Monday, September 8, 2014

Waste Less Challenge: Week 2

In 1960, plastic was less than one percent of our waste. Today, plastic is everywhere. There’s even an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. We come in contact with a variety of one time use plastics such as containers and packaging, however more durable, long term use plastics are part of our life. Don’t believe me? Look at your cell phone’s case, the exterior and interior of your car, or even your toothbrush.

Replacing plastic with more sustainable options helps break the consumer culture cycle that insists we need everything to be shiny, new, considerably cheap, and abundant. Generally sustainable options are not shiny, or new. Take bamboo for instance – it is organic so the color is going to vary, and even though bamboo grows quickly, it has to be grown. Sustainable products can be inexpensive and may even be considered cheap, because they are going to break down – naturally.

Replacing plastic items should be done responsibly. If you own something plastic and it still functions, keep it. There’s no need to create unnecessary waste. When you find something plastic that does need replacing, consider plastic alternatives. More and more product options are becoming available made with bamboo, hemp, wood and corn, or even glass or metal. How and where a product is made also impacts how sustainable a product is. Shopping local, where there is a lower carbon footprint based on the transportation alone can make a difference.

 I chose to replace my toothbrush. My old toothbrush had at least 3 different types of plastic. There was the hard plastic that made up the body, the silicone grip, and the bristles. There was no way to take apart these components which made my toothbrush unrecyclable. To be honest I didn’t do a whole lot of research before choosing a sustainable toothbrush. I had seen Brush with Bamboo toothbrushes at Expo West, and then again at a screening of the documentary Urban Fruit, so that was the toothbrush I went with. 

Before I even used my new toothbrush, I knew I was going to be using an eco-friendly product. The paper box and nylon bristles are recyclable, and the wrapper and bamboo handle compostable. They are made in China so they do have a larger carbon footprint based on having to be imported. Their website even shows you ways to dispose of the toothbrush, which tells me that the company cares about their product even after you've used it. 

Since bamboo toothbrushes don’t come in neon colors, I used some washi tape to differentiate between my brush and Sustainable Sam’s brush. I like the bristles – not too hard, not too soft. Sustainable Sam has some texture issues with bamboo and wood utensils, but he’s managed pretty well with the bamboo handle. Since using our bamboo toothbrushes for a few months now, we have noticed some wear to the bottom of the toothbrush where it sits in our toothbrush holder, but otherwise is holding up great.

What did you choose to replace?

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