5 Ways to Kickstart a Plastic-Free Lifestyle
Plastics have become public enemy #1, and for good reason! Only 9% of the world’s plastic has ever been recycled. The rest? Burned in an incinerator or end up in landfills, polluting our environment. Contamination from these toxic chemicals can spread into the soil where we grow our food, filter the water we drink, and circulate in the air we breathe.
On average, we all ingest a credit card worth of microplastics every week. These broken tiny fragments of plastic (that are less than 5mm in size) have invaded our lives, found across fashion to food. Read more on microplastics here. Unfortunately, most companies still turn to plastics because they are convenient, cheap and efficient.
And when you start seeing plastic in your daily routine, it becomes impossible to un-see. Plastics are literally everywhere. So it can be overwhelming (and unrealistic) to try and eliminate plastics overnight. Avoid immediately purging all items in your home made of or inside plastic. Instead, use up all the plastics products you own, then start making switches. Instead, go slow and start where you can.
Here are 5 break-up tips to significantly curb your plastic intake:
Plastic Break-up Tip #1: Skip Single-Use
Single-use or disposable plastics are designed to be used once and then thrown away. While many restaurants and cafes now offer eco or recycled options for cutlery or drinkware, these still fall in the camp of “single-use” and can take 200+ years to break down. Why? There aren’t enough industrial recycling or composting sites to effectively manage. Golden rule - if it’s single-use, it’s not the most eco choice.
Takeaway coffee cup → reusable mug, or ask for no lid (we love Porter’s minimalist ceramic mug)
Dry cleaner bag → fabric garment bag and hanger (reuse gifted ones from stores)
Disposable razors → refillable metal razor (try Leaf Shave)
Saying goodbye to single-use products can be the ultimate sustainable lifestyle game changer, no matter what they’re made of.
Plastic Break-up Tip #2: Cut Out Synthetic Clothing
As the largest contributor of microplastics worldwide, textiles account for 35% of microplastic pollution. How? When synthetic clothing (made from polyester, acrylic, nylon, spandex, elastane) is washed, thousands of plastic fibres detach into the water. These are so tiny that they pass through standard filtration processes, enter our water systems and inevitably into our rivers, oceans and environment. Look at clothing labels and opt for 100% natural materials instead. Not only better for the earth, your body will breathe better too! Pro top: even garments made from ‘sustainable’ recycled polyester or Econyl are still plastic-derived fabrics that restrict breathability and can promote infection. Synthetic clothes in your closet? Rather than tossing, donate or keep them in rotation by washing in a Guppy Bag to prevent microplastic shedding.
Stretchy Altheisure → Tree Fiber Leggings (explore Arms of Andes)
Elastane Undies → 100% organic cotton underwear (from us, KENT!)
Polyester Bedding → Organic linen sheets (we love Coyuchi)
Plastic Break-up Tip #3: Replace Disposable with Reusable or Refillable
Opt for products that come in reusable or refillable containers, or if not possible, choose paper over plastic packaging. Have a look at all of your everyday habits and see what products you can replace with reusable options instead. Ask: “What disposable items can be replaced with reusable alternatives?”
Plastic produce bags → reusable produce bags (we love this one from Public Goods)
Liquid soap → package free shampoo bar (from Package Free Shop)
Cleaning → refillable cleaning supplies (check out Dropps)
Plastic Break-up Tip #4: Buy in Bulk
Avoid pre-packaged food by reaching for loose fruits and veggies, hello farmers markets! Bulk stores have also become popular for everything from cleaning products to cookies – bring your own reusable containers and buy what you need. When it comes to food, which most often comes in single-use packaging, studies show these plastics may actually leach chemicals into the fruits and veggies we consume. A little extra motivation for a more sustainable swap.
Plastic produce bags → reusable grocery bags (we love these from Public Goods)
Bagged tea → loose tea (or microplastic free tea bags from Art of Tea)
Pre-packaged vegetables → farmers market csa boxes (like this one from our friends at Sow a Heart Farm)
Plastic Break-up Tip #5: Choose Compostable
When packaging or single-use products are unavoidable, choose companies that have invested in creating compostability as an end-of-life option. This not only helps lessen impact on landfill waste, but mean products are oftentimes made of renewable materials. Composting is mother nature’s natural recycling process of organic matter and turning it into rich fertilizer. And when composted, zero pollution, micro-plastics and toxins enter landfills.
Packaged fruits and nuts → compostable packed pantry (we love Sun & Swell’s organic food in zero waste packaging)
Plastic garbage bags → compostable bags and single-use items (try Repurpose’s line up of compostable everyday items)
Cling wrap → compostable + reusable food wraps (from Bee’s Wrap)
Wherever you start, going plastic free is a journey. Take it step by step, and by trying out any break-up tip - you are making a difference!