Living in Cornwall in the UK, I am surrounded by the most stunning coastline, however every time I hit the beach, I almost always find sea littler. Whether that be tampons and condoms, toothbrushes and microplastics, they all wash up on our shores, or worse, get eaten by marine life. It’s the generation; we are obsessed with “disposable” and one use plastics, goods wrapped endlessly in excessive packaging, and throwaway items that are out of sight, out of mind. Just sit back and think now; how many of the foods you ate today came in plastic? How much waste have you tossed in the bin? Or worse, did you end up flushing that ear bud down the loo? All of these habits add up to a whole host of problems for our environment, and what we share the planet with.
I spoke to author and creator of the famous #2minutebeachclean Martin Dorey, and found out just how our waste pollutes our surroundings:
“We see rope from fishing vessels, broken fish crates, and even the packets fishermen get their gloves in, that, presumably, get carelessly washed overboard (these are Showa 660 gloves). We see microplastics come in on the tide, and then get washed out again because they are difficult to get out of harm’s way. After storms, we pick up bottles and crates and plastic bags. Occasionally, we see evidence of the damage we are doing to our oceans – a seabird entangled in rope with a bass lure in its beak – and that makes us even more determined to make change happen. But it’s only just the tip of the iceberg. We pick up the results of balloon releases almost every time we go out so we work to campaign against those planning them. So far, we have stopped a few, which means we have stopped a few unnecessary deaths, but there is still so much to do.
We often quote the stats from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that there will soon be more plastic in the sea than fish, but we prefer a more positive, less damning approach. The way we see it, every time you pick up litter off the beach (or anywhere), you are saving it from becoming a thousand bits of microplastic floating in the sea or from killing a fish, seabird, sea mammal or cetacean. So you are making a positive difference. Every bit of rope we pick up will not go on to end up around a seal’s neck. Every time you refill your keep cup or water bottle or refuse a straw, you are stopping our oceans dying. It’s as simple as that. Everyone has the power to make a difference.” – Martin Dorey
Martin is right; everyone has the power to make a difference, big or small. Next time you’re at the beach, keep an eye out for the dreaded plastics, and pick them up, and in the meantime, take a look at our easy and affordable eco substitutes that will make eco living easy, fun and give you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside!
The Humble Toothbrush
Something we all use every day, the toothbrush. It’s made from plastic, nylon, and rubber and gets thrown away every couple months. Completely unrecyclable, it either ends up tossed in landfill, or in our oceans, and we think nothing more of it. Even the mixed plastic and cardboard packaging isn’t recyclable, so it is estimated (Ecoplanet Bamboo) that around 850 to 1,000,000 toothbrushes end up in landfill every year, and that is just the US alone. But do not despair, thankfully more and more eco companies are banging out their very own wooden and bamboo toothbrushes, with natural bristles, machining it completely biodegradable! Swedish company Humble have devised a great brush, using bamboo, the fastest growing plant on earth that is kind to your teeth, and the planet. Coming in a range of cool colours, and at only $4.99, the Humble brush really is an easy way to become more eco.
Sanitary Pads by Naty
Ah, the loyal sanitary pad. Making women’s lives easier since using folded pieces of cloth was the thing. I get it; pads are clean, discreet and disposable, letting us avoid the messy clean-up of say the moon cup, which may not be everyone’s eco choice! But how is this simple piece of material so damaging to our earth? Well, to start, most pads are made up of a toxic mix of 90% plastics (Natracare), and bleach. Yes you guessed it, completely un-biodegradable, taking thousands of years to break down. So imagine the 16,000 pads or tampons (Green-mom.com) a woman uses in her lifetime ending up in landfill, plus all the other women’s too. That is a lot of waste which can be avoided! Swedish brand Naty, known for their natural babycare products, have their own range of pads and liners which are 100% organic and plastic free, meaning you can dispose of your waste and its packaging, and be confident that it will degrade and not harm the earth, or you!
Vegan Condoms by Fair Squared
You probably haven’t thought of what condoms are made out of whilst getting down and dirty with your partner. But did you know that condoms are made out of casein – a protein found in cows? That’s right, your choice of safe sex contains cow. They also contain a mix of latex, and other non-natural ingredients, making them non-biodegradable, and harmful to the planet. It just isn’t safe to boycott condoms, however, we can promote a condom which dodges the cow protein, making them vegan, and much better for the agricultural environment. Oxfam supporters Fair Squared introduced their vegan condoms back in 2010 and since then, have been a go to for products for vegans!
Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Buds
Another everyday item we take for granted, the cotton bud. From cleaning our ears, using them for makeup, to cleaning in-between babies toes and arts and crafts, these little sticks maybe our best friends, but they hold a darker secret. The cotton part isn’t really the problem; it is the plastic stick that is damaging our seas. Many people flush cotton buds down the loo, out of sight, out of mind. But these little plastic sticks are causing disastrous harm under the surface. Marine life mistakes them for food, it ends up in their stomachs and it eventually kills them. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, last year it was reported that cotton bud giants Johnson & Johnson would end their plastic buds and switch to paper, making it faster to degrade, thus proving less of a threat to our seas. But whilst they figure that out, Simply Gentle has it sussed already. 100% organic and completely plastic free, their pack of 200 buds for only £2.09 is perfect to set you off on your fight against plastic!
Woobamboo Eco-awesome Floss
So, if you’ve had a little think about your plastic toothbrush harming the environment, you may have wondered about the floss you use too. Our flosses are usually made from plastics and nylon, and look delicious to fish. But as you can imagine, the floss is a killer and ends up entangling their insides causing a slow, painful, and unnecessary death. Step in Woobamboo; they’re only 4 years old but already have made a whole host of eco products, including their natural and biodegradable silk floss, which comes in plant based packaging, and it is dentist approved!
Wet Wipes by Naty
More from the Swedish eco warriors, this time, wet wipes. We have all used the incredibly handy wipes before, for just about every reason you can think of, but did you know that wipes are not meant to be flushed, even though they say they can be? Sure, they may not clog up your loo (yet), but once passed through the sewers, they end up yet again in our oceans. Or if you do the ever so slightly more environmental way of getting rid via the bin, they end up in landfill. Non-biodegradable, non-recyclable and full of chemicals and toxins, these innocent looking pieces of cloth are a tragedy for our environment. Thankfully, more and more brands are coming out with safer alternatives, including Naty. Naty have developed a full compostable, 100% biodegradable and chlorine and bleach free wipe that is not only gentle, but gentle on your purse too, at £2.95 a pack (50 wipes).
Eco Tools Make Up Brushes
The world of beauty is a completely different ball game when it comes to eco. There are many makeup brands that offer cruelty free and vegan products, yet they cost an arm and a leg. But you don’t need to search far for some quality eco brushes. Eco Tools are stocked in a lot of drugstores including Boots and Superdrug, and a whole kit such as the above will only set you back around a tenner! Eco Tools have been creating recyclable and renewable bamboo brushes since 2007, and they are a must have for anyone making the transition into beauty that is kinder to the planet!
So there you have it, 6 clever alternatives to replace the plastics and toxins, and make your home a little more kinder to the planet. Let us know what changes you are going to make by tweeting us or tag us in your eco insta snap @frowmagazine.
Written by Lydia Kent