Let’s be honest, single use items are so last year; reusables are in. We’re talking rose gold metal straws, fancy coffee mugs, patterned makeup wipes, and the most stylish reusable sandwich bags that make plastic wrap so embarrassed it always runs away. Although reusables may be ‘on trend’, they’re a trend that’s here to stay. With the growing awareness and knowledge around our current climate crisis, we’re realising that to ensure our continued existence on earth, we must do away with single use items and focus on using resources wisely: again and again….. and again.
REUSABLE VERSUS SINGLE USE
Image from Hollie Draws
What’s so wrong with single use? Well, the concept of extracting precious and finite resources from earth in order to use a product just once or twice, goes against better judgement.
Consider a disposable coffee cup made from paper and plastic. Oil is drilled, trees are cut down, the cup is transported (emitting carbon emissions) to and from manufacturing plants, and it ends up at a coffee shop. The consumer then buys their coffee, uses the cup for approximately 5 minutes, then throws it into the rubbish bin. Can you see the problem here?
Especially when there are billions of people practising this same activity, the earth takes a big hit. We cannot keep doing this forever.
REUSABLE VERSUS COMPOSTABLE
Image from Good Magazine
When single use plastic is replaced with a compostable alternative, it’s a reason to celebrate! A compostable item is capable of breaking down into natural matter without leaving toxic ingredients in the earth. This is the opposite of plastic, which can break up but never break down. However, even though compostable is a brilliant alternative, each compostable item still took energy and resources to create and requires a particular environment to actually break down.
Picture a disposable coffee cup made from corn starch PLA, plant based plastic. Corn was harvested, the cup is transported (emitting carbon emissions) to and from manufacturing plants, and it ends up at a coffee shop. The consumer then buys their coffee, uses the cup for approximately 5 minutes, then throws it in the bin.
The big problem here is that the cup needs a certain environment to break down. This includes the right levels of oxygen, nitrogen, heat, and moisture. If the compostable coffee cup goes into landfill (an airtight hole in the ground) the cup will continue to exist for hundreds of years. Ideally, the cup would end up in a commercial composting facility, as most coffee cups cannot break down in home compost environments (they don’t get hot enough). But this doesn’t usually happen; unfortunately, the world hasn’t caught up yet. Most compostable food packaging ends up in landfill.
With all this in mind, reusables definitely come out on top. Depending on the product, reusables generally save the owner a lot of money too and can last for decades.
THE SIMPLE SOLUTION: REUSABLES
Here are our top recommendations when it comes to helpful reusables and reducing your waste:
1. Ditch plastic bottles and choose to refill before you leave the house. There are so many beautifully designed reusable bottles to choose from these days and options for both hot and cold beverages!
2. Say goodbye to those pesky little plastic veggie bags at the supermarket, and hello to cotton bags that can be used over and over again.
3. Replacing tampons and pads with a menstrual cup will save you and the planet. Menstrual Cups are an easier experience while on your period, save you hundreds of dollars every year and are better for your body and the environment. If you are a pad user, choose reusable or go for period underwear.
4. Paper towels demand trees be cut down, so it simply makes sense for these to be reusable. Swap out your paper towels with absorbent reusable “non paper” towels and dish cloths.
5. Reusable straws put plastic straws to shame. Not only do they save the turtles, but they’re a great accessory for dressing up cocktails and impressing party guests.
6. If you remove your makeup every day, you can end up wasting hundreds of single-use pads every year! We promise reusable makeup remover pads will work just as well, if not, better. They are super soft and you can just throw them in the wash!
7. Being eco-friendly often includes sacrifices, but not when it comes to shaving! Zero waste safety razors look beautiful, reduce shaving rash, give you a closer shave and will last you a lifetime. Simply replace the blades as they blunt, and recycle at your local recycling facility or metal scrap dealer
OH NATURAL REUSABLE FAVOURITES
HOME + LIVING
So, it’s pretty clear: reusables are in, and disposables are out.
Your life will be full of reusables and free of waste if you tackle change step by step. Start small, but start somewhere!
*Feature image by @josephinerais