Of course we all already know that our over-reliance on plastic is bad, bad, bad for the precious natural resources that surround us. But in case we need a refresher, these brief statistics from National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, Ocean Conservancy, and EarthDay.org should hammer home the message:
- 100 percent of sea turtles have ingested plastic
- 79 percent of all plastics ever produced have ended up in the natural environment or landfills
- Experts predict that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by weight
The global pandemic has only made the situation worse. (All those disposable masks and gloves...)
Now, before you brag about your beautifully sorted and perfectly rinsed plastic containers, recycling isn't the solution. It barely makes a dent. Avoiding plastic is the answer. This may not be a realistic goal, but replacing plastic in everyday items is. Once you've swapped the shampoo and bandages we recommended in the first edition of plastic-free travel essentials, add these to your arsenal.
LastObject can make your toiletry and beauty needs totally green. LastSwab is the green Q-Tip alternative that comes in round basic and pointed beauty versions, the hankie-like LastTissue replaces 3,100 single-use tissues, and the seven facial pads in LastRound can be used 1,750 times. Everything is washable with soap and water and available in a handful of poppy colors. Why do you want to get rid of cotton swabs? So we never have to see an image like this again:
Most dental floss is made from nylon or plastic, neither of which will disappear from landfill anytime in your lifetime. But this floss will, because it's made from compostable corn, plant-based candelilla wax, and organic mint and tea tree essential oils.
The weather is getting warmer, and that means one thing: bug season! Protect yourself and avoid nasty chemical sprays with a natural, CDC-approved DEET alternative made with essential oils. Add this to your collection of shampoo and conditioner bars.
With a handy, portable kit in your travel arsenal, you'll never have to toss a single-use fork, spoon, or chopstick again in an airport, on a plane, or at a fast-food stop on the road. This is just one of many terrific eco products available at the online shop A Drop in the Ocean.
While you're tidying up mealtime, swap your plastic containers for chic, airtight versions made from stainless steel.
No one wants you to give up your sparkle. Just trade the traditional, petroleum-based stuff for a just as bright and colorful biodegradable version. (Package Free is another shop stocked with zero-waste products for personal and home use.)
While not available yet, you can sign up to be among the first to carry your hot and cold drinks in S'Wheat, which bills itself as "the world's first reusable bottle made from plants" — repurposed, cut-down bamboo and wheat straw. The company promises that with every sale, they will plant a tree and aid efforts to remove plastics from the oceans. While you're at it, why not promise yourself that you'll drastically reduce the number of single-use plastic water bottles you ever consume — no matter where you are?
This is an especially useful one for families with small kids, and anyone else with an active kitchen. In addition to UNpaper towels in bright colors and patterns, in stacks or in rolls, Marley's Monsters also makes a slew of household products like reusable coffee filters, facial rounds, sponges, and toilet paper (now that's zero waste dedication!).
While we're on the subject of serious zero waste dedication, Esembly sells cloth diaper systems for babies aged 0 to 14+ months and up to 35 pounds. They stock the whole kit and caboodle: inner diapers, outer protectors, overnight pads, laundry detergents, and storage containers. Fathom co-founder Jeralyn Gerba cloth-diapered three babies using Esembly, as well as their precursor, a diaper service based out of Brooklyn. Aside from saving THOUSANDS of diapers from the landfill, cloth-diapered babies potty train quickly (about a year earlier than babies wearing disposables). Meaning you can just get on with life! Talk about setting up good habits from the very beginning.