One of the most overwhelming aspects of modern life is knowing about major global-impact issues like climate change and plastic waste pollution and feeling like there isn’t much that We can do to really change things.
Take all that plastic we go through day in and day out. It’s about the stuff that comes with food and bottled drinks, cosmetics, carryout containers, bags and wrappers — more than 40% of all plastic made is packaging, which is used only once or twice before being thrown away. Don’t we feel at least a little guilty when we toss one plastic snack wrapper or coffee cup after another into the trash?
If not, maybe we should. According to a recent analysis examining global plastic waste generation between 2010 and 2016, the United States was responsible for more plastic trash than any country in the world. That’s millions and millions of tons of plastic waste. Per capita, that boils down to nearly 300 pounds of plastic trash per person(!) per year.
Will it be recycled? Some will, yes, but not that much. It’s estimated that only about 9% of plastic waste generated in the U.S. is recycled and that the rest ends up in landfills, incinerators and, unfortunately, marine environments such as rivers and oceans. And there, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it will remain for hundreds of years.
How can we stop plastic pollution from filling our oceans and endangering wildlife and the environment? Simple: Every one of us, from world leaders and corporate leaders to individuals, needs to take urgent action to reduce how we use and dispose of plastic.
Here are 9 of the best plastic-free products:
1. Reusable grocery bags
Opt out of plastic bags at the market. Grab a tote bag — charity and thrift stores and online marketplaces like Etsy are great places to look, or learn how to make your own!
2. Package-free haircare
Shampoos and conditioners typically come in plastic bottles, which can be a nightmare for anyone looking to cut plastic waste out of their bathroom.
Ditch the plastic and go naked with the solid shampoo bars and conditioners. Making haircare solid eliminates the need for plastic bottles, reducing the environmental impact enormously and saving tons of plastic from ever being produced or entering landfills. They’re easy to travel with because they are small and won’t spill in your bag, and they’re very easy to use.
Animal cruelty-free shampoo bars that last up to 80 washes.
The zero-waste shop Package Free also has multiple options for package-free haircare. And if you’re not a fan of bar soaps for hair, the shop also carries refillable conditioners (packaged in aluminum) that are vegan and chemical free. Opt out of the pump and go for the cap for a fully plastic-free conditioner.
3. Reusable drinking straws
Plastic straws litter our oceans, causing harm to wildlife and are polluting our environment. How we can solve this everyday problem?
4. Plastic-free dish soap
Zero Waste Outlet offers a plastic-free vegan dish-washing block that can last you up to six months of use. You can also purchase its three-piece dish-washing kit that includes the soap block, a palm pot scrub brush, and a bamboo soap dish.
5. Reusable water bottles
Instead of buying plastic bottled water or using disposable cups, try out a stainless bottle.
6. Reusable and plastic-free food storage and service
The easiest way to protect yourself is admittedly pretty difficult: getting rid of plastic food storage containers. No more pop-top plastic cereal containers or zip-top plastic baggies, no more reheating your soup in the quart-sized plastic takeout container it came in. It’s a big change to make, so we did our part by rounding up some of our favorite nonplastic food storage containers in stainless steel, bamboo, cork, silicone, glass, linen, and wood. Refrigerate, freeze, and microwave to your heart’s content.
7.Make laundry day plastic-free
Liquid laundry detergents packaged in plastic containers can be easily switched out for more environmentally friendly, natural soaps.
8.Waste-free skincare accessories
Disposable cotton rounds and their plastic packaging are wasteful. The Waste Less Shop for reusable facial rounds, which come in two colors for different applications. The rounds come with a wash bag to keep things clean and plastic-free.
Switch out the plastic shaving razors for reusable metal razors with replaceable blades instead.
9.Plastic-free oral hygiene
Innovative companies now offer plastic-free dental hygiene alternatives including tubeless toothpaste products and bamboo toothbrushes. Bite, for example, offers tube-free oral care tablets that come in glass jars and act in the same way that toothpaste does to clean your teeth and freshen your breath.
It can seem like a big ask at first, with everything seemingly wrapped up in plastic from food to everyday household products. The good news is that there are eco-conscious brands that want to reduce the amount of plastic you bring home. Finding replacements you can trust can feel overwhelming, but it helps if you know where to start looking.