Eco-friendly Single Use Plastic Swaps!
Single use plastics are one of the most avoidable types of waste that fill our landfills and oceans. While single use plastics are easy and cheap to manufacture, their footprint far outlasts any short term value they may have provided and this my friends, creates a major imbalance of value versus long term impact. The thing about single use plastic is that it never degrades. What does this mean? It eventually breaks down, yes, but not how you might think. It doesn’t break down at the molecular level, it maintains its chemical structure and these microplastics eventually end up in our waterways, soil, even in our own food and the air we breathe! Not only can this be harmful and even deadly to animals, there are ongoing studies to learn more about the potential implications of microplastics on our own health and whether or not ingesting microplastics can lead to different types of cancer. No wonder there is a whole month dedicated to reducing them!
Those are many of the reasons we chose to jar our natural peanut butter in glass, and are proud to say we have been able to divert 21,000+ disposable jars from the landfill.
Often I have found that the responsibility to be eco-friendly has been placed on the shoulders of the consumer, an exhausting burden that feels like it always ends in failure. This is an experience that I can attest to and one of the main reasons I started to make natural peanut butter. The sheer lack of access to plastic-free options, and products made from environmentally conscious businesses has oftentimes left me feeling very frustrated. So through trial and error and a lot of experience, we wanted to give you a list of eco-friendly options for you to purchase or do yourselves with the things you already own, but ultimately our goal is to change the norm for single use items. The Canada Plastic Ban and Plastic Free July are some fantastic examples of initiatives that we gladly support, and in celebration of, we wanted to share our master list of eco friendly single use plastic swaps!
For each item, we have thought about a plastic-free alternative to buy, or DIY replacement you can create cost-free with the items you already have in your home. Although we want this list to inspire you and spark inspiration, know that the most sustainable thing to do is to use up what you already have in your home for the longest amount of time possible. And as always, please comment and share any of your favourite swaps that we didn’t mention below!
Plastic Free Kitchen
Our kitchens are where we can usually find the most single use plastics and packaging - and probably the most difficult to avoid when you go to your grocery store. Even the small amount of produce that is not plastic wrapped comes with a synthetic sticker or is provided a free plastic bag to throw in.
From food to accessories, having an entirely plastic-free kitchen is nearly impossible, but here are some eco-friendly swaps you can make that will save you money and the environment!
Single use item: Food packaged in plastic
⇨ Reusable packaging
We love putting the responsibility back to the manufacturer, and adore it when consumers are given the option to send back packaging to be reused (email us about how you can do this with our peanut butter jars!)
⇨ Refillable containers
Go to the bulk section of your favourite store, and stock up on foods in your own upcycled jars or containers (cleaned out pasta sauce jars or peanut butter jars work great for this!)
⇨ Better packaging material
Purchase produce and food that are packaged in more sustainable materials, like glass, cardboard, paper or compostable plant-based packaging! Or… get as nude as you can! Since produce gets washed anyways, no harm in throwing your apples or lettuce right in your cart to be later placed in a reusable bag during checkout.
⇨ Shop local for less plastic
Many organic fruit and veg delivery boxes and services are more conscious about packaging, and can decrease their waste since it’s straight to your door. They often have a most waste-free production process as well, in comparison to buying international produce. Some fantastic ones can be found on the online retailer list here.
⇨ Make your own food
Have a meal prep night and make your own noodles, sauces, condiments and (weather permitting) grow your own food in the garden! It’s way cheaper, and cuts out a ton of food waste like plastic bottles and plastic wrapping.
⇨ Reuse before it turns into waste
If you have some single waste packaging, try to reuse it! It can be used from anything like crafts for the kids, to kitchen organizers. We share some great DIY upcycling crafts on our Pinterest.
Single use item: Plastic cling wrap
⇨ Beeswax wraps (or vegan reusable wrap options)
⇨ Use a dishcloth over the container your food is in, a secure it with an elastic band. Works to cover half cut veggies too (and lets them breathe unlike plastic!)
⇨ Reusable sandwich bags (you can make your own with cloth, or buy reusable silicone ones)
Single use item: Paper napkins packaged in plastic
⇨ Reusable cloth napkins
⇨ Cut old clothing to make your own reusable napkins.
Single use item: Plastic dish brushes or sponges
⇨ Wooden scrubby brush
⇨ Used toothbrushes, handmade scrubber, any reusable cloth, citrus peels, or your hands! A great tip is saving the halves of lemons after you juice them, and throwing them in your freezer. Every time you do the dishes, throw one in the hot water and use it as a scrub brush. Better for the planet… plus it smells delicious and makes your dishes sparkle!
ON THE GO
Bringing alternatives for on the go can be hard to remember, but some of the most valuable. These on-the-go instances are easiest to use single use plastics because often, there is no other alternative. Oh the amount of times we have been out and had to use a plastic fork because there were no other options. It never hurts to bring a small cutlery set just in case! Along with that, here are some of our other favourite alternatives we have found useful to pack in our car, bag or pocket:
Single use item: Sunscreen
⇨ The best plastic free sunscreen options are reef safe, mineral, toxin free and packaged in a metal tin or cardboard packaging.
Single use item: Plastic produce bags
⇨ Polyester-free, nylon-free, unbleached cotton mesh bags that help your produce breathe.
⇨ Use totes, your compost bags, reused plastic bags, or no bag for your zero waste grocery shop at all! No one will judge you, you could even bring a pillow case to show your dedication.
Single use item: Plastic Straws
⇨ Paper, compostable straws.
Single use item: Plastic water bottle
⇨ Stay hydrated with a stainless steel or glass water bottle in hand! They will last forever, and have no microplastics in them (unlike bottled water).
