Plastic is incorporated in just about everything in our current society. It’s in the chairs we sit on, the cups of coffee we buy on our way to work, and it surrounds most food that we buy in the grocery store.
Sure, we understand that many products made of plastic are necessary in your life. We can’t go without brushing our teeth and doing the dishes! But did you know that there are biodegradable alternatives for all of these plastic items?
Over the past year or so, we have gradually replaced plastic items with biodegradable alternatives. Only when they needed replacing, obviously!
We prefer the look and feel of these new items over the plastic ones. And the feeling we get every time we use them is amazing. It reminds us that we did good by mother nature.
So today, we’re sharing with you 10 alternative products that are natural, biodegradable, and free from (single use) plastic.
There is no “away”
Before sharing some alternative products with you guys, we’d like to quickly explain why it’s a great idea to restrict the use of plastic products as much as possible.
One of the most widely produced types of synthetic plastic is polypropylene. It is sturdy, and resistant to many chemical solvents. This makes the material incredibly versatile. It’s used in food packaging, clothing, outdoor furniture, and for many other purposes.
Sadly, the fact that it is such a versatile and rugged material also brings a massive issue. The issue is most apparent when plastic is used to create items that are usually replaced regularly, or thrown out after one single use.
Plastic can only be recycled a few times, and is non-renewable. When thrown in the bin, people often forget that the object that is now gone from their lives will never leave this planet.
So keep this in mind whenever you open the bin:
There is no away!
In this blog post, we won’t go into depth on the downsides of plastic packaging. We will however soon dive into the footprint of three different types of non-biodegradable packaging materials. Keep an eye out for that one if you like the subject of this blog post and are interested!
But without further ado, here are 10 biodegradable alternatives for products that are commonly made of plastic!
1 Reusable shopping bags
This first one is very simple, yet many people seem to forget about it! Marijke currently works at a store, and many customers still ask for a plastic bag in which to take their newly bought items home.
In our country, it has now been illegal for some years to give customers a free plastic bag. Still, many people prefer to pay for a bag every time they buy groceries or other products, rather than bringing their own bag!
Why not acquire an organic cotton bag when you’re in the city, and take your other shopping home in that? Cotton bags are much stronger than plastic bags, allowing you to carry more groceries at once. But they are also more comfortable to hold, as the handles don’t dig into your skin.
Fun tip: Buy an organic linen or cotton bag when you’re traveling. It makes for a great souvenir!
2 Dish brushes
Yet another item that is irreplaceable in households, is a dish brush. We’ve always done our dishes manually, and we don’t mind doing so. A few years ago we researched dish soaps and replaced our regular type with an eco-friendly alternative.
What we however did not consider, was the fact that our dish brushes were made from plastic. A few months ago we found out about wooden alternatives that would clean our plates and cups just as well as our regular plastic brushes. We bought our replacement at a local organic coop, but realized even our supermarket stocks them!
The handle is made out of wood and metal, the brush head is made out of wood and plant based bristles. These heads are replaceable and compostable, so they make for a very environmentally friendly option!
3 Cleaning sponges
Some people don’t use a dish brush to do their dishes, but rather opt for sponges. Sponges are also often used to clean surfaces throughout the house or for really dirty dishes. Not only are they (partially) made of plastic, they’re also filled with glues and dyes.
We have found some eco-friendly alternatives that you guys will love.
Twist is a company that uses hemp, agave, loofah and cotton to create 100% plant based sponges for nearly any purpose. Aside from being plant based, they supposedly leave all surfaces scratch free and do not fall apart after short term use! We hope to acquire some of these sponges in the near future and can’t wait to give them a try!
4 Hair comb
A few weeks ago, Marijke replaced her hairbrush with a bamboo comb. The previous hairbrush was in need of replacement, and although we’re happy with the new comb, it felt horrible to throw out the plastic brush.
We are so glad to have found a completely biodegradable alternative. This means that we won’t feel bad when, eventually, we have to replace this one!
5 Drinking straws
Staying with the bamboo theme, there are many products that include this lovely material. Have you ever considered buying reusable drinking straws?
Although they’re definitely not a necessity, on occasion many people use drinking straws, some even do so several times a week. We personally used to do so too, but stopped some years ago because they were so wasteful.
Last week, we received a parcel from Bamboo Straw Girl. It’s a small company in Singapore that specializes in bamboo straws. We ordered two short straws, two long ones, and even a cool small brush to clean them with. They can be safely stored in our kitchen drawer in a linen wrap.
Since we love making smoothies and homemade ice tea, we’re excited to be using these straws for years to come!
Bamboo Straw Girl kindly generated a discount code for you as our reader to use on their website. Simply add ‘MOJOANDFRIENDS’ at checkout for 10% off your order!
Fun fact: these straws were shipped in an envelope padded with biodegradable material. Now that’s what we call dedication!
