As you probably know, we are, as a species, filling our oceans with criminal levels of plastic pollution which does not break down in the environment and often carries with it harmful chemicals. Both aspects cause fatal harm to sea-life and plants. In the developing world, where mismanaged waste has been a problem for decades, this growth in plastic pollution has added a new problem to the situation. Plastic waste blocking waterways and causing flooding is helping the spread of waterborne diseases and when people burn waste to get rid of it, it releases harmful toxins and causes air pollution. This is estimated to be causing hundreds of thousands of deaths a year.
With the Government currently failing to implement radical changes at big business level, there are many independent businesses trying to tackle the problems for themselves – including us. If you are trying to reduce your own imprint on the environment, then looking to your household cleaning products is one place to start making changes. Here are a few ideas and methods to help you in this niche area.
Buy 100% natural household cleaning products
At Another Country, our cleaning products of choice are designed and made by Tincture using ingredients from sustainable sources in the UK. The founders of the brand wanted to create organic, chemical-free products that would be non-harmful for young children and animals (as well as the rest of us) and their collection includes all-purpose, floor, bathroom, mirror and glass cleaners that allow you to keep a toxin-free home. They also shun the use of animal testing and check that the suppliers of ingredients they buy have the same policy. The anti-microbial cleaning bottles are made from PP plastic containing silver to ensure the material stays bacteria free and safe for multi-use. This plastic is recyclable and glass refills (also recyclable) are available. The sleeves on the bottles are made from FSC certified paper and registered with the World Land Trust where the emissions are offset by the purchase and preservation of natural rainforests and endangered areas.
Washing up in the kitchen
We sell various Iris Hantverk products for the home, but when it comes to the kitchen try the scouring pads made from 100% recycled materials including recycled synthetic fibres from PET bottles and textiles, and organic material from the kernels of nuts and bean pods – a by-product from the food industry.
Using cotton cleaning cloths means washing, rather than disposing of them when they get dirty, which is a much better policy than the alternative versions. Look out for dish brushes with replaceable heads that are made of biodegradable plant fibres and are compostable. We sell beautiful wooden brushes that are made to last – for instance the glasses brush made from oil birch and horsehair. You can clean the brushes with washing-up liquid and warm water and even oil the wooden handle with mineral oil.
Lastly, for dishwasher users, Eco leaf tablets may have shiny wrappers, but these are totally biodegradable and dissolve in the dishwasher. A great swap for regular tabs that often come individually packaged in single-use plastic.
The mighty toilet brush
Most toilet brushes end up in landfill or in our oceans, their plastic bristles often shedding nasty sharp hairs that are harmful to sea-life. Look for plastic-free toilet brushes like this one, which features plant-based bristles made from a mixture of Tampico – from agave – and Palmyra – from the India palm tree, all of which is renewable, biodegradable and compostable. The handle is made from locally grown, FSC certified beech wood.
Kitchen (and toilet) roll
We are long-held fans of the company Who Gives a Crap, which sells forest friendly paper products made with bamboo and sugarcane, without harming trees. WGAC also donates 50% of their profits to help build toilets for people in need. You can subscribe to their service for well-timed deliveries and when you are ordering at the checkout the brand even suggests how much you’ll need for the household size you live in. A brilliant hassle-free service. Plus, the packaging is great.
Get inspired by the people who are on a mission
Watch this short film about Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste lifestyle to gain a quick insight into exactly how this mother in a family-of-four achieves her aims of never throwing away. Bea is broadly credited with starting the whole zero-waste movement and her hugely popular website also includes hundreds of helpful ideas.
We also love digital newcomer Trash Plastic for its easy, palatable way of taking you towards a better way of living. Founder Sophie Tait understands how daunting it is to make big changes in the home and has crafted a user-friendly site broken down into simple subjects, each one highlighting easy fixes that leaves you feeling inspired rather than daunted.
Finally, if you want to enhance your understanding of the issues, read the New Plastics Economy Report by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Created in 2016, it presents a vision of the future where plastics never become waste – largely thanks to applying circular economy principles to global plastic flows.