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Eco-Friendly Swaps for a Better Future

Updated: Jun 13

Our earth is constantly impacted negatively by the decisions we make in our everyday lives. From the packaging that our food comes in, to the plastic water bottles people are still using. Plastic is a major problem that has substantially grown and our planet is showing all of the signs that its negatively impacted by this. "Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year."

Most plastic items never fully disappear; they just get smaller, known to be called "microplastics". Many of these tiny plastic particles are swallowed by farm animals or fish impacting them negatively. Microplastic is also being found in a majority of the world’s tap water. "If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050."

With that being said, I wanted to share some easy swaps that can be made to try and live towards a low-waste lifestyle. I'm not saying to throw away everything that you already own and buy replacements of whats listed right away. Its best to use up what you already have and buy sustainable replacements as you start to run out of those products because that would be counter-productive to waste whats still useable.

Plastic Tooth Brush vs. Bamboo Tooth Brush

Toothbrushes are made from polypropylene plastic and nylon and can take up to 500 years or more to decompose. Bamboo tooth brushes on the other hand are great because they're biodegradable, antimicrobial, promote healthy gums+teeth, and the handle is compostable. The bristles still need to be disposed properly as they are made of polypropylene plastic.

Plastic Water Bottle vs. Reusable Water Bottle

For a plastic water bottle to decompose, it takes 450 years. Plastic can also only be recycled a maximum of 2-3 times. Instead using a glass or stainless steel reusable bottle saves so much of that plastic that adds up over time. If companies are not selling the water bottles, they won't be able to sustain their business. Remember,"Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute."

Plastic Razor vs. Stainless Steel Safety Razor

With a stainless steel safety razor, not only do you save plastic, but you also save lots of money! The razor blades that are used for safety razors cost pennies per blade and can be used about two times (depending on hair type.) The blades are stainless steel containing zero plastic that are easy to place into the razor that you keep forever! Using a safety razor requires a little more patience but once you get comfortable and used to using one, you will love it.

Bottled Soaps vs. Bar Soaps

Bar soaps are just as effective in cleansing the skin, removing dirt and ridding bacteria as bottled soaps! Bar soaps can be found for facial cleansing, body cleansing, and for shaving purposes. They also last for a long time so its a great swap financially and sustainably.

One of my favorite places to shop is Harji Naturals. This small business is based in San Jose, California and I first discovered them while shopping at my local farmer's market. I've become a regular ever since! Handmade soaps using all natural, vegan ingredients. They are free of animal products, harmful chemicals and preservatives, and colored with natural ingredients.

Toothpaste Tubes vs. Tooth Powder in Jar/Tablets

"On average, the United States throws away more than 400 MILLION empty toothpaste tubes, which can take over 500 years to decompose in landfills." There are many brands available today that are powders or tablets that come in glass jars instead of those tubes that basically last forever.

Plastic Shopping Bag vs. Reusable Bag

"Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture." It also takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately, the bags don't break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.

Reusable bags are made from many different materials which means the environmental impact of producing those materials varies widely. One study found that, regarding bag production, bags made from cotton have to be

reused 131 times before they reduce their impact on climate change to the same extent as plastic bags. To have a comparable environmental footprint to plastic bags, a cotton bag potentially has to be used thousands of times. Materials other than cotton are better options from a sustainable viewpoint. Non-woven polypropylene (PP) is another popular option. Made from a more durable kind of plastic, these bags need to be reused around eleven times to break even with the impact of conventional plastic. The best option here is to use whatever bags you already own. Often times, people have reusable bags, but forget to bring them. This leads to using plastic or paper grocery store bags while still owning bags that still required materials to be made.

Recycle Glass Jars vs. Clean and Reuse Glass Jars

Glass is a fully recyclable material. We can recycle glass over and over endlessly without loss in quality or purity. Recycling glass has enormous environmental benefits including reducing carbon emissions, raw material consumption, energy use, and waste.

Glass is long-lasting, durable, and corrosion resistant, so it will not break down overtime like plastic. Additionally, glass is the only packaging material that the FDA has certified “generally regarded as safe”. Glass is nontoxic, made from nontoxic raw materials and has an almost zero rate of chemical interaction. Every 6 tons of recycled container glass used reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 1 ton. Every ton of recycled container glass used conserves over a ton of raw materials. Reusing jars and bottles you have as much as you can are great, but making sure to recycle properly if its something you can't reuse is the best solution over using plastic.

Do you have any eco-friendly swaps or products that you enjoy using? I'd love to hear some of your success stories!


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