Have been challenged by a buddy to suggest one item a day that people can give up on their journey to giving up single-use / disposable plastic items. Here it goes….
Finding Alternatives To Single Use / Disposable
Firstly if you already have disposable items, finish using them and dispose of them correctly with the facilities that are available in your country. The ideas for the alternatives is that the items can be used for potentially your entire life and be properly reused as a resource for something else.
Day 1: Plastic Straw
Since the turtle with the straw in its nose, plastic straws have had a bad name.
Personally I don’t use them and am irritated to see soooooo many plastic straws on the beach when doing a beach clean. However I do understand if you are very young or elderly or special needs a straw is an invaluable tool to help you drink.
Reusable and requires cleaning after use:
- Bamboo straws
- Metal straws
- Glass straws
If you do require disposable:
- Cardboard straws
- Pasta straws (takes me back to when we were young and used to try to drink our soup with large macroni pasta – Bucatini Pasta)
Consider reusing your plastic straws multiple times and maybe you can turn it into art or something (search web)
Day 2: Disposable Razor
Being of an Oriental disposition have not required to use a razor. One of my brothers uses a pair of tweezers to keep his facial hair at bay. But I have heard about:
- Reusable Razors where you just change the blade and there are devices to sharpen the blade if it does become blunt.
- Electric shavers
Put a comment and tell me your best form of hair removal…..cos at the moment all I need to do is cut the hair off my head every so often (thanks mum).
Day 3: Disposable Toothbrush
Alternative at the moment I use a bamboo toothbrush. FYI: https://urbanvegan.net/bamboo-toothbrush/#natural-bristles
But since then have learned about:
- Other biodegradable cellulose materials that are being now used.
- Toothbrushes where just the head can be changed to compostable head. Yes you keep the handle, so its like a razor where you just change the blade.
- Chewing on a neem twig or miswak twig (also know as the toothbrush tree)
- If you have an electric toothbrush, the heads apparently only need to be replaced once a year!
Tree Hugger has further information on this: https://www.treehugger.com/green-home/6-toothbrushes-keep-your-teeth-clean-and-green.html
Day 4: Cotton Buds with Plastic Handles
They say you should not use a cotton bud (q-tip) to clean your ear. It will do it naturally. I suffer from eczema and unfortunately some is in my ear. So creaming it helps to reduce the itch.
Alternative are paper based handles. It is noted countries are also banning plastic handled cotton buds since Justin Hoffman’s sea horse.
So assume plastic handled cotton buds will be phased out.
Day 5: Bottles In The Car / Travel Bottles
Depending on the type of plastic used to create the bottle, some types of plastic can leach out chemicals when they are warmed. There was an interesting Taiwanese children’s show I watched where they got the children to measure the amount of BPA (and another chemical which I cannot remember) leaching out of different types of plastic. Heat certainly did cause greater amounts of these chemicals to leach out of the plastic into the liquids that it was in contact with.
The BBC has a page to describe the numbers and then you can do a search on which of those leaches chemicals into the contacting food when heated.
For the full table see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7516859.stm
Anyhow so alternatives to single-use plastic bottles are:
- Glass bottles
- Metal bottles
I suspect the best would be the glass bottle, but if you are one of those that drops things…..then…. I do like the stainless steel thermal bottle to keep hot and cold stuff but equally you can get insulating sleeves for your bottles to improve the insulating qualities of any bottle.
Day 6: Baking Soda / Powder also known as Sodium Bicarbonate
I love using this as a cleaning agent! With a bit of salt + a bit of vinegar it has cleaned a whole host of items such as burnt pots. However our local supermarkets tend to sell this in a plastic container. I don’t like advertising any brand but on this occasion have found Arm and Hammer sell the stuff in a box:
Day 7: Women’s Stuff (blokes miss this section)
Yup many of the things we are using are plastic items even the tampons are a mixture of plastic fibres when having to handle that time of the month.
Consider purchasing a menstrual cup or there are natural menstrual pads. There are reusable menstrual pads and will require you to wash them. Of course I have favoured the menstrual cup as it means that on expeditions I am free of the burden of carrying stuff to deal with it and they are easy to clean + personally I find them way nicer to handle than a soggy……
Day 8: Your Plastic Groceries
Look at your own shopping list and see if there are alternatives to the ones in plastic packaging. Also there are sneaky ones like tea bags that have plastic fibres mixed in…..so look for one that does not contain plastic. I use loose tea and put in a coffee decanter to separate the tea leaves from the liquid 😀
Or perhaps you can BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable) to a zero waste shop that are popping up around the world.
Do feel free to share an alternative that you have purchased to a commonly used disposable item.
- Days 9-15 – will be discussing what’s in me bag that I bring to the office and to outdoor events so I can REFUSE to use single use plastic.