Wild animals, unlike human beings, are unable to discern between what is digestible and what is not. For them, if something looks, smells, feels or behaves like food, it surely must be food. From smelling like the food that it is packaged in or floating around the waters looking like jellyfish, plastic is infamous for sticking around for years after its disposal. An Industrial plastic bag can take up to 1000 years to break down. And once an animal dies and decays after consuming plastic, it is freed back into the environment so that it can continue to kill other wildlife.
Industrial Plastic. It is something that is used in every aspect of our lives. Just stop for a minute and think of one item you use in your day-to-day lives that do not contain plastic. Right from when you wake up – brushing your teeth with an industrial plastic toothbrush, drinking a glass of water from a plastic bottle, carrying your meal for the day in plastic containers, disposing of your trash in polythene bags. We are surrounded by plastic. And no, it is not impossible to change that. Listed below are 100 alternatives for using plastic on a daily basis:
1. Bamboo Toothbrushes
Your regular industrial plastic toothbrush can take up to 400 years to decompose! Bamboo toothbrushes are a sustainable alternative that lasts for almost the same duration as plastic brushes (3-4 months).
2. Stainless steel/ Glass Water Bottles
Investing in a good steel or glass bottle is beneficial not only for the environment but eventually for your health as prolonged use of plastic causes certain toxic chemicals to seep into the drinking water and thus into your body. Steel bottles are also more durable.
3. Eco-friendly Coffee Tumblers
Being a product that still has a industrial plastic or silicone cover, these tumblers are the better alternative to those tiny plastic cups that are found littered on the streets in a humongous pile of garbage.
4. Cloth Pads or Menstrual Cups
Sanitary napkins contain the most amount of plastic than anything else. Imagine the number of pads one woman goes through in one cycle of the month. Now think about the number of cycles she goes through until she reaches menopause. That is the number of sanitary napkins for only one woman. Now multiply this number with half the population of the world. Yes, that’s a lot of plastic.
5. Cloth diapers
Not only are they clogging landfills and making garbage piles bigger by the minute, but disposable diapers are also causing babies rashes because of the chemicals used in making them. Cloth diapers are easier on the skin and can be washed and reused.
6. Compostable Garbage Bags
Polythene garbage bags can be difficult to replace, as they protect any waste from spilling out. Compostable garbage bags are a reasonably-priced alternative to polythene bags. One can consider lining their trash cans with layers of old newspapers for protection against wet wastes.
7. Eco-friendly Cutlery
Wooden spoons and forks, leaf or bamboo plates and cups and even edible cutlery are great friends of the environment. Just like plastic cups, there won’t be piles of garbage left behind after a party.
8. Reusable Metal Straws
Washable and reusable, these stainless steel straws will not end up in the homes of our marine life. Foldable nowadays, they can be carried in your pockets or bags to any restaurant or café.
9. Beeswax Wraps
Cling film wraps are something we use so much yet throw away instantly after one use. Beeswax wraps are thin cotton cloths lined with beeswax. This is an odorless product having anti-bacterial and antifungal properties. They are washable and can be used for many months on end.
10. Ballpoint Pens made out of recycled water bottles
Pilot B2P Retractable, Refillable Ball Point Pens are a few pens that are made out of recycled water bottles (86% PCR), that will not burn a hole in your pockets. Or your environment, just saying.
11. Match Boxes
Ditch the plastic lighter for the good old matchbox. Plastic lighters can be a pain to refill, not to mention the harm that they cause to the environment and its wildlife.
12. Stainless Steel Containers
Carry your lunch for the day in an eco-friendly alternative that can be washed and reused. Lasting for years, these are extremely durable. The silicone bit on the cover, however, is the little price you will have to pay. Having said that, they are the better alternative to plastic disposable containers for sure.
13. Wooden Hangers
A chicer environmental-friendly alternative to the clumsy old plastic hangers, give your wardrobe a makeover by switching to these.
14. Glass meal prep containers
From storing a week’s meals to even a meal for later that day, glass is always a safe and eco-friendly switch that everyone should make. Harmful chemicals will not seep into your food, like if you use plastic, and glass can be stored safely in your fridge.
15. Glass food storage containers
As mentioned earlier, nuts, biscuits, and other knick-knacks can be stored using a safer and more environmentally-friendly alternative.
16. Bamboo cutting board
Being harder and less porous than wood, bamboo chopping boards are fast-growing. Though they require regular oiling because they can splinter, bamboo boards are great for the knives.
