As today is World Oceans Day, I thought I’d share some information and resources about protecting our oceans. As well as some plastic free swaps you can make to help reduce plastic pollution.
Currently, more than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Humans heavily rely on the oceans, they are the world’s largest source of protein and also absorb 30% of the carbon dioxide emitted, limiting the effects of climate change. However due to marine litter we are damaging the oceans and marine life within it. One cause of this is plastic pollution – which can be found on every single beach in the world. Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans, and there may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes. Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.
In the UK approx 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach. And over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of UK beaches. The effects on marine biodiversities are detrimental – 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually. At the rate we are going, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than there are fish.
So, what can we do to help? As well as reducing your carbon footprint, we can reduce our single use plastics. For some, this is easier said than done. Certain items such as plastic straws are a necessity for them due to disabilities and not everyone can afford to buy plastic free period items. We cannot expect everyone to be perfect. However if you can swap out your single use plastics, it is always encouraged.
*Disclaimer Please do not feel as if you have to make all or any of these swaps. It is still a privilege to be able to live a more zero waste lifestyle and, although it does reduce carbon footprint, 100 companies are responsible for 71% of emissions. So do not feel pressured to change everything in your lifestyle.
- Milk – Have a look at your local milkman service, do they offer glass bottles? I currently drink Oat milk, which comes in a form of plastic packaging. Although it can be recycled, I’m eager to try glass bottle services such as M*lkman.
- Beeswax Wraps – A great way to ditch cling film when storing leftovers or your packed lunch. They keep food fresher for longer and are reusable for a year, and then can be composted. (They are also super easy to make, here’s a tutorial if you want to give it a go.)
- Glass Jars & Reusable Containers – Another way to keep food fresh for longer and store items better. You can also take them to refill stations at supermarkets to cut out packaging altogether.
- Tea – A lot of tea companies are claiming to go more plastic free, or creating biodegradable tea bags. My favourite are Pukka who are completely plastic free. However you could also opt for loose leaf tea.
- Groceries – In the last year or so supermarkets have made large strides to reduce their plastic packaging. With refill stations, loose items and recycling bins so you can leave the packaging with them to responsibly recycle. You could also shop online at the Ethical Superstore.
- Reusable Baking – If you’re a keen baker having reusable silicone cupcake cases or baking sheets is a great idea to reduce your waste and save you money.
- Plastic Free Cleaning Products – There are so many homemade cleaning products you can make or use brands such as Pur and Ecover who also do a refill service to reduce your waste even more.
- Washable Cloth Napkins – A great one if you’re a keen host and love a good dinner party. Cloth napkins look great and can easily be washed to use again and again.
- Reusable Freezer Bags – You can buy reusable bags that can be suitable for cooking, freezing or used to carry food on the go and just need washing out either by hand or in the dishwasher. Plus they can be recycled afterwards!
- Kitchen Scrubbers – You could use a wooden brush which will last for ages, and are easy to find. Or a compostable sponge which can breakdown properly after use.
- Bamboo Toothbrush/Toothbrush Heads – In the UK alone, 264 million plastic toothbrushes are thrown away each year. A bamboo toothbrush will eliminate this waste of the 4 plastic toothbrush used per year. If you’re like me and use an electric toothbrush, you can get bamboo toothbrush heads too!
- Plastic Free Toothpaste – I do still use regular plastic toothpaste tubes, however I’m planning to switch to a plastic free option once I have finished.
- Period Pants or MoonCup – Around 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads and 700,000 panty liners are flushed every single day in the UK. By switching to reusable period products you could save up to 94% of your lifetime spend on disposables. If you are looking to have a more plastic free period – I highly recommend ModiBodi (I have worked with them in the past however this is not a collaboration, I just genuinely love them.) However, if these options are a bit scary for you, I’ve got you, you can still get plastic free liners and tampons.
- Bamboo Toilet Paper – I don’t think many of us are prepared to use reusable toilet paper (yes, that is a thing) but we can still be plastic free. Services such as Who Gives A Crap are a great option.
