Sustainable Living

The Plastic Products (Besides Straws) We Said Goodbye to in 2019

Mary Grace Garis

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Photo: Getty Images/Prostock Studio

First, here’s some bad news: By 2050, research estimates there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Now for the good news: We still have about 30 years left to do our part to stop the planet from becoming one big trash shore by reducing plastic waste and prioritizing other sustainable-living habits. One cause many have jumped on the bandwagon to support? The widespread canceling (and in some places outlawing) of plastic straws.

Sure, the complete lack of plastic straws alone won’t fix the global crisis, but every bit of progress certainly counts when it comes to sustainable living. To that end, rounded up below are the single-use plastics (other than straws) we kissed goodbye in 2019.

7 products we canceled in 2019 in favor of reducing plastic waste.

1. Plastic grocery bags

Following in the footsteps of California, New York is instituting a ban on plastic-bag output as of March 2020. I’ve collected quite a few canvas totes throughout my tenure as an event-hopper, so I’m good. But even if you’re not living in one of these states, you still hold the power to do your part and commit to reducing plastic. Consider it an excuse to order yourself a power tote.

2. Plastic cutlery for the first big barbecue of the summer

Do yourself a favor and preemptively stock up on plant-based, compostable tableware products, like those from the eco-conscious organization World Centric. Yes, compostable. The collection features cutlery and cold-liquid cups made from TPLA (a compostable, plant-based plastic) and hot-liquid cups made from FSC-certified paper with a plant-based bio lining.

3. Wedding decor, no matter how Pinterest-worthy it may look

Yep, it’s time to pass on basically anything you would buy for the wedding day itself and then dump once your I dos are over. Borrow beautiful things that belong to friends and family, or if you’re investing in new pieces, make sure they have a spot in your home.

“It’s time to say goodbye to one-time-use wedding decor,” says event planner Elizabeth Tulipana, founder of Chicago-based Anticipation Events. “[We] always encourage our couples to reuse their wedding decor and keepsakes as home decor, and vice versa.” And on the party-favor front, you can commit to reducing plastic by nixing the tchotchkes that say, “And so the adventure begins, Jared and Courtney.”

4. Your motorcycle jacket (no, seriously)!

The sad truth about your vegan leather is there’s a good chance it’s straight-up plastic. But that doesn’t mean you need to give up your moto jackets just yet. Materials like Piñatex, CWL, and Zoa are giving faux leather a more environmentally friendly upgrade.

5. Body scrubbers like loofahs

Today in objectively disgusting news, loofahs take only 10 days to manifest into a bacteria fiesta. That’s one of the many reason why I fell head over heels over the Boie shower scrubber (only $8), an anemone-esque disk with a lower ick factor and more sustainability cred than your average shower companion. It’s made with a BPA and phthalate-free thermoplastic elastomer, which essentially makes it 100 percent recyclable.

6. Bottled shampoo

Though it’s not a necessarily new innovation, shampoo bars are aplenty on the market. And, if you’re not into washing your hair in the first place? Feel free to cut down by going No ‘Poo, and blame it on the environment.

7. Your regular household cleaner

Blueland, founded by Sarah Paiji Yoo, was born out of a pretty scary realization. “I was horrified when I learned that the water I was using to make baby formula contained hundreds of pieces of microplastics,” she says. “It turns out, all this plastic we are discarding is ending up in our waterways and oceans, and now showing back up in our drinking water and food.”

Eventually Paiji sought to reduce plastic by way of glass, mirror, bathroom, and multi-purpose cleaners—sold in tablet-form with a reusable, BPA-free bottle. You add water to the bottle, drop in the tablet (which comes sans-plastic packaging), and it’s sparkle time, baby! Oh, and at only $2 a pop, it’s a cost-effective way to make for a—literally—cleaner world.

Other ways to be more sustainable in 2020? With your travel habits and swimwear.

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