SUSTAINABLE HOUSEHOLD SWAP
Written by Kendra Nelson
Every minute, the equivalent of a garbage truck worth of waste enters the ocean. One study found that 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually ends up in the ocean. As ocean lovers and activists we see pollution on our beaches and in the water all the time. It has inspired us in our personal lives to make some low-waste swaps to help prevent more plastic from ending up polluting our planet.
First, a waste audit is a great way to analyse your footprint and the areas you can prioritize swaps when starting out. Every week for a month, write down everything you throw away. At the end of the month evaluate. See which items you could start to swap out. Go to Starbucks everyday? Maybe switch to coffee from home more or getting a reusable cup for those Starbucks runs!
Within this blog, we will link some products to check out.
There are lots of ways our bathroom routines have become unnecessarily wasteful for our own convenience.
Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
The US produces over half a billion shampoo bottles annually. Creating liquid soaps takes 5x the energy, 20x more packaging, and 15x more transport emissions than the solid soap counterpart. And on top of that, solid soaps last 7x longer than liquid soaps. This is why shampoo and conditioner bars are a great swap for your hair care routine. There are lots of brands to try and we suggest trying a few different ones to see what works best with your hair and gets you the results you want.
Not only are plastic packaged deodorants wasteful since the packaging is generally unable to be recycled, but also contain harmful ingredients like parabens and aluminum, Natural deodorants do not and are much better for the planet. Companies like Meow Meow Tweet and Native Deodorant offer their products in recyclable and compostable materials. You can keep your stink away and help the planet.
Toothpaste & Toothbrush
A billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown out annually in the US and they are nearly impossible to recycle. Bamboo toothbrushes are a great swap. Bamboo is a regenerative crop that requires little water.
For toothpaste, there are lots of options! From aluminum tubes that are recyclable, like David’s Toothpaste, to toothpaste tabs glass jars. Mouthwash even has some great swaps now like coming in an aluminum can or tabs are a great way to replace the plastic bottle used. One company, Bite, has even made plastic free tooth whitening serum! Many of these swaps are also available at your local store and are a better option to keep unnecessary plastic from the environment.
Our kitchens can be one of the places where we have the most plastic and food waste. It is estimated that one-third of food produced globally goes uneaten and turned into waste. Food rotting in landfills produces the greenhouse gas methane. How can we help in our own kitchens and homes?
Just like the plastic audit, do a kitchen audit. Assess what you throw away from your kitchen every week for a month. Look at the weak areas. Is there produce you buy but can never seem to eat and it just ends up thrown away? These may be products that can be eliminated from your grocery list! A kitchen audit is a great place to start to evaluate the waste you’re creating and how you can start to cut down!
Home composting is a great way to put those food scraps to use! Check your local municipal waste facilities and see if they offer curbside composting. If they do, invest in a kitchen compost bin! There are options on Amazon and even in stores like Walmart and Target. Learn what your facility accepts and start your journey to putting food waste in its place!
Plastic ziploc bags have become a staple item in many kitchens. Great alternatives have been pooping up in recent years. Stasher bag is one company with incredible products that give back to the planet and are incredibly durable. Silicone storage bags are dishwasher safe, microwave ready, and freezer friendly. Unlike plastic, when heated these bags won’t be leeching dangerous chemicals into your food. This swap is a must!
Reusable Kitchen Towels
Did you know that it takes 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to make 1.1 ton of paper towels? A great swap is to switch to reusable kitchen towels. When choosing a kitchen towel, look for natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and linen so they don’t shed microplastics. You don’t even need to buy a new towel! Look to old clothes. That t-shirt that hasn’t been worn in years? Looks like a new kitchen towel. This eliminates a demand for virgin product production and gives that shirt a new use. Repurpose is one of the most sustainable things you can do!
Laundry Room Swaps:
The laundry room. Did you know 80% of our clothes total eco-impact comes from laundering it?
Plastic Free Detergent
Lots of detergent brands contain harmful ingredients like phosphates, petrochemicals, and palm oil. On top of that, they come in plastic packaging that is hard to recycle. Companies like Dropps are working to change that. They use plant-based, natural ingredients to wash your clothes with no plastic packaging. Don’t want to use laundry pods? Look to laundry detergent sheets like at Tru Earth.
Dryer sheets are pesky. Many even argue they serve a superficial value. But if you want a swap for dryer sheets to keep your clothes from being staticy and add a nice scent, dryer balls are a great swap. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and pop in the dryer. The clothes will come out perfect and with a nice smell.
Did you know a single load of laundry can release more than 700,000 plastic microfibers into waterways? Over 60% of today’s textiles are made from synthetic materials. Microfibers are the most prevalent type of microplastic in the environment. They have been found in honey, fish, water, our table salt, & us! One is to avoid synthetic clothes but that honestly isn’t super doable for a lot of us because we workout and dive. So an even better solution is getting a filter for our washing machines that will trap the microfibers! PlanetCare Solutions makes a great microfiber filter that easily attaches to your washer and have been independently tested and proven to stop 90% of microfibres, making them the best solution available on the market.