Not long ago I was at the beach staring at the waves crashing against the shore, listening to the distant cries of seagulls, skies were vast and blue dotted with fluffy clouds… Everything was picture perfect. Well, except for one thing. Whenever I ran my hands through the sand, I came across little bits of rubbish. There were candy wrappers, straws, plastic bags and bottles and to my horror, a dead bird. What could have been a sublime piece of land had turned into a decaying realm of plastic waste.
I could see why UK has passed the legislation to ban single-use plastic like straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds. Thousands of miles away, the frozen Arctic Sea has revealed tons of microplastic. Can you imagine the condition of other oceans and water bodies? According to the UK government, “there are over 150 million tons of plastic in the world’s oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.” Some food chains in UK like McDonald’s have already switched to non-plastic alternative.
It got me thinking… How can I reduce the use of plastic at my own home? Here are a few neat eco-friendly alternatives to plastic.
1. Jute Shopping Bags
When I go grocery shopping, I came back home with at least a dozen of plastic shopping bags that I dispose of a few days later. That’s a LOT of plastic waste, and it is a never-ending vicious cycle unless we do something about it. A green and cheap alternative is to switch to reusable jute bags. Sturdy, biodegradable and manufactured from natural fibers, jute bags can easily contain up to 20 kilos of weight.
You can store the jute bags in your pantry and simply take them along with you when you go shopping. Once you are done shopping, request your purchases to be plopped into them. The best part is that jute bags are available in a variety of colors and prints which will make your shopping trips brighter than ever!
2.Eco-Friendly Straws (Glass, Bamboo, Stainless Steel)
Plastic straws are the worst! Fine and dandy, they look innocent enough. Sip your smoothie happily and gulp down your juices. Sadly, they are one of the major culprits in causing environmental degradation. Plastic straws take thousands of years to decompose and release toxic gases such as methane into the air.
During beach and ocean clean-ups, thousands of straws are picked up. Did you happen to see the video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck up in its nose? It was extremely disturbing to watch and made me think about how our nonchalant behavior towards plastic is costing millions of marine lives.
Thankfully, you can switch to eco-friendly straws like paper, glass, bamboo, re-usable silicone and stainless-steel ones. Next time you eat out, carry your own straw with you!
3. Reusable Coffee Cups
Are you a die-hard fan of coffee who can’t go a day without a dose of caffeine? I get you! I need my coffee to function properly. Connoisseurs of caffeine, next time you walk into a cafe, give your own ‘reusable’ cup to the baristas to fill it up. Disposable plastic cups are made from polyethylene. They take centuries to break down and the slow process leeches out toxic chemicals that have a harmful effect on our environment. If the environmentally conscious person inside you is feeling guilty, buy an eco-friendly plastic cup. From ECoffee Bamboo Cup to Ember Temperature Control Smart Ceramic Mug or Travel Mug, you will find numerous types of reusable cups that will last you a good time.
4. Glass Milk Bottles
If you are looking to reduce plastic waste, switching to milk glass bottles is a good step. Back in the old days, milkman would leave a glass milk bottle at your doorstep. Remember Tom from Tom and Jerry stealing one of those bottles and gulping it down? They are making a comeback! After the announcement to eliminate plastic waste by 2042, Woodman’s Dairy in Rumney saw a huge demand for glass bottled milk. The owner said he had to renovate his milk float to meet demand. It is a good start and you can keep it going by ditching plastic packaged milk for good! Find out who delivers milk in your area and request them to deliver it to you in glass bottles. You can do the same for buying butter, cheese, and yogurt.
5. Loose Tea Leaves or Powder
This one was quite a shock to me! My husband is a great fan of green tea. You will find every kind of flavor in our kitchen. Moroccan Mint is for productive evenings while Peach is for lazy nights. When I was looking up plastic-free alternatives, I was astonished to find that those innocent looking tea bags are hiding a layer of polypropylene plastic that eventually pollute the water and land. Thankfully, we can survive on loose tea! It tastes better anyway. It is an annoyance to strain it but a tea infuser or a strainer can help a lot. Next you are walk into the supermarket, buy loose tea powder, or leaves instead of tea bags.
- Tea Mugs with Infuser – best teapot free tea brewer for one
- Top 5 Best Teapots – ceramic, glass or cast iron with stainless steel infuser
6. Organic Q-Tips / Cotton Balls
We have some news for you! Cotton buds, Q-Tips, aren’t good for your ears and the planet. They are a curse! They tickle your auditory canals and damage the environment. If you wish to clean your ears impeccably, remove eye make-up or whatever it is you do with Q-tips, it is better to use cotton balls. When you come out of the shower, clean your ears with a damp cotton ball and they will be sparkly clean. If you still wish to tickle your ear drums by sticking cotton buds, go for an organic alternative. You will find a number biodegradable wooden cotton swabs on Amazon (see links below).
7. Beeswax Food Wraps
We suffocate our vegetables, fruits, and cheese in plastic cling film without a second thought. You can keep your food fresh without having to depend on the clingy plastic. That’s right! Beeswax Food Wraps to the rescue. It is sustainable, reusable, and made from all the good natural stuff. However, it is pricey and less pliable than your average plastic cling film. If you want to go green but don’t want to pay for $18 for three sheets, make your own beeswax wraps in the comfort of your home. I found a great tutorial on Apartment Therapy. Check it out! Even if you have to pay for these outright, remember that they are washable and reusable unlike the cling film alternatives that tend to stick together in a pile.
8. Reusable Water Bottle
Be it glass or stainless steel, invest in a good quality reusable water bottle that is not made from plastic. Not only it will help reduce the toxins in landfills, it is way more hygienic to use. Many people aren’t aware, but you can carry your empty water-bottle while flying. Once you are through security, ask any attendant on the plane to fill it up for you. You can use a similar bottle to carry your beverages!
RELATED: Water Bottle with Fruit Infuser
Plastic terror, straws, and ticklish Q-Tips… seems such a small thing to worry about, doesn’t it? What if I tell you that over 100 species of sea bird and marine animals die due to ingestion of plastic waste? We only saw one video of a turtle suffering the consequences of our doings. There are millions of more lives at stake. The UK government has taken a great initiative. Support it and do your best to go plastic-free.