GETTING GREEN & GETTING CLEAN
We can be reluctant to try new cleaning methods when the old ones work so well, and are easily accessible at your favourite grocery store. Although, a ton of cleaning products can be created with what you already have as well, and are safer for your health! Plus - you can decide exactly what they smell like, and it’s cheaper since most cleaning products are filled with water anyways!
We love putting used lemon peels with vinegar in a cleaned out PB jar. Just leave that in a shady spot for a week, and you have a fabulous-smelling cleaning ingredient that you can water down and use in a spray bottle! Here are some other zero waste ways of getting squeaky clean:
Single use item: Dryer sheets
⇨ Reusable dryer balls. For adding extra scent that you love, drop some essential oils into your dryer balls before you throw them in! These dry your clothes faster, and save energy!
⇨ White vinegar on a washcloth.
⇨ Air dry your clothes when you can!
Single use item: Dishwasher detergent:
⇨ Make a DIY dishwasher detergent! Fill your detergent cup with baking soda, fill a bowl with one-half cup of vinegar and place it on the top rack and/or add a juiced lemon to the top rack! Your dishes will come out more sparkling than ever before.
Single use item: Plastic spray bottle with cleaner:
⇨ DIY cleaner with vinegar, lemon peels and essential oils. A great oil to put a few drops in is tea tree, for its antibacterial properties and fresh scent!
Single use item: Paper towel:
⇨ Plant based reusable and compostable paper towel rolls!
⇨ Cut old clothing and reuse as paper towels, or, why not use super absorbent dish towels?! They work super well!
Single use item: Dish soap:
⇨ Refillable liquid dish soap or a solid dish soap block.
⇨ Use hot water, a juiced lemon, salt, baking soda and/or vinegar. You could even throw in some castile soap if you have some!
What does your bathroom cupboard look like? Honestly, we aren’t judging if it had a ton of single use packaging. We are often not given another convenient option! Personally, replacing the single use plastics in this room is one of the most fun swaps to make. You’ll be surprised at the amount of delicious smelling and soothing self care products out there. Plus, there is no better feeling than having your handmade natural deodorant work!
We love to upcycle our peanut butter jars to bulk-fill toothy tabs, and baking soda. Our jars make for great shampoo or moisturizer bar holders too, if you are on the go - and you can easily drill some holes in our jar lids as a diy draining soap holder! This list has the most items, because there are so many options… so keep reading and get inspired!
Single use item: Liquid hand soap in plastic bottles:
⇨ Make your own soap - there are a ton of fun an affordable methods out there!
Single use item: Plastic hairbrush:
⇨ Keep what you have for as long as it works!
⇨ When it breaks, getting a wooden brush is a great alternative.
⇨ In a pinch, your fingers make a great comb!
Single use item: Body lotion in plastic bottles:
⇨ Use coconut oil, vitamin E oil or cocoa butter for an all-natural (and delicious smelling) moisturizer.
Single use item: Plastic disposable razor:
⇨ Metal reusable razor with platinum razor blades.
⇨ Make your own sugar wax and use with a cut up old t-shirt.
Single use item: Hair gel:
⇨ Make your own DIY flaxseed hair gel and store in an upcycled jar in the fridge.
Single use item: Bottled shampoo:
⇨ DIY shampoo made with natural ingredients.
⇨ Skipping shampoo all together! Tons of people do it and get the best results.
Single use item: Bottled conditioner:
⇨ Wash hair with cold water and use coconut oil before your shower for deep moisturization every week!
Single use item: Bottled shower gel:
⇨ Use the same homemade bar soap you use for hands! Add some essential oils for extra scent.
Single use item: Deodorant:
⇨ Refillable natural deodorant, deodorant bar, or deodorant in a cardboard tube.
⇨ A DIY mixture of cacao butter, coconut oil, cornstarch, baking soda and essential oils! Heat up over the stove and pour into an upcycled jar with a lid. This works shockingly well if you give time for your body to adjust to it.
Single use item: Toothpaste in non-recyclable tube
⇨ Get your toothbrush wet and dip it in some baking soda!
Single use item: Toothbrush
⇨ Use a damp cloth to spread toothpaste on your pearly whites!
Single use item: Bottled facial cleanser:
⇨ Play around with different homemade cleansers. Sometimes a wet washcloth is all it takes for some skin types!
Single use item: Plastic coated floss
⇨ I saw a comment saying someone used their own hair... personally I'm going to stick with compostable floss but to each their own!
Single use item: Makeup remover wipes
⇨ Rub coconut oil on with your fingers, and rub into your face where you want to take off your makeup. It melts off so easily and is incredibly gentle on the skin!
Single use item: Q-tips
⇨ Reusable metal or silicone q-tip.
⇨ Use the corner of cloth towels or rags with your finger.
Single use item: Menstrual products
⇨ Cloth pads, leak proof underwear or menstrual cup.
Single use item: Lip balm
⇨ Lip balm in a compostable cardboard container or metal tin
⇨ Make your own with vitamin e oil, coconut oil and cacao butter.
Okay - the list could literally go on, and we are definitely missing some - but if you bring even a few of these swaps into your life, you are doing a big favour to the planet! We know the most environmentally friendly thing is not always the most convenient, but like anything, once you get the hang of it, it becomes your new routine that you don’t second guess. All you have to do is try, and have a happy Plastic Free July!
P.s We are always open to hearing your thoughts and DIY ideas - as well as reasons you are passionate about saving the planet! Leave a comment below about your favourite swap, or how you love to upcycle glass jars.