Anyone who’s a regular reader of this blog knows that all of us at Sweeping Dimensions consider plastics to be public enemy number one. I’ve written again and again about the perils of plastic. Well, today, I wanted to focus on some of the best materials you can use to replace the plastic products that are probably taking up space in your home right now. Let’s dive into the world of durable, versatile plastic alternatives!
Plastic, Plastic, Everywhere
Plastic contributes an enormous amount of waste to the planet, particularly our rivers and oceans.
Experts estimate that only about 9% of plastic is recycled properly, while the rest gets sent to landfills or ends up in our oceans. Once discarded, plastic takes decades to decompose — and as it does, it leeches harmful microplastics into our ecosystem. All together, it is estimated that more than 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our waterways each year — on top of the 150 million tons that are already present. As more plastic makes its way into our water, it affects fish and aquatic life, eventually working its way up the food chain to you and me.
On top of waste, plastic also leads to the emission of more than 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2 each year; it is also a major drain on fossil fuel reserves, taking up more than 8% of the world’s oil production.
Best Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Plastic Alternatives
Unfortunately, saying no to plastic can be more easily said than done. Plastic is omnipresent in our culture, and can be found in everything from food packaging, to personal hygiene products, to school supplies.
As conscientious consumers, one of the best steps we can take is to be extremely mindful about how much plastic we use, trying to cut back wherever and whenever possible. Of course, there’s a wide, wide world of environmentally friendly goods out there — and it can be intimidating to get started. For instance, we’ve written posts right here on this blog about grocery bag alternatives; trash bag and doggie bag alternatives; self-care swaps; and replacements for your kitchen sponges, among others. It can feel daunting to dive in and tackle all of these different areas of your life at once.
One way to make the transition into a less plastic-reliant lifestyle feel easier is to develop a few simple, consistent swaps that you can stick with over time — and that means digging into some viable plastic alternatives that are easily accessible, affordable, and ready to be put to work in your Chicago home.
The good news? You’ve got plenty of options. When you’re looking at products online or comparison shopping in the store, consider stocking up on these durable and dependable plastic alternatives as a way to use less plastic in your home — and contribute less plastic waste to our precious Blue Marble:
Stainless steel is incredibly on trend, and it’s easy to see why. Stainless steel is striking and durable — and, for anyone concerned about the environment, you can rest assured that this structural and decorative material is endlessly recyclable, energy efficient to produce, and non-toxic to humans and the environment. Stainless steel is also incredibly versatile; far beyond kitchen appliances, you can use steel for straws, kitchen and bathroom storage, and so much more.
Bamboo is one of our all-time favorite materials here at Sweeping Dimensions. We love its adaptability and versatility, first and foremost; bamboo can be used as a plastic replacement in toothbrushes, sponges, scrubbers, tableware, fabrics and textiles, storage containers, drinking straws, and even construction materials. Bamboo is also compostable, and bamboo crops can be cultivated sustainably.
Natural Fibers (Cotton, Wool, Linen, Hemp, and More)
When looking for plastic alternatives, consider products that require as little intervention from humankind as possible. That’s where natural fibers come in. Fibers such as hemp, linen, and cotton are all incredibly versatile, and can be used to make sustainable clothing, toys, storage containers, reusable grocery bags, reusable cleaning cloths, and so much more. Best of all, these natural fibers are biodegradable at the end of their usable lifespans. Hemp and linen can be grown without much water use, and hemp can actually help replenish soil. Just be sure to avoid synthetic additions, which can contain microplastics.
While it is not biodegradable, glass can be recycled repeatedly if it is handled responsibly. Even better, perhaps, glass can be upcycled and reused in many different ways without ever having to go through a processing plant. You can use clean glass containers to store leftovers in the refrigerator or dry goods in the pantry. You could also use them as flower vases, or as storage for small things in the bathroom. Glass containers keep things neat and allow you to easily find what you’re looking for. Glass is incredibly durable, and can stand up to repeat washings; some types of glass can also be frozen or microwaved.
Pottery is durable and extremely long-lasting, making it a great alternative for many disposable single-use products around the house. And because most pottery is made from clay and other plentiful natural materials, it can generally be considered sustainable. Just be sure to avoid toxic glazes, oxides, and finishings. You may also wish to discuss how the pottery was fired with the artisan or craftsperson; some methods for firing pottery are more environmentally responsible than others.
Mind your own beeswax! No, literally! Beeswax is all natural and non-toxic, and can be sustainably sourced. Wraps and papers made from beeswax are a great reusable, waterproof alternative to plastic baggies and clingwrap; you can also look for beeswax as a safe and eco-friendly base in candles, moisturizers, balms, and more.
Ready to Make This Your Greenest Year Yet?
Here at Sweeping Dimensions, one of our primary goals is to make cleaning less stressful for our clients — and more healthy and sustainable for our environment.
We also believe in passing along our green cleaning knowledge, whenever we can. We love to talk all things cleaning and organizing, including the strategies that can make taking care of your home a greener and more enjoyable practice. The more people we can bring together in our mission for a healthier world, the better off planet will be!
So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, starting a new recycling practice, or making a sustainable swap in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch — we’re always happy to talk shop and try to make a difference, however we can.
At SDCS, we’re sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding real solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.
Curious about what steps you can take to have a positive impact on the environment, even during the coronavirus quarantine? Want to set up an environmentally friendly cleaning for your Chicago home? Don’t hesitate to reach out for your free service estimate!