December 20, 2014

A Life without Plastic – so what are my options?

We all know the dangers of plastic in our world – from BPA (Bisphenol A) which at low levels potentially can cause a variety of ailments, including birth defects, infertility and breast cancer. Then there is the damage that is magnified once it enters the environment.

But in this modern world we live in, how do we avoid it? It is everywhere!

I have never lived in a world without plastic and learning new ways (or to some people “old ways”!) to reduce my exposure and reliance on plastic is a very real issue that many people are starting to get their heads around.

So here is my “all rounder” list of every day things we can use to remove some of the plastic from our lives. This is by no means a definitive list and should grow with your comments, so chime in!

I will break it down into sections for ease of use!

Rebecca’s Alternatives to Plastic List:

KITCHEN

  1. Stainless Steel Drinking Bottles – This is a no brainer by now. Investing in some Kleen Kanteens, Sigg Bottles or a Nathans are your best bet. These stainless steel alternatives are heavy duty, no leaching of BPA and completely reusable.
  2. Glass Resealable containers – These are a god send. Find your favourite glass resealable containers in a range of sizes and use them! You will LOVE them. These are the best replacements for cling wrap, plastic Chinese containers and also to cut back on the much loved plastic zip lock bags.  Yes, the Pyrex collection do come with plastic lids (this is what I use at the moment) but Corningware is made of stoneware and come with glass lids! You can easily find some second hand or invest in a full set for your kitchen. They last a lifetime! Don’t forget to check out Anchor Glass containers too – you may find some second hand!
  3. Reusable produce bags – A good investment to keep in your green bags for shopping is a few reusable produce bags. Every time you go shopping and you hit up the fruit and veg isle, you are bound to collect at least 3 plastic produce bags. I loathe these bags and try to lug arm fulls of loose vegetables and fruit to the check out, but now I have seen these Onya Weigh Bags that are made of Tulle and can carry up to 2 kilos! These are on my Christmas list! There are many alternatives to these plastic produce bags, apart from Onya Bags, there are a range on Etsy from homemade sellers, or you can simply make some yourself with this DIY tutorial
  4. Bamboo Dishware – I am not sure how many people use plastic dinnerware, but if you do then there are alternatives such as bamboo. This is a completely renewable resource and they look lovely! Bamboo plates, bowls, mugs and even cutlery are available. Check out some options at Todae, they are fantastic for picnics and for family get-togethers.  For bamboo cutlery have a look at the range here at Life Without Plastic.
  5. Stainless Steel Ice Cube Tray – This may be at the bottom of the list of things to replace but if you need to, then this is a great option. This vintage style ice cube tray is a replica of the old 50’s aluminum ice cube tray. It is super cute and has a easy to use lever to remove the cubes. This is fantastic for storing herbs, excess juice or even ice cubes! ;)
  6. Bamboo, Glass or Marble Chopping Boards – These are actually more hygienic than plastic, and to me, look a lot nicer. I had been using a cheap Ikea plastic chopping mat but switched to a bamboo board and I LOVE it. This Dandi Chopping Board is lovely and is an investment but a worthwhile one.  Glass chopping boards are extremely hygienic and also can be put through a dishwasher. It has been said that using glass chopping boards do dull a knife so keep that in mind.  Marble boards can also be used, but again they may blunt your knives. Marble is great to have in your kitchen for rolling pastry and even putting hot pots on.
  7. Stoneware Water Purifiers – If you use the Brita water filters in your home on a regular basis you might want to look at purchasing a water purifier. Brita Filters and all their counterparts are made using plastic and plastic filters, these can all add up not only environmentally but cost wise too. Purchasing a stoneware water purifier is a huge deal – they are expensive but the result is filtered water without the waste. I like this one from Biome. I don’t own it so I cannot tell you about how well it works but it is nice looking!
  8. Homemade Household Cleaners – This is something you can introduce into your kitchen quickly and easily. I am talking about replacing the bottles of Ajax, Spray n Wipe and the rest of those plastic bottles hidden under your sink with lemon, vinegar and Bi Carb Soda.  We have a list of recipes here: Low toxic recipes for household cleaners. Simply keep some old jars and use them to store your new cleaners, or just reuse the old plastic bottles with the spray nozzles.

