Cutting down on plastic use and going zero-waste is something we can all agree is good for the environment, but for those new to the movement, it can be a little intimidating or overwhelming. Fortunately, ethical companies and manufacturers have started following the trend, and it’s never been easier to swap out wasteful plastic products for eco-friendly alternatives!
Read on for tips on making simple zero-waste switches.
Always use reusable beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap
Of course, we’re going to start with this zero-waste switch! Whether you call it plastic wrap or cling film, this modern kitchen staple is an incredibly wasteful product. Even aluminium foil, which is a smidge better since it is technically recyclable, is still a single-use product.
Swap out those wasteful plastic sheets (that are often hard to use anyway!) for reusable beeswax wraps and you’ll not only reduce single-use plastic, you’ll also save yourself a lot of frustration by using a product that doesn’t prefer sticking to itself rather than the intended container.
Our all-natural Wax Wraps are made from organic cotton, food-safe dyes, sustainably harvested beeswax, coconut oil and tree resin. When taken care of properly, they can last up to two years and be reused over and over again as an alternative to plastic wrap. When they’ve finally lost all their stick, simply toss them in the compost or use them as a fire starter. (Our Beeginner Sets with three different-sized Wax Wraps are a great way to get started using beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap in your home.)
Use reusable straws instead of single-use straws
When you’re on the go and you just want to enjoy a refreshing iced latte or fruit-tastic smoothie, there’s nothing handier than a straw. The problem is that small plastic products like these are produced in the millions and far too many of them end up polluting our beaches and marine environments.
Instead of taking a “free” straw from the deli, make a habit of carrying around a reusable straw. Options like stainless steel, bamboo and glass straws are both highly durable and keep countless wasteful plastic straws out of oceans and landfills.
Remember reusable cups instead of disposable cups for takeaway
We’ve gotten so used to getting a disposable cup of coffee to go that we barely even think of it. Just about everywhere is happy to provide a plastic or paper cup to enjoy your drink on the move, but it’s seriously wasteful.
Start carrying a reusable travel mug or thermos with you to enjoy your favourite hot or cold beverage of choice without polluting the environment. Whether you brew your beverages at home or are a regular at your favorite cafe, this zero-waste swap is dead simple to make. (Bonus: lots of coffee shops even offer discounts as an incentive to bring your own cup!)
For juices, water, smoothies or sodas, insulated water bottle or glass mason jars with lids offer an easy alternative than a disposable paper or plastic cup with a plastic lid and plastic straw.
The trick is making a habit of remembering to take your reusable cups with you. Stat by keeping a couple in your car or by the front door ready to go!
Have your own reusable produce and shopping bags rather than plastic bags
Everyone has grabbed fresh apples at the supermarket, thrown them in a plastic bag, rung them up at the cashier who then put them in yet another plastic bag, took them home and then tossed the apples into the fruit bowl while the plastic went in the garbage.
Those two or more plastic bags you grabbed were used for how long – maybe an hour or two at most? They will now take thousands of years to break down. Literally.
Taking your own shopping bags with you to the store makes a huge difference to the planet! Whether you prefer a nice sturdy canvas sack or a thin cloth bag you can scrunch and stash in your purse, always have a reusable bag on hand regardless of the type of store or shopping you’re doing.
When headed to the market or grocery store, reusable produce bags are also a must for your fruit, veg and bulk goods! (Snag a set of three reusable produce bags here – they’re hand made out of 100% GOTS-certified cotton, which means the fabric is both organic and made in fair working conditions.)
Use cleaning cloths instead of paper towels
Make a mess, wipe it up with a paper towel, then toss it in the trash and you’re done. It seems like the easiest thing in the world, but how many rolls of paper towels do you go through in a week, a month, a year? That’s an awful lot of trees getting cut down.
The best thing you can do to spare the trees is to clean like your grandparents did – with a cloth! This zero-waste swap is super simple as we bet you already have kitchen cloths and washcloths in your home. Make a habit of using cloths for cleaning and when they’re dirty or wet, just toss them in the washing machine to be cleaned then reused. Instead of purchasing new cloths or hand towels you can also easily make cleaning cloths, dish towels and even tissues out of old sheets or t-shirts to be even more sustainable and waste-free.
Buy natural loofahs instead of dish sponges
Doing the dishes can be a tough job and sometimes a cleaning cloth isn’t enough, so you whip out the dish sponge to do the scrubbing. Then you leave it in a damp environment to collect germs until it’s so gross you eventually have to throw it in the bin and get a new one. The greater your germophobia, the faster you likely go through these wasteful items.
Sponges don’t grow on trees, but you know what does? Loofahs! Or, well, they grow on vines at least. These all-natural bristly bunches are not only a renewable product, they’re also naturally antibacterial. Mother nature has gifted us with a wonderful alternative scrubbing tool, perfect for dishes, in the shower or really anywhere in your home.
Opt for eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic toothbrushes
Your dentist probably tells you to replace your toothbrush with a new one every three to four months. Sensible, hygienic and literally what the doctor ordered, but that ends up being a minimum of three toothbrushes in the trash each year…for as long as you live. That’s an awful lot of plastic sticking around in the environment long after you’re gone.
Swap out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush handle to reduce your plastic use. A fast-growing and therefore highly sustainable wood, bamboo is an ideal substitute for the job and when it does need to be disposed of, it will only take a couple of years to break down and won’t do any harm to your garden compost or the environment.
Most of the reasons we waste so much plastic and paper are for convenience, but just a tiny shift in your habits can make a huge difference. We bet you already have all you need to make some of these easy zero-waste switches in your home, so why not give them a try today!