Happy Earth Day! Not only has Mama Earth been a real champ for putting up with the hot mess of a humankind we are, she’s also (finally) blessed us with amazing weather this weekend – the premature sunburn on my nose can definitely attest to it.
This year’s Earth Day theme is centered around plastic pollution; raising awareness of our alarming habits surrounding its use while also drawing focus on the need to implement sustainable changes.
Did you know that out of all the plastic produced, over 79% of it ends up in landfills and in our natural environment? The early 1900s may have signified a breakthrough for plastic as a cheaper and faster way to produce certain products but with the drastic growth in global population as well as our increased dependency on plastic production, its perceived benefits have generated enormous environmental damage. The worst part? Every aspect of our lives is somehow interconnected with its use and depended on its ongoing production.
While I don’t think there’s truly an environmentally-friendly way to produce, use and dispose of plastic, there are ways we can reduce our individual strain on the planet. I’ve compiled a list of 8 simple ways to replace your everyday single use plastics with more eco-friendly and package-free alternatives.
1. Biodegradable Bamboo Toothbrush
Bamboo is a great natural alternative to synthetic plastic. Though it is important to note that not all bamboo toothbrushes are fully biodegradable – look for bristles made from Nylon-4 not Nylon-6 material.
Price: ~$5 per brush
Where to buy: Amazon, Anarres Natural Health, Well.ca
2. Plastic Free Coconut Oil Moisturizer
Not only is coconut oil nutritious for kitchen use and consumption, it’s also a great antibacterial and antifungal moisturizer that is long-lasting, healthy and penetrates the skin better than most oils. Protip: if you also use coconut oil for cooking, scoop up a few spoons into an egg cup to use as moisturizer.
Price: ~$10-$12 per glass container
Where to buy: any local grocery store
3. Monthly Contact Lenses
As someone with subpar vision (to put it lightly), I’ve depended on contact lenses for well over half of my life. Recently though, it occurred to me that using daily contact lenses generates an enormous amount of waste. While resorting to good ole glasses would be the best waste-free alternative, if you’re not willing to give up the comfort of contacts, consider switching to monthlies. Not only is it cheaper cost-wise, it’s also significantly better for the environment.
Price: $50/3 pairs of monthlies vs. $140/3 months of dailies
4. Package Free Shampoo
The average person uses 5-6 bottles of shampoo each year – not including conditioner, body wash and other cosmetic necessities. I’ve been on the hunt for package free bathroom products for a while when I found out that LUSH carries a wide variety of them (most are vegan too!) My personal favourite is the Vegan SEANIK Shampoo Bar made with seaweed, sea salt and lemon which surprisingly has been making my hair quality the best it’s ever been. Protip: make sure you store your shampoo bar in a tin or basket as the water from your shower makes it stick to the surface of the bathtub.
Price: ~$11.95 per bar (lasts about 45-60 washes)
5. Buying Second Hand
Although this isn’t directly related to plastic use, the clothing and textile industry is the second largest polluter and producer of waste with over 40% of produced clothing ending up in the landfill. Not to mention the ethical issues associated with this business. In our affluent post-materialist culture, we have a tendency to dispose of clothing very quickly to keep up with the latest trends. But as fast fashion begins to dominate the shopping culture (and our wallets), it’s important to value quality over quantity and preserve our pieces for as long as we can.
One way to practice sustainable fashion is to shop second-hand at thrift and consignment stores. Someone else’s unwanted pieces could end up being your favourite gems!
If you’re wanting to dispose of unwanted clothes, consider trading your pieces at clothing swaps or selling them to consignment stores such as Kind Exchange, Plato’s Closet or on apps like Carousell and Let Go.
6. Reusable Canvas Bags
This practice is pretty self-explanatory and a great substitute for conventional use of plastic bags. I collect these guys from different places I travel and use them for everything – from grocery shopping to gym bags to everyday use.
Price: varies but generally ~$5-$15 per tote bag
Where to buy: book stores, sports stores, art galleries, souvenir shops
7. Reusable Produce Bags
The average person uses anywhere from 8-10 plastic bags each grocery shopping trip to transport produce and other foods. If you do grocery runs a few times a week this number is even higher. Investing in produce bags is a great way to combat plastic use and practice sustainable shopping.
Price: ~$20-$25 for a pack of 6
Where to buy: Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond
8. Glass Tupperware and Reusable Bottles
Reusing glass containers and bottles from used up products is a great way to reduce waste while keeping your food fresh. Protip: Michael’s sells mason jars for $2 a piece which can be used to store bulk foods and pre-made meals such as overnight oats.
Price: ~$2-$15 per container depending on size
While some of these items do rank higher in price, know that investing in reusable products and participating in zero waste lifestyle changes renders priceless benefits for the environment.
Positive energies always.
“The goal is to make your hand print bigger than your footprint.” – Daniel Coleman, Author of Ecological Intelligence
Want to help ban the use of straws in Canada? Take a minute or two to sign the petition.
Read more about this year’s Earth Day campaign and ways to end plastic pollution here.