Celebrate World Oceans Day by Adopting these Plastic-Free Practices
The oceans are the source of some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They feed nations and build and impact cultures. In them, we find can peace, beauty, recreation, or a route to somewhere yet discovered.
Earth Day stats from 2018 determined that 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the oceans every year. That is the same weight as around 3 million elephants, made of plastic, in our oceans. They predict that by 2020 this amount will increase tenfold. And by 2050, it’s expected that there will be more plastic by weight than fish in the ocean. In addition, humans unknowingly consume this plastic through fish, sugars, salt, alcohol, and water. A recent study from the University of Victoria estimates that people consume between 70,000 and 121,000 microparticles of plastic per year. That’s insane. We clearly need to be making some changes.
While it’s sometimes hard to imagine that our individual actions can make a difference, the small stuff does count. If everyone committed to decreasing their plastic, even on a smaller scale, it’s would be an important step towards making a difference.
This World Oceans Day let’s begin taking action to reduce plastic waste. The less plastic waste we produce, the lesser chance that waste will reach the oceans, its creatures, and our food and water supplies. That feels like a very good thing.
So, here are a few of our favourite ways to reduce your plastic usage:
Bring your own reusable shopping bags
This feels like an obvious one, but picking up a new bag every time you go shopping doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are so many great reusable bags out there, and chances are you probably have a few in your closet.
For larger shops, bring a basket or a few sturdy bags. Stay prepared for any impromptu shopping by popping a bag into your purse before leaving the house. You’ll save money in the long run and can say so long to that bothersome collection of plastic bags under the kitchen sink.
Ditch plastic wrap for wax wraps
How much plastic wrap have you used in your life? Probably a lot. We get it. It’s so easy, and you can just throw it away. But, that’s the problem. You use it once and throw it away. What a waste.
Substitute plastic cling wrap for wax wraps. These wraps are pieces of fabric coated in beeswax or vegan alternatives such as soy. You can use them over and over again. They’re great for wrapping up sandwiches, cheeses, and even making little pouches for snacks.
Avoid plastic wrapped produce
So much of the fruits and vegetables you find at the shop are wrapped in plastic. Odds are you aren’t reusing the plastic and it gets thrown away as soon as you open the package. It feels unnecessary.
Try to find your produce at local fruit and vegetable stands or farmer's markets. Better yet, bring your own produce and shopping bags. You’ll get all the veggies you need and none of the pesky plastic.
Make your period plastic free
In 2016 the Marine Conservation Society found 20 period products for every 100 metres of beach. We can be better ladies. In the last few years, more eco-friendly period products have become increasingly accessible making it super easy to have a plastic-free period.
Menstrual cups are an incredible replacement for tampons and, if cared for properly, can last up to 10 years. Reusable pads and liners along with absorbent menstrual underwear are also good alternatives. There are also some great single-use products that are organic, plastic free, and biodegradable.
For more information and a discount on some of these products head to this great blog post by n4mummy.
Say so long to your plastic toothbrush
Every toothbrush you’ve ever had in your life is still mostly intact somewhere on the planet, and maybe even in the ocean—one source estimates 80 percent of toothbrushes end up there. Most dentists recommend swapping out your toothbrush every three months, so we’ll let you do the math.
While toothbrushes can’t be 100% plastic free, as they’ve yet to find a sanitary or vegan replacement for nylon bristles that’s safe for your teeth and recommended by dentists, it’s possible to find a toothbrush with very little plastic. In comes the bamboo toothbrush. The handles of bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and can be composted after you’re finished with them, making them a more eco- and ocean-friendly alternative to your current fully plastic brush.
Swap out your cotton buds
Come next year, the UK is banning all cotton buds with plastic stems. As great as it would be to eradicate cotton buds from our lives entirely, we get how useful they are. So, why not get ahead of the game before the ban kicks in. There are two main alternatives to the plastic stems: bamboo and cotton. American brand Q-tips have been confirmed as fully biodegradable and 100% cotton since 2011, and you can easily order them on Amazon.
Use straws that don’t suck
Long gone are the days of guilt-free sipping through plastic straws. Sadly, paper straws aren’t a great alternative. They have a tendency to fall apart after a few sips. Ideally, we wouldn’t use straws at all, but straws are fun! Try a silicon, glass, metal, or bamboo alternative. They’re great to use at home and super easy to pop into your bag and use when out for a drink.
Make your shower package free
If you were to pop into your shower right now, how many plastic bottles or packages would you see? Probably too many. We get it. Shampoos and conditioners in plastic bottles are easily accessible and take zero maintenance.
Bar shampoos and conditioners have been increasing in popularity in the last few years, and it seems like bar soap has always existed. These alternative products are plastic and guiltfree. Even better, they don’t count as a liquid, so you can easily bring them on your next flight to wherever.
We love the Chai Spices soap bar from Upcircle which you can find here!
Bring your own coffee cup
Single-use coffee cups are not cool. According to one report, 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK alone. And most of these cups will not biodegrade because they have been coated with plastic to prevent the drink from seeping through the paper cup. Thankfully, there’s a super simple solution. Bring your own cup.
There are so many options when it comes to reusable coffee cups, so it’s super easy to find one that suits your needs. From size and shape to weight and colour, the possibilities feel endless. Plus you’ll end up saving money in the long run by either bringing coffee you make at home or because most cafes offer a discount for those who use their own takeaway cup. That feels like a win-win to us.
Say no to plastic cutlery
There’s no need to use plastic single-use cutlery. A lot of places these days offer a bamboo alternative which is great, but it’s still nice to be prepared if need be. Simply bring your own cutlery. If you’re bringing a lunch from home, bring cutlery. If you’re planning on picking up takeaway, bring cutlery. Easy peasy. Just don’t use it.
We love this spork from Zero Waste club, which is perfect to keep in your bag for whenever you need it.
Reuse glass jars
Glass jars feel like they have endless possibilities. Need some cups for a picnic? Glass jar. Storing soup? Glass jar. Iced coffee to go? Glass jar. You get the picture. Glass jars have the potential to replace so many of the pieces of plastic in our homes and kitchens. They’re great for storing food and other things too, maybe some biodegradable cotton buds for instance. You’re paying for the jar when you buy sauces, jams, or spreads, so you might as well get as much use out of it as possible.
Be a better shopper
When shopping, try to purchase products with as little packaging as possible. Not only can it help you personally decrease your plastic usage, but refusing to use overpackaged products can send a message to companies that consumers don’t want plastic. Ordering online? Find out how the company packages its products beforehand. Avoid overly packaged foods. Try to find beauty products that come in reusable or recyclable containers. Opt for glass and aluminum packaging over plastic.
We love to do some of our better shopping at Roots & Cycles in Crystal Palace.
Dress to impress (and save the oceans)
This World Ocean’s Day we’ve partnered with Environmental Justice Foundation on their Save the Sea campaign by donating a t-shirt design. The shirt is organic cotton, ethically made and fairly traded. We are so excited about this collaboration as Lowie has supported EJF’s efforts for over a decade.
Money from these shirts will be donated to efforts to protect our oceans. T-shirts can be purchased from EFJ’s online store.
Let’s hold each other accountable
Reducing our plastic waste is going to be a team effort. Check in with your friends and family on their plastic usage, and ask them to check in on you. Ask questions to store and restaurant owners. Police the brands you shop. Suggest more sustainable practices. Be kind to each other and to the planet. We all live here, so let’s try and make it a better place.
What are your favourite ways to decrease your plastic waste? Tag us in your plastic free Instagram photos or comment below.