How to Replace Plastic Use in Daily Life

There’s a time and a place for plastic, but by and large there’s just too much plastic in the world. As a company, we do our part to reduce plastic use in our supply chain and use as much recycled polyester (i.e.: made from plastic bottles) as possible. But it’s an attitude that we can all adopt.

That’s the idea behind Plastic-Free July – a movement to inspire people to avoid most plastic items in your life for a whole month and replace them with a sustainable alternative. If you can do it for a month, you can make it a daily habit. Obviously, this July is a little different (PPE, take out, sanitizers), but there are some easy swaps you can make to reduce plastic pollution and use plastic alternatives well past July. Here’s our guide for how to reduce personal plastic use and what you can use instead of plastic.

Reusable cloth face masks

We’re all for first responders wearing the best personal protective equipment (PPE) available – plastic or not. BUT there are millions of us who are not first responders who have a much better chance at practicing physical distancing; we have more of a choice about where we go and who we interact with. We are the people who should consider making the switch from single-use PPE to reusable cloth face masks.

According to a recent study, an estimated 200 BILLION PPE items are going into global landfills each MONTH. That’s a massive number. Of course, it’s important to think about community safety, but consider the long-term safety of our oceans and environment as well. If you feel like you have enough control of your surroundings, we encourage you to switch to reusable face masks. Just be sure to wash them regularly and follow safety protocols.

Cloth & disinfectant spray instead of wipes

On a similar note, Covid or not, we’re big fans of using spray and rags instead of pre-packaged wipes. Think about how fast you go through a box of pre-packaged wipes. Now where do you throw your used wipes? You can see where we’re going here… every wipe you use ends up in a landfill. So, make the swap to an antibacterial spray and reusable/washable rags – you’ll save a mountain of trash from ending up in the landfill. As long as you’ve got enough rags on hand to never run out, the convenience of wipes is just as comparable. Create rags from old t-shirts, bath towels, and kitchen towels that have seen better days. Designate them as cleaning rags and give them a second life.

Metal or glass containers for leftovers or bulk storage

Is glass a good alternative to plastic? Yes! Metal and glass containers are a great plastics alternatives and they actually help you consume less plastic overall. When you make enough food to last you multiple meals, that’s saving you a trip to the market to get more ingredients, which, more than likely, are packaged in plastic. It’s a similar idea with buying in bulk. Bulk bins are *typically* the way to go to reduce plastic consumption, but even buying non-perishable wholesale items in bulk can really cut back on packaging.

Farmer’s Market vs. Grocery Store

Picture a farmer’s market: tents with open baskets of freshly grown food. Now think of a grocery story: aisles of stocked shelves. One has about a million times more packaging and plastic than the other. So, try to shop for as much as you can from your local farmer’s market. And look around for the items that are usually heavily packaged – lettuce, mushrooms, carrots, bread, pasta. Unpacked, local foods are zero waste products – especially if you compost!

DIY cloth and paper decorations

The funny thing about birthdays, anniversaries and graduations is that time is marching on, and they’re still happening – albeit, differently. Well consider this a great time to swap cheap plastic decorations for thoughtful, sustainable DIY decorations. Make a cute banner out of fabric scraps or sew your own pennant banner if you have some technical know-how. Have some construction paper lying around? You can make old-school birthday hats, a birthday crown, or a paper garland chain. Dive into origami and use thread to fly cranes from the ceiling. Single-use plastic is easy to avoid, and tapping into your creativity to find alternatives can be super fun. 

Good ol’ fashioned bars of soap

This is about as easy a swap as they come: bars of soap. Unlike all those big tubs of body wash, a bar of soap has little to no packaging. Look for bars of soap with paper packaging — sometimes you can find soap at your farmer’s market! If you are ordering a special soap online, we recommend at least buying bulk, so you minimize the footprint of the shipping (it’s always something, but hey we’re all trying). You can also find bars of shampoo and conditioner, and even toothpaste comes in a tablet form now. Do some digging and see what works for your skin type.

Reusable bags, bottles and straws

Yes, this is super obvious, but we have to say it juuuuuust in case someone was wondering why we should replace the use of plastic bags, plastic bottles, or plastic straws. The short answer: because they are everywhere and they are unnecessary. The long answer: Globally, 2.7 billion single-use plastic bags are used daily, 1.5 billion plastic bottles are purchased DAILY, and 500 million drinking straws are used daily. THAT’S. TOO. MUCH. Even if your part is a drop in the bucket, do your part to use reusable bags, bottles and straws EVERY time.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s an important list. Being sustainable is not about doing it perfectly, it’s about trying your best and making the swaps when you can. It’s about adopting new habits and passing them on to the next generation. And if we can find plastic alternatives today, we can start to get rid of excessive plastic tomorrow.

Bring These Wines to Every Party

Come November 1st, “Pick up a bottle of wine” is a constant on our to-do lists and we’re always on the lookout for wineries with a commitment to sustainability (because a happy planet produces great wine). Here are our picks for best wines to drink for the holidays—all fellow members of 1% for the Planet, committed to donating 1% of sales to environmental causes. We’ll toast to that! 

