Eco-Friendly Alternatives To Plastic (Some Surprises Here)
The planet is literally drowning in trash but all is not lost... yet. Check out this list of eco-friendly alternatives to plastics that will go some way to protecting the environment and our health in the future...
Hemp has been commonly used as bird feed across the world for many years, but it is now becoming more popular as a material for the manufacture of clothing and linens. Hemp farming is still in its relative infancy, meaning clothing and suchlike is often a mix of hemp and cotton. And, don't worry, you won't be getting a knock on the door from the police if you buy an item of hemp clothing. Despite being from the cannabis plant seed family - there are different strains and treatments, separating it from the seeds that grow marijuana.
This is a surprising one for many people but stainless steel makes the list because it is incredibly durable and 100% recyclable material. There's high grades of stainless steel that are already made up of predominantly recycled materials but are safe to use (food grade). Our metal straws are made from food grade stainless steel, for example.
From stylish bowls to cleaning brushes. Coconut has a variety of uses that make it the perfect eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to plastic in certain cases. It's incredibly strong, and the shell has properties that make it ideal for eco-friendly brush heads (we use it in the manufacturer of our eco-friendly straw cleaners)
Bioplastic refers to 'plastic' made from plants or other biological phenomenon, rather than petroleum. Corn and sugarcane are popular plants to use in the process. The jury is still out in terms of whether this is a truly sustainable solution to huge plastic consumption. It's a complicated one to work out for scientists. When we have finished with the bioplastic products they will go to landfill like the rest of the normal plastic we use. They can be composted via an industrial composter (that reaches extreme temperatures). Industrial composters are not easily reachable in many locations and without the extreme heat bioplastics will still be causing harm to the environment if they aren't disposed of responsibly. The very question of whether or not we should be harvesting things such as corn to eat, rather than to fulfil our desire for convenience is also another important consideration.
Lightweight, water resistant and biodegradable. Cork is a naturally available and easily recyclable material. Cork can be made into all sorts of items (not just plugs for wine bottles). Purses, handbags and even flooring can be made from cork and it is becoming a more popular and widely available eco-friendly material. Most cork farms are found in Portugal and Spain. Once the cork is harvested it doesn't harm the tree itself. In fact, science tells us that the tree 'collects' more CO2 afterwards, which further helps the environment (in addition to saving on plastic usage).
Unlike plastics, which are made from fossil fuels, glass is made from sand. This makes it very renewable, recyclable and free from the chemicals in plastic that have been found to be harmful to the environment and our health. The downside to glass is that it's not as flexible as plastic, and can break under pressure. It's not practical to be used as a replacement with certain items.
Casein is the main protein found in milk. Interestingly, it can be used for insulation, packaging and even cushions for your sofa. It is known to be less toxic than normal plastics, yet remains highly resistant to cracking. Want to play a fun game of making your own plastic-milk?
It's the final one on this list, but possibly the most sustainable and already well-known compared to the above. Bamboo is a sustainable and eco-friendly phenomenon. It is also unbelievably strong and durable. In Asia especially, many ladders, scaffolding and even bridges are made from bamboo. There is already a vast range of eco-friendly bamboo products available on the market today, which is great to see. From bamboo straws and toothbrushes to cutlery and bowls, there really is no better replacement for their plastic counterparts.
So there you have it, an interesting list of viable eco-friendly plastic replacements. What's your personal favourite replacement for plastic?