Allowing you to clean up the oceans while cleaning your home, global cleaning product company Method uses 100% recycled plastic for its bottles, saving 70% of the energy that would be used to create them from virgin plastic, as well as taking the stuff out of our oceans. Another brand, Seventh Generation, has turned to recycled cardboard and plastic for its bottles, as well as using plant-based ingredients in its sprays and being powered by renewable energy.
As well as using alternatives to plastic, some brands are taking it a step further with bio-based materials that actually take CO2 out of the atmosphere. Men's skincare brand Bulldog has opted for replacing 50% of the plastic in its bottles with sugarcane: for every 100 tonnes of sugarcane used in tubes, 309 tonnes of CO2 are taken out of the atmosphere. Meanwhile, haircare brand Seed Phytonutrients – the brainchild of two former L’Oréal workers – is cutting down on plastic by using shower-proof cardboard bottles, which are lined with a small quantity of recycled plastic and are compostable and recyclable.
In April 2019, Adidas announced it was creating a 100% recyclable pair of shoes, created using ocean plastic, which can be returned and transformed into a new pair once worn out. The shoes will make their official debut in Spring 2021, after they’ve been fully tested. The activewear brand already sells a range of shoes containing recycled materials, but this will move the brand closer towards a closed-loop system. Meanwhile, newcomer brand Allbirds uses sugarcane-based plastic, natural fibres and recycled plastics in its shoes as a sustainable alternative.
The fashion industry doesn’t have a great record on sustainability, but ARKET is one of a new crop of brands trying to change that. Designing clothes that are meant to last, offering textile recycling in-store, and selling swimsuits made from recycled plastic bottles are just some of the ways this brand is turning the tides against pollution. US-based clothing company Everlane sells a number of outerwear pieces made from recycled plastic bottles, as well as recycled cashmere sweaters and recycled polyester fleeces.
Recycling materials is great but increasing the lifespan of your existing garments is even better. Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, as well as selling recycled ranges and designing its clothing to be durable, also offers customers the ability to mend worn-out items for free at “Worn Wear” events. In the UK, innovative clothing repair company Clothes Doctor allows people to mail their worn items and have holes repaired, zips fixed, or size altered for a small price, before being sent back to them.
Shoppers across the world have long been crying out for alternatives to plastic packaging, and it seems some grocery stores are listening. Grocery chain Whole Foods Market has swapped plastic bags for paper, promotes bulk over packaged foods, and only uses reusable dishes in dining areas. The combined effect of packaging changes across stores is estimated to reduce 800,000lbs of plastic per year. Meanwhile in the UK, supermarket chain Waitrose now has four stores with “packaging-free” aisles, where shoppers can fill their own reusable containers with refillable items.
Not only bad for our pocket, buying takeout coffee in plastic-lined paper cups is a huge problem for the planet. The solution? Get yourself a reusable cup. UK-based Ecoffee Cups are made from bamboo fibre, corn starch and resin, providing an eco-friendly alternative. Meanwhile Melbourne-based KeepCup makes cups from glass, stainless steel, cork and reusable plastic, and has become a global phenomenon, selling its products in 65 countries.
“Putting planet before profits”, UK cafe chain Boston Tea Party saw sales decline by an estimated $314,293 (£250k) as a result of a new policy introduced in June 2018, where it stopped giving out takeaway coffee cups and only sold takeout drinks to those with a reusable cup. In doing so, the company stopped 125,000 cups from going to landfill. Pret A Manger, another UK food and coffee chain, offers a 50p discount to those with a reusable cup, while some small independent coffee shops refuse to give out takeout cups too.
Norwegian chemical company Quantafuel has an innovative approach to reducing plastic waste. By boiling down unwanted plastic into fuel, through technology called catalysis, the company reduces the amount of plastic that enters landfill and oceans. In its first European plant in Denmark, the company creates 800 litres (176 gallons) of synthetic diesel using 1,000kg (2,205lb) of plastic waste – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds compared with producing regular diesel.
Beach cleans are great for cutting down coastal pollution, but as we know, plastic can accumulate right in the middle of oceans and create huge islands of trash. To reach this inaccessible waste, non-profit organisation The Ocean Cleanup has designed a floating, U-shaped system which harvests plastic and extracts it from the seas – models claim it can clear 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years.
For those looking to eliminate not just plastic but go fully zero-waste, bulk stores could be for you. Package Free Shop, a Brooklyn-based boutique and online shop, was set up by prolific zero-waste influencer Lauren Singer, who stored up 5 years’ of waste in a mason jar and documented it in a TED Talk. In the UK a host of zero-waste shops have sprung up in the past few years: from Bulk, in East London, Birmingham’s The Clean Kilo and Zero Green in Bristol.
Coffee pods or capsules may be a super-convenient way to make coffee, but the vast majority are made from single-use plastic and can’t be recycled. In November 2019, Italian espresso company Lavazza became the first major coffee brand to sell compostable capsules, which will replace its current capsules at the same selling price, by the end of 2019. The used capsules can either be thrown in a food waste bin – where they’ll break down after six months – or given to TerraCycle collectors for composting.
Did you know that an estimated 96% of teabags contain plastic? This means that, contrary to popular belief, the vast majority are not compostable and will leave plastic in the environment. Numi Tea is a company that creates its teabags from hemp-based, unbleached, biodegradable and compostable filter paper, plus the boxes are made from 85% recycled cardboard and printed with soy-based inks. Meanwhile UK-based Clipper Teas eliminated plastic from its teabags in 2018, and its pack cartons and envelopes are recylable.