10 Easy Swaps You Can Make Today
Welcome to Plastic Free July! What a perfect month to start your transition to a low waste lifestyle. Plastic is entering our oceans at an alarming rate; it is harming wildlife and the production of plastic is greatly contributing to the warming of our environment. We need to act now to prevent a climate crisis and a great way to do that is to commit to these 10 Easy Plastic Free Swaps.
1. Shop Local – One of the easiest swaps you can make is to shop local instead of purchasing items from different countries online. You’re creating a positive impact by supporting your local community and significantly decreasing your carbon footprint. I purchase all of my produce from my local farmers market. I just bought some strawberries this morning that were grown 30km away instead of 3000km away. Don’t forget these products are also exposed to much fewer chemical treatments and taste 1000x better.
2. A Bamboo Toothbrush – Dentists recommend switching out your toothbrush every 3 months to maintain good oral hygiene. This poses a huge issue as a majority of us use a plastic toothbrush. Next time you need to swap, opt for a bamboo toothbrush. Bamboo toothbrushes are completely biodegradable meaning you can dispose of them in your compost bin or in your yard. Ensure you are choosing carefully as many companies can lead you astray – pick a bamboo toothbrush that is 100% biodegradable. I love the ones from SenzaBamboo as their brushes are made sustainably. While you’re on their website, pick up some plastic-free floss – your teeth and the earth will thank you!
3. Low Waste Toothpaste – While we’re on the topic of teeth we should talk about toothpaste. This is a tricky one but there are multiple alternatives to the traditional tube of toothpaste that goes directly into landfills. Opt for toothpaste tabs – LUSH sells a great version of these that actually foam up like toothpaste. Another option is to buy toothpaste in a glass jar.
Lastly, you can make your own toothpaste. I asked my dentist about this and he approved, just note that homemade toothpaste isn’t stable because it does not contain preservatives, therefore you must keep it in the fridge and never make more than a few days’ supply. All of these options do not include fluoride, so it is important that you visit the dentist regularly for fluoride treatments.
4. A Safety Razor – This swap has been one of my favourites! It’s a win-win situation: no more unnecessary waste and extra money in your pocket! Simply replace the blade in your safety razor when needed and recycle the old one in the sharps section of your local waste management facility. I collect my old blades in a mason jar and recycle them when I make a trip to the facility. These razors are designed for a close shave and are very easy to use!
5. Shampoo & Conditioner – There are so many options available for a low waste hair care routine. Shampoo
bars and conditioner bars are a great option. I purchase mine from LUSH and they work very well – I love how they still foam up which is not common with all shampoo bars. Another option is to refill your shampoo containers when needed at a local bulk store. I understand this option is not available to everyone, but I encourage you to do some research to see what is available in your area!
6. Water Bottles & Coffee Mugs – A very easy way to reduce single use waste is to be prepared. Set out your water
bottle and coffee mug the night before work so that you don’t forget them in the morning. For spontaneous trips to the coffee shop, leave an extra travel mug in your vehicle or bag. I do this all the time and it works perfectly – just don’t forget to return the mug to its place once you’ve used it!
7. Travel Cutlery & Containers – This is a swap that will cost you nothing! Grab an extra fabric bag you have in your house, add a set of cutlery, a reusable straw and a container. I keep my travel cutlery in my work bag and use it daily! Leaving an extra container in my car allows me to purchase a last-minute lunch without producing any waste – it’s been perfect for burritos, sandwiches and salads!
8. Reusable Bags & Produce Bags – These bags are an amazing way to eliminate plastic bags from your life! Not only
can you use these bags at the grocery store or market, you can use them at the mall, pharmacy, or at work. It’s great to keep a foldable bag in your backpack or purse to use during last minute shopping trips. Another great tip is to keep a constant supply of reusable bags in your car!
9. Shop in Bulk – I want you to take a look in your kitchen cupboards, fridge, and freezer – what is almost everything packaged in? Plastic. Your quinoa, oatmeal, almonds, crackers, cereals, flours, raisins and so much more can be purchased at a bulk store. Bring your own containers, weigh them when you arrive, and fill with your choice of foods! This eliminates a lot of unnecessary packaging and is much more affordable!
10. Shop Second Hand – This is one of the transitions that I had the most difficultly with. Can you really find amazing, great quality pieces that have been pre-owned? Yes! The clothing and textiles industries are the second largest polluters in the world. Our obsession with purchasing cheap clothing and wearing it once or twice has created an epidemic. Landfills are full of clothes – many made from microplastics that will take hundreds if not thousands of years to decompose. After learning more and more about this industry, I decided that I didn’t want to support it. In my local town there are multiple consignment stores with beautiful pre-owned pieces – I’ve picked up Club Monaco, Levi’s, Ralph Lauren, Gap, RW & Co and so many more. Check out the stores in your area – I am positive you will be pleasantly surprised!
I hope this article gave you some great ideas to start your low waste journey!
A friendly reminder to use the products you have before you begin to purchase new low waste ones. Leave a comment below to share which of these swaps you’re most excited to try!