Plastic was probably one of the groundbreaking inventions back then when it was first founded. It's durable and cheap. But as years go by, we all know that they're really bad for the environment. They're especially bad for the ocean and the wildlife.
When people think about "plastic", they tend to think of plastic bags or plastic bottles. But clothing contains plastic too. Plastic is everywhere and it's almost unavoidable. Every single one of you would have an item in your home that contains plastic. Even though it is hard to completely avoid plastic, for now, there are a million ways you can do to minimise the use of plastic.
In celebration of plastic-free July, we thought we want to share some tips on how to reduce your plastic waste. Here we go:
1. DITCH SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
These are probably the most obvious ones, and many people have already been used to the idea of ditching single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are products that are made of plastic that you would tend to discard after one use. This includes (but is not limited to) plastic straws, plastic bags, plastic bottles, cling wrap, and more.
As an alternative, you can bring your own reusable water bottles, or bring a smoothie cup when getting your smoothies. Ditch the cling wrap, and invest in silicone food covers or beeswax wrap instead. A common practice is to bring your own reusable grocery bags. The good thing in some places plastic bags is banned now. This has pushed people to use their own bags instead. So if you've done this, that's great! You should pat yourself in the back.
2. OPT FOR NATURAL FIBRE WHEN YOU BUY CLOTHING
We have said this before, and we are going to say it again: opt for natural fibre when you buy clothing items. In the case that it's difficult, opt for the highest composition of natural fibre as much as you can.
What is natural fibre? Natural fibre are fibres that are derived from natural resources. So fibres like cotton, hemp, bamboo are natural. Even wool and is natural. Natural fibre will biodegrade over time, unlike synthetic fibres. When choosing natural fibre, make sure you also opt for organic fibre. So instead of going for conventional cotton (usually just labeled as "cotton"), opt for organic cotton. Organic cotton generates less energy and uses less water than conventional cotton. They also don't use hazardous pesticides or synthetic fertiliser. Our socks are made with organic cotton that is OCS-certified.
Socks are generally a bit tricky to get to 100% natural fibre. At the very least they would need elastane or spandex to hold the socks up. Without elastane/spandex, your socks would just fall off your legs all the time. Most socks would have some nylon/polyamide/polyester in them too. The reason being is for strength and durability, typically in the toes or heels area. Furthermore, if the socks have patterns and have many different colours, socks become more vulnerable. Thus polyamide adds strength to the socks with complex patterns.
We maximise the composition of our socks to 75% OCS-certified organic cotton. The rest is 24% nylon and 1% elastane.
3. WASH YOUR CLOTHES WISELY
When you wash your clothes, they will create and shred microfibres. Although some washing machines and tumble dryers catch some of these microfibres, some of them will escape down the drain. Now if your clothes are made of plastic (polyester etc), they essentially shred microplastics - which is very bad for the environment.
Eventhough our fun socks are mainly made with organic cotton, they contain a bit of nylon & elastane, and most likely some of your other clothing items too. There are a couple of ways you can minimise microplastics going down your drain: The first one is to fill up your washing machine before running a cycle. When your machine is filled up, there will be fewer frictions - meaning fewer microfibres will be created. The second one is to use a microfibre wash bag to trap these microfibres. These bags collect microplastics and do not shred fibres out of themselves. The third one is to wash colder. Colder water gives less damage to your fabrics - thus it creates fewer microplastics and keeps your clothing last longer. Next is to line dry your clothes instead of using tumble dry, when you can. Or you can use low tumble dry instead. The last one is a bit controversial but: wash less, when you can.
4. SOAP REFILL STATIONS!
Instead of buying new bottled home products every time (e.g. bottled hand soap, bottle detergent, etc), get your home products refilled! This way, you will minimise the use and purchase of plastic bottles. Thankfully in Australia, there are so many refill stations where you can bring your own container/bottle to fill in your home products.
Shops like The Source Bulk has a range of different zero-waste products. The idea is for you to come into the shop with your own bag/container, and choose the products to fill in. They then weigh the products. They have so many options from liquid hand soap, to laundry detergent, to quinoa.
5. HAIR REMOVAL
Instead of keep buying disposable plastic razors that you'd throw out after one or two times uses, you can either: invest in reusable razors OR you can get hair laser removal.
Laser hair removal is the best way to reduce waste or products. You essentially go in to get treatments around 10-20 visits (everyone's skin tone and skin condition is different), and you will not see those hair coming back out! Or at least they might just grow very minimally. I can personally vouch for this. And they're not as expensive as people think. In some places, you can get underarm hair removal for $10 each visit!
6. REUSABLE PERIOD PRODUCTS
This is is for you all who are having periods. Let's face it, we can all agree that periods suck. But your products don't have to be.
Reusable period products such as menstrual cups or period panties like Modibodi are getting more popular these days. They're reusable which means you can say goodbye to throwing away your tampons or period pads every day! I can personally recommend period panties. They're not just good for the environment, but they're super comfy!
7. PUT YOUR VEGGIES STRAIGHT INTO YOUR GROCERY BAG
You know when you go grocery shopping, you already have your own grocery bag, but then you go to the veggies & fruit section and they have this plastic bags on a roll that you can take? Yeah, ditch that. You don't really need those. Just put your veggies & fruits straight into your grocery bag. If that's not your thing, then you can reusable mesh bags to put veggies and fruits in. But in all honesty, you don't really need that either.
8. NO TO CHEWING GUMS?
Did you know that most chewing gums are sold at supermarkets contain plastic and synthetic rubber? That's why they are chewy and that's why you're not supposed to eat them! So maybe lessen your chewing gums munch.
Thankfully enough, there seem to be natural chewing gums out there that don't contain plastic/synthetic rubbers. We haven't yet to try these though!
9. GET BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH
This is actually quite easy swap because bamboo toothbrushes are everywhere now! Bamboo is biodegradable. All you need to do is once you're done with your toothbrush, snap the head/bristles off, and you can home compost the bamboo handle.
Again, shops like Go For Zero have this.
10. REUSE YOUR PLASTIC OR OPT FOR RECYCLED PLASTICS
Sometimes, life happens. You forget your cotton grocery bag, or you left your water bottle at home. Or there are some instances where plastic swap is almost impossible to get. Then you'll have no choice but to get the plastic option. We get it, we've been there too. Don't beat yourself up. As long as you are aware, and try to implement it in your habit - then you'll get there.
If this is the case though, try to go for recycled plastic (if you can). You can also try to reuse the plastic items that you just bought. For example, you can reuse your plastic bag as a bin liner or for your dog's waste bag. For plastic bottles, you can use them to propagate your plants or as a bottle to refill your home soap products into (which is our point number 4).
For this plastic-free July, let's try to be plastic-free or at least minimise your plastic use. And hopefully, this becomes a habit, then it won't be plastic-free July anymore, it will be plastic-free all year round (we wish!). Any effort is meaningful. If there are a million of us trying to do sustainability imperfectly, then it is already much better than one person doing it perfectly.