We all know we should be using less plastic. If photos of strangled sea turtles and dead whales weren’t enough, governments across the world have been banning plastic bags, straws, disposable water bottles, and other toxic products that clog up our oceans and landfills. Cutting plastic out of your life can seem like an impossible task; when you start to think about all the items in your life that contain plastic, you might struggle to find one that doesn’t!
However, even making a few small tweaks to your routine can have an outsize impact on the environment. By replacing just nine everyday plastic products with bamboo or sustainable wood replacements, you can cut your plastic consumption and save money, since the wood versions usually last longer!
Here are nine plastic products you should replace with wood so you can start living more sustainably.
You should replace your toothbrush every three to four months, if you are not using a mechanical one. Over the course of one year, you probably throw away five or six plastic toothbrushes, which go into a landfill and never decompose. Now think about how many people across your country are doing the same.
A bamboo toothbrush is a simple replacement. While most bamboo toothbrushes still have plastic bristles, the wooden handle will quickly decompose once it is thrown away and you decrease your waste significantly. Bamboo toothbrushes usually come in packs of three and can be found in most health food stores!
Did you know that bamboo hair brushes are better for your hair, as well as for the environment? While it is easy to grab a new hairbrush at your local drugstore, these cheap brushes are usually made of plastic that will eventually get thrown away.
A bamboo hairbrush is gentler on hair, meaning less frizz and more natural shine. It is also completely biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry about your old brush sitting in a landfill forever. Bamboo grows quickly and requires little to no chemicals, meaning you can feel good about your grooming process, from start to finish.
3) Cutting Board
Myth: plastic cutting boards are more sanitary than wooden ones.
It turns out wood has antimicrobial properties that prevent bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli from forming within knife cuts on its surface. In several tests to compare the two surfaces, scientists found that wood consistently outperformed plastic; it is easier to clean, softer on kitchen implements like knives, and can be sustainably disposed of. Best of all, it is usually possible to find wooden cutting boards made from locally-harvested woods made by small artisans that support your local economy.
4) Grocery Bags
Chile was the first country in South America to ban plastic bags for businesses, with a US$370 fine for anyone who breaks the law. While reusable grocery bags are not strictly made of wood, you can buy strong tote bags made from sustainable bamboo that serve as an excellent replacement. Currently, less than 10% of plastic bags from stores are recycled, so reusable bags are one of the best ways to diminish your plastic consumption and save the sea turtles.
5) Disposable utensils
You use disposable plastic utensils for fewer than twenty minutes, yet they take more than 100 years to decompose in a landfill. It can annoying to carry around a metal spoon or fork with you at all times, so consider a few wooden alternatives.
Many countries now offer light wood disposable utensils when you order takeout, which you can buy in bulk and keep around for when you need to throw utensils away. Otherwise, there are reusable bamboo utensil sets available that you should keep in your purse, bag, or car so you can say “no” next time someone offers you a disposable fork!
6) Keyboard and Mouse
This one might come as a bit of a shock. However, if you are trying to go extra green, it is now possible to get a keyboard and mouse made almost entirely of sustainably-grown bamboo. Electronics are some of the most challenging products to dispose of safely, since chemicals and hard metals can leech into the soil from even the best landfills. While a wooden keyboard and mouse still house some metals and plastics, they are much easier on the environment than your typical officeware.
Wooden sunglasses have come in and out of fashion over the past few years, but the right pair can be a timeless piece. Check out Chilean brand Karun, who make sunglasses out of reclaimed wood and plastic from recovered fishing nets in the South of Chile. Sunglasses don’t have to be cheap and disposable. While wooden sunglasses might be slightly more expensive than a plastic pair, the material is more durable and they go with just about anything!
Straws are a particularly insidious offender when it comes to disposable plastics. There is no correct way to dispose of plastic straws and they are ubiquitous, especially in restaurants. Sometimes waiters even give you two or three straws in a single drink! These bits of plastic are notorious for ending up in oceans, and in the stomachs of sea animals like turtles, penguins, and whales.
There are numerous replacements for plastic straws, including metal and bamboo reusable straws. FinalStraw has even created a foldable reusable straw that fits in a keychain. Many people prefer bamboo replacements because they do not conduct heat like a metal straw and they are generally cheaper. Find bamboo straws here so you can drop plastic straws today!
As with many other fashion items, it is incredibly easy to find cheap, attractive watches made in Asia with plastics and other non-renewable materials. Even watches that claim to be made of sustainable wood or bamboo often have synthetic straps or come from unsustainable wood sources. Instead, invest in a watch made of local, reclaimed wood and sustainably-farmed leather that employs skilled artisans. A Ttanti watch is a timeless piece that will last years, saving you (and the Earth!) from buying new watches every time a cheap one breaks.
It doesn’t take much to start living a more sustainable lifestyle. Become conscious of your purchases and especially what you throw away; consider what you could reuse! These nine products will help you produce less waste, decrease your impact on the earth, and maybe even save money. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to live sustainably if you start with just these small replacements for your everyday objects. Start shopping more sustainably here.