Okay, we’re a few weeks into Plastic-Free July and making small swaps that will create big changes (here are the low-hanging swaps you can make today). You’ve probably looked into the benefits of going plastic-free, how we can replace plastic in everyday life, maybe even a deep dive into exactly how plastic harms the environment (that list is long, we’ll wait…)
OK, welcome back!
Here’s the truth: swapping out the usual suspects is a big adjustment, but forming new habits like ditching straws and disposable cutlery, shopping with cloth bags and carrying a reusable water bottle is becoming second nature. In some cases you’re probably wondering what took you so long.
Now it’s time to explore some of the products that many of us didn’t realize are also made of plastic. Some of them will surprise you, others seem so obvious, but we haven’t thought about it. So without further ado, here are some sneaky plastics we should all choose to refuse:
GUM is made from plastic
Chew on this sticky news: Most major gum brands use a base made with a type of synthetic rubber also used to make tires and glue. Doesn’t make gum sound so yum, does it?
The plastic is what gives in its stretchy strength, but it’s also the reason gum sticks around long after you’re done with it. They do make plastic-free gum, you’ll have to look around. Better option? Mints that come in a metal tin or paper package.
DENTAL FLOSS is made from plastic
Speaking of things we put in our mouths *and therefore ingest into our bodies in some form,* most dental floss is made from nylon strands coated in a petroleum-based wax. This plastic floss can’t be recycled or composted, and it can entangle wildlife if it escapes into nature. Not great for your moral hygiene, is it?
Keep your teeth and the planet clean with compostable dental floss made from vegan plant-based fibers. There are some amazing brands out there so get to your nearest zero waste retailer and sample a few to find one that works for you. Guaranteed you won't turn back!
VEGAN LEATHER is made from plastic
What it takes to make it fake can leave a mess in its wake. While you may be trying to do something good for the planet by avoiding leather clothing and goods, in many instances - particularly within fast fashion - vegan leather is produced with PVC and polyurethane. These materials are plastic and petroleum-based, which means they will be around long after they’ve gone out of style.
In other words, vegan leather is forever.
When you shop for clothing, look for products made with 100% natural materials like wool, linen or organic cotton. And don’t be afraid to buy or trade used clothing. Give something you’ve outgrown a second life and keep it out of the landfill.
HAIR TIES are made from plastic
If you’ve been here for a while you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: EVERY SINGLE HAIR TIE YOU'VE EVER OWNED STILL EXISTS (except ours, of course)! Yes, even the ones you wore as a child. That’s because hair ties are traditionally made of polyester, nylon or other code words for “plastic.”
Those hair ties remain today in our lands and oceans, taking 500+ years to break down. We estimate 15 million synthetic hair ties are lost or tossed every single day in the USA alone. Yet another small thing that adds up. It feels good to know there’s an easy swap for this one.
KOOSHOO Hair Ties are made from two plant-based materials. Both organic cotton and natural tree rubber are completely plastic-free and we are proud to say they are biodegradable, they perform better than they’re “disposable” counterparts, and they look really darn good.
TEA BAGS are made from plastic
Hate to crash the (tea) party, but we have some bad news to spill. Most tea bags contain up to 25% plastic! In order for them to seal up and keep their shape in hot liquid, a plastic polymer called polypropylene, must be added. Steeping just one tea bag releases billions of microplastics and nanosplatics into the liquid. Not great news for the planet or your health.
Loose leaf tea is a way better option, buy it in bulk and save money and the planet. There are also tea crystals and some new tea companies who have gone plastic-free.
These days, there are more and more options out there designed to help us all replace plastic in everyday life. Do some research and you’ll be surprised to see just how easy some of these swaps can be.
What products out there have sneaky plastic that we may have missed?