8 Easy Swaps to Make to Be More Green
Every day, at work, out socialising and even in my own home I see loads of unnecessary plastic use and waste, and it really grinds my gears. Especially in a time where it’s more urgent than ever to be more green, and it’s never been easier to do so.
We’re all used to the fast, easy, and frankly reckless way of doing things like using plastic straws, putting our lunch in sandwich bags, and buying almost everything in plastic packaging, but there’s no excuse for it anymore.
You probably already know some frightening statistics about what humans are doing to the planet, like the prediction that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. If, like me, that frightens the shit out of you, read on to see how simple it can be to go more green and lead a more eco friendly lifestyle.
1. Swap out plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones
Plastic toothbrushes are harmful to the environment in loads of ways, which may surprise you. Like most plastic, they end up in landfill and our oceans as they can’t be recycled. When they end up in the ocean, they can be consumed by the fish that we eat, meaning that there is tiny bits of plastic in our seafood. This actually isn’t news (hopefully), but what you might not realise is that there have also been microplastics found in sea salt - so even if you don’t eat fish, you probably eat salk, so it’s pretty hard to avoid having bits of plastic in your food.
As well as the obvious, there’s loads of harmful chemicals that go into making plastic toothbrushes, including oil - a non-renewable energy which, to access, causes destruction of eco-systems and habitats.
Bamboo toothbrushes on the other hand are totally biodegradable and sustainable. Bamboo is known as one of the fastest growing plants on Earth meaning the impact of producing bamboo toothbrushes is tiny. They’re also beneficial to your oral health as bamboo has antimicrobial properties. Personally I don’t know why everyone isn’t using them - I got mine here.
2. Swap Shampoo, Conditioner, shower gel and hand wash Bottles for Bars
Again, to state the obvious, plastic bottles are ruining our oceans. Amongst other things. Think, how quickly do you go through a bottle of shampoo? I won’t ask about conditioner, because we all know it goes twice as fast. But think how many plastic bottles that is every month? Fortnight?
I myself prefer to use a shampoo bar, specifically this one from Lush. It smells lush (duh) and gives a really deep clean with loads of lather and lasts up to 80 washes - I bet that’s more than your shampoo bottle. Like all Lush products, it’s cruelty free, all natural and has minimal packaging.
I will admit, I haven’t found my dream conditioner bar yet, so I’m still using it from tubs, but I’m trying really hard to use less so that I don’t need to throw away as much plastic as I maybe once did, and I’m determined to find a really good conditioner bar, I just haven’t met my match yet.
For washing my hands, I used to use Carex hand wash. The bottles were small with a pump, and the pump is not at all recyclable. However, they do make refill bottles which use 75% less plastic. It’s a step in the right direction, if you absolutely must use liquid hand wash. But, I prefer to use Dove beauty bars as the packaging is completely plastic free, the product itself is soap free (as soap irritates my skin) and it lasts way longer than any hand wash bottle.
That’s also what I sometimes use instead of shower gel, but sometimes I splash out on Lush naked shower gels. I don’t always buy those as they’re a little more expensive and don’t last quite as long, but boy are they a treat. They smell and feel amazing.
3. Replace your disposable sanitary products with reusable ones
Some of you may not know about stuff like this, and some of you may think ick. Some of you might be men, in which case just skip to number 4. But ladies, hear me out. Whatever you’re using when you’re on your period can be replaced with THINX pants. They come in all styles so they’re just like normal underwear, except they’re super absorbent and work exactly like a pad. A single pair starts at around £18, and it’s an investment. If you calculate what you spend on sanitary products every month (and think of their effect on the environment), it’s way cheaper to have a few pairs of these pants in the long run. They guarantee (money back kind of guarantee) that you’ll have no leaks, plus, they help with period poverty in places where girls have to miss out on an education due to their periods.
If you’re not sold on the idea of having pants protect you from Mother Nature’s gift, you could try a menstrual cup instead. It replaces a tampon, but lasts longer, holds more than a tampon absorbs, and can last you for years. It’s also way safer than tampons, which you may not know can be pretty dangerous, especially if forgotten about. They’re easy to clean and cost £21, so the savings even after just a few months are crazy!
