Knowing exactly what everyday items to swap goes a long way toward a healthier and more sustainable life. Danielle Copperman explains why.
Sustainability is a hot topic right now. It’s no secret that human behaviour is taking its toll on the earth and people can no longer deny that the way we act (and more specifically, consume) is unsustainable.
Modern life has progressed so much and whilst we now have more than ever, we also seem to want more than ever, too. We crave more and more possessions, newer and newer things… when in actuality, basic human needs are really very little. As a result of recent warnings, such as the amount of plastic in the ocean equating to more than the amount of fish come 2050 (yikes!), I’m on an ongoing journey of overhauling my lifestyle to make it more sustainable.
I know first-hand that it can seem quite intimidating to know where to start when it comes to making impactful changes. But there are so many things you can do, some large and some small, so I’ve outlined a few of my favourite ‘harmful for helpful’ sustainable swaps below that will help you to reduce your consumption and in turn reduce waste, meaning you will have a much lighter impact on the planet this year.
Say NO to…
Single use straws
Say NO to plastic straws! If you absolutely need to use a straw, opt for a paper or bamboo straw or a reusable straw made from glass, plastic or wood. Luckily, many cafés and restaurants are now ditching the disposable straws for more sustainable options, so this swap is getting easier and easier to incorporate into your lifestyle.
Takeaway coffee cups
As much as we all love our coffee, the abundance of takeaway cups being tossed into landfill is absolutely killing the planet. Instead of using takeaway cups, invest in a good reusable option such as a Keep Cup, or a reusable glass, plastic or bamboo takeaway-style cup or flask. Your favourite coffee shop will gladly fill it for you.
Say no to disposable, single-use plastic cutlery from cafés. Instead, invest in reusable bamboo cutlery – this is great because you can keep it in your bag at all times. Alternatively, just keep your standard metal cutlery in your bag (however in my opinion they’re a little heavier, louder and less convenient).
Standard cotton buds
Swap your standard, plastic stick cotton buds in favour of those made from wood or paper, and ideally with organic cotton. As a bonus, the organic cotton is better for your ears as it contains less harmful dyes than the cotton from a standard cotton bud.
Disposable make up removal pads
Swap disposable, single-use cotton wool pads for reusable wipes. You can find reusable cotton rounds, or bamboo options, or even make your own from old fabric. Alternatively, use a muslin cloth or flannel to remove make up (instead of going through loads of cotton pads which take a long time to biodegrade and can harm the environment in doing so).
Swap your plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones. If you have an electric brush that lasts for longer, don’t worry too much… but for those of you going through a new plastic toothbrush every month or so, swap to bamboo! You’ll be taking care of your teeth and the environment.
Image Credit: RMS Beauty
Harmful beauty products
Take a look into your make up bag… how many of your products use plastics, parabens, chemicals and other fillers that are harmful for your skin? Those hidden nasties not only clog your pores but also seriously harm the environment (by circulating in our water supplies). Instead, opt for natural beauty products and keep an eye out for brands with recyclable, biodegradable or refillable packaging.
We’re all guilty of impulsively spending on a trend that we just had to have… but we could all stand to stop buying so much! Next time you fancy a shopping spree, why not head to a charity, thrift or vintage store or a flea market? You’ll find something more unique whilst also finding a new home for something that could otherwise end up in landfill.
Plastic shopping bags
Not only are plastic shopping bags terrible for our planet and wildlife, they’re relatively flimsy, too… so instead, use reusable tote bags when shopping. You’ll feel good about making a small swap that helps the planet and you’ll fit more in your bags, too.
Bottled water costs you a pretty penny and contributes greatly to landfill, with as much as 91% of plastic bottles not recycled. Instead, invest in a reusable water bottle. Reusable bottles also come with great features that disposable bottles can’t complete with (such as fruit infusers, thermos protection and filtration), so shop around and find a bottle that fits your needs.
Supermarket shelf sanitary products
For the women out there, you should really rethink your period management and collection methods. Tampons can be dangerous (TSS, anyone?) and surprisingly, even organic tampons are quite unnatural. During menstruation, your body is detoxing itself so it’s really important to ‘let it out’, so to speak. Moon Cups are the most eco-friendly form of feminine care, and they’re cheaper too! The average period cup can last you up to a decade and has the benefit of being leak-proof (bonus!), so you won’t have to stock up on sanitary supplies every month.