We are big on sustainable living here at Florian Botanicals. It's Plastic Free July, and to celebrate, I thought I’d round up a few simple swaps and perhaps inspire you to join in the challenge to make a few swaps this month too.
Plastic Free July started in Australia in 2011 with a goal to avoid disposable products, specifically single use plastics, in the month of July. You can pick one disposable to avoid, or you could try to avoid the big four - grocery bags, plastic straws, to-go coffee cups and plastic water bottles.
It is also a great way to see if there is a change that you want to pursue long term. In fact, many ‘full-time’ zero wasters started by participating in Plastic Free July! The lifestyle change made so much sense, they decided to keep at it!
Once you start reducing your trash and exposure to single-use plastics, you might discover it’s easier than you expect.
- REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
Every year approximately 13 billion plastic bottles are used in the UK. Only 7.5 billion are recycled. Talk about a lot of waste! You might be wondering why so many of these bottles end up in landfill and why we are not recycling them. Recycling is great and a good place to start, but it is not the answer.
Did you know plastic only has a 9% recycle rate? That has dropped even lower since China has put a ban on plastic imports for recycling in 2017.
A simple thing you can do is to simply bring your own water bottle. There are many options available on the market and some even help clean up the oceans. My personal favourite is the Ocean Bottle.
- REUSABLE COFFEE CUPS
With just Starbucks alone, we threw away 4 billion coffee cups in 2017. The paper cups you receive at coffee shops are lined with plastic which means they are not normally accepted in household recycling collection schemes, so unless they are returned for recycling at some high street coffee store chains, most coffee cups just end up in the landfill.
Thankfully, there are a bunch of options when it comes to avoiding these single-use plastics.
You can bring your own thermos or favourite cup to the coffee shop or ask for a mug to stay.
Looking for something delicious to put into your reusable thermos? If you are a tea lover you might be surprised to learn that most tea bags, although they are made from natural fibres, contain a thin layer of plastic material called PP which enables their edges to be heat-sealed.
One of the best ways to avoid your tea being steeped with a side of polypropylene is to simply sip loose leaf tea!
4.TOOTHBRUSH and DENTAL FLOSS
Did you know it takes a toothbrush around 1000 years to decompose, that means every toothbrush created is still in existence. The average person uses approximately 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime - that equates to billions of toothbrushes finding their way to landfill. Every.Single.Year.
The zero-waste lifestyle doesn’t always literally mean zero-waste; it means doing the best we can to reduce our waste, and unfortunately, zero waste toothbrushes are one of those things where we simply have no choice but to accept that caveat of imperfection.
Once you finish with your current toothbrush, why not switch to a bamboo one?
There are several bamboo toothbrush companies, and even a few biodegradable or recyclable brush-heads compatible with most electric toothbrushes.
While we are looking at your oral care habits, have you thought about floss?
Regular floss is typically made of nylon, which is a type of plastic. Beyond just being plastic, it’s toxic. It’s coated with PFC’s which is a chemical that’s found in teflon. Rather swap to an eco dental floss that is reusable and refillable from eco-friendly brands such as Georganics, Truthbrush and Bambaw. Eco dental floss or interdental brushes are an essential when it comes to a natural dental care routine.
5.REUSABLE COTTON SWABS
Do you remember the picture of the sea horse holding onto a cotton swab that went viral in 2017?
England's ban on plastic straws, plastic stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton swabs is now law. Cotton or bamboo are the new material used for these disposable items, and although it is a step away from plastic, it is still creating waste.
LastSwab is the first sanitary, reusable alternative to the 1.5 billion single-use Q-tips produced every day. Built to last up to 1,000 uses, LastSwab comes in two versions – the basic for cleaning and the beauty for makeup application.
6.THE HUMBLE SOAP BAR and SHAMPOO BAR
I’m always amazed by how many plastic-free swaps you can make in the bathroom. For a tiny room, it can certainly pack a wasteful punch. One easy way to avoid any excess plastic bottles is to switch to waterless products. Soap bars are a great all-in-one, natural, luxurious product that you can use to wash your face, hands
Soap Bars, and their associated packaging, have a lower environmental impact than liquid soaps in many important categories including carbon footprint, ecotoxicity, ozone depletion potential, and eutrophication potential.
Please note that due to the pH of soap bars, they should not be used on hair. Rather choose a shampoo bar, which has been specially formulated for hair care.
7. PLASTIC FREE PACKAGING
Choose products with plastic free packaging. Also consider whether you can reuse or recycle the containers, such as glass jars or aluminium tins that can be used for storing hair bobbles, clips or reusable make up pads.
Choose cards that have recyclable or compostable sleeves. Most cards do not have recyclable packaging. Better yet, make it personal and create one yourself for the special occasion.
8. BEESWAX WRAPS
These are ideal plastic free clingfilm alternatives. Perfect for wrapping food and keeping it fresh. All you need to do is wash them in luke warm water and washing up liquid and Reuse. They should last you up to a year.
Use a refresher block and Follow these instructions once your bees wax wraps have lost their stick to give your wraps a second lease of life. You will need some parchment paper, an iron and beeswax or a refresher block.
9. REUSABLE NAPPIES AND WIPES
How far reusable nappies have come in the last decade! I first used them for my eldest son 9 years ago, and reused them for my youngest. Although my nappy changing days are long gone, I see independent brands with beautiful designs popping up.
You don't need many nappies to get started and could even use a nappy-library to see if it is manageble for your family before commiting and making the investment.
Cheeky Wipes have also been around a while and have some fabulous accessories and travel bags to make zero waste life easier on the go.
Despite how long this pandemic is going on, I'm still surprised to see a large number of people wearing disposible ones. I understand in some professions it is not accepted and occasionally we forget masks at home and need to use a clinical blue mask. Why not choose on you can wash? They are breathable, comfortable and look a whole lot better that the clinical blue disposable ones.
You can't do everything at once, but you can start with one swap and that small step will still make a huge difference. Once you get going you can add more swaps and inspire those around you to start swapping too.
What will you be swapping in Plastic Free July 2021?