4. next time you replace your phone cover, do it with a biodegradable one
Now, I’m not saying chuck out your perfectly functioning plastic phone cover and get a new one, that would be wasteful. I’m just saying keep this in mind for when your phone cover actually needs replacing.
Pela sell biodegradable phone covers and have loads of cute designs plus they donate a 5% portion of their sales (not profits, sales!) to various organisations that aim to reduce waste, improve eco systems and save animals. They also sell screen protectors, completely plastic free. Normal plastic screen protectors are usually made from FOUR bits of plastic, and millions are thrown away daily.
5. Swap Sandwich bags and Tupperware for Plastic Free Alternatives
Really, the kitchen is where it’s at. So much waste happening here. Sandwich bags (and cling film - serves the same purpose) are a huge pet peeve of mine. You use it for a few hours to store your food and in most cases shove it straight in a bin. It ends up in landfill or the ocean. It’s enough to piss off just about anyone. There’s loads of alternatives, you just gotta know about them.
I’ve seen loads of recommendations for beeswax food wraps, but I’ve found these vegan wax food wraps made with organic cotton and UK grown vegan soy wax. They can last about a year, you just gotta gently wipe them clean after each use. Slightly less convenient that sandwich bags, way more convenient than the destruction of our planet.
As for tupperware, I guess it’s not totally evil if you can actually keep track of your lids and never have to throw any out, but let’s not kid ourselves. What you really need is a cute bamboo lunch box that you ain’t gonna lose. I realise pink with a botanical print might not be for everyone, so here’s a less cute, but equally practical option. Again, these are free from the toxins that are in plastic stuff, like tupperware and sandwich bags, so they’re kinder to you and kinder to the planet.
6. Swap Plastic Straws for Literally Anything Less Evil
Plastic straws are so pre-Attenborough-effect. Okay, I get there are circumstances where people really struggle to drink from a bottle or cup, but there are alternatives to plastic straws.
You can buy metal straws, which are great for the most part. They make a cold drink even colder which is a bonus, but they also make a hot drink even hotter which can be kind of dangerous. If you don’t drink hot drinks from a straw, then I think these stainless steel straws are great. They come with a straw cleaner and a little pouch so the straw doesn’t get all dirty in your bag when bring it with you everywhere. You can also personalise it which is a nice touch if you’re that extra.
If you do drink hot drinks with a straw, go for a bamboo one. As I’ve mentioned before, bamboo products are super sustainable to produce and they’re biodegradable. They won’t last as long as a metal straw as bamboo is obviously a natural ingredient, but they’ll still save you money in the long run vs plastic straws. When it’s past its best, just stick it in the compost.
7. Swap Washing Powder/Detergent for Soap Nuts
Ok, full disclosure, I haven’t tried them yet, I stumbled across them whilst doing my research for this hopefully very helpful blog post. However, I will 100% be trying these soap nuts and I’m super excited about it.
Basically, they’re a dried fruit which contain natural soap and you put them in the washing machine just like a liquid pod thingy. You get 240 washes out of an £8.99 bag. I don’t know what you normally spend on laundry products, but I guarantee the value doesn’t compare.
Being all natural, they’ll be great for my sensitive skin, and they’re also biodegradable, so you can compost them with your bamboo straws.
8. Buy your Groceries Naked
In case it’s not obvious, the groceries should be naked, not you (although I guess you could be if you’re shopping online).
Think of all the plastic packaging used for things like nuts, herbs, spices, and pasta to name a few. It definitely seems like the easier option to buy all this stuff in its plastic at the supermarket than to find a grocers where you can fill your own containers with what you need, but thanks to Zero Waste Club you can get it all online, and in bulk. Their packaging is plastic free and their products are fair trade so everybody wins.
If you do prefer to do your food shop in person, want to reduce your plastic, and are Glasgow-based, then check out Roots, Fruits and Flowers and Locavore. You’d be supporting local, organic farmers, reducing your plastic waste and feeding your family top quality organic food.
We try real hard to make our products as eco-friendly as possible. We removed the plastic window lids from all of our tinplate tins, which are widely recycled at kerbside. The lovely sleeves that the candles come to you in are all made from recycled paper and all of our packaging can be fully recycled as we scrapped the bubble wrap that we previously used and replaced it with corrugated cardboard. We even use plastic free tape to wrap every single online order. Our wax is non-toxic, organic soy wax and all of our fragrance oils are now vegan.