BABIES & CHILDREN

  1. Alternative Baby Bottles – There is so much plastic out there for children. Yes it is durable but what about the long term effects on your child? There are alternatives for a baby bottle such as a glass baby bottle. LifeFactory WeGo Glass Baby bottles come in a cute range with a silicon sleeve to protect the glass. There is also the range of stainless steel bottles such as the Klean Kanteen.
  2. Lunch Box Alternatives – I remember lunch boxes of yesteryear being small plastic rectangles and inside were kept, usually, vegemite sandwiches. Now there are plenty of alternatives to this idea such as fabric sandwich wraps from 4myearth and full lunch box kits such as the Kids Konserve Waste Free lunch Kit (this does have some plastic lids on the containers, albeit lead free, BPA free and pthalate free.
    You could even get back to the old brown paper bag if you were looking for a very cheap option!
  3. Toys – There are countless options out there for toys, such as wooden toys. Anamalz is an Australian made wooden animal toys that are super cute and will really get the imagination going!
    Wooden building blocks and colouring books are a brilliant way to go.
  4. Teething Rings – Do you really want your child sucking on plastic? If you don’t, there are wooden options such as the DingARing Rattle, Teething ring and Toy all in one!  I am quite fond of Emma Owl and Craig Crocodile!
  5. Nappies – Let’s just preface this before I start, that I do not have kids. Okay – so nappies are a big deal. They are a real menace to society, so the alternatives are cloth or fitted cloth nappies such as Baby Beehinds. They are laundered normally and will last (according to their spiel) a really long time! So that is a plus!
    Another controversial but totally okay option is Elimination Communication method – this uses no nappies and you use your knowledge of your baby’s needs to use the toilet. There is a multitude of information about this on the internet and I recommend having a read around of this. Here are some links to get you started: Elimination Communication, www.diaperfreebaby.org

BATHROOM

  1. Bars of Soap – Yes the simple bar of soap. Use this instead of buying pump pack liquid soap. The plastic bottle and then the refill plastic bottles are just so unnecessary. I actually found my hands dried out so much more from the liquid soap than from using a bar of soap. If you think it is unhygienic to use bars of soap, just think that the bar of soap gets a rinse every time it is used, but the top of the pump pack… that doesn’t get washed too often.
  2. Shampoo/Conditioner Bars – While we are replacing the plastic bottles in our bathroom, you could try using shampoo bars instead of the liquid shampoo! Yes, these shampoo bars are fantastic and work just as well, I think better, than your bottle of Pantene. Plus it isn’t toxic! WOO HOO. Check out the range at Lush – I travelled through India and Nepal with Seanik Shampoo Bar and Jungle Conditioner bar and I cannot speak highly enough of their shampoo/conditioner bars, it works so well plus smells delicious!
  3. Read the labels on your cosmetics – Some facial scrubs and other personal care products contain tiny plastic beads so avoid anything with “polyethylene” listed as an ingredient. Try scrubs that contain natural ingredients so check out The Body Shop or Lush for some alternatives.
  4. Deodorant Alternatives – No I am not saying go out and be stinky! But deodorants sold in the supermarkets use so much plastic, even the little plastic ball! Roll on or spray on deodorant can easily be replaced by Bi Carb Soda powdered under the armpits, Lush have a range of deodorant bars or my new love the deodorant crystal rock. It is so amazing I have no stink!
  5. Plastic Razor Alternatives - There are many alternatives such as waxing in the salon but you can make your own homemade sugaring solution at home for cheap! Check out our recipe here – Sugaring Recipe. I am scared of sugaring or waxing so I am on the hunt for a vintage safety razor – such as this old school one.  Ebay or second hand stores are the way to go to find these.
  6. Bamboo Toothbrushes – Ditch the plastic OralB or Colgate toothbrush and give Bamboo toothbrushes a go. You may think these would cost more but they don’t! A box of 12 brushes will set you back only $2.75 a brush! That is cheaper than the Colgate/Oral B brands on the market. Check out ethikl.com.au to purchase the toothbrushes!

WOW! That is quite a list.

Do you have anything to add or detract? Have I missed any major areas?

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Comments

  1. Use greaseproof paper instead of gladwrap or make some little ‘shower caps’ from tightly woven silk to cover dishes with to store in the fridge. Put a plate or sauce on top to increase the air-tight quality!

  2. I would be careful pushing those soaps and shampoo products. They all contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and various other chemicals and colourings. Body shop and Lush claim to be “natural” but their ingredient list says otherwise. Having a couple natural ingredients in the products doesn’t make the product natural!

    • Hi Kristen,

      That is true that some of The Body Shop and Lush products do contain SLS and chemical colouring.

      There is a lot of information AND misinformation out there about SLS and certain surfactants in soaps and cosmetic products so I think you should make your own mind up about SLS and the use of it.

      Personally, and this is no reflection on what I think EVERYONE should do, but I do avoid products with SLS in them if I see it on the ingredient list (and if I know what all the chemical codes mean too! I am not a chemist or scientist, but I do the best I can!!)

      I am starting to learn to make my own soap and with this journey I am seeing other ways to make cosmetics. I also learnt that when using shampoo or conditioner with SLS chemicals in them, my hair tends to be dryer and generally knottier (if that is a word).

      When I have travelled, I did take products from Lush that I do recommend to avoid the packaging involved, but there are MANY amazing shampoo and soap bar products that people make on Etsy.com and the wonderful Hand crafted sites in Australia too that do not use SLS.

      Here are two links for more information on SLS:
      Cosmetic Database

      Also – a great site is Personal Care Truth – Does SLS cause cancer?

      I am glad you brought this point up though and it is hard every day to do the right thing, but if something is going to kill us slowly then probably best to avoid it!

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