ending up in landfill, I carry around a reusable glass coffee cup from Think Cups. I loooove my coffee cup and take it with me everywhere, even when I travel!
Drink bottle – A reusable drink bottle is essential for travel. Why buy bottles of water when you can refill your own for free? I have a reusable metal drink bottle that I got given at an event a few years back, but you can get nice ones from many giftware stores.
Straws – Plastic straws are truly awful for the environment as they can’t be recycled and they often end up harming marine life in our oceans. There are loads of companies making reusable straws from metal or bamboo. Keep one on you at all times!
Aerosols – I actually stopped buying aerosols once I discovered how terrible they are for the atmosphere (and they contain some nasty chemicals that are bad for our health). I recently started using an eco spritzer instead of hairspray, and I started making my own deodorant using a combination of vodka and lemon juice in a pump spray bottle. It works like a charm!
Cleansers – Some exfoliating cleansers contain tiny plastic beads, known as microplastics. Once they get washed down the drain, they slip through any water treatment facilities and end up in our oceans. Buy exfoliating cleansers with sugar crystals or coffee grinds instead for a more natural version.