10 Easy Swaps for Plastic Free January (and 2021)

It’s finally 2021 (good riddance 2020!) and so this January is the perfect time to set some plastic-free New Year's resolutions. We strongly believe that everyone should attempt to lead a more plastic free lifestyle this year, because as you all know, at Stroodles we are all for saving our beautiful planet, and helping rid the world of single use plastics. With so many plastic alternatives popping up nowadays, making plastic free swaps can actually be super simple. We have done some research and have some up with the following 10 easy swaps for a plastic free January (and rest of the year!) which you can make in your life right now! These tips will help you avoid household plastics that can end up in our oceans (which tragically harm ocean wildlife) AND they'll help you save some cash in the long run. It’s a win-win situation!

Before we begin with letting you all in on some super simple swaps for a plastic free January and 2021, we thought it was important to let you know exactly why everyone should be opting for a lifestyle that is kinder to the planet. Plastic pollution levels are frighteningly at an all-time-high. Scientists have predicted that if we don’t reduce our plastic use, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by the year 2050. Did you know that there is currently around 150 million tonnes of plastic circulating our beautiful oceans?! All of which threatens the existence of marine life, from tiny fish to big mammals and amphibians. Marine wildlife often consume plastic, mistaking it for food, which more often than not sadly causes either severe digestive problems or death. In addition to causing injury/death to these fish, it then also spreads the risk across the food chain, causing bigger fish and marine mammals to suffer too. Another big problem with plastic is that it is made from unsustainable materials such as coal and crude oil, meaning that the manufacturing process of plastic itself is terrible for our planet.

Now, it’s obviously going to take a lot of work to retrieve and recycle all of the plastic items that currently litter our planet (with much of it sadly being un-recyclable), but at the same time we need to stop making more virgin plastic. Why not help us show big businesses that we don’t want any more plastic in our environment, by changing your habits and trying out some of the plastic-free swaps we’ve listed below?

1. Reusable Water Bottles


Photo of Chilly's resusable bottles

Image credit: Amazon

 

As you have all probably noticed, plastic bottles are getting a lot of attention for the devastating impact they are having on our environment and oceans. Plastic bottles are actually the third most common ocean polluter (after cigarettes and food packaging) and are causing enormous damage to our oceans. Did you know that worldwide bottling of water uses about 2.7 million tons of plastic each year!? And in the UK alone we use 38.5 million plastic bottles every day, only half of which makes it to recycling!

Using a reusable bottle is one of the easiest changes we can make in our everyday lives that has a huge impact. There is a huge range of reusable water bottles to choose from, but at Stroodles we love Chilly’s bottles! They are the perfect bottle that will help to keep your drinks cool through the summer months. Chilly's mission is to accelerate the adoption and everyday use of reusable products, which we love.

Alternatively, for planet-friendly credentials it doesn't get much better than Ocean Bottle! The Ocean Bottle uses recycled plastic that might otherwise end up in the sea, and every purchase helps fund saving further plastic bottles from entering the ocean! How amazing is that!

If you live in the UK, definitely check out the Refill app. Refill is a campaign that uses water droplet stickers on windows of cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops to show that they are happy to refill your water bottle for free!


2. Reusable Coffee Cups


Image of Keep Cups
Image credit: KeepCup


Another great place to start living a more plastic free life is with your morning cup of coffee.

A shocking 2.5 billion coffee cups are disposed of every year in the UK. But that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that less than 1% of coffee cups actually get recycled, as disposable coffee cups are made from paper lined with plastic, which can only be recycled in specialist recycling plants. Even more depressing news is that coffee cups are also often made from virgin paper pulp, meaning that trees have been cut down for the sole purpose of producing takeaway coffee cups (which have the lifespan of about 10 mins or even less!)
With so many reusable coffee cups now available, there’s no excuse not to use one. It’s time to make this simple swap, cut down on your plastic waste, and protect our beautiful environment! An added bonus to make this swap is that a lot of coffee shops now offer a slight discount to people using their own cup.

We will list a few of our faves below!

KeepCup - KeepCup is definitely one of our favourites here at Stroodles. Their new cups have upgraded from tempered soda-lime glass to double walled stainless steel and vacuum sealed thermal insulation so your drink stays hot for hours, but remains cool enough to hold. Perfect!

Turtle Cups: Turtle Cups also have great reusable cups on offer! The company also donates 50p from every sale to charities that are working to clean up the oceans, which we love!

Stojo Cups: If one of the reasons you don’t want to switch to a reusable coffee cup is because you don’t want to carry it around all day, Stojo has you covered! When not in use, their cups fold into a disk shape that takes up minimal space and is incredibly light! Perfect to pop into your bag and not even realise it’s there!


