Eco-Friendly Plastic Alternatives

We don’t have to look far to see over use of plastic. Starting at home, we can usually find plastic utensils in the kitchen, plastic water bottles in the fridge, plastic bags in the drawer, toiletries in the bathroom, and on and on.

From research to actual experiences, it’s encouraging that more and more people are becoming environmentally conscious and are actually doing something to provide solutions.

Glass, metal, and wood kitchenware

In a study from GreenPrint, a global environmental technology company, most Americans (74%) don’t know how to identify eco-friendly products yet nearly two-thirds (64%) are willing to pay more for sustainable products. If a product is clearly labeled as environmentally friendly, 78% of people are more likely to purchase the product.

Speaking of eco-friendly products, there are plastic alternatives that are not harmful to the environment that can be used to minimize the accumulation of plastics, especially the single-use ones.

In the kitchen, plastic can be seen in various products. Plasticware, for example, is made of Polypropylene (PP), a type of plastic that is usually microwave safe and is also widely utilized in food containers or condiment bottles. Polypropylene is considered to be the safest among the plastics but it is certainly not eco-friendly. While it can be reused many times its durability and look will degrade until it is eventually discarded.

Other consumer products like soda and water bottles, peanut butter jars, and many more are made from Polyethylene Terephthalate Ethylene (PET), which is not only bad for our environment but can also be potentially toxic to humans as as well.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives
Instead of using plastic items, we can go for sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives like stainless steel and glass. If you like to prepare meals ahead, there are a variety of glass meal prep containers available online and in stores. Glass is non-toxic and does not affect the taste and smell of your food.

Most of these items are now made of borosilicate or tempered glass that is thermal-shock resistant. Plus, they are easy to clean and retain their crystal clear appearance. Using glass pitchers is also healthier and more eco-friendly than single-use water bottles. As for spices and condiments, you may opt for stainless steel jars or containers. Stainless steel is 100% recyclable and its production does not produce toxic run-off.

Wood can effectively handle cooking heat without the fear of dispersing any harmful substance into your food. Wood is biodegradable so it will certainly not harm the environment.

Eco-friendly wood kitchen products

In the fridge, it is common to see food and beverages with plastic packaging such as juice, milk, soda, canned drinks with six-pack rings, wrapped vegetables, and so on. Most of those items are made of Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE). This type of plastic is thinner so items made of it are neither reusable nor recyclable and are commonly discarded. If not properly disposed of, these items often end up in our oceans posing great danger to marine animals.

Plastic wraps are made of LDPE while the stretchy or cling wrap is made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), none of which is reusable which adds to the trash pile. In 2015, Daily Mail reported that two major studies linked 175 compounds in plastic found in cling wrap lead to a risk of cancer and fertility, and fetal problems.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives
As alternatives to plastic food and beverage storage, we can opt for glass, paper, or silicone. You might be open to shifting to milk or juice brands that are packaged in glass or cartons. We already know that glass is safe and recyclable. Milk cartons are made of paper that is biodegrade. While some cartons are lined with other materials like an aluminum coating or even plastic, the good news is, there are many facilities in the US that accept cartons for recycling. For food wraps or food covers, you may opt for items made of silicone or paper wraps made from beeswax. These products not only protect our food but also the environment.

healthy food and eco-friendly containers

In the bathroom, there are a lot of commercial products and toiletries that are packaged in plastic, not to mention that some shampoo, facial wash, toothpaste, and body scrubs contain microplastics. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), the plastic most common material for shampoo and conditioner bottles, is the perfect combination of durable and flexible which is why it can withstand moisture and a lot of squeezing. Unfortunately, products with this material usually stay in a landfill for hundreds or even thousands of years after you throw them in the trash. Other items made of plastics that you can find in the bathroom are razors, loofah, shower caps, dental floss, toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives
As we do not have any control over the packaging choices of manufacturers, at least for now, we certainly have control over our choices. For instance, instead of liquid shampoo and conditioner, we can shift to a more eco-friendly option which is a shampoo bar or conditioner. Aside from not leaving plastic residues, they are packaged in boxes, wax paper, or stainless steel containers. The same goes with body wash, you may go for organic and natural bar soaps. It is also good to know that toothpaste tablets packed in glass, paper boxes, or stainless canisters are readily available. Wooden toothbrushes with bamboo bristles are not new to us.  Moreover, reusable stainless steel razors may be used instead of disposable plastic ones. Meanwhile, a natural loofah from a dried tropical vegetable in the cucumber family is an environment-friendly choice compared to the ones made from synthetic materials. There are various eco-friendly bathroom essentials that we can choose as alternatives to plastic ones.

eco-freindly bathroom products

At parties or events, using balloons, plastic, and styrofoam decorations have been a long-time tradition in many countries around the world. Most of these party decorations are only used once and discarded after the event. Helium-filled balloons are sometimes let go flying in the air which could potentially end up in our oceans when deflated. These could be mistaken as food by marine animals which could endanger their lives and habitats. Plastic balloon straws and styrofoams are both non-biodegradable and are expected to just pile up in landfills for hundreds or thousands of years. And what is a party, especially kiddie parties, without disposable plastic spoons and forks, or plastic cups?

Eco-Friendly Alternative
It might not be easy to skip the party balloons but we can work on our creative juices to create decorations and party favors using eco-friendly materials as alternatives. Some of the alternatives include paper streamers and flags, cloth backdrops, bubbles, paper lanterns and flowers, and cardboard standees. These will bring out a lot of fun as much as balloons do! For the utensils, adults may choose glass or ceramic ones while children (for safety reasons) may be given paper plates and paper cups. It’s also time to ditch plastic spoons and forks as disposable bamboo cutleries can be easily bought in stores and even online.

eco-friendly party decorations

As consumers become more aware of the materials they are using at home, we can already see that many local business owners are marketing and selling eco-friendly household products. We just hope that more companies, especially large manufacturing companies, will do the eco-shift soon for better food, health, and planet Earth.