This is how we walk the talk!
There’s no denying that in the last century the increasing use of plastic products has revolutionised how we live in so many ways and improved the lives of so many. But it also quickly became recognised as a serious risk to the future of the health of our planet, which for the foreseeable future, is where we would all like to keep living! We’ve all heard about the rising movement to substantially curb our use of the single-use plastics that float around in our oceans, clogging up our waterways, killing marine life, polluting, filling up and poisoning our land. Sound familiar? The statistics are truly cringe-worthy.
Today, the voice to clean up our mess and restore our poor old trampled eco-system is louder than ever. Naturally, plastic will remain vital in many areas such as its role in the healthcare industry for infection control. But increasingly we are searching for more sustainable and less harmful alternatives in all areas of our daily lives as well as in large commercial production. Just remember, we can all vote with our feet.
Using the supply and demand principle, we can help break the chain of plastic dependence by simply using plastic alternatives.
As the awareness of these plastic alternatives grows, we are seeing not only a positive shift in attitude to waste of all kinds but an awareness of the power of the personal changes we can each make.If one by one we all contributed to this problem (which we did), then one by one we can make changes to turn back the tide of plastic waste our planet is now choking on.
So, while we’re feeling pretty chuffed about using these eco-friendlier alternatives, we can also find products that not only contain eco-friendly ingredients but also use eco-friendly manufacturing processes and can safely be returned to the environment without causing harm.
But it’s a process, and to achieve worthwhile change on a global scale will take some time - but at least we’re onto it now, in a BIG way.When we, as individuals, begin to make the necessary changes in our lives and homes we also foster awareness in others.
Every little bit really does count!
So where to now? Back to the good ol’ days! And some great new ways too….
Eco-friendly choices are made by people willing to give a little extra time, care and thought to their attitudes and daily habits to contribute to a healthier planet.
Once new habits are established, they just become a way of life. Just as throwing endless pieces of plastic into landfill easily became a habit.
The initial cost of these ‘plastic alternative’ products may be more than a roll of plastic wrap or a packet of plastic bags, but the cost to the environment is absolutely detrimental if we keep using plastic at the rate we have been.
If you choose the right product for the right job, single-use plastic can be all but eliminated from your home, and that’s pretty exciting!
The popular eco-friendly alternatives to plastic mentioned below are only a handful of examples of where we are headed now in an effort to decrease our use of plastic products, particularly single-use plastic.
Beeswax wraps are an incredibly versatile food storage product that can be used in place of the hundreds of jobs for which we use cling wrap, plastic bags and even plastic containers. They are made by infusing a warmed wax mixture, based on beeswax, into cotton fabric. Cut to the most useful sizes, the wraps are reusable and washable.
Depending on the job you use them for, they may just need a wipe over, but they can also be washed in cool water with a mild detergent and then air-dried, ready to be used again and again.
The wraps become pliable as the warmth from your hands softens the wax when they are placed around a food item or pressed and pinched around the rim of a bowl, jar or bottle. This also helps the wrap stick to itself.
Unlike plastic, beeswax wraps are breathable to a certain degree, which results in a better environment for food storage in most cases.
They really can’t tolerate being exposed to any harsh solutions and shouldn’t be used with anything hot as the wax will melt from the fabric. They are also not recommended for direct contact with raw meat or seafood.If the wraps are good quality and you treat them with a little care, they can last up to 12 months. Storage is easy as they can be folded. Better still, if they are made with 100% eco-friendly products, they are compostable at the end of their life.
Imagine how much plastic that one little beeswax wrap has replaced in a life of 12 months…
just inside your own home! It really does give you ‘warm fuzzies’ when you use your favourite old, crinkled, trusty beeswax wrap for the last time and then cut it up and feed it to your garden in the compost.
GLASS JARS AND CONTAINERS
Glass jars and containers are one of the most repurposed, versatile, handy items in the household and most of us have our own little stash in a kitchen cupboard. They are safe to keep using over and over and only need a wash between each use. They are also recyclable and relatively inexpensive when bought new.
Many food items are still sold in glass jars and bottles (that’s where our stash in our kitchen cupboard mostly comes from) but the majority are in plastic containers. While many of these plastics are recyclable, sadly only a small percentage actually make it into recycled goods at this stage. Even the recycling process in itself creates some environmental impact, not to mention the impact of its original production.
Refilling glass jars and bottles with products such as peanut butter, coconut oil, rice and pasta at bulk food stores has been rising in popularity as the ‘zero-waste’ mindset makes its way into all corners of the world.
Many items can be transported in paper bags and jars can be filled at home to lighten the load.Glass jars, containers and bottles come in so many different shapes and sizes, their uses are virtually endless… even when you lose the lid!
SILICONE FOOD COVERS
Silicone caps and lids are widely available as a reusable food storage alternative to plastics. They can be stretched across the rim of a bowl, plate, containers and even bottles.They are a great solution to the lost lids of all the glass jars we collect!Silicone is a man-made product, made from the silica found in sand, a plentiful (but not infinite) resource.
Silicon – without the ‘e’ is an element of silica. Silicone products can withstand just about anything you want to throw at them; extreme temperature variations, ovens, dishwashers (we like that), and microwave ovens. Silicone is used as a sealant, does not corrode, repels moisture and is unaffected by salt.
Silicone doesn’t leach toxins and doesn’t give off toxic pollution when burned as plastic does. It is also used extensively in medicine and hasn’t been found harmful to animals and humans in any way.The simple fact that silicone is so durable makes us think it has to be some kind of invincible super-plastic, and because of this misconception, there remains a lack of recycling opportunities so far. Silicone gives us a really useful alternative to single-use plastics in the home and is used widely in electronics and all sorts of equipment we use every day.
However, the production and recycling of this product still have a way to go to provide an all-round green alternative.While silicone can’t be chopped up and fed to your compost, along with your beloved beeswax wraps, it does not disintegrate into pieces and doesn’t contain harmful toxins. Single-use plastics break down into little pieces, accidentally being ingested by wildlife and marine animals and leach toxins into the soil and our waterways. So, on the up-side,
the negative impact on the environment is so much less than plastic and can be used in a multitude of ways to replace plastic use.
Especially those evil single-use plastics!
MUSLIN/COTTON FOOD COVERS
Fabric food covers with an elastic edging have been around forever. Usually round in shape and made from muslins or cotton, they can cover all sorts of shapes and sizes and textures of containers due to their elastic edges.
The stand-out benefit of this style of food cover is that you can put them over a container of hot food or liquid, and the steam can still escape while protecting the contents from insects and even hungry teenagers on the way past the kitchen bench!! They also make a great cover for bread and salads on the dining or picnic table to keep the critters (not meaning teenagers) from joining you for a meal.
Some fabric pieces don’t have elastic around the edges, but heavier beads or some weight at the corners so they can be draped over bowls, baskets or plates. They can also really ‘pretty up’ and colour co-ordinate a table.
FOOD POUCHES AND BAGS
These are simply a fully washable pouch or bag, sewn together using cotton fabric, with closures such as Velcro and zippers. To be a fully compostable product they can be made using 100% cotton with a drawstring closure.
Fabric food pouches and bags are a great way to pack and transport everyday things like sandwiches and snacks, as well as supplies from bulk food stores and fruit and vegetables. They are fully washable and some can even withstand the dishwasher. Care and use will always determine the life-span of these naturally derived products, but the amount of plastic usage these bags will prevent is priceless.
Kids love using them as they can choose their favourite cartoon characters, patterns and colours. Fabric food pouches and bags are widely available to purchase and make a quick and easy project to be enjoyed at home with heaps of free patterns to be found online.