Plastic single-use cotton swabs have a huge impact on our environment, from the resources used to produce and transport them to their problematic disposal. There are many companies now that make reusable, washable swabs that can perform the same functions as the disposable ones. If this grosses you out and you still want to use a new one each time, consider switching from traditional plastic-based cotton swabs to bamboo-based biodegradable ones.
Shampoo, body wash, and soap
Single-use plastic containers — especially those used for shampoos, soaps, and conditioners — are a major source of plastic pollution. Their contents are also mostly water based (from 80 – 95%) – why pay for water when you can add it yourself? Consider switching to shampoo bars or buying your shampoo and and/body soap in the bulk section at your local grocery store.
Similar to shampoo and body wash bottles, cleaning supply containers are a huge source of plastic waste, and their contents are also largely water-based. Many cleaning supplies also introduce toxic chemicals into your home. Some alternatives include: making your own with common household ingredients*; shopping in the bulk section at your local grocery store; or buying refillable eco-friendly options such as concentrated tablet cleaners that can be added to water in a reusable container at home.
*With thanks to the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District for this great resource
Toothpaste tubes are notoriously difficult (essentially impossible) to recycle because they are made of a combination of different plastics and aluminum. Although we do accept oral hygiene products under special recycling at Stowe and Johnson as part of our partnership with Terracycle, it’s possible to eliminate the need for them entirely. Consider zero-waste toothpaste tablets.
Most dental floss is made from nylon – a plastic which is essentially not recyclable. Its packaging is also not usually recyclable in single-stream blue bin blue bin (although we do accept it at our Stowe and Johnson locations separated in special recycling). Many dental flosses contain toxic chemicals such as PFAs that can leach into your bloodstream. You don’t have to stop flossing to avoid these tricky disposal issues and potential toxic health concerns! Look for non-toxic, biodegradable options (such as silk or candelilla wax), preferably packaged in glass or a biodegradable packaging.
Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that toilet paper usually comes with. To go another step further, consider switching to either a bamboo-based or at least a 100% recycled toilet paper. Bamboo (especially FSC-certified) is a very sustainable option, as bamboo grows quickly and can substitute for the old growth forests that are used to make most toilet paper.