3. Go plastic free by using Stroodle Pasta Straws


Image of Stroodles Pasta Straws


The big issue with plastic straws is that they are particularly prone to ending up in our oceans. Plastic straws never fully biodegrade, and so as time goes by they often just break down into smaller pieces of plastic that either float around in our oceans, or remain in landfill. As they break down into microplastics, they release chemicals into the soil, air, and water that are harmful to animals, plants, people, AND our environment. Plastic straws circulating our oceans then also absorb any other pollutants present in the water, which intensifies their toxicity for the animals who eat them mistaking them for food (including the animals in our food chain!).

Thankfully, the UK has now actually put a ban on plastic straws. The plastic straw ban in the UK has resulted in lots of bars trying to find plastic straw alternatives, and a lot of bars have started stroodling (we don’t blame them!) If you’d like to read about just a few of the many bars in London that use our stroodles, have a look at our blog post here.

It’s definitely ok to use straws again, but only if they are stroodles! With Stroodles you can say “pasta la vista” to soggy paper straws and ocean polluting plastic. Our pasta straws are made from only two natural ingredients, durum wheat and water, and are therefore 100% biodegradable (unlike awful plastic straws!) Even if our stroodles did happen to end up in our waterways, they would actually be a delicious snack for marine life!

Stroodles are a way to jazz up your drink game, they can be easily cut to size, perfect for every cold beverage. They also last over an hour, are flavourless and are zero-waste (you can boil them to make pasta!)

At Stroodles, our entire mission as a brand is rooted in sustainability, creating eco-friendly alternatives to everyday items, starting with our pasta straws. Our mission is to offer uncompromising solutions to the everyday consumer and business. We’re a part of a larger global effort to change the way we consume and use products, one Stroodle Straw at a time. Why not join our Stroodle Movement today!? Click here to get stroodling now!


4. Swap your toothbrush

Image of Bamboo Toothbrush
Image credit: Boobalou


It’s thought that over 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year worldwide, with roughly 80% of which very sadly end up in our oceans, or washed up on a beach somewhere. With the average person using around 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime, that’s a LOT of plastic pollution. What’s more, each toothbrush can take up to a 1000 years to decompose, so swapping to a more environmentally friendly alternative is most definitely a worthwhile swap.

At Stroodles we believe that plastic toothbrushes should be eradicated. We can cut down the huge number of plastic toothbrushes we use in our lifetimes by simply switching to an eco-friendly alternative, such as a bamboo one. Bamboo toothbrushes are a great eco-friendly alternative, because bamboo is a natural plant, fully biodegradable, thus a renewable and sustainable resource. It is also one of the fastest growing plants on the planet so we don't need to worry about running out any time soon!

We recommend The White Teeth Box Bamboo Toothbrush, which is made using sustainably grown bamboo and the handle is compostable!


5. Reusable cotton buds

Image of bamboo cotton buds

Image credit: PandaStix 

In May 2019, the government confirmed that they would be introducing a ban on single use plastic items (which included stemmed cotton buds) in an attempt to reduce the UK’s consumption of single-use plastic, and instead promote the use of recyclable materials. If you’d like to read more about the UK ban, have a look at our blog post on it by clicking here. In the UK, it is estimated that we use a staggering 1.8 billion plastic stemmed cotton buds every year. An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down the toilet and can end up in waterways and oceans and threaten precious marine wildlife. The reason that cotton buds were banned is because they are an absolute nightmare to remove from water waste.

There are however some really great solutions to plastic stemmed cotton buds! We’ve listed a few examples below which are either reusable, or 100% biodegradable and compostable, meaning that they can be easily disposed of - hurrah to no cotton buds ending up in our waterways and oceans!

Bamboo Cotton Buds

PandaStix: Their cotton buds are not only great for the environment, but by being a sturdy bamboo stick, it is so easy to apply or remove makeup, or gently clean and dry baby’s toes or fingers. Being naturally made from 100% pure cotton and organic bamboo, they are fully compostable, which means that they help our environment by cutting down on landfill and ocean waste!

Bamboo Stickmasters: Made from flexible bamboo and organic cotton, these bamboo cotton buds are super strong and will not snap or splinter, making them a great choice! No more plastic sticks floating in the ocean. Simply add to your compost when used!

3. Last Swab: Made from TPE, PP, and stored in a bio-based carrying case, one LastSwab is meant to replace 1000 single-use cotton swabs. LastSwab provides an eco friendly alternative to the many uses of single use cotton buds without the large environmental footprint.

This reusable cotton bud comes in two different models for different applications! One for general cotton bud uses and one for more beauty oriented ones. They are both made from durable yet flexible, high quality, and non-toxic materials which are gentle on the skin and very easy to clean. Both come with a convenient and biodegradable carrying case that keeps your reusable cotton bud stored away safely.


