Statistics about plastic pollution is extremely disturbing. For example, 100 billion plastic bags are used by Americans every year. It’s enough to circle the equator 1,330 times. Or, according to the UN, there is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in our galaxy.
It really upsets us at Bright Side, which is why we put together a list of plastic items that we use every day along with their eco-friendly alternatives.
15. Toiletries and cleaning products
Our bathrooms and kitchens contain the biggest amount of plastic bottles. Ask yourself, how many bottles of shower gel do you actually need? Won’t one multisurface cleaner do the job? How about switching from liquid soap to bar soap? These little tricks can help you drastically decrease the amount of plastic you are using.
14. Membership cards
It’s hard to imagine how many plastic cards that we barely use end up in the landfill. While it’s hard to imagine your life without a credit card, you sure can survive without membership cards. You can always borrow one, find a paper coupon or a discount code, or use your phone number if you are a member.
13. Doggy bags
Feelings about cleaning up after your dog are mixed. We pollute the earth by cleaning up something that will biodegrade anyway. But here is a solution: choose environment-friendly bags so that you make the earth aesthetically pleasing both ways. Though we must warn you that not all so-called biodegradable pet waste bags are actually what they say they are, so it’s important to do your research.
12. Synthetic clothes
Synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This material is used in bottles and packaging. And with every wash, micro pieces of plastic go down the drain into the ocean. In other words, choosing natural materials is not only good for you, but it is also good for the planet.
11. Kitchen sponges
The foam part of the sponge is made of polyurethane. This kind of plastic is hard to recycle, and when burned it releases dangerous substances such as isocyanates and hydrocyanic acid. You can switch to kitchen sponges made from natural ingredients or replace them with brushes.
10. Phone cases
Phone cases do a great job of being pretty and protecting our devices. But oftentimes they are made of some kind of plastic. Luckily, now you can find both pretty and eco-friendly phone cases made of wood, recycled plastic, or ones that are compostable.
9. Kids’ toys
Though wooden toys can be a bit more expensive compared to cheap plastic ones, they do have some advantages besides being friendly to the earth. First, they are safer just by definition, because they’re made of natural materials. Secondly, they are more durable. Also, touching a wooden toy is more tactile and it will develop your child’s sensory development.
8. Bagged tea
Bad news for all the tea lovers out there. Most tea bags contain plastic, therefore, not only do you create plastic waste by enjoying your tea, but you also consume micro plastic elements every time you drink it. You can start looking for plastic-free tea brands, or simply switch to loose leaf tea.
According to the EPA, only in America are 1.6 billion disposable pens thrown out each year. Add the rest of the world’s disposable pen waste and multiply it by 50 years (that’s how long plastic has been around) and the number will blow your mind! If you want to be more conscious about such things, you can switch to pencils, non-plastic pens or just change the refill in your favorite ball pen.
6. Yoga mats
Doing yoga means caring for your body and mind, so it’s important to pick the right yoga mat. Often times, they are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and it’s far from being harmless. It contains cancerogenic raw materials and poisonous dioxins are released when burned. Luckily, there are plenty of safe, non-toxic yoga mats that you can choose from.
5. Disposable razors
As with all the points in this article, the biggest issue with disposable razors is that they are not recyclable. Steel razors, on the other hand, are. The razor itself can last a lifetime, so investing in a good steel razor will save you so much money in the long run.
Not a single part of a toothbrush that you use every day and discard every 3 months is biodegradable. Which means that 100 years from now and even 200 hundred years from now, your toothbrush will still exist in the same form as it was when you got rid of it. Luckily, some biodegradable and eco-friendly versions are available now. Bamboo toothbrushes, for example, are getting more and more popular.
3. Facial scrubs
The little parts of the facial scrub that leave your face feeling fresh, clean and baby-soft are, in fact, plastic, if not stated otherwise on the package. Not only are they bad to use on your face, they are major ocean pollutants. And if you are a seafood lover, you most likely consume about 11,000 pieces of microplastic each year.
2. Coffee pods
Coffee pods may seem really convenient, mess-free, time-savers, when in reality, they are major contributors to landfill plastic pollution. Luckily, you have several options here. First, you can use reusable pods. Another way to avoid using plastic is by making it in a jezve which is a bit more time- consuming, but it makes a really rich-flavored cup of coffee.
1. Shower curtains and liners
Have you ever thought about what gives a new shower curtain that “brand new” smell? It’s all of the toxic chemicals that PVC curtains are made of. Those chemicals have been linked to a bunch of health problems. And once you get rid of them, they will still be in the landfill, releasing the chemicals. To avoid this, look for PVC-free curtains and liners.