Over the last few months, I’ve become acutely aware of just how much plastic — particularly single-use-plastic — I actually use everyday. When you start to truly understand that every piece of plastic that you use and put in the bin will go into a landfill and sit there for about 10,000 years, it’s kind of scary. Worse still, lots of it ends up in the ocean and just floats around killing cute animals.
Given that plastic is so pervasive, it can be really hard to cut it out of your life. Particularly when hygiene essentials like food wraps and toothbrushes are all made out of plastic. But there are a few great eco-friendly swaps you can make to reduce the amount of single-use plastic you use overall. These are all easy moves that will seriously reduce your footprint. We’ve now swapped over to using everything in this list and I haven’t looked back since.
1. Paper stem cotton buds
You probably don’t pay your cotton buds any attention, but you should if you want to reduce your plastic consumption.
Cotton swabs are among the most common pieces of plastic found swirling around the ocean, as evidenced by this heartbreaking photo of a seahorse swimming in a sea of plastic.
Fortunately brands are now making cotton tips with paper stems. Swisspers has made some great paper stem cotton buds that you can pick up at your local supermarket or pharmacy. It’s one of the easiest eco-swaps you can make.
2. Paper straws
By now most of us will know that plastic straws aren’t exactly sea-turtle-friendly.
Straws are one of the most common single-use plastics found littering our oceans. If you think about just how many straws you’ve used and thrown away in your lifetime, it’s easy to see why just one person switching to paper makes such a huge difference.
Or opt not to use a straw at all? But if you do need one, choose paper or even reusable metal.
3. Beeswax wraps
Cling-wrap be gone!
Beeswax wraps are a fabulous eco-friendly swap for and plastic wrap or even aluminium foil. Reusable, washable and all-natural – they’re great!
I was a sceptic at first. I didn’t think they’d actually be airtight. But they are. We picked up a fun little set at Salamanca Markets in Hobart and have been converted ever since.
I think we’ve used cling-wrap once since buying them, and it was an absolute emergency. Just don’t wash these babies with super hot water because you’ll melt off all the bees-wax.
4. Keep Cups
If you’re not already on the Keep Cup train, it’s time to hop onboard. Single-use coffee cups are usually made from waxed paper so you can’t even recycle them. Even if people still insist on tossing them in the recycling bin.
If you’re one of those people that grabs two or three coffees a day, swapping to a Keep Cup makes a huge difference. Plus, loads of cafes now offer discounts if you choose to use Keep Cups. What more incentive do you need?
5. Laser hair removal kit
This sounds like a weird one, until you think about how many disposable razors you’ve thrown in the bin in your lifetime.
Laser hair removal has never been more accessible or easy. You can get use-at-home units for $100-$300. I’ve personally used Selfie Skin and Happy Skin Co. and they work just as well as the in-clinic treatments.
You have to do it a little more often, but given the price, it’s totally worth it. And that means you can stop tossing dead razors into landfill. Alternatively you can opt for an electric shaver which are also very good.
6. Face Halo
Fuck makeup wipes.
They clog toilets and they aren’t biodegradable. To top it off, they don’t even remove your makeup properly. They just kind of skim the top off and leave all the rest in your pores.
Boys and girls, go out and get yourself a pack of Face Halos. They’re so much better. They take off even super stubborn makeup with ease and get right down into your pores.
They’re washable, reusable and recyclable. Just send them back to Face Halo when you’re done and they turn them into tyres. No joke.
7. Bamboo toothbrushes
They’re literally exactly the same as your regular toothbrush, just made from a material that will biodegrade when thrown away.
It used to be pretty hard to find these bad boys but these days all the major super markets sell them. They can be a little bit more expensive but they’re also guilt-free.
(Image by Meghan Rodgers)
Mia Steiber is editor and co-founder of Redaktör. She has previously been the Shopping Editor of Finder and written for Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Business Insider, POPSUGAR and more.