17. Ditch the store-bought Citrus juice
Fresh citrus juice is unlike anything else! Why waste the money and harbor all the plastic that comes with a tetra pack of juice, when you can squeeze your own lemon or lime juice using a metal juicer.
18. Bamboo Hairbrush
Great for the blood circulation on the head, this alternative to the grimy old plastic comb is superb and easy on the pocket.
19. Silicone Ice cube Trays
These are made of silicone, a flexible resin made of silica or sand. They are soft and pliable and do not leech any chemicals into your food or water, as plastic would do over a period of time.
20. Natural Fiber Cloth
Sustainable clothing that is made from organic cotton, wool, hemp or bamboo does not shed plastic fibers when washed.
Paper can be used for packaging various items in the house. Whether it’s a friend’s birthday gift or a simple sandwich, paper wrapping is an old school method. It can also be composted in your home compost unless it’s the glossy kind.
22. Mushroom Packaging
This ingenious method, which is home compostable, is used as an alternative for Styrofoam packaging. It is a combination of mycelium root (mushroom) and agricultural waste and is grown on a hemp flour mixture. It is then dried to halt the growth process.
23. Pressed Hay as egg cartons
The Happy Eggs, an egg company in Poland have switched their packaging methods by sending out eggs in hay cartons. Not only is it a fun homage to where these eggs originate from, but it is also made out of easily available materials and is super efficient and cheap.
24. Banana Leaves
Reinforcing the idea of using local and compostable materials, a supermarket in Thailand has opted to go plastic-free by packaging their goods in banana leaves and bamboo packages.
25. Bringing your own reusable cup
Bringing your own reusable mug to a café means you avoid the plastic cup, lid, and straw. Start carrying a washable and durable mug with you everywhere, and you won’t even know when it becomes a habit.
26. Non-liquid Soaps
Shampoos and body wash come with their entire plethora of unnecessary packaging. Not only does it destroy the environment while it’s being made, but you are also going to throw it ‘away’ right after its use. Opting for a bar soap for your hair and body is a great alternative. Worried about the germs that accumulate on the bar soap? Well, that gets rinsed off with every use. Whereas the pump on the plastic bottle of your liquid shampoo almost never gets rinsed.
27. Avoid items packed in plastic
Easier said than done, next time you’re in a supermarket turn a blind eye towards anything with plastic packaging. Instead, opt for glass or metal packaging.
28. Non- liquid Dish soaps
Using a powder soap for the dishes is a much cheaper and environmentally-friendly alternative. Not only do you avoid the plastic packaging, but you’d also be surprised at how a little powder can go such a long way. You can also use baking powder for squeaky clean dishes.
29. Avoid the plastic sponge and scrubber
Use a loofah or a wooden brush instead to scrub the grime off your dishes. The wooden brush still comes with nylon bristles but is still a better alternative to its plastic counterparts.
30. Non-liquid laundry detergents
Throw your clothes in the washing machine with some powder instead of liquid detergent. Not only does it last longer, but you can also avoid all the plastic that liquid laundry detergents come with.
31. Cotton or Jute carpets
Polyester carpets might be a tempting option due to its comfort and durability, however, they wreak havoc to the environment and its residents. Opting for a jute rug or carpet can give you the same benefits of a polyester one. Jute is easy to clean and extremely long-lasting. You could go for a cotton rug if what you’re looking for is a comfort.
32. Dryer Balls
Ditch the fabric softener and dryer sheets for the more safe and chemical-free dryer balls. These wool balls just need to be thrown in with your load, giving you softer clothes. They do not contain synthetic dyes and perfumes which can be irritating for people who are chemically sensitive and have allergies. They also reduce drying time by 30-50%.
33. Stainless Steel Travel mug
Don’t be ashamed of carrying your own bottle or mug with you around the world. Empty the bottle before checking in and just refill it after you have crossed security. And voila!
You have avoided all the plastic bottles that are waiting to be bought at the airport.
34. Order your pizza carefully
Yes, I’m talking about those little plastic tables that come with your pizza and are supposedly used to protect the lid of the one-time used pizza box. How insane is that? Next time you order a pizza, don’t forget to tell them to send your pizza without the little plastic table for ‘protection’.
35. Treat yourself to an ice-cream cone
Get an ice-cream cone instead of a cup, the next time you’re at your favorite ice-cream parlor. It is completely zero-waste as you end up consuming all of it and you don’t contribute to the growing garbage pile of plastic cups.
