The past year, among other things, has been one of reawakening. It has forced us to reassess our priorities and to appreciate just how precious the little green earth that we inhabit really is.
There seems to have been a shift of consciousness; there’s a general consensus evident on social media, and during pub garden chats, that the time has come to be a little more conscious about how we shop, where we shop and what we shop. Consumers now want to vote with their money and invest in products that align with their social responsibility.
Making the move to being a more conscious consumer can feel like an overwhelming task, with so many companies greenwashing us, confusing recycling labels, multiple conflicting ideas about palm oils, silicones, etc.
If that isn’t enough, there is a widespread misconception that sustainable products work out to be more expensive, however, that is not always the case. Often it is just that the initial cost is more, but in actuality going green will save you more money in the long run.
When making a shift to incorporate more sustainable living habits, it’s important to be kind to yourself while remembering that this a journey and that unlearning behaviours takes time. In honour of Plastic-Free July 2021, we have compiled a list of some eco-friendly switches which will help you ease up your reliance on everyday plastic products.
This list will not include the big lifestyle changes; we aren’t saying move to a self-sustainable farm with a compostable toilet, and adorn your whole roof with solar panels. However, from your beauty regime to your kitchen; these are the small, easy switches that you can make right now, to live more sustainably.
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Wild and Stone bamboo toothbrush
Instead of: Plastic toothbrushes
According to Greenpeace, every piece of plastic ever made, still exists. That is hard to visualise when you consider how much plastic you must have encountered in your whole life, but to contextualise this fact, consider how much plastic you come across in your everyday routine. This really hits home when you consider that every plastic toothbrush you’ve ever used is still knocking around somewhere on this planet. And, assuming you replace your toothbrush every three months, around four a year, that adds up to an alarming amount of toothbrushes. Then times that by the number of people on the planet, and it gets even more staggering.
So, instead of buying your standard plastic toothbrush, only to discard it to landfill in three months when it gets a bit tired, consider swapping out for a bamboo toothbrush, an eco-friendly alternative to using plastic.
Why bamboo? It is one of the fastest-growing plants, meaning there is a quickly replaceable, sustainable supply, and it’s also completely biodegradable, so it can be recycled or composted when it has reached the end of its life. Most of the bamboo brushes available on the market are also made with BPA free nylon bristles, which are vegan-friendly as well as being more gentle on your teeth and gums than standard plastic bristles. We love this pack of four toothbrushes from Wild & Stone, featuring a pretty design and enough brushes to last you the whole year. They also come in recyclable packaging, of course. For more options, check out our round up of the best bamboo toothbrushes.
Ecovibe reusable cleaning pads with wash bag
Instead of: Make-up wipes
This sustainable switch also surfaced when considering the environmental impact of our daily routine, and seeing the number of make-up wipes piled up in the bin. Instead of buying your usual make-up wipes, consider swapping to reusable cotton pads.
These from Eco Vibe are a great choice; they are made from 70 per cent bamboo and 30 per cent organic cotton, are completely biodegradable and come in recyclable packaging (obviously). The velvet ones in the pack are gentle on your skin, and won’t tug as much as a standard make-up wipe, and the soft scrub terry pads will gently exfoliate your skin as and when needed. They also come with a washable bag so that you won’t lose your pads in the wash – take it from our reviewer, that is a much-appreciated feature of this set. If that is not enough, these little pads will last for over 100 washes, so will save you money in the long run. For more sustainable beauty swaps, read our guide to the best beauty products that aren’t adding to landfill.
Smol washing tablets
Instead of: Regular laundry capsules
This subscription service really packs a cleaning punch. These laundry capsules arrive on your own set schedule in a letterbox-sized, recyclable cardboard box, unlike your usual bulky, plastic washing tablet box. Smol’s packaging and products are all plastic and cruelty-free and use much less damaging chemicals during the manufacturing process. Not only is making this switch supporting a smaller business, but they are also really affordable too, as they cut out the big supermarket mark-up. An all-around great switch. We loved this brand so much we devoted a whole piece to them in our Gamechangers series.
Stasher silicone bags
Instead of: Cling film and tin foil
Plastic cling film hangs around in landfills for up to 1000 years, while tin foil sticks around for half of that. But, according to experts, aluminium foil is far worse for the environment, largely due to its complex manufacturing process – the heavy use of fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and human health impacts.
But, if it is possible, avoiding both cling film and tin foil is the best route to go down to keeping a sustainable kitchen when it comes to food storage. These silicone bags from Stasher are made from platinum silicone and are free of plastic, easy peasy to clean and use, multipurpose, and reusable. Not only can you use them to keep your leftovers fresh or carry your packed lunch around, but you can also use them to marinate your meat and even steam your vegetables. Here at IndyBest, we love a multipurpose product. You won’t look back once you’ve made this green switch.
Wild and Stone beeswax food wraps
Instead of: Cling film and tin foil
Similar to silicone bags, this is a great alternative to using up tin foil and plastic wraps. These beeswax wraps are made from 100 per cent natural ingredients; using only 100 per cent GOTS certified cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil and natural tree resin. Not only are these reusable so therefore more eco-friendly; they will also save you money in the long run too. They are also naturally antibacterial, so you can simply use cold water to clean them off ready for your next use.
John Lewis GOTS organic cotton reusable net fruit and vegetable bags
Instead of: Plastic vegetable bags
Since the UK government rolled out its plastic bag charge in 2015, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of plastic waste in our supermarket shops and an increase in the use of cute, canvas tote bags to carry our shopping home.
Yet, we still haven’t given up using those little plastic bags on offer when picking up our loose fruit and veg. If you are like our reviewer and you would rather avoid picking up the plastic-packaged fruit and veg, these fab little vegetable bags are the switch for you. The set includes small, medium and large bags that can hold your soft peaches to your weighty potatoes. The netted construction allows air to circulate so your fruit and veg stay fresh. They are also made from certified GOTS organic cotton and are responsibly produced to strict environmental and social standards.
These little bags offer a great alternative to plastic, and help you to stop reaching for the pre-packaged fruit and veg. They are also lightweight so won’t add to the weight of your fruit and vegetables when checking out. Just pop these in your canvas bag to take to the shops with you.
Lush montalbano shampoo bar
Instead of: Shampoo bottles
According to circular online, the UK public throws away more than 520 million shampoo bottles every year. If you are looking to ditch the bottles for good then shampoo bars are a good way to go. They function in much the same way as a traditional bar of soap, simply lather up the bar in your hands and apply as normal, easy peasy. To prevent losing product just keep out of the stream of water – a lot of brands sell their bars in little metal containers to avoid any waste in the shower.
Our reviewer loved the Montalbano shampoo bar from the eco-friendly, zero waste company Lush. The smell of the Sicilian lemon oil was refreshing and lingered long on the hair after the wash, which also clarified the scalp. This is on the upper end of the price range for traditional shampoo’s, but this little bar really made up for it with its longevity– it lasted our reviewer for ages, so worked out cheaper in the long term. Another great green switch. For more great shampoo bars, read our round-up of the best on the market.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.