Joanna Evans shares some top tips and resources for plastic-free living
WDDTY’s shocking report on microplastics makes a convincing case for trying to reduce your exposure to these pesky particles. Changing the way you shop is a good place to start, especially when it comes to the products you use daily, like personal care products, clothing and the containers you store your food in.
Plastics can be in a product itself as well as in the packaging it comes in, so be mindful of both when shopping. Here are some useful resources and tips for selecting plastic-free products for your family and your home.
Choose 100 percent natural products whenever possible. Check the list of ingredients on the label or the website you are buying the product from and look up any you are not sure of. As a general rule, choose products with a short list of simple, natural ingredients you’ve heard of rather than a long list of unpronounceable, unrecognizable ingredients.
Look for products that specifically say they are made with exclusively natural ingredients rather than ones that say “contains natural ingredients,” as the latter could mean only a small percentage of natural ingredients are actually used.
Watch out for ingredients with poly in the name. For example, avoid acrylates copolymer, polyacrylamide and polypropylene. For a detailed list of microplastic ingredients commonly used in personal care products, see beatthemicrobead.org/guide-to-microplastics.
Look for brands that carry the Zero Plastic Inside logo. You can search for brands on beatthemicrobead.org. Beauty Kitchen, We Love the Planet, Weleda, Inika Organic, Neal’s Yard Remedies, UpCircle Beauty, Odylique and Dr. Lipp are some of the brands with Zero Plastic Inside certification. You can also download the Beat the Microbead app, which allows you to scan the ingredients on packaging to see if a product contains microplastics.
Choose plastic-free packaging. Look for companies that use low-impact packaging, such as 100 percent recycled and recyclable glass and paper. Swap your bottle of shampoo for a bar, your tube of toothpaste for a glass jar and your deodorant spray for a minimally packaged stick or paste. Also check if you have a local refill or zero-waste store, where you can buy non-packaged goods in bulk and take them home in your own containers.
Avoid buying synthetic materials. Avoid clothing and other textiles made of polyester, nylon, acrylic, viscose, elastane, fleece and rayon as much as possible. Check labels when shopping in stores and the “materials” description when shopping online to find out the composition of clothing, bedding, towels, etc.
Opt for 100 percent natural materials. Instead of synthetics, choose clothing and textiles made of natural and ideally organic fibers like cotton, wool and hemp. A simple way to do this is to shop with a brand committed to making natural, plastic-free products. Here are some of our favorites with international shipping.
Pomp (pomp.store) This UK-based clothing brand uses only 100 percent certified organic cotton to make an affordable range of basics for men and women, like T-shirts, sweatshirts and shorts. All the clothing and the packaging it’s sent in are completely plastic-free.
Alex Crane (alexcrane.co) US-based fashion brand Alex Crane uses exclusively natural, renewable materials like organic cotton, merino wool, linen, flax, cactus leather and botanical dyes. Choose from a breezy collection of sweaters, T-shirts, shirts, pants, shorts, jackets and accessories for men and women. There’s also a small range of children’s clothing.
No Nasties (nonasties.in) This Indian brand makes sustainable clothing for men and women, as well as bedsheets and bags, from 100 percent organic cotton and nothing else. Plus the packaging is plastic-free. We love the activewear range, which includes comfy tank tops, shorts and sweatpants.
Tekla (teklafabrics.com) This Denmark-based brand offers high-quality bedding, blankets, towels, tablecloths and other home textiles made from natural and renewable fibers like organic cotton, linen and merino wool. They also offer 100 percent organic cotton unisex sleepwear and bathrobes for adults and children.
Green Fibres (greenfibres.com) Claimed to be the longest-running and original organic textile company in the UK, Green Fibres offers millet-, buckwheat- and spelt-filled pillows, organic cotton bedding, and wool and yak hair blankets, as well as organic and natural fabrics by the meter.
Wool Room (thewoolroom.com) Check out Wool Room for pure wool pillows, duvets, mattresses, mattress toppers and more, all made without adding synthetic fibers or harmful chemicals. There’s a great washable organic wool range, and we love that all the bedding is delivered in reusable, unbleached calico bags rather than in plastic.
Choose plastic-free food containers to store your food and drink in when at home and on the go. Glass, stainless steel, organic cotton and unbleached paper are all good choices. Swap your plastic chopping boards for wooden ones, too.
Here are a few options to try (both US and UK options are listed, in that order).
Choose 100 percent natural ingredients. Whenever possible, carefully check labels on dish soaps, surface sanitizers, toilet cleaners, laundry liquid and other cleaning products and seek out brands committed to using only natural ingredients in their products.
Look for low-impact and refillable packaging. Choose brands that use minimal, natural packaging or those that allow you to buy in bulk so you can reduce the number of plastic bottles you buy and decant the product into your own glass containers at home.
Some good brands to try are Attitude (attitudeliving.com), Soaply (soaply.com), Mulieres (mulieres.eu), Dr. Bronner’s (US: drbronner.com; UK: shop.drbronner.co.uk) and Purdy & Figg (purdyandfigg.com).
Choose tools carefully. You can also make some simple swaps when it comes to the tools you use to clean your home. Swap your plastic sponges, cloths, scourers and dish brushes for ones made of natural materials like organic cotton, coconut coir, plant cellulose, wood and natural rubber.
Your local health food or refill store may stock these, or try online stores like ZeroWasteStore (zerowastestore.com) if you’re in the US or Wild & Stone (wildandstone.com) if you’re in the UK (see below for more useful online stores).
A growing number of online stores are one-stop shops for all your plastic-free needs. Here are some top ones to check out.
A wealth of low-waste products for your face, body and home, including handy bundles and kits to get you started. Expect products made from natural, vegan ingredients shipped in packaging that is 100 percent plastic-free.
A huge range of sustainable supplies, from bath and body products to bedding and home decor to toys and clothes for kids. You can shop by value, such as ‘plastic-free’ or ‘zero-waste packaging.’
All products are packaged and shipped 100 percent plastic-free and carefully vetted to be free of anything toxic, harmful, or wasteful. There’s skincare, oral care, haircare, cleaning products, pet supplies and even a gift registry.
Over 7,000 eco-friendly products including personal care, baby care and cleaning products. You can specifically search for plastic-free products and the company is committed to going fully plastic-free by 2025.
A small, family-run business offering a wide range of plastic-free products, from skincare, dental care and makeup to home storage, cleaning and food and drink.
A considered collection of eco-friendly brands offering natural, plastic-free alternatives for everyday items like cosmetics, period products, kitchen storage, shopping bags and lots more.
It’s impossible to avoid microplastics completely, so detox methods may be helpful to reduce your body’s toxic load. One method is to sweat. Anything that makes you sweat—exercise, saunas, steam baths—can help you eliminate all kinds of toxic substances from the body, including plastic chemicals.1
Many functional medicine practitioners, such Dr Leigh Erin Connealy and Dr Sarah Myhill, especially favor far-infrared saunas, which use infrared light waves to heat the body. Myhill recommends short sessions daily, just to the point of sweating, but start with two a week and build up gradually.
Always follow your sauna session with a shower so that you don’t reabsorb what you sweated out. Then hydrate and take a multi-mineral supplement to replace lost fluids and minerals.
Health spas often have far-infrared saunas, but a more convenient option is a portable sauna for home use, available from companies such as Firzone (firzone.co.uk) and Durherm (durherm.com). Firzone also offers far-infrared sauna blankets for those with limited space.