Paradigm Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon 

This long standing partner of 1%FTP is based in the Napa Valley and makes some mighty good vino. This family-owned operation maintains a hands-on, eco-friendly approach to all winemaking—nothing is outsourced! Every bottle you uncork was grown, crushed, fermented, barrel aged, bottled and stored on site. WE LOVE: The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, a black raspberry colored Cabernet with aromatics of black cherry, berry, and plum layered with a perfect balance of new and used French Oak.

 Spottswoode Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon

Another long-standing 1%FTP member in Napa, Spottswoode was one of the first wineries in California to be certified organic. They enrich their soil with cover crops every fall, and re-establishing native California grasses in the vineyard, and use natural insect and weed management (no toxic synthetics). They also happen to made damn good wine. WE LOVE: The 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – it’s big and rich without being overwrought.

Hobo Wine Co. –  Zinfandel 

Newer to the 1% network, Hobo Wines is churning out some delicious varietals from Sonoma County grapes. Fueled by a steady stream of Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen jams, the folks at Hobo Wine infuse each bottle with good vibes and delicious notes. WE LOVE: The 2017 Rockpile Zinfandel, a co-fermentation of old vine Zin and newer Petite Syrah grapes. 

WINC – Pacificana Chardonnay 

Part of the Winc wine club powerhouse, the Pacificana label maybe be a new member of the 1%FTP family but this is some seriously seasoned Chard. WE LOVE: The 2018 Chardonnay with its tasting notes of buttered popcorn, butterscotch, candied lemon, and oak. You had us at butter. 

Bandit Wines – Pinot Grigio 

Another newbie to 1% FTP, this BOXED wine (yes yes yes) is great to bring when your holidays find you outside of the box (see what we did there?). Packaged in renewable paper packaging that is surprisingly more eco-friendly than glass (their website has a great breakdown), the brand is also committed to supporting the preservation of trails and rivers in our National Park. WE LOVE: The Pinot Grigio with its aromas of zesty citrus, pear and peach. Tart, sweet, crisp and best paired with sweeping views of Yosemite’s Half Dome. 

For more 1% for the Planet member products we love, check out our blog on 1% coffee roasters

Sustainable Coffee Just Tastes Better

We drink a lot of coffee at Toad HQ (changing the status quo takes energy!), so we’ve become somewhat of an expert on what to look for in a good cup of Joe. Sure, a great roast is essential, but coffee made from conscious companies just tastes better. Here are some of our favorite sustainable coffee companies and fellow 1% for the Planet members (ie: at least 1% of their revenue is donated to environmentally friendly non-profits). Start your day with a cupful of good.

Fair trade coffee farmers in Yemen are part of Bivouac’s transparent supply chain.

 

BIVOUAC

Bivouac coffee is all about letting nature take its course. Specializing in “natural coffee,” the method allows the sun and heat to dry the coffee beans versus the more water-intensive process of washing the coffee beans. All of their packaging is 100% compostable and their work benefits non-profits like the American Alpine Club and Big City Mountaineers. 

High Brew Coffee

A favorite of the Toad weekend warriors, High Brew’s canned coffee is about as packable a punch as they come. The real bonus is that they give a portion of sales to support the delosAndes Cooperativa in Columbia. The co-op has invested over $2 million dollars in education, sent 1,069 people to university, and constructed three Micro-Wet Central Mills to promote environmental sustainability in the community. Farmers only use 3 liters of water to produce each pound of coffee (vs. the traditional 30L) and save over 20 million liters annually. High Brew gets high quality coffee beans while farmers achieve greater profitability with less environmental impact. Win, win, win.

The Humblemaker team at an event aimed at enriching the lives of children with autism.

 

Humblemaker Coffee Co.

If this coffee doesn’t warm you from the inside out, then we don’t know what will: They give back 10% of annual profits to programs for children who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. And 25% of sales from special blends go to local schools to help raise funds for student programs. And they source organic and fair trade ingredients for their coffees and cold brews. AND it happens to be delicious. We really can’t say enough about HMC’s awesome coffee. 

Kind Coffee

“It is the responsibility of life in the present to preserve for life in the future. That is why we choose Kind, because a business should share no less in that responsibility than the people who support it.” Can we get an Amen? Based in Estes Park, CO, Kind Coffee strikes the perfect balance between living well and doing good with their chemical free, fairly traded, and certified organic beans. And if you’re a decaf drinker, they use the Swiss Water decaffeination process, the ONLY decaf process achieved without the use of chemicals.

Kind Coffee is dedicated to environmental preservation in beautiful Estes Park, CO.

 

Freezeout Coffee

When CEO Jim Cole wanted to make a difference in local land preservation, he set out to make a company in which he could give away most of the profits. Started as a joint venture business partner of the Sonoma Land Trust, the sales of all Freezeout Coffee directly benefit the preservation of land and water in Northern California. Change starts on a local level – and is best served with cream and sugar.  

Grounds for Change

They’re a B-Corp, they’re carbon-free, they source organic and fair trade beans, they give back 1% to organizations like Rainforest Trust and Save Our Wild Salmon… the name “Grounds for Change” certainly seems fitting. With an awesome commitment to sustainability and a strong cup of brew (we like their Coffee of the Month to try new blends), we tend to stand a little taller after a cup of this stuff.  

For more tips on how to shop sustainably, check out our Sustainability Cheat Sheet