Jharkhand has become the newest Indian state to initiate a ban on polythene bag usage. Plastic is ubiquitous in our lives — not only as bags, it is found in our utensils, household items, and sometimes even in consumer goods. As we come to terms with the adverse effects of plastic consumption, the need to switch to a healthier way of living has become more acute than ever.
If you are just getting started on giving up plastic, here are some simple everyday alternatives to consider.
1. Swap polythene for cloth
Foldable cloth bags from Smallsteps. Source: Facebook
In varied shapes and sizes, polythene bags are the biggest perpetrators of plastic waste. Despite blanket bans in many states, and citizen movements, these bags continue to be in use. What are the alternatives? Cloth bags are reusable, as are bags made from jute, burlap or even recycled plastic.
SmallSteps Bags is a social enterprise spearheaded by Upasana Studio, which engages disadvantaged women in creating handmade cloth bags. The profits are shared by artisans and contributed to poor village schools too.
2. Bottle up
Eco-friendly glass bottles. Source: Flickr
It’s common for us to buy bottled water when we are outdoors or travelling. These bottles are either trashed or end up being reused at home — both equally damaging to the environment and our health.
Switch to glass bottles, which don’t contain Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical used in certain plastics, and are thus less likely to affect users with harmful toxins. Heavy as they are, glass bottles are not the best bet for travelling. Try stainless steel bottles and make sure that there is no plastic coating inside the bottles.
3. Serveware with care
Sustainable serveware by Pappco. Source: Facebook
Melamine dinnerware is ubiquitous in households today, but studies have testified to their toxic properties and their non-recyclability. Instead, use glass, ceramic or good old stainless steel.
Disposable serveware — usually made of plastic — has a way of sneaking into households. Commonly used during parties, you can replace those with more eco-conscious choices. Check out Pappco, which makes serveware from sugarcane, or Bakey’s whose millet-based cutlery is actually edible.
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4. Keep takeaway containers at bay
Make way for eco-friendly containers. Source: Pixabay
With a burgeoning culture of eating out and takeaways, our homes are filling up with plastic containers that have little sustainability beyond a few uses. Recycle and reuse, but a better alternative is to carry your own containers for takeaways. It might raise a few eyebrows, but many takeaway counters will hardly mind.
5. Stick not to Teflon
Steel utensils make for sustainable cooking. Source: Pexels
Non-stick cookware has changed kitchens in recent years, but the iconic Teflon coating is little more than a synthetic layer on cookware that can adversely affect the quality of food. With increasing concerns about the quality of food cooked on Teflon-coated ware, people are reverting to old-fashioned utensils and slow cookers.
6. Sealed pouches and cling film
Biodegradable bags by Envigreen. Source: Facebook
From vegetables to stationery, an array of household items is stored in zip pouches and cling wraps. Eco-friendly cling wraps are at an infantile stage in India, but you can use alternative container bags. Try Envigreen, whose seemingly plastic bags are made from tapioca and make for animal fodder when trashed.
7. Conscious household items
Detergents in recycled PET bottles. Source: Facebook
A variety of household items, from household cleaners to skincare products come in plastic bottles and pouches. With few eco-friendly alternatives, these can be surprisingly hard to combat and require a spot of DIY as well. But there are options—Project Auric, a cleaning agent manufactured by village women in Haryana, comes in recycled PET bottles.
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Opt for eco-friendly soaps and personal care products. Companies like The Body Shop and M.A.C let customers bring used bottles to be refilled at stores. Look for homegrown brands like SaND for Soapaholics that offer artisanal soaps without plastic packaging or make your own—reetha and henna continue to be popular among Indians.
Check out Smallsteps Bags on their website. For more on Envigreen, click here and shop Pappco products on their website. To get in touch with the Project Auric team, click here and check out SaND for Soapaholics on their website.