Life without plastic: environmentally friendly alternatives

The seas are littered, everywhere in cities and even in unchanged ones where nobody lives far and wide, the litter collects on the streets and in the bushes. Rubbish bins are still overflowing or the rubbish is carelessly thrown into nature.

The problem: The ecosystems suffer from all the plastic, e.g. B. Birds and sea creatures mistake food for plastic and eat it. The plastics trigger inflammatory and toxic reactions, causing the animals to die in agony.

This also has consequences for humans: edible fish are already full of plastic and microplastics, the smallest plastic particles, have also been found in groundwater and spring water. This is how the plastic gets into the human body. What is particularly frightening is that a straw takes around 200 years to completely decompose. A plastic bottle even needs 450 years! But then the plastic didn’t just disappear. It buzzes through the environment as a tiny particle.

Plastic ban from 2021

Not anymore! The decision was made in Brussels in 2018 to ban single-use plastic products in the EU from summer 2021. Affected are:

  • cotton swab
  • Plastic cutlery and plates
  • straws
  • Stirrer (something for coffee mugs)
  • balloon sticks
  • Styrofoam cups and containers for take away food

The ban also applies to plastics that break down into tiny parts, so-called microplastics, as a result of a reaction with oxygen. The ban will apply from July 3, 2021.

The garbage is everywhere

The products that will be banned account for about a tenth of the volume of waste on streets and in municipal waste bins. In individual cases even up to a fifth, said the Vice President of the Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU), Patrick Hasenkamp. According to the Federal Environment Agency, the German coasts are also polluted. Last year, the authority found that 390 pieces of garbage per hundred meters were found on the North Sea. At the Baltic Sea there were 70. Most of them were made of plastic.

Sustainable alternatives

cotton swab
You can now buy cotton swabs that do not have a piece of plastic in the middle. Instead, this is now made of cardboard or bamboo. There are 1000 Q-Tips from True Nature, e.g. B. already for about 9 euros. Another alternative is cotton swabs, which are reusable. The molded different ends are made of silicone, making them easy to clean. The chopsticks from Elekin are a one-time purchase and cost just under 7 euros.

Plastic cutlery and plates
If you order something to eat or drink on the go, food and drinks are often served on plastic dishes or with plastic cutlery. From 2021, these are to be replaced by cardboard and wooden cutlery, for example. But if you want to avoid that, you can also bring your own cutlery. Camping cutlery made of stainless steel with a matching case is suitable, for example from Teamfar. The 9-piece set is available for around 11 euros. Our own lunch boxes help against the disposable tableware. Those made of stainless steel are ideal, eg from Urbavo for 25 euros. The cutlery can also be used as a substitute for stirrers, eg for coffee.

There are now many alternatives to straws. Whether made of stainless steel with a nice engraving, made of glass in different sizes, silicone or bamboo – everyone will find their favorite straw here. On average, a set of six to ten straws costs between 5 and 15 euros. There is also a cleaning brush and often a bag for storage or transport.

Styrofoam and coffee-to-go cups
The coffee-to-go cups in particular have sparked a real waste problem in the cities. It’s good that there are cups that can be reused. You can have them refilled every time and then wash them out with water and washing-up liquid. Just make sure not to use bamboo cups, as according to Stiftung Warentest harmful substances can be released from the material. Instead, we recommend insulating and thermal mugs made of stainless steel, e.g. B. from epikan for about 16 euros.

plastic bags and fruit bags
There have been no plastic bags at the tills for several years. Instead, paper bags, cloth bags, cardboard boxes or permanent carrier bags are offered there. The small fruit bags are also disappearing from the shelves. An alternative are fruit and vegetable nets made of cotton, eg by Achilles. 6 pieces cost about 12 euros. They are pesticide free and are subject to change.

Away with plastic bottles and towards solid shampoo. The shampoo is often only packed in cardboard so that it does not produce any further waste. It is easy to use, foams when washed and cares for the hair like normal shampoo. Solid shampoo is available from alverde (dm), Foamie or Lush.

watt pads
Removing make-up or nail polish in the evening: cotton pads can be used for so many things in your daily beauty routine. But instead of pads made of cotton wool, many rely on washable pads made of fabric. The Vandeep brand, for example, offers 20 pieces for about 14 euros. If you can handle fabrics and sewing thread a bit, you can also sew reusable pads yourself. A strong cotton fabric is well suited for one side and a microfiber cloth for example for the second side. The latter removes make-up residues on the face particularly thoroughly.

Scrub and shower gel
Peelings and shower gels often contain small particles that are supposed to gently remove dead skin. Often, however, these are tiny plastic particles that have gotten into the sewage treatment plants via the wastewater. These can usually not filter out all particles, so they get into the environment. Alternatives are natural cosmetic shampoos – tested by ÖKO TEST here – or peelings made from coffee grounds or Dead Sea salt.

toothpaste and toothbrush
Say goodbye to the plastic toothbrush and hello to the bamboo toothbrush. The handpiece and bristles are made from 100 percent renewable bamboo, do not use any synthetic materials and are BPA-free. The brushes are available in packs of 4 for just 9 euros, e.g. by outdoor freaks. Not much more expensive than a traditional toothbrush. There is also an alternative to toothpaste: so-called toothpaste tablets, e.g. B. from Denttabs, 125 pieces for about 5 euros. One tablet is chewed in the mouth. The tablet takes on a pasty form through the saliva. Then brush your teeth normally.

drinking bottles
Plastic bottles do not have a good image. Reusable glass bottles are much better. But even better are your own glass and metal bottles, which can be refilled over and over again. There are beautiful drinking bottles e.g. B. from Chilly’s bottle, different sizes from 25 euros. These are made of stainless steel and keep hot drinks warm for 12 hours and cold drinks cold for 24 hours.

buy food
When shopping, it is often difficult to find alternatives to natural foods. Bulk shops are a real alternative. Unfortunately, these are often only found in big cities. Supermarkets now also offer fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging, and sausages and cheese can be placed directly in the lunch box at the deli counter. Some markets even have their own filling stations for pasta, rice and muesli or even detergent.

Whether it’s salad servers, wooden spoons or spatulas: the next time you buy something new, check whether the kitchen utensil is also available in wood or metal. This also applies to e.g. B. mixing bowls – which are also available in metal – or chopping boards made of wood. Now you should not sort out all plastic dishes. It is more sustainable if you use them until they have served their purpose and break.

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