Floating in the Pacific Ocean is a mass of plastic waste so big, you can see it from space. It’s there, and growing, because we humans dispose of 28,000 tons of single-use plastic into our oceans, every day. When all that plastic enters the ocean, fish eat it, we eat the fish, and our plastic waste comes full-circle. It’s now projected by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish. Crazy, huh? I think so too.
I started by Humankind because I didn’t think doing what was easy, or doing what was healthy for our planet, should have to be an either or decision. This idea goes way beyond personal care products. By making a few easy and healthy changes, all of us can help combat the global crisis of single-use plastic waste simply by getting ready in the morning. Here are a few easy ways to clean up your morning routine without making dramatic changes to your lifestyle:
(1) Use bars, not bottles, in the shower.
Your shower routine doesn’t have to include bulky plastic bottles. You already know you can use bar soap instead of bottled liquid body wash, but did you know shampoo is available in bar form, too? Pro-tip: an all-natural shampoo bar cleans your hair without stripping it of its natural oils, reducing the need for conditioner and killing two plastic bottles with one bar.
(2) Use refillable containers when possible.
Instead of focusing on recycling plastic (only 9% of plastic currently gets recycled), we should be figuring out ways to reduce our consumption of it in the first place. Opting for refillable containers instead of single-use plastic is a great place to start. Instead of packing your lunch in a ziploc bag, use a glass food storage container. In the bathroom, try refillable deodorant containers instead of single-use versions. It’s no less convenient, but a heck of a lot more planet-conscious.
(3) Simplify your personal care routine.
There’s a special kind of personal care product for everything you need and plenty of things you don’t. You probably don’t need try them all. Take stock of your morning routine, ask yourself which products are essential to your health and happiness, commit to sticking to those for a few weeks, and see what happens. Your wallet, the planet, and anyone who shares your bathroom will thank you.
(4) Buy breakfast foods in bulk and make your own.
Oatmeal, yogurt, or even a hard boiled egg are quick and healthy ways to start the day, and they’re all sold in multi-serving containers that minimize the amount of single-use plastic you send to the landfill. I found that after a week of making my own breakfast it was hard to do anything but. Avoid pre-portioned plastic packages like individual yogurt and fruit cups. In many cases, single-use plastic is easy to avoid with just a bit more planning ahead.
(5) Take your coffee without plastic.
We can do even better than skipping the straw. Skip the Starbucks and make your own, the way people did it before Keurig and Nespresso came along. A french press makes a delicious cup of coffee, by any standard. Start with just a few days per week if going cold turkey makes the coffee shop withdrawal symptoms too much to handle. If you’re an iced coffee person, or don’t do well with kitchen machinery, try buying a cold brew concentrate to make your own iced coffee at home. Some of them are delicious and a single glass bottle can give you an entire week of iced coffee. Yes, those fancy cold bottles can seem expensive at first. But over the course of a few weeks you’ll save money and do the planet a favor.