9 really good alternatives to plastic
We think these alternatives to plastic are pretty neat. If you agree, share them far and wide.
But first, please help us do something about all the throwaway plastic in packaging and products.
1. Have a nice cup of tea – not one hiding a nasty secret
Sit down. This might come as a shock. Your tea bags are smuggling yet more plastic into your life. The majority of teabags in the UK contain a very thin layer of polypropylene plastic. That thin layer will likely end up as tiny pieces in the soil, which could then find their way into our rivers and eventually the sea. You're no mug. You know that loose tea tastes better anyway – and is it really that much more of a strain to prepare? Top tip: get a tea infuser.
2. Plastic-wrapped organic veg – seriously?
You want to buy organic to do right by the planet. But some genius has choked your good intentions to death with a thin film of plastic. They've even chucked in a polystyrene tray in case you'd forgotten how to hold a piece of fruit. Stop shaking your head. And start nodding at a fresh, delivered-to-your-door, seasonal box of plastic-free goodness. There are loads of veg-box schemes out there now. Failing that, buy from your local farmers' market.
3. Prefer a flat white? Buy a reusable coffee cup
Because of a plastic film on the inside, very few coffee cups are recycled – despite the impression that some big chains might have given you. This is way worse than that time you asked for a filter and were given an Americano (it's not the same drink, ok?). 2 things you can do. First, sign our petition to ban disposable cups that can’t be recycled. Second, get hold of a reusable coffee cup.
4. It's the final (plastic) straw
How many of these things end up in an albatross chick? This has got to be one of the most needless disposable items on the list. When you refuse these things at the bar, or in a cafe, be sure to communicate your disapproval in whichever non-violent way you deem appropriate. Perhaps an impromptu interpretation of a turtle with a straw up its nose. Too far? If you're a bit of a sucker for straws (yes, the puns are getting worse), you can now get bamboo or steel ones.
5. Go nuts on the laundry
Maybe you already use an eco laundry detergent. High 5. But what do you do with the empty plastic bottle? Some health stores and eco supermarkets let you refill your empty cleaning liquids. It can end up being cheaper than the normal product. If lugging bottles around doesn't sound like fun, you absolutely need soap nuts. These little, dried-fruit shells contain a 100% natural soap. According to the makers soap nuts can be used with all fabrics, at all temperatures from 30-90oC. Just bung a few in a sock, tie it and throw it in with the rest of your dirty clothes. Magic.
6. Clean your mouth out
In the history of plastic, only 9% of the stuff has ever been recycled. Plastic is a curse on our planet. So let's clean our mouths out... with a bamboo toothbrush. It does unfortunately contain plastic in the bristles. But short of using pig-hair bristles, we couldn't find any other alternatives. You can go further by getting your toothpaste in a jar instead of a plastic tube. And if you're feeling creative, there are homemade toothpaste recipes online.
It's annoying how much throwaway plastic is in our weekly shop. Help us change this.
7. Cotton buds aren't your buddies
That's right, they're plastic imposters. They want to damage your ears as well as wash up on our beaches and harm our sea life. They say you shouldn't stick these things in your ears. We say that you shouldn't stick them in your bathroom cabinet in the first place. If you still want to tickle your brain via your ear canal – or apply some makeup – fear not... You can buy organic cotton buds / Q-tips with 100% bio-degradable card sticks - including from supermarkets.
8. Be(e) clingy in a good way
Stop wrapping your sandwiches in a material made from crude oil. Yep, that's cling film. Wait. How are you going to keep your cheese fresh without wrapping it in plastic? Beeswax food wraps are how. They're reusable, biodegradable and won't leave you standing there, looking like an idiot, trying to find the end of the roll. And a supporter has let us know that vegan wax wraps are a thing too (thank you Emma).
9. Make the government do something
There's a shedload of plastic in our oceans. No one even really knows how long it's going to take to decompose – estimates range from at least hundreds of years to possibly a lot longer.
Plastic is a disaster for the planet and deadly to wildlife. Please sign our petition to demand that the government takes action now.
Watch 5-year-old Charlie tell his story about picking up litter from beaches: