Switching to reusable products is the first step to going zero-waste and lowering your environmental impact.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency UK the first two of the three “R’s” of conservation Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are the most effective ones. The best way to eliminate waste, of course, is to not create it in the first place.
These two go hand in hand, by reusing items, you will reduce the amount of material that goes to either landfills or recycling centers. This lowers the need for manufacturers to extract new materials from the planet. You will then be helping to lower overall energy expenditures, and less pollution is thrown into the Earth’s atmosphere and waterways.
Why are reusable products important?
The answer is simple…. Plastic is one of the most harmful materials to the environment. Although single-use items can be made with a variety of materials, many of them are with plastic. Why do we need so many plastic, one-use items? It makes more sense financially and environmentally, to get reusable products. It is only over the last 5 or 6 decades that single-use plastic has become so massively produced and used. If you ask your parents or grandparents, they may say disposable items were not even available when they were growing up. When you bought something, you bought it for the long-term. Today, many people would prefer quick convenience over long-term benefits. They are not considering their own carbon footprint and the environmental impact this will have in the not-to-distant future.
Plastic takes approximately 400 years to degrade on its own. That is an exceptionally long time to be sitting in a landfill or polluting the earth/ocean. In addition, National Geographic had a shocking article covering the impact of plastics to the environment:
Here are a few facts:
- 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been produced in the past six decades (most of which were disposable products)
- Only 12% of plastic waste has been incinerated, 6.3 billion metric tons is still around and considered plastic waste.
- Of that “waste”, only 9% has been recycled – this means 91% is never recycled.
- Half of all plastic produced becomes trash in under a year.
- 8 million metric tons of plastic per year ends up in the ocean (much of this from one-use items like plastic bags, bottles, etc.)
How to make the swap to reusable options.
Stay mindful of actions you do every day; try a few reusable swaps every week and you will soon get into the reusing habit. You can look to buy used items, such as clothing from a charity or second-hand shops. You can try to buy products with less packaging, you will be surprised by the difference this can make to your weekly rubbish. Avoid using throwaway items such as plastic grocery bags and disposable cups, straws and cutlery. Strive to maintain your possessions in a state of good upkeep so that you won’t find yourself throwing things away and having to replace them so often.
If you are not sure what to swap to reusable products, here are a few to get you started.
You may already be familiar with some of the reusable items that you can use instead of single-use, but these are some of my own favourites (by no means a full list):
- Invest in washable, reusable food wraps instead of using plastic cling film to keep food fresh.
- Changes in your kitchen, swap paper towels for reusable paperless towels, get rid of your plastic washing-up scrubbers and purchase reusable bamboo sponges and brushes.
- Get yourself a few cotton, organic cloth or recycled mesh produce bags to bring to the supermarket or farmers’ market. You will have no need to use plastic alternatives.
- Buy some eco-friendly, reusable totes made from recycled cotton. It is a much better option than paying for one-use plastic bags at checkout.
- There are many beauty swaps you can make. Including reusable cotton face wipes and makeup remover cloths, bamboo cotton buds reusable jars for your skincare products.
- Every woman should choose reusable menstrual products. Using reusable cotton sanitary towels and panty liners is so much healthier for you, they are a non-plastic, environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional tampons and pads.
- Use glass jars or containers from coffee or other condiments for drinks and to store leftovers rather than plastic cups and containers.
- Buy glass, stainless steel or bamboo straws instead of plastic. Reusable cutlery sets for picnics, parties or garden meals. Take them everywhere with you, so you are never out without one.
- Choose from the array of gorgeous, fun reusable cotton sandwich and snack bags, Long gone are the days when plastic and paper bags are your only school or work lunch choices. Instead, go for more eco-friendly containers like the plastic-free and ocean friendly lunchbox.
- Get yourself a glass or stainless-steel reusable water bottle. Not only is it better for the environment and your health, but it will also cost you a lot less money in the long run.
- Buy a traditional razor. No need to keep spending money on disposable razors.
- Do the environment a massive favour and swap to reusable nappies. A staggering 3 billion nappies are thrown away every year in the UK.
Where can you buy eco-friendly reusable products?
As a conservation strategy, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle works for individual householders and large manufacturers. Do your best to Reduce and Reuse. Each of us have a choice to make the conscious, eco-friendly decisions every day. Ditching single-use items for reusable can be easy to do. Once you decide to make the change, you might be surprised at how many alternatives are out there. Reusable makes sense for the environment and your health, both short-term and long-term.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on, also I would love to hear any tips you could share.
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