The next item we’d like to discuss is something that many people around the world use twice daily: the toothbrush. In a lifetime, each person discards approximately 300 toothbrushes. This is such an incredible amount of waste, and it’s time for a change!
We are currently using our final two regular toothbrushes, and we’re really stretching their use. We’re dreading the day that we’ll have to discard them. We will most likely use them in our household to clean corners in our bathroom until we move into our van.
There are quite a few brands out there that are well underway in creating toothbrushes that are either partly degradable or even fully biodegradable!
Most of these companies mainly create toothbrushes with handles made from bamboo, a renewable biodegradable material! Although the bristles are often still made from BPA-free nylon, it’s already a huge step in the right direction. Especially since it can be quite a struggle to find a completely degradable toothbrush!
Georganics and Hydrophil create beautiful toothbrushes with a biodegradable handle, they’re a great option if you’re located in Western Europe! Both these brands create numerous other eco-friendly products aswell that are worth checking out.
Wee also found a few gems after a long search online. If you are lucky enough to live near an amazing company that does produce fully biodegradable toothbrushes, that’s amazing. We had to order ours all the way from the USA, but we did end up with an amazing product.
Briut Essentials use bamboo to create toothbrushes with biodegradable handle and bristles. This means that after having used the brush for three months, you can throw it in the compost without worrying about polluting the world! We recently bought our first set and can’t wait to give them a try!
7 Dental floss
Let’s stay with the subject of dental care. We all use toothbrushes and toothpaste, but not everyone uses dental floss. For those who do, there are biodegradable options without plastic packaging!
Usually, dental floss is made of nylon or teflon. Although nylon does break down eventually, it takes 30-40 years. So although for most people, out of sight means out of mind, it’s not gone from this planet just yet!
Last week, Georganics brought out two types of biodegradable dental floss! The first is made of silk, the second is made of bamboo charcoal.
This floss comes in a small glass jar with metal lid. The Georganics team have also mentioned to bring out refill options soon, so you can reuse the glass jar without having to buy an unnecessary new one every single time. How great is that!
8 Kitchen tools
Kitchen tools are often used longer than the other items in this list. After using them on a daily basis for an extended period of time however, there comes a time when they need to be replaced.
The tools we have in our kitchens come in many different materials, but most of us definitely have a number of plastic objects. If any of these objects are in need of replacing, it might be a good idea to find a wooden alternative!
We have a number of wooden tools. They include cutting boards, ladles, and spatula. Even our kitchen scales are partly made of bamboo! Other objects made from biodegradable material are bowls, plates, and mugs. The possibilities are endless!
9 Bin bags
To those of you that don’t live a ‘zero waste’ lifestyle, bin bags are most likely a part of your household. Over the past year in which we’ve actively pursued a more sustainable lifestyle, we realized that bin bags are one of the most wasteful items nearly every household consumes.
Basically, you’re buying extra plastic to store your plastic waste. Doesn’t that sound a bit wrong?
Since we live in an apartment, we don’t have a garden. This limits us in options to compost any food waste or other plant based leftovers we might have.
Although our apartment is tiny, we opted for a separate bin that we line with 100% biodegradable bin bags. We take these out to the shared compost bin outside of our apartment building.
These biodegradable bin bags come in several sizes. Although we found this Dutch brand in our local supermarket, we bet there’s a brand that sells them wherever you are in the world!
10 Dog poop bags
We know that not everyone reading this owns a dog. Those of you who do will know the horrible feeling of forgetting your roll of poop bags to pick up after your pup! The final item we’d like to share with you, slightly related to the previous topic, is poop bags.
Poop bags come in different shapes and sizes, and believe it or not, even in various colors, scents, and patterns. Personally, we think these characteristics are nonsense. Picking up your dog’s poop has never been cute, and it won’t ever be. You can decide to turn it into a more environmentally friendly habit, though!
We’ve been on the lookout for biodegradable poop bag alternatives. Our favourite type we’ve found so far are Earth Rated compostable poop bags. They are made from cornstarch, meaning that they break down within 40 days after use. Even the inner rolls around which the bags are wrapped are made of biodegradable recycled cardboard, as is the packaging it comes in!
Accidents happen when not reading the fine print
Although we try our hardest to mind the products we buy every day, we also make mistakes.
We recently bought a box of Beco Pets ‘degradable’ poop bags, but once they arrived at our doorstep, we found out that they are made of plastic! They contain an additive that speeds up the decomposition process. Although advertised as environmentally friendly, we’re now stuck with 270 little plastic bags!
This just goes to show that marketing can be incredibly deceiving, and that online stores or supermarkets might get the facts wrong. Whenever you order or buy a biodegradable replacement, do your best to confirm that the product is really what you’re after!
Share your stories!
Have you ever made a similar mistake? We’d love to read your stories in the comments below. And don’t forget to tell us about your favourite biodegradable alternatives for household items that are commonly made from plastic!
Disclaimer: All opinions in this blog post are our own. We are in no way sponsored by the brands we mentioned above.