- Plastic Free Razor – We go through so many disposable razors, so opting for a metal or bamboo razor is a great option and will also give a better shave.
- Glass Soap Dispenser – Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but a great way to ditch the single use soap bottles. And lots of companies like Method are now doing hand soap refills to make it even easier.
- Shampoo Bar – I love shampoo bars. They last for so long and leave my hair feeling amazing. Do make sure you shampoo bar doesn’t react differently to hard/soft water though. You can get conditioners and hair masks too!
- Shower Gel – A very simple swap – bar soap!
- Makeup Remover – Makeup removing cloths are more effective than you think, and once they’re dirty just pop them in the wash and they’ll be good as new! If you prefer using liquid products there are plenty of plastic free options.
- Wooden Comb or Hairbrush – Better for you hair and better for the planet, a win win.
- Plastic Free Deodorant – Something I’m yet to venture into, however curious to try. You can also get deodorant balms that come in plastic free packaging.
- Perfume – Perfume is relatively simple, as lots come in glass packaging which could then be reused or recycled. Some companies are also starting to offer perfume refills.
- Cotton Buds – You can either get bamboo or cardboard cotton buds, both of which are great alternatives but I personally opt for bamboo.
- Cotton Pads – Reusable cotton rounds are a great purchase, they’ll save you money and work just as well.
- Makeup – I won’t lie, my makeup back is still heavy in plastic. However I’ve been trying to find new brands to try and buy from in the future. Some that have caught my eye are All Earth and Antonym.
- Reusable Coffee Cup – Globally we use 1 million disposable coffee cups a minute and of these only a small percentage are recycled. Using a reusable coffee cup for one year would save 500 single use coffee cups. I use a Stojo collapsible coffee cup so I can collapse it down to easily fit in my bag whilst I’m travelling or working.
- Reusable Shopping Bag – Whether this is a bag for life or a tote bag, using one reusable bag for a year saves the waste of 170 plastic bags. I love using tote bags, they’re super easy to take around with you and will last for ages.
- Reusable Water Bottle – We produce one million plastic water bottles a second. And it takes 6 times the amount of water contained in a plastic bottle to make the bottle itself. However using a reusable bottle would save 167 plastic water bottles per year. If you’re travelling or in an area where you cannot drink tap water, consider buying a Lifestraw.
- Reusable Straws – Straws are very easy congested by marine wildlife, as they break into lots of small pieces. They also do a lot of harm, so if you can, enjoy your drinks without a straw or purchase a metal/bamboo straw and you’ll save the waste of 540 plastic straws a year.
- Reusable Cutlery – A great swap if you travel a lot as you can never guarantee you’ll get plastic free cutlery.
- First Aid Kit – Whether it’s just some plasters or a full blown first aid kit there are lots of plastic free options.
- Party Decorations – If you’re having a party this year consider how you can make it a little more plastic free with paper decorations, biodegradable balloons, plants and fabric bunting. Or get creative and punch shapes out of dried leaves instead of using confetti.
- GuppyFriend – Whenever we wash our clothes they let of thousands of micro plastics which go into the ocean. A GuppyFriend is a great way to catch these micro plastics so they can be recycled.
- Bedding – Brands such as Panda Bedding do some great plastic free bedding, and are definitely going on my wishlist.
- Clothes Pegs – A small swap you can make is buying bamboo clothes pegs – they are sturdier and better for the planet.
There are so many more ways you can reduce your plastic waste, but here are some ideas to get you started. Plastic free swaps are a great opportunity to support smaller and local businesses, so definitely check them out first!
There are also many other ways to reduce ocean pollution, such as properly disposing chemical waste and pharmaceuticals, participating in litter picks and beach cleans, signing the World Oceans Day petition, wearing ocean friendly suncream and choosing non-toxic cleaning products. Doing even one of these small actions consistently will make a huge difference.