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A staggering 380 million tonnes -- that's how much plastic alone the world produces every year. An estimated 3% of that, or 11.4 million tonnes, end up in the ocean.
Once in the water, all that plastic kills millions of animals, and not only marine creatures. Almost every species of seabird consume plastics. Plastic has affected at least 700 animal species, even those on the endangered list.
That's just plastic. Those sobering statistics don't even include other types of contaminants, like household chemicals.
All these threats to the environment have given rise to eco-friendly products. In Australia, such products are the priority of consumers. Over 90% of Australians, after all, say that they prefer eco-centred, sustainable products.
The big question is, what exactly does it take for a product to be eco-friendly? How do they help conserve and preserve the environment? What are and how do you find the best eco-friendly products in Australia?
This post will answer all these questions and more, so be sure to read on!
Eco-friendly products also go by the name "environmentally-friendly" or "green" products. One can only refer to them as such if their "cradle to grave" life cycle does the environment little to no harm.
"Cradle to grave" refers to a product's entire life cycle -- from manufacturing to disposal. In between those two are usage, recycling, and destruction. Products can only be "green" if all phases of their life have minimal impact on the environment.
That said, the Australian Government has requirements on the use of such terms. You might want to refer to their official guide so that you can rest easy when you purchase green products.
As a general guideline, though, eco-friendly products often come from sustainable raw materials. Most of them are also biodegradable whilst having more than a single-use life span. They also help to improve health and well-being by emitting little to no harmful gases, such as VOCs.
On that note, let's take a look at some of the best eco-friendly items you should get for your home now.
Many parts of Australia now ban certain types of single-use plastic containers. These include lightweight shopping bags that are 35-microns thick or less. Even if they're biodegradable, so long as they're single-use and super thin, they're part of the ban.
Eco-friendly bags are a better alternative to these single-use bags, as they're reusable. Most of them are also washable, which is a plus as this means you can use them to hold almost anything!
Organic cotton produce bags are 100% plastic-free and non-toxic. Go for the see-through, mesh-like versions, which are perfect for content visibility. Since you can see what's inside, you don't have to waste time rummaging through each one to find what you need.
The higher the temperature and the more humid it is, the faster it takes for moulds to take over bread. That's why in Australia, it takes very few days for these baked goods to go all mouldy in room temperature. Enclosing bread in plastic, however, encourages even more mould growth.
That's because heat makes the moisture inside bread to dissipate. Plastic doesn't have "pores" though, so it traps moisture within itself. Add to that some oxygen (which you introduce to the bag every time you open it), and you'll have mouldy bread in no time.
Besides, your goal is to make your home plastic-free, so using plastic is out of the question. Fortunately, you can swap these with cotton bread bags, which also help keep bread fresh.
These bags are breathable enough to keep moulds at bay. At the same time, they block enough air to prevent the bread from drying out early.
Every single day, Australians use about 10 million single-use plastic straws. In a year, that can sum up to 3.65 billion used straws that are likely to end up in landfills and the seas.
That's all the more reason to say no to plastic straws. However, you can motivate others to do the same with the use of reusable straws. You'll find these eco-friendly straws in stainless steel or bamboo construction.
Bamboo is one of the eco-friendliest, most sustainable raw materials on the planet. For starters, these plants can absorb 40% more carbon dioxide compared to other trees. They also generate 35% more oxygen.
There's also the fact that bamboo grows faster than many other types of wood. Bamboo plants can reach usable maturity within three to five years. Most other types of trees, on the other hand, need 10 to 30 years.
Meaning, bamboo replenishes faster, making it an excellent alternative for other raw materials.
That said, bamboo toothbrushes are among the best eco-friendly dental products out there. What's more, certain bamboo toothbrushes are 100% biodegradable! Pick up a few of these for the entire family so you can be a step closer to reducing your carbon footprint.
Speaking of toothbrushes, did you know that one in three AU adults have untreated tooth decay? Over 30% also suffer from some degree of moderate or severe periodontitis.
Having optimal oral health doesn't have to have severe environmental effects, though. You can keep flossing whilst keeping your footprint down with eco-friendly dental floss.
These are products that come with biodegradable or compostable materials. Best of all, you'll find some that serve a two-in-one function -- as dental floss and a dental pick!
Halitosis is a worldwide concern that affects 8% to 50% of the general adult population. Between 5% and 75% of children all over the globe also suffer from it.
The good news is, proper brushing and tongue cleaning can help reduce its symptoms.
Why use a copper, though? What makes a copper tongue cleaner better than the back of a plastic toothbrush?
Copper, as well as its alloys, possesses natural anti-microbial properties. This metal, in fact, is the reason behind the birth of the term "contact killing". After all, it has shown to kill many types of pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, on contact.
Copper is also 100% recyclable. Meaning, recycling it over and over again won't affect its integrity or stability. What's more, no matter how many times you recycle it, it won't have any performance loss issues.
All that makes copper a great eco-friendly dental care must-have at home.
Agricultural waste from coffee production is 30% to 50% of the total weight of produced coffee. So, every kilogramme of drinkable coffee comes with 300 to 500 grammes of waste. Much of that waste comes from coffee husks and pulp.
This kind of waste has given rise to products like the HuskeeCup. It's a reusable cup made of none other than coffee husks. It also boasts of thermal properties that allow it to retain the heat of the liquid it stores.
Coffee husks aren't the only usable type of agricultural "waste" out there -- so are coconut husks! In countries like the Philippines, it's even a tradition to use dried shells to polish floors.
Here in Australia, you'll find dried coconut husks repurposed as multi-cleaners. The bristles allow for deep, yet non-abrasive cleaning. That makes these eco-friendly brushes great for getting tough debris out of pots and pans.
500 tonnes of wet wipes end up in Sydney's sewers every year. That amount of garbage doesn't even include facial pads or other "flushable" items.
As with plastic, many of these not-really-flushable items litter both land and water.
So, as early as now, make the switch to reusable facial pads that make use of both bamboo and cotton. These are great for all skin types, and they even come with a gentle exfoliating side. That makes them ideal for removing, dirt, dead skin cells, and hard-to-remove make-up.
Organic shampoo, such as a shampoo bar, can last just as long as three bottles of liquid shampoo. The best ones out there don't come with plastic -- instead, they use a 100% biodegradable container. Best of all, you'll find solid shampoos that can combat dryness or frizz!
Aside from body washes, consider going for organic care body wash products too. There's a lot of natural ingredients to choose from, like orange and vanilla to lime and ginger. On top of being safe and non-irritating, these also come in 100% compostable packaging!
The more eco-friendly products you use, the greater your impact will be on the environment. You may think that they're small steps, but every step counts towards helping the earth heal. Plus, the more of these green products you use, the more people you can actually encourage to do the same thing.
What's more, every green purchase you make can also be helping indigent kids and families!
Ready to make a whole world of difference whilst making your home greener and healthier? Then please feel free to check out our great eco-friendly products at Goods that Give.