Simple Swaps to Ease Earth’s Burden
We’ve all heard plenty about the harms of plastic straws—apart from bringing your own straw, bags and bottles, what other single-use products can you substitute and what other ways are there to minimise your footprint in daily life?
Zipper Storage Bags
Whether you’re using zip storage bags to keep knick-knacks together, save food or even to cook in by sous-vide, there are now alternatives made of sturdier materials like silicone! Stasher is one that comes to mind that is reusable, available in different sizes and both freezes and boils well. With food-grade silicone, you can also eliminate the worry of leached chemicals from plastic bags!
Food Storage Boxes
Instead of asking for takeaway boxes to wrap up leftover food, bringing your own box is a great way to minimise waste. Of course, that requires the effort of bringing the box out with you when you eat out and bulkier boxes make it all the more difficult. Collapsible containers keep a low profile and are easy to stash away in a tote so that you aren’t bringing more trash into your home. If you do happen to get takeaway boxes, remember that PP (5) boxes are safe to reuse, too! Paper boxes may be lined with plastic or non-recyclable if soiled, so keep an eye on your community’s recycling guidelines.
This might be one that isn’t as intuitive as the other swaps or measures, but there are washing bags that can redirect plastic shedding from entering waterways and the ocean! Polyester and synthetic materials shed micro-plastics every time they are washed (and even in daily use!) Guppy Friend makes it easy to collect these tiny little bits so that they can be responsibly disposed of in a bin rather than becoming marine debris, which would inevitably contaminate our environment and enter our food chain. Alternatives such as washing machine outlet filters (Lint LUV-R) and laundry balls (Cora Ball) also exist!
Silicone Stretch Lids
Another food-storage item: silicone stretch lids can replace the need to use cling-film to protect your food when it goes into the refrigerator. However, don’t be limited to just using it to stretch over bowls—it can also be used to preserve chopped produce such as citrus fruits, melons and other round vegetables!
Mesh Produce Bags
Mesh bags aren’t just a fashion statement to be made, they make great produce bags when you’re picking up groceries! Instead of relying on the plastic produce bags, bring your own so you aren’t left with a pile of small, thin, clear bags at home that have little reusable value.
This may or may not be a rather obvious solution: swap out disposable razors for safety razors! Safety razors tend to provide a closer shave, despite fewer blades than disposable contraptions (just one!) and each blade lasts longer, too. They also work out to be cheaper over time as refills can come to about 10 cents (USD) per blade. There are recycling programmes for razor blades depending on where you are, and if not, providers such as Albatross Designs have a 'take-back' system, where you can mail your used blades in for them to upcycle into other items such as reusable cutlery!
Please be aware and remember that in these trying times, different places are taking measures to protect their workers and the people that help you. This means that some cities are putting a temporary ban on self-brought reusable products to reduce the number of possibly-contaminated items that workers have to handle.
If you are looking to take food away and eating in is not restricted where you are, you can personally box food up into your own container so that it doesn’t have to change hands. If you still have the option of bagging things yourself or using self checkouts, that’s great! If not, we do have to accept that these are desperate times that call for desperate measures—and we can promise to do better when the situation subsides.
Online suppliers and shopping platforms are also prioritising certain items, urgent orders and necessities. Reshuffling resources and changing transport conditions may mean longer shipping times, too, so keep all this in mind if you are shopping online right now.
Do you have any substitutes or little methods that help to redirect waste from our landfills or oceans? Please let us know!