Tips for Living Plastic Free
Today’s consumers are more aware of what goes into the earth, their products, and their bodies than ever before. The health benefits alone are enough of a reason to stay away from plastic. In one study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 93% of people tested positive for BPA (a potentially harmful chemical present in plastic products).
Recycling is one of the most sustainable ways to live, whether it’s reusing bags, throwing your paper, plastic and metal into a recycling bin, or wearing recycled goods. The next best option is to know what eco-friendly materials to look for.
What are the best ‘Green’ Substitutes for Plastic?
Glass can be an excellent alternative to plastic. While plastic is derived from fossil fuels and is incredibly taxing on the environment, glass is actually made from sand, a renewable resource. It is also incredibly easy to recycle.
Bamboo is one of the best eco-friendly materials on the planet. It’s rate of self-generation is incredibly high, with some species growing up to three feet in 24 hours. Because it is lightweight, bamboo is less energy intensive to transport than many other materials of comparable durability. A drawback is that it requires treatment to resist insects and rot; untreated bamboo has a starch that insects like, and it can swell and crack when it absorbs water.
Cork is also known as a fast-growing resource. It has the ability to be harvested from a living tree that will continue to grow and reproduce, which is a tree bark. Cork is nearly impermeable so it does not absorb water or rot. Over time however, cork does become more brittle. It does loses a few sustainability points because it is primarily found in the Mediterranean, and shipping cost ends up being a considerable factor. However, cork also is extremely light so it requires less energy to ship, thus salvaging its embodied energy score.
Hemp is one of the most versatile plants out there. It has great nutritional value, can be used for cleaning products and building materials and is a stronger material than cotton. Plus, it requires way less pesticides and herbicides than cotton when grown on a large scale.
5. Organic Cotton
When you go organic, there are no pesticides used in the process, making this fabric easier on our planet. It doesn’t damage the soil, has less impact on the air, and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy. Conventional cotton uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides.
Each of the alternatives listed have far less of an environmental impact than plastic making it easy to transition to a sustainable, zero waste lifestyle. Less plastic means less waste in our land and oceans. Decreasing our exposure to harmful chemicals contained in plastic.