Plast-Ick! Eco-Friendly Replacements & Alternatives to Single-Use Plastic

January 21, 2019

By Frances Lucraft

Plastic is having an increasingly detrimental effect on our environment. What’s more, much of our plastic consumption is frivolous. We’re contributing to an unfortunate legacy for our climate and ecosystem just by buying the most popular and available products – products that we need!

More of us are starting to realise that the cumulative effect of many people making small changes will help turn this pandemic around. Refusing single-use plastic as often as you can is a great way to challenge yourself to live more sustainably.

Be part of the solution

By deciding to have an environmentally kinder lifestyle, you become part of the solution, rather than the problem. In the process, you’ll come across many reusable products from wonderful eco-brands that offer genuinely cost-effective alternatives that you will love to trade your disposable items for.

Here are seven substitutions we can make to cut down on single-use plastic.

1. Straws

Plastic straws might well be the token of the plastic-free movement, but their environmental impact is far from novel. They have also been a massively powerful tool in highlighting just how much customer preference can influence big business.

Consumer awareness has led to independent, national and international businesses opting for biodegradable alternatives, including paper and even pasta straws! You can buy high-quality reusable straws from Bunkoza in bamboo or stainless steel.

Bamboo straws by Bunkoza.

2. Coffee cups

Coffee cups are a huge source of single-use plastic pollution with billions thrown away each year, yet less than 0.25% of them are recycled. Don’t be fooled by their cardboard surface, as lurking beneath is usually a plastic lining to help keep your beverage warm.

More and more high street cafes are opting for an environmentally conscious outlook that recognises how disposable cups are harming our oceans and lands. Buying a reusable coffee cup and making the most of own-cup discounts could save you a small fortune in the long run, so there really is #NoExcuseForSingleUse.

Frank Green offers a range of customisable eco-friendly reusable coffee cups in various sizes.

3. Bags

England’s introduction of a plastic bag charge was a resounding success that highlights the importance of proactive legislation to help nudge us towards more sustainable lifestyles. Within six months, the number of plastic bags used plummeted by over 85%.

Thankfully, our response has led to a drastic decrease in the amount of plastic bags found in the sea. Recycled or canvas bags can be a great staple to your sustainable lifestyle, helping you to ditch plastic bags completely to carry your weekly shop, packed lunch and reusable items in. Wear your sustainability with pride and convenience – others will catch on!

We love Sea Salt’s canvas bags. You can get these for £5 each or 2 for £8.

4. Period products

On average, a lifetime of menstruating requires around 11,000 period products per person. Considering it can take centuries for applicators and pads to break down, it’s scary to think that the Marine Conservation Society found 20 period care items per 100m of shoreline. Luckily there are all kinds of safe, plastic-free and affordable options on offer in many shapes and sizes to suit all needs. Why not try a menstrual cup, ditch applicator tampons and buy 100% organic?

Our Essential Collection here at Grace & Green is made using 100% certified organic cotton, making them biodegradable. Learn more about having a sustainable period.

5. Food wrapping

Food wrapping is one of our biggest plastic waste issues, with a growing stake in our troubling excess of unrecyclable and non-biodegradable garbage. Luckily, there are many companies that deliver fruit and veg boxes online directly to your door – in Bristol we love Leigh Court Farm.

For some, growing your own can be a great way to cut down on avoidable plastic, whilst encouraging you to reconnect with nature. Is there a community garden or allotment plot near you? Consumer demand is also spurring the emergence of new independent stores across the UK promising minimum or no waste and a truly sustainable shopping experience.

Large vegetable box with 14-16 varieties of fresh organic vegetables from Leigh Court.

6. Toothbrushes

Too many plastic toothbrushes are building up in landfill and in the stomachs of marine animals. Currently, we throw away 260 million of them each year, which take hundreds of years to break down.

There are various solutions to this stream of plastic waste. There are several 100% biodegradable, sustainably grown bamboo toothbrushes on the market. For a more sustainable smile, why not consider buying eco-friendly floss and toothpaste? Or even better, you could make your own mouthwash and toothpaste!

Each purchase from The Humble Co. helps to improve the oral health of children in need through the provision of products and education. They’re developed by dentists too!

7. Bottles

In the UK, 700,000 plastic bottles are littered every day. Many of us seem to prefer buying bottled water over using our taps, in fact, we are buying twice the amount we were 15 years ago. However, bottled water is doing no favours for our health nor environment, not to mention our finances.

By buying a reusable bottle, you are more likely to consume the recommended daily water intake at a much lower cost. Experiment with fruit infusions or other chilled alternatives to enjoy a healthier lifestyle inside and out.

Chilly’s Bottles keep your drink cold for 24 hours (or hot for 12), and are available in over 30 styles.

Our choices shape our world

There are many sustainable solutions to some of the problems our environment is facing. These products help simplify switching to reusable and eco-friendly alternatives, reducing your contribution to our plastic problem.

If you are making positive changes, let us know about them by emailing [email protected].

For more ways to avoid common and avoidable plastic litter, click here.

Written by William Cuthbert for Grace & Green