Today it is difficult to not have a single plastic product in your home. Sometimes you can even find the tiniest products wrapped in plastic. With a little effort though you can decide how much of this material you allow to be in your life. You may think now, “Well, but me changing something doesn’t equal changing the world.” While this is true, try to see it from a different perspective, every big change we want to see out there starts with us and the more people care about it there will be less demand on products packed up in single-use plastic. Even if you are just a little more conscious about the topic, you will be making a positive impact.
-Be the change you want to see in the world- Mahatma Gandhi
Let’s talk about some easy steps you can take and products you can replace.
In German we have a saying for kids to make it easier for them to remember the different cardinal directions, it goes like this. “Nie ohne Seife waschen.” We all know that it is healthy to wash your hands with soap after going to the bathroom or when they are dirty. The most common options are to buy either liquid soap in a plastic container or curd soap.
In many cases, you can refill the plastic containers with soap from a plastic bulk pack. While refilling soap is a fine option, I still prefer using curd soap to minimize the plastic I have in my bathroom. Using a soap dispenser is great, but it still needs to be filled from a plastic bottle.
There are different products you can use when taking a shower. Most people stick with traditional shower gel and shampoo. Common trademarks in a supermarket like Head&Shoulders, Nivea and Glem pack their sanitary products in plastic. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t about criticizing them or the goods, I simply want to show you alternatives.
You can use curd soap to wash your hands and as a body wash. To try out the whole concept of showering with soap, I bought one from Nivea which I really like and believe me it lasts for a long time. Be careful though that it is wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
There are many different brands of curd soap to use as shampoo in many scents and versions. As I only started to become more aware of this topic, I love the brand Tinktura which packs its products in carton and tin. Before using this shampoo, I thought it would take me ages to get enough soap on my hands, but since it foams quite well this isn’t a problem at all. Another advantage is they take less space to store. When switching to a different shampoo your hair might be more oily as usual, since it takes some time getting used to the new product.
A very good shop to buy plastic-free soaps at is Lush. They have all sorts of products from shampoo to bath bombs and you can also inspect their manufacturing process in their shops.
Brushing your teeth
From when we were young, we are used to plastic toothbrushes and toothpaste wrapped in plastic. It feels normal and so we think we don’t have another option.
Alternatives to the toothbrushes broadly known are ones made out of wood. They feel a little different at the beginning. The brush I picked for myself is from Alverde which is a German brand you can find at “DM”, they even sell them in different levels of hardness.
There are different types of toothpastes that are not packed up in plastic. A friend of mine likes to use one in the form of pills and he is quite happy with it. I myself use a tooth powder which I bought in a glass. It is very easy to use, I just have to dip the wet toothbrush in it and the powder will stick to it. It doesn’t foam as much as traditional toothpaste though, which makes it feel a little liquid.
I probably don’t have to tell you how easy it is to accumulate plastic containers in your home. Since plastic is a very lightweight material it is efficient for using them to pack snacks.
Alternatives for these goods are bamboo or glass boxes and jars. While some of my friends love to fill their lunches and leftovers in jars, I still prefer the containers which I already have at home. Since they can be used multiple times, I am not that strict with myself.
I know it is super convenient to just buy a plastic bag at the shop if you suddenly realize that you won’t be able to fit everything in your bag. Another option would be to put some cotton bags in your bag or leave them in your car just for when you need them. That way you would not be urged to throw the bag away after using it and you save money at the same time.
Today they also sell cotton and paper bags as an alternative to plastic bags. It is your choice, but I tend not to reuse paper bags.
In some countries it is common that the cashier packs your groceries into thin plastic bags, what I liked to do in those situations is to hang my own bags on the hooks provided.
To reduce the amount of single-use plastic in the environment the European Commission has set new rules and decided that some products like plastic straws or the sticks of balloons will be banned completely.
“In Austria alone, more than 100 kg of plastics are carried away by the River Danube every day.”
I adore the little tissue packages which contain ten neatly folded tissues, but oh my so much plastic. Each package is made out of plastic and the whole bulk pack is wrapped in plastic as well. My friends found a solution to this problem you could buy tissues which are not individually packed in smaller packages and just take one out when you need it. My thoughts against it were they could become damaged in my bag while I am out but my friend suggested I could.
An alternative to paper tissues are cotton tissues. One disadvantage which is often cited is hygiene since you don’t throw handkerchiefs away after using them. This can be circumvented by washing them quite frequently.
These items are practical to freeze meals in and they don’t have a given structure like boxes do. I have them in all sizes and versions at home, but I mostly only use them to freeze bread and reuse the bags afterward. All other groceries I try to freeze in plastic containers and glass jars. You have to be careful with glass jars as they may burst in the freezer. I only fill them halfway and I freeze them with the lid off until the content is frozen.
As with every shift in lifestyle you always have to figure out what you could do with all the things which you use anymore. If you are anything like me, you have many products in your house which have accumulated over the years and you no longer use them. There are two options. You can either find them new homes or you use them before replacing them. I do a little of both you could say, but I prefer the second option for all consumables.
I hope you found some value in this essay. In the next one, you can read about all the products, which are difficult or impossible to find substitutes.
Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the shops or products and I am not getting paid for advertising them either. My aim is to show you alternatives to the traditional ways and goods we know. It is totally up to you what products you