6. Switch to using a bar of soap instead!


Image of soap bars

Image Credit: Wild Sage and Co 

Over the last few years there seems to have been a war on takeaway coffee cups, plastic straws and plastic bottles, and liquid soaps (and their plastic dispensers) seem to be the next thing on the hit list!

A really simple solution to liquid soaps (like hand wash and shower gels) that come in plastic bottles is to swap to old-fashioned, simple bars of soap. Bars of soap are available to buy everywhere, and you can usually find them without plastic packaging if you scan the shelves of your local supermarket! It’s very important to remember that not all soap bars are sustainable, with many still being wrapped in plastic and containing palm oil, so make sure the soap you are buying is kind to the environment.

The vast majority of bars of soap are packaged in cardboard or alternatively have no packaging at all, so you can use them guilt-free and not have to worry about filling up our landfill sites with unnecessary plastic. Studies have shown that manufacturing liquid soap in general leaves a 25% higher carbon footprint than bar soap, so if that’s not a reason to make this easy swap then we don’t know what is!

At Stroodles we love Wild Sage and Co, who are a small family-run business hand crafting cold processed soaps and skin-loving balms from natural ingredients!
We are also enjoying BECO Soap Bar Wild Berries (which you can now also get in Waitrose!) at the moment. This vegan, cruelty-free, organic soap bar is made by the BECO team, a workforce made up of disabled, visually impaired or disadvantaged people. Handmade and cut, the scent of wild berries is delicious, and it’s completely biodegradable and the packaging is made from recycled materials!


7. Ditch using detergent bottles

Image of Ecover products
Image Credit: Ecover

While everyone knows that plastic water bottles are one of the biggest blights on our ocean, it’s important to know that it’s not just water bottles that are the issue. Everything from washing-up liquid to laundry detergent containers are also littering our planet with harmful plastic.

As you all already know the detrimental impact that huge amounts of plastic are having on our planet, we thought we would go straight into talking about plastic free, more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic detergent bottles.

Dish soap – No need for plastic bottles here! Get your hands on solid, natural dish washing soap bars instead. They are just as effective at getting your dishes clean, but are more importantly plastic free and don’t contain any chemical nasties.

Ecover has just launched its 100% recycled washing-up liquid bottle! Not only are the bottles fully recyclable, the brand also sells 5L refills so you can make them last longer.

All purpose cleanerBiodegradable sachets are a great replacement for a number of household cleaning products. Just pop the sachet into a reusable spray bottle, add water and you are good to go! The whole sachet is soluble!

Floor cleaner – If you want a sustainable, zero waste alternative to your usual floor cleaner - Planet Detox has you covered. This natural floor cleaner powder, when sprinkled into your bucket of water will make your tiles, woodwork, or slates smell divine!

Spray bottles – Instead of using soaps and sprays in plastic bottles, you can use these amber glass spray bottles instead. Sustainable and infinitely recyclable, the glass is also non-leaching and completely eco friendly.

Detergent and fabric softener – Instead of resorting to plastic bottles full of harsh, artificial chemicals, imagine you could opt for simple powders and egg shaped wonders instead? Natural Laundry eggs can be popped inside the washer, and these natural washing powders that come in paper bags can be used like a regular detergent!


8. Start using zero waste hand sanitizer

Image of Beauty Kitchen's hand sanitiser
Image credit: Beauty Kitchen

Now, as we all know over the past year the world has gone absolutely crazy for hand sanitiser due to the fact that keeping your hands clean is a key tool in reducing the spread of Covid-19!

It’s become clear that in a big rush to keep our hands clean in this new world full of virus, there has been a huge increase in the sale of hand sanitisers, which unfortunately also means an enormous rise in the amount of single use plastic hand sanitiser bottles. Over ONE BILLION single use plastic hand gel bottles will be used in the UK this year PLUS most hand gels are full of microplastics!

As this is a VERY topical one, we thought we’d share with you all a few of our favourite hand sanitisers we’ve discovered, which are a lot, lot kinder to our environment.

Nathalie Bond Hand Sanitiser: Simple and effective, this little refillable glass bottle will fit into your pocket so there's no chance of forgetting it. It's also the best smelling hand sanitiser ever - with a lovely blend of peppermint and eucalyptus oil.

Beauty Kitchen’s REFILLABLE ORGANIC VEGAN HAND SANITISER: Save 11 single use 50ml gel hand sanitiser bottles with their 5 star rated, refillable, organic and vegan hand sanitiser that has a light and refreshing scent.