36. Say no to plastic bottled beverages
Sodas and other plastic bottled juices can be tempting, but hey! Who said you can’t make your own fresh juices at home? With zero preservatives, this is a healthy and eco-friendly alternative.
37. Let go of frozen convenience meals
Packed with preservatives and needless to say plastic, these meals are not exactly the healthiest. Switch to home-cooked and prepared meals for a better and sustainable lifestyle.
38. Shop at your local Farmers Market
Not only is the produce pesticide-free, but Farmers markets also do away with those tiny plastic stickers on their fruits and vegetables. Something your supermarket won’t let go of.
39. Return containers to Farmers Markets
Dumping berries and other small fruits into your reusable cloth bags are not the best option. You can return the plastic container these berries come in back to the farmers market so that they can be reused by another customer.
40. Bring your own containers for meat
Carrying your own container to the meat store means you will avoid all the plastic packaging the meat comes in.
41. Reusable Bags
How many times have you brought home a new polythene bag from one of your grocery store trips? The number of polythene bags that end up in our oceans is alarming. You’d rather just use a reusable handy cloth bag that will be your companion on several grocery store trips for years.
42. Buy bread that comes in paper bags
Always opt for bread that comes wrapped in paper bags to avoid the cling film wrap altogether. Or carrying it back home in your own cloth bag would be ideal too.
43. Choose a plastic-free chewing gum
All chewing gum that you eat today, or have been eating is essentially made up of plastic. I know, shocking. Polyethylene, which is a common group of plastic is one of the key ingredients for gum. Today, plastic-free chewing gums do exist for your constant munching craze.
44. Natural Cork stoppers for wine
Choosing natural cork stoppers over plastic stoppers is important as the Mediterranean cork forests are endangered along with the wildlife that lives in them. It is surely a trial and error project as you would only know if you’ve opened the bottle. Corkwatch is a mobile website that tells you what kind of stopper is in your bottle before you purchase your wine.
45. Make your own cleaner
1 part vinegar to 3 parts water is all you need to make an all-purpose home cleaning spray (stored in a reused spray bottle).
46. Buy milk in returnable glass bottles
All store-bought cardboard milk containers are coated with plastic on the inside. Local dairies in many areas offer milk in returnable glass bottles. The cap, however, is made up of non-recyclable plastic but is a better alternative to buying milk covered in all plastic.
47. Buy from Bulk bins
Many supermarkets store grains and nuts for sale in bulk bins. This way you can use your own containers or reusable cloth bags to bring them back home.
48. Baking soda for the win
Baking soda can do wonders for your dishes, scrubbing away all the remnants of greasy foods. It comes in a recyclable cardboard box and is cheap and non-toxic. From washing hair and cleaning your teeth to being a cleaner for the house, baking soda is so versatile.
49. Make your own Shampoo
As mentioned earlier, baking soda does a whole lot of things. One tablespoon of baking soda per one cup of water, it can be used directly on your scalp to get rid of all the oiliness.
50. Natural Cleaning Cloths
Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers to do the dirty work in the kitchen or bathrooms.
51. Natural Rubber Gloves
Casabella 100% Rubber Gloves are lined with 100% cotton flocking and do not contain any plastic. Opt for these, to avoid buying plastic altogether.
52. Check your product labels
You’d be surprised at how many of your face washes and cleansers contain tiny plastic beads. Always check the product labels before you purchase any items and avoid anything with Polyethylene in it.
53. Henna Color
Cover those grey strands of hair with henna without plastic packaging. Available everywhere, this is a chemical-free and plastic-free alternative to store-bought hair color that is full of ingredients you’ve never heard of before.
54. Shave Soap
Try the trusty old bar of shaving soap instead of buying the shaving gel that comes packed in layers of plastic. This is a hard soap that is whipped up with water to create the lather needed for a soft and smooth shave.
55. Bite Toothpaste Bits
Brush your teeth with these plastic-free and cruelty-free alternatives to traditional toothpaste. They come in refillable glass bottles and are zero-waste.
56. Non-plastic Dental Floss
Companies like Eco-dent, Le Negri and Dental Lace sell dental floss made of 100% silk floss. They come in cardboard and metal boxes and are even refillable!
57. Toilet Paper without plastic
Who Gives a Crap is a toilet paper company that uses recycled and bamboo paper for their products. Above all, their packaging includes no plastic whatsoever! Oh and have I mentioned that they give 50% of their profits to building toilets in developing countries worldwide?
