Did you know that more than 40 percent of plastic is used just once, then tossed? Or that it takes up to a thousand years for the average shampoo bottle to decompose?
We can all do our bit to cut waste and help the planet. Whether it’s using more sustainable materials, or investing in reusable products instead of throw-away options. Every little change we make can help clean up the environment, while supporting eco-friendly businesses around the world.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at why eco swaps are important, and share 9 easy swaps you can make today to start living more sustainably. We’ll look at eco swaps for the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, and also for when you’re on-the-go.
Eco-Friendly Swaps: Why Do They Matter?
The natural world is being destroyed at an alarming rate, and the day-to-day choices we make can have a huge impact on the environment. But it’s not too late to make a difference. There are some super simple swaps that can have a positive impact on the planet. But we all need to play our part. The accumulation of small choices we make can lead to a huge reduction in pollution and waste in the long-term.
Of course, small changes we make individually aren’t going to clean up the planet overnight. But we can each have our own unique impact, with these small actions adding up to big changes. And as consumers, what we choose to spend money on can shift what manufacturers and retailers decide to make and sell.
Making sustainable swaps and supporting businesses that care about the planet is a great way to push for better environmental practices. And while any environmentally-friendly swap can help make a difference, swapping out items you use most often will have the biggest impact. So, let’s get swapping!
1. Beeswax Wraps
Beeswax wraps are one of the easiest swaps to make, and they are extremely useful and very versatile. They’re made from fabric (usually cotton, linen, or bamboo) and covered in natural beeswax. And they’re mouldable so you can wrap them around any shape to make sure it’s nicely sealed.
Beeswax wraps are a great eco swap for single-use sandwich bags, plastic wrap and aluminium foil. They’re reusable and long-lasting, and you can use them to wrap leftover food or sandwiches and on-the-go snacks. The wax also makes them waterproof so they keep moisture in (or out) as needed.
2. Plant-Based Cleaning Products
Traditional detergents and cleaning products are incredibly bad for the planet. They come packaged in heavy plastic bottles and containers, and many contain harsh chemicals that are often responsible for water pollution and the loss of aquatic life. The plastics used in the packaging often cannot be recycled, nor does it biodegrade.
Switching over to natural cleaning products is one of the most important swaps you can make. Plant-based dish soaps, laundry detergents and cleaning products are made with the environment in mind. They contain fewer harsh chemicals and toxic substances, and they usually come in plastic-free or recycled plastic packaging (which is also often recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable).
3. LED Light Bulbs
Sure, they’re a little pricier than conventional incandescent light bulbs, but LED light bulbs use less energy and last much longer. This means they’re better for the environment, and they’ll save you money in the long-term.
Switching to energy-saving LED light bulbs will cut your electricity usage and your energy bill, which is ever more important in the current climate. And it will reduce your carbon footprint too. In fact, if you replace all the bulbs in your home with LED lights, you could reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40kg a year. This is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emitted by driving your car around 145 miles (source).
Want to learn more? Discover 40 Great Energy Saving Tips from Uswitch
4. Bamboo Bed Linen
Using bamboo bed linen instead of synthetic, polyester sheets and bedding sets is one of the most pleasurable eco swaps you can make. Polyester is a petroleum-based fibre, whereas bamboo is a natural fibre that is readily available and easy to grow sustainably.
Pure bamboo bed linen is soft, breathable, and naturally hypoallergenic. It’s also great for regulating temperature so it keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. And It’s strong, durable, and made to last.
5. Zero Waste Shampoo Bars
Another simple swap is to replace your conventional liquid shampoo and conditioner with shampoo and conditioner bars.
Standard shampoos and conditioners often contain harmful chemicals, and they are usually packaged in plastic bottles which cannot be recycled. Shampoo bars, on the other hand, contain very few harmful chemicals (if at all) and they come in recyclable, biodegradable or compostable packaging. This means less plastic is produced, with less going to landfills. And why not swap your shower gel or liquid hand soap dispenser for a zero-waste soap bar too?
6. Washable Cleansing Pads
If you regularly use disposable face wipes or cotton wool pads to cleanse your face, then why not give reusable pads a try? Washable cleansing pads come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials – hemp, cotton, and bamboo are popular options.
Washable cleansing pads are reusable and will last a long time, therefore, using them daily will significantly reduce the waste generated from your usual cleansing routine. They’re also made from sustainable, natural fibres. They’re plastic-free too. And the materials they’re made from only had to be grown and processed once, compared to using a whole new pad each time.
7. Bamboo Toothbrushes
Did you know that 80 percent of the world’s toothbrushes end up in our oceans? A toothbrush is something we use every day, so a bamboo toothbrush is a great bathroom eco swap. Eliminating the bulk of the plastic from an item you use daily, for your entire life, has a huge impact over time.
Switching to a bamboo toothbrush eliminates the plastic from standard toothbrush handles. Bamboo is an infinitely renewable and low-impact crop to grow. It uses little water and requires very little in terms of fertilisers and pesticides. And the wood is completely biodegradable and home compostable too.
8. Reusable Water Bottles & Travel Mugs
Reusable water bottles and travel mugs are great eco swaps to use in place of single-use plastic water bottles and takeaway coffee cups. After all, it takes 10 seconds to refill a reusable bottle and 450 years for a plastic one to decompose (source).
You can fill your water bottle up at home, and many cafes and restaurants will be happy to fill up your bottle for you too – so it’s better for the planet, and your pocket. In the UK we also use 7 million takeaway coffee cups a day and just 0.25% of them are recycled. So consider using your travel mug when you buy your next takeaway coffee instead of a disposable cup to make a difference.
9. Canvas Shopper Bags
Reusable bags aren’t only a fashionable way to carry your shopping, they’re far better for the planet than using single-use plastic bags when you shop.
Single-use plastics like water bottles and shopping bags are crowding landfills and endangering wildlife. And plastic bags alone kill up to 100,000 marine animals every year. The leatherback sea turtle is especially hard-hit, as they often confuse plastic bags for the jellyfish they like to eat. 1 in every 3 leatherbacks is found with plastic in its stomach, according to the Centers for Biological Diversity. So whether you prefer a canvas, jute or sustainable cotton reusable shopper bag, make sure you always have it to hand and SAY NO to single-use plastic bags.
You may also like to read: How Sustainable is Your Lifestyle? 8 Simple Changes for a Greener You