By Anna Griffin, Editor in Chief
PC: Brian Yurasits/Unsplash
Once considered the convenience darling of our daily lives, plastic
is now a pollutant that is impacting our oceans, coastlines, the climate crisis, and our health, at catastrophic rates.
PC: Dustan Woodhouse/Unsplash
It is estimated that 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced worldwide each year and according to NRDC, up to 91% isn’t recycled. Every year 40 billion, single-use, plastic utensils are used in the U.S. alone, as many as 8.3 billion straws pollute the world’s beaches, and 8 million tonnes of plastic flows into the ocean. “Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s,”says UN Environment. “About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.” Alarmingly, if current consumption continues, scientists predict there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
PC: Muhammad Numan/Unsplash
A recent blog post by Chariot Energy, estimates that it would take approximately 20 years for a plastic bag to break down, 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose, up to 450 years for plastic bottles made of PET, and up to 500 years for plastic toothbrushes and disposable diapers. Plastics are not biodegradable, and with sun and heat turn into microplastics - tiny, microscopic fragments that end up in our water, our wildlife, our food, and us. Chemicals - known as endocrine disrupters - added to plastic during processing - harm our health, causing hormone imbalances, fertility issues, and even cancer.
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Additionally, plastic production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and refineries where crude oil is turned into plastic are one of the most greenhouse gas-intensive industries. Plastic pollution is a global emergency. Thankfully change, although slow, is on the horizon.
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Here at home in the U.S., plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products were banned in 2015. Eight states - California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont - have banned plastic bags, and plastic straws have been banned in cities including Washington DC, Malibu, Miami Beach, Berkeley, and Seattle.
Globally, Britain, Canada, Taiwan, and New Zealand, have also banned microbeads from rinse-off products. Most Australian states have banned the sale of plastic bags, as has Mexico City, Thailand (with a ban in most supermarkets and stores), Rwanda, Kenya, and Bangladesh. In 2018, Britain announced a ban on plastic straws, cotton buds, and stirrers, and the EU banned 10 throwaway plastics including Styrofoam and single-use straws. Canada aims to halt single-use plastics this year, India intends to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2022, and Wales aims to be zero-waste by 2050, with plans to become the world leader in recycling.
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International brands are also heeding the call with Coca Cola to trial a paper bottle prototype with an online retailer in Hungary this year, and Diageo North America, creating the world’s first ever, 100% plastic free, paper-based spirits bottle, made entirely from sustainably sourced wood. The bottle will debut with Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky this year. Additionally, Diageo has moved Seagrams 7 Crown bottles to 100% recycled plastic (rPET), while other big brands heeding the call to eliminate single-use plastic include Starbucks, Disney, Norwegian Cruise Lines, United Airways, Guinness, McDonalds, Method Cleaning Products, Delta Airlines, Whole Foods, Hyatt, Nestlé, IKEA, and Marriott International, reflecting that as a society we are moving toward a plastic-free future.
PC: Diageo North America
As companies are now forced to innovate, rethink packaging and source sustainable materials, there are a multitude of products on the market, enabling us to incorporate less plastic and waste in our daily lives. Here are some of our favorite brands, which keep us and our homes a little less plastic and a lot more fantastic.
This bamboo utensil set is the perfect alternative to single-use plastic utensils. Including a fork, knife, spoon, and a set of chopsticks, each utensil is made of natural, responsibly-sourced bamboo, and hand-finished with a protective, food-safe coating. Packaged in a utensil case made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, every set comes with 4Ocean's One Pound Promise to pull a pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines.
Replacing many of the single-use items in our daily lives, this Plastic Free Kit is a complete set of durable, stainless steel products including a 20oz Insulated Reflect water bottle with bamboo cap, a 32 oz Insulated TKPro thermos, a 16oz Insulated Tumbler with straw lid, a 20 oz steel lunch box, a 12 oz Insulated TKWide coffee mug, and a stainless steel straw set. Wherever life takes you, you’ll have all the reusables you need.
PC: Klean Kanteen
$3.99 - 25 oz
With its bottle made with recycled plastic & Plantplastic®, this Liquid Dish Soap is packed with eco-friendly, cleaning power, cutting through grease for spot-free, sparkling clean dishes. Made with plant-based and mineral ingredients, this biodegradable formula is tough on stuck-on food, but gentle on your skin and the planet.
$16.45 - 60 sheets
With zero plastic packaging, Earth Breeze Laundry Sheets dissolve within seconds in hot or cold water, either in a washing machine or by hand. Eco Sheets are paraben, cruelty, phthalate, phosphate, bleach and dye free, and hypoallergenic for sensitive skin. For every sale, 10 loads are donated to charitable organizations that help the homeless, veterans, women, shelter pets, and disaster relief efforts.
PC: Earth Breeze
$29.95 - 2L
Now it’s easy to stock up and refill shampoo from one of our favorite brands, with ATTITUDE’s new Bulk to Go containers. Carrying more than four times the quantity of product and using 81% less plastic than their original packaging, their Super Leaves™ Shampoo Nourishing & Strengthening formula, combines the goodness of olive leaves with grapeseed oil, widely used for their healing and moisturizing properties. Ideal for dry and damaged hair, this natural shampoo is packed with healthy fats and antioxidants to restore and strengthen hair. EWG VERIFIED™, hypoallergenic and dermatologically-tested, it includes Moringa Seed extract, known for its anti-pollution properties, and with every purchase a tree is planted.
$5.94 - 8 oz
For over 10 years, Dr. Bronner’s has exclusively used 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) polyethylene (PET) plastic bottles for all of their liquid and pump soaps. This vegan, organic, fair trade, and non-GMO, multi-tasking Liquid Soap cleanses face, body, hair, food, dishes, laundry, floors, and even pets. A great hero product for us, our homes, and Planet Earth, Dr. Bronner's is currently donating a portion of sales to an organization to support advancing the civil and human and rights of Asian Americans, and to promote an equitable society for all.
PC: Dr Bronner's
Made with recycled cotton from post-consumer and post-industrial cotton scraps, this tote bag also supports both fair wages and fair labor practices through Eco-Bags' supply chain. By bringing a reusable shopping bag to the store, you can stop hundreds of plastic bags heading to our landfills or oceans, and we love the sassy slogan, which says it all.
$7.90 - 2 pack
A top seller, WooBamboo’s bamboo toothbrushes are not only dentist-approved, but also Mother Nature recommended. These WooBamboo brushes tout a beautiful ergonomic handle made from a single piece of carved, FSC Certified 100% Sustainably Harvested bamboo, containing no toxins, glues, or paints. Sanded and sealed by hand using a vegan soybean wax to ensure smoothness and longevity, they are completely BPA and phthalate free, and come with zero waste packaging .