58. Keep your own set of reusable food ware at the workplace
A plate, bowl, glass, knives, forks, and spoons are all you need to live your awesome plastic-free life at work as well. This way you won’t have to use disposable cups, plates and other cutlery.
59. Reuse necessary plastic items
Don’t be afraid to obtain second-hand plastic items that are absolutely necessary. It is great to be able to use something multiple times before dumping it in the landfill. These items can include plastic cat litter boxes.
Repairing things when they break is an efficient way to consume less plastic. Just repair the plastic item instead of buying a new one.
61. Make your own glue
This homemade glue will last a while in the refrigerator, without any preservatives. ½ a cup of white flour, ¾ cup of cold water and 3 cups of boiling water is all it takes to make your own adhesive.
62. Natural Cat Litter
Integrity Litter is a planet-friendly cat litter produced by Neighborhood Pet Products. It is made using sustainable sources with no artificial colors or fragrances. They also use a paper package.
63. Toys made from natural materials
Ditch the plastic mass-produced monstrosities for your child or pet and opt for wooden or bamboo toys instead. Not only are they more versatile and imaginative, they are also planet-friendly.
64. Eco-friendly furniture
Choose furniture for your homemade out of recycled metal and plastic, reclaimed wood and other safe materials. Make sure the pieces are durable and won’t hurt the environment.
65. Avoid feeding pets from Plastic bowls
The bacteria on a plastic bowl that your cat eats from, can cause feline acne and other infections. They may also contain potentially harmful toxins that can leach into your cat’s food. Stainless steel bowls are a much safer and eco-friendly alternative.
66. Bring your own snacks on a plane
We all have felt munchy on a plane. The promise of a nutty can or some flavored chips can be so hard to resist. All of us have given in at some point, and bought the snacks, making our own contribution to the growing pile of garbage. Bringing your own snacks like cut vegetables or other trail mixes can be such a blessing on plane journeys.
67. Always carry your headphones
Never forget your own headphones or earphones while flying, to avoid having to take the ones the airline provides you with its additional plastic packaging.
68. Bring your own personal care products
Travel-sized free shampoos, soaps, and lotions can be so exciting and tempting to use. What is the meaning of ‘free’ when it is taking a toll on the environment? Instead, carry your products in reusable containers every time you travel.
69. Handkerchief over a paper tissue
Carrying your own handkerchief can be cumbersome at times but just imagine the amount of waste you generate each time you use a paper tissue for something minuscule. Not to mention the plastic wrap on these tissue boxes. Opting for a reusable handkerchief, you could avoid all that waste. You could also make your own handkerchief using old t-shirts and clothes.
70. Say no to the minibar
The mini bar in a hotel room is full of drinks and foods that come wrapped in unnecessary plastic. Not to mention, they are incredibly overpriced. Shopping for your snacks from a local supermarket is a great alternative. You can make sure you but foods with minimal or no plastic whatsoever.
71. Say No to Plastic fabric
Synthetic materials rule the fashion industry today. Some of these include polyester, acrylic, lycra, spandex, and nylon. Microfibers are released into the wastewater with every wash of these materials. These microfibres are non-biodegradable, adding to the endless plastic problem in the oceans.
72. Thrift shops
Buying second-hand pieces from a thrift shop can be such an exciting way to spruce up your wardrobe. It can be a great way to acquire vintage pieces and is so easy on the pocket. Not to mention, you’re helping to save the planet!
73. Make your own clothes
For all you creative people out there, how great does it sound to design your own clothing using reusable and natural materials! It makes your garment one of a kind and there is something so exhilarating about wearing your own creation.
74. Alter and Modify
Take out all of those pieces stashed away at the back of your closet that you have just stopped wearing. They either don’t fit or are simply out of style. Get creative and alter or modify them as per what you find trendy.
75. Get off mailing lists
These can be a real pain, flooding your mailbox with envelopes packed in plastic. Cancel subscriptions and call for your name to be removed from mailing lists at once. You could also opt for online billings and statements.
76. Rethink the traditional Christmas Tree
Ditch the artificial Christmas Tree made from toxic PVC. Ask yourself if you really need the plastic tree in the house or can you still enjoy Christmas with a recycled, naturally harvested potted or DIYed tree?
77. Green Gift giving
It is always more thoughtful to gift your loved ones’ experiences and services like restaurant meals, tickets to their favorite event or a spa treatment. The list can go on. It will help you avoid all the unnecessary packaging store-bought gifts come with.
