NOTE: I’m going to spend some time this summer on some non social media topics that I find interesting although hopefully tying them back to SM at some point in the post. If you have any topic ideas that you would like me to discuss comment below!
So, we’ve covered some obvious ways to decrease your plastic use and some of the worst (and trending!) single use offenders and are a little over halfway through Plastic Free July. Are you noticing the plastic around you? You’d be amazed how much stuff there is in your life is plastic that you don’t even think about (eg: the computer I’m typing on right now!!). Let’s dive into some of the sneaky plastic in your life and what you can do about them.
According to the EPA, 1.6 billion disposable pens are thrown away per year. This stat is from 2013 so that may have gone down a bit but we still had computers and smartphones in 2013. That is a lot of pens for a world tied to their phones. Look around at your home or office and see how many pens you have. At a quick glance I see seven on my desk and I know there are more in my drawers. There are some ways to recycle pens and you can buy refillable ones or use pencils if that works for you but the best solution for these is to just buy less (or higher quality).
Toothbrushes and Floss
If you are keeping up with your dentist’s timeline for changing toothbrushes, you will throw away approximately 300 in your life. That’s a lot of plastic. In fact, since they were invented in the 1930’s, every single toothbrush produced still exists. That’s the reality of long living plastic. Switching to a bamboo one is pretty easy, there are a ton of options or switch to a mechanical toothbrush. It’s still plastic but you will be throwing out less.
Floss. Do it. Your dentist wants you to and I want you to too! I got into the habit when I didn’t have dental coverage and wanted to keep my teeth healthy because I couldn’t afford a dental emergency. Now I floss almost every night, it’s really not that bad! But, it does mean I use a lot of floss and therefore more plastic. There are some good options out there to replace your plastic floss with but check the container before buying, for some reason there is plastic free floss still being packaged in plastic containers.
This is a quick one; most sunglasses are made of plastic. Google “Plastic free sunglasses” and see which ones you like. And don’t accept free cheap sunglasses at events. If you like the sunglasses you have now, take care of them so they will last longer!
Reusable bags really took off in the last decade or so but I remember my mom having some from Safeway in the 90’s. They are everywhere and easy to get, you just have to remember them. I always have at least one in my purse and backpack so I don’t get stuck. I hate getting plastic bags now-not only because of the waste but they break, they hurt your hand and you can fit way less in them then you can in your reusable ones. Produce bags on the other hand are a bit more difficult to eliminate. You can buy them and use them for all sorts of things but you can also just not put your produce in a bag. It can get difficult if you buy 8 apples (an excuse to practice your juggling!) but if you buy 3 lemons or a cucumber that you are going to wash anyway when you get home, why does it need to go in a bag before it goes into another larger bag? (Aside: Yesterday I saw a man putting a bunch of bananas in a produce bag…)
If you are fully into using less plastic waste, you should switch back to bar soap and look into shampoo bars. I love my body wash so this one is hard for me but I’m looking into it (loofas are also made of plastic!). In the meantime check all your bathroom products for extra chemicals and plastic inside of them. Polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polylactic acid, or nylon in the ingredient list means it contains some form of plastic or microbead so keep an eye out.
This one is definitely a little touchy. As with everything I’ve mentioned, it is 100% up to you and what fits your needs so I will just say that there are a lot of options out there. It is estimated that over 100 billion period products are disposed of each year, so cutting back if you can is a great help. I will also say that the cost may seem a bit much initially, it does save you a lot of money. Look into it, you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to switch than you thought.
These are just a few of the sneaky plastics that are a part of everyday life. Do what you can, but at least look to see what plastic there is around you– can you buy something else? Can you reuse it? Can you live without it moving forward? Opening your eyes to a more sustainable lifestyle is the goal of my Plastic Free July-what’s yours?