Sustainable living is something I’ve been making a real effort with lately. By no means am I perfect, but I’m learning and slowly implementing more sustainability into my daily life. I’m lucky enough to live in an area that is actively working to reduce single-use plastic usage. There’s also a lot of regular beach clean-up events, which is a great opportunity to get involved in the community. In May 2018 my university was one of the first in the UK to receive a Plastic Free certification.
I’ve slowly been replacing the single-use items I own with sustainable alternatives. In this post I’ve put together the 4 easiest product swaps I’ve made so far.
Something a lot of people ask in regards to ditching single-use products is “why?”. What difference could it possibly make? The reality is, it makes a huge difference. Every year 8 millions tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the ocean. One single plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose. A toothbrush can take up to 400 years, and a plastic straw up to 200. If those are the figures for each single item – imagine how long it would take to clear the planet.
Realistically, if we don’t change our ways then the planet as we know it will change for the worst. We’ve all seen the video of the turtle having a straw pulled out of it’s nose on social media. It’s truly heart breaking. We can do so much better.
This was one of the first sustainable product investments I made in 2018. The 500ml bottle fits perfectly into my backpack, and the stainless steel lining keeps drinks hot or cold for up to 12 hours. The Chilly’s products can seem pricey at first, with the 500ml being £25. However, when compared to the amount of money you’d probably spend on single-use water bottles over the years, it’s pocket change. Growing a Green Family estimated that an approximate $6,180 could be saved [over 5 years] if you opted for tap water rather than bottled. That works out to roughly £4,729.52.
Bamboo toothbrushes have really made their way to the masses as of late. I’m definitely not mad about it – if social media wants to make sustainability the next big trend then I’m all for it! I currently use the bamboo toothbrushes from Bali Brush – a brand I can only seem to find on Amazon currently. I’ll update in the future if I can find a direct website link. These are £6.99 for a pack of 4, which arguably is a lot of money compared to their plastic counterparts.
The quality of these brushes is undeniably brilliant. With a bamboo handle and charcoal-infused bristles, it performs just as well if not better than a majority of the plastic toothbrushes I’ve previously owned. I can’t imagine using any other product now I’m used to these.
At this point I’d question who doesn’t own a set of these? The ban on plastic straws has picked up massively worldwide. Even popular restaurant chains have taken action, banning plastic straws for paper or metal alternatives. I purchased a set of 8 for £3.99, 4 straight and 4 curved along with 2 cleaning brush tools.
As with all of these products, prices can vary massively depending on where you look. I’ve seen metal straw sets for as little as £2-£4 but then the exact same thing will be selling for £10-£15 elsewhere. I’d definitely recommend shopping round before you buy. Sustainable alternatives don’t (and shouldn’t) have to cost an arm and a leg.
It took me a while to finally get round to purchasing one of these. Towards the end of 2018/early 2019 I fell off the sustainability bandwagon slightly, and forgot why I even started in the first place. Nobody’s perfect after all. But I’ve picked up the pace again and have got round to replacing the most-used single use item in my life; coffee cups. As an avid coffee drinker, it was about time.
As with the Chilly’s water bottle, this has stainless steel lining which keeps drinks hot/cold for 12 hours. The coffee cups are available in 3 sizes; 230ml, 340ml, and 500ml. I opted for the 340ml as it’s an easy enough size to carry to uni everyday, and fits nicely in my bag.
“So what else can I do?”
So you’ve bought your sustainable products – now what? You can join me in taking the Plastic Free Challenge! This is a social media based event to help reduce your plastic use – they even send you mini challenges to tackle via email if you’re not sure where to start.
My advice is to just start small. Something as simple as swapping out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo alternative can make a big difference. Going sustainable can feel quite daunting when you think about all the things you could change. I’m by no means where I want to be in terms of sustainability, but I’m not letting that deter me from starting. No one person can change the world alone, but several people making small changes? That’s where it all begins.
I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.