If you don’t know by now that single use plastics suck, I’m just gonna go ahead and assume you’re an alien. Because seriously, where have you been if you don’t know that?
Everyone knows single use plastics suck, that’s not news. The news is: we can finally replace them with sustainable alternatives!
Sure, there are some of the obvious/in-your-face replacements that everyone knows, *cough* reusable straws! *cough*, but those aren’t the only single use plastics we need to focus on replacing. And, let’s be honest, most people who jumped on the reusable straw train don’t actually use straws all that often – so their impact isn’t as big, but they still get the ego boost of ‘doing something good’.
For example: I don’t use straws (less than 1 time a year), and the once in a blue moon I do use one, I use the plastic one I have that came with a cup. So for me, buying a reusable metal or silicone straw wouldn’t have that big of an impact. (Though it’s definitely still on my list!)
My biggest waste was the pads I was using for my period. As a woman, that’s something I cannot control, that I have to go through 12 times a year (usually more). For my period, I was using 3 disposable pads per day (2 day time, and 1 night), for about 6 days. This meant I was using at least 18 pads per cycle.
On average, I have 14 periods per year, which means I use about 252 pads in 1 year. 252! That was insane for me to see calculated out like that. I was contributing almost 300 pieces of garbage to the Earth each year – and this was someone who thought they didn’t produce very much trash! So, last year (2020), my goal was to start using reusable pads and to be strictly on reusable pads by the end of the year. (The full reusable period post is coming soon!)
I’m proud to say I’m 100% using reusable pads now, so instead of using 252 pads a year, I now only use 12. Even if I have to replace them every year, that’s still a huge reduction in my garbage impact. And the best part? It didn’t take all that long to get used to the change.
That’s the other great thing about reducing your single use plastics – it doesn’t take that much time to get used to the change, and, often you won’t even notice the change, and will be glad because the alternative is usually so much better!
As you can see, I included the usual suspects (reusable straws and cutlery), but I also feature some often not talked about alternatives. Why aren’t these single use plastics talked about? Well, I’m no expert, but I think it’s because these companies might actually not give that much of a crap about the planet. I mean, think about it, it’s much easier for a company to say they’re getting rid of plastic straws, than say, all plastic packaging. Also, what sucks is the ones that aren’t talked about often are the ones that will have a bigger impact on the planet.
But, now that I’ve given you this handy collage of great swaps to make, you have 0 excuses to not at least start switching some of your single use plastics to reusables. This collage obviously doesn’t have every plastic swap you could make, but I think these are pretty good alternatives for beginners. This is really just to get the ball rolling and getting you used to seeing what could be changed, more than an exhaustive list of everything.
I also didn’t want to overwhelm fellow newbs. I understand how disheartening it can be when you start diving in to these swap lists and look around and see just how much of your stuff is made of plastic (seriously, I never noticed how much of my own stuff was made from plastic before).
And, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out! I’ve found the zero waste community very welcoming, so please don’t be shy! And remember: the planet needs everyone doing zero waste imperfectly, more than a few people doing it 100% perfect (which is literally impossible, anyway).
Like this article? Check out more articles on ways to save the planet here!
Liking the site? Consider signing up for my Patreon, so I can continue bringing you the content you love!