78. Ditch the Plastic tape
Find other alternatives like paper tapes to wrap your holiday gifts. Reusable gift bags, newspaper, cloth bags are great alternatives too.
79. Order carefully online
Request no plastic packaging for your order online. This might not always be possible, but is definitely worth a shot.
80. Second-hand electronics and games
We generate a great deal of electronic waste every year. Not only is this alternative inexpensive, it also saves the planet. Instead of putting your money into new products, why not reuse the old ones before throwing them out.
81. Sell your electronics
Once you ‘throw-away’ your used electronics, they do down to emit harmful chemicals into the environment. Just think of all the old phones and other gadgets you have lying around in the house somewhere. Selling them to someone instead is a great way to make some money and be eco-friendly.
82. Avoid buying CDs and DVDs
With music apps and websites, this is not a problem at all. CDs and DVDs are made out of polycarbonate plastic, and the less we buy them, the more obsolete they become.
83. Take care of your existing products
Taking care of what you already have is the best way to avoid buying new things, saving money and resources.
84. Recycle old CDs and DVDs
Reusing old CDs and DVDs for crafty DIY projects is a great way to not throw them out, and increase plastic pollution.
84. Recycle old CDs and DVDs
Reusing old CDs and DVDs for crafty DIY projects is a great way to not throw them out, and increase plastic pollution.
85. DIY Solutions
Make your own mobile cover using natural and recyclable materials instead of going out and buying new ones. You can do the same for your earphones and other gadgets.
86. Avoid the worst types of Plastic
Steer clear of Polyvinyl Chloride, Polystyrene, and Polycarbonate if you are not doing anything else.
87. Baking Soda as a deodorant
Store-bought deodorants come in plastic containers and are detrimental to the environment. Baking soda mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil can be applied in the underarms with reusable cotton pads.
88. Buying large wheels of unwrapped cheese
Small portions of cheese come wrapped in plastic and can be totally avoided by buying larger chunks of cheese instead. Carried back home in a reusable cloth bag or beeswax wrap, this can be shared by friends and family.
89. Glass blender
High-speed blenders come with plastic pitchers and opting for glass and metal blenders is a planet-friendly alternative.
90. Ditch the Plastic Salad Spinner
Add some fun in your salad prep by spinning salad the old way- using a cloth bag. As crazy as it sounds, using a cloth bag for your salads is an efficient way to dry out all the water from the leaves. Just step outside and spin away.
A by-product of sugarcane processing, this substance is malleable and can easily be molded into packaging for food delivery and services. It is biodegradable and compostable and hence more sustainable.
92. Shower- friendly paper
L’Oréal has just launched an eco-beauty range, Seed Phytonutrients. The products themselves are made from 93-100% natural ingredients, cruelty -free, paraben-free. But the packaging is where the real innovation is. Made by Ecologic, the outer card is recycled, recyclable, compostable, glue-free and water-resistant. The inner liner is made with recyclable plastic and uses 60% less material than regular plastic bottles. How great is that?
93. Palm leaves
Holy Lama uses palm leaves to package their handmade soaps, creating oyster-like cases for their products. These leave that are from the arca palm, fall naturally and are collected and molded into the desired shape.
94. Edible six-pack rings
Saltwater Brewery has developed a material for their six-pack rings which is biodegradable, compostable and edible! It is made from barley and wheat remnants and will not affect marine life if thrown in the ocean.
95. Wood-pulp Cellophane
Natureflex makes cellophane out of wood pulp which is biodegradable. It can be used for chocolate, confectionery, other snacks, and baked goods.
96. Seaweed Water Bubbles
A UK based company Ooho has created an edible water bubble made of seaweed. Their aim is “to provide the convenience of plastic bottles while limiting the environmental impact”.
97. Biodegradable Plastic Bags
For when you absolutely have to use plastic, some companies have come up with plant-based plastic bags that are biodegradable.
98. Bamboo Calculator
This completely eco-friendly alternative to the regular plastic calculator is so innovative and efficient. How can one complain when this product is totally eco-friendly.
99. Bamboo Keyboard
Looking to get a keyboard but can’t find a second-hand one anywhere? This sustainable alternative is made out of 100% natural bamboo.
100. All-metal razors
Opting for an all-metal non-disposable shaving razor is a great alternative to disposable plastic razors. Prone to rust, it can be easily be cleaned off the blade. A razor from a good, durable brand will go a long way.
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