9. Plastic free flossing

Image of Knotty Floss
Image credit: Knotty Floss

A lot of conventional dental floss is not recyclable and definitely not biodegradable or plastic-free, so this leaves big question marks over the sustainability of flossing, especially given the fact that a lot of people floss daily! With 30% of the UK flossing this means a lot of plastic waste to be dealt with.

Conventional dental floss is waxed nylon (a plastic filament) rolled up into a small plastic box, which often comes packaged in even more plastic. So basically, there is a lot of plastic involved! Plastic free dental floss alternatives are made from sustainable sources like bamboo fibre or silk, coated in natural waxes. Below we highlight a few of our fave eco-friendly and biodegradable floss alternatives available, which offer an effective way of continuing to floss whilst being good to our planet.

Knotty Floss: These eco dental floss sticks are great for those looking to find a greener version without swapping over to dental floss string. The handle of the floss stick is made from biodegradable corn starch so after use they are very much compostable. The floss sticks are also packaged in biodegradable plastic so all in all these floss picks are an effective eco-friendly and zero waste option for those looking for green alternatives to disposable plastic dental floss.

Georganics reusable dental floss: The floss, like the sticks, is made with sustainable bamboo charcoal and it has a minty flavour due to peppermint essential oil being added. In total the floss clew is 30 metres long meaning it is very long lasting and the packaging is completely plastic-free as it is contained in a glass jar with metal container which has a handy dispensing lid for easy eco flossing! The floss is also PETA certified cruelty-free and vegan as Georganics recently replaced the beeswax in this product with candelilla wax.


10. Free your tea of plastic this year!

Image of Teapigs tea
Image credit: Tea&Coffee

It’s important to be kind to our lovely planet – without sacrificing the most important drink of the day! You might think tea bags are just simply paper and tea, and that they decompose when you put them in your food waste bin after making yourself a lovely cup of tea. But, unfortunately you’re incorrect (unless you use plastic free tea bags of course). Unfortunately many of the tea bags we buy contain polypropylene, which is what the tea bags are sealed with, so when you put used tea bags in your food waste, you’re actually putting toxic chemicals into your compost that will eventually seep into the ground.

Freeing your tea of plastic this year is also a very easy swap to make, you just need to know where to buy your tea bags from! We’ve listed some of our favourites below, but there are plenty of amazing tea brands out there, which champion sustainability - just make sure you do some research!

Brew Tea Co: This brand is all about as transparent and sustainable as it comes, and the brand makes it all fun too. Brew Tea – based in Manchester, uses whole leaves (not dust, it insists) and is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership which supports small estate grower. All the tea bags from the brand are made from cornstarch, the inner lining is made from Nature-flex and inside the box is a really useful card telling you what all the packing is made from and how it should be recycled: from the council food recycling (tea bags and inner lining) which decomposes at 45 days to the outer box which goes into the paper recycling!

Teapigs products are plastic-free and biodegradable. Their tea temples have always been plastic-free. Made from corn-starch and 100% biodegradable – you can pop them in with your food waste collection where they will break down within 12 weeks (best avoid putting them in home compost, as they do need high heat and pressure to break down - which won't be met at home). Late last year they also switched their inner plastic bag (that keeps your tea nice and fresh) to a new wonder material called Natureflex which is made from wood pulp and suitable for home composting – total game changer!

Pukka Herbs tea bags are free of plastic, tied together with organic cotton and are fully compostable. On their website, they say: "Pukka doesn’t use this kind of material. Instead, we use a simple stitch of organic cotton and a unique folding process. This means we don’t need to use polypropylene to hold our teabags together and our teabags are therefore free from plastic. We were the first company to ever use organic strings to hold our teabags together without the need of a metal staple or polypropylene."


From plastic straws, to plastic water bottles and plastic stemmed cotton wool buds, plastic is unfortunately all around us, enmeshed in everyday life, eventually clogging our landfill sites and polluting our waterways. The majority of people’s reliance on convenience doesn’t make zero waste living easy, but we hope that this blog post will enlighten you with a few simple swaps that can be easily made to your lifestyle this year. We must admit that living a plastic-free lifestyle can take a lot of effort, thought and often some pre-planning at first, but it’s important to know that EVERY single little thing you do will help!

We want to highlight that living plastic-free is definitely a long journey, and it’s completely normal and ok to feel a little intimidated at first, as sometimes it’s difficult to know when to begin. We hope that this blog post has highlighted a few swaps that are easy to incorporate into your new lifestyle, as well as being uncompromising. We believe that living a more sustainable life doesn’t mean you have to become an eco-warrior overnight or make all these lifestyle changes instantly, literally any small change really does have a positive impact on our environment. So, what are you waiting for?!

If the first plastic-free swap you make happens to be switching to using pasta straws, then here’s the link to our shop ;-)