We’ve all seen the devastating effects that plastic use and chemical consumption is having on the planet. One of the main driving forces in our decision to sell everything and go travelling around the world as a family is to live a more minimalist lifestyle, and also to distance ourselves from the consumerist, throwaway society that we seem to currently inhabit. We are passionate about reducing our footprint on the planet and have taken many steps to reduce our plastic consumption.
Here are a few facts about toothbrush pollution. There are approximately 6.8billion people on the planet. Each person will use 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime (4 per year). A single toothbrush weighs 18 grams and takes 75years to degrade (although this basically means turn into microplastics and toxic chemicals that seep into the earth). So in an average persons lifetime 5.4 kilograms worth of plastic toothbrushes are sent to landfill. This doesn’t sound so bad, right? Until you times that by the 6.8billion on the planet. Which equates to 36.7billion kilograms worth of plastic toothbrushes sent to landfill or dumped in the ocean. I don’t know about you but this figure is terrifying and overwhelming in equal measure.
We have been using bamboo toothbrushes for just over a year now and really love them. It does take a little getting used to as the bristles are softer, and the wet wood feeling of the brush is a little weird at first. But you soon get over this, and it is such a simple cheap swap which will make a huge difference to the plastic waste problem.
We have also been using these metal water bottles for a while and plan to take them with us. William is also taking his Camelbak. We made the switch to metal water bottles because we don’t wish to add to the already colossal amount of plastic bottle pollution. 80 percent of the plastic water bottles we buy end up in landfills, and they are currently overflowing with more than 2 million tons of discarded water bottles. It takes up to 1,000 years for every single bottle of water to decompose and each bottle leaks harmful chemicals into our environment along the way as it decomposes. Inevitably we will have to buy bottles of water as the tap water will be undrinkable. But hopefully by taking our own we can reduce our waste by boiling water, or buying 1 large bottle of water and decanting it between our bottles.
Staying on the theme of drinks, we have also recently purchased some stainless steel drinking straws, which come with a handy pouch and cleaning brushes. Over 500million plastic drinking straws are used every day, and all of these are single use plastics. Most plastic straws are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. They drop through sorting screens and mix with other materials and are too small to separate. Straws are among the top 10 items found during beach clean ups and can do so much harm to seabirds, turtles and other marine creatures. Refusing the single-use plastic straw is the easiest and simplest way for everyone to take action today to address plastic pollution. There is really no excuse when you can carry these around in your bag wherever you go.
Periods, every woman on the planet has them. One plastic disposable sanitary pad takes about 500–800 years to decompose. Each women uses approximately 20 pads/tampons per month, equating to 240 per year which over the average lifespan of a menstruating female (approximately 40 years of periods) gives us the grand total of 9,600 feminine hygiene products used during one woman’s lifetime. Now if you equate this by how many women there are on the planet, it is kind of mind blowing. If saving the planet isn’t a good enough reason to switch to an eco friendly option, then consider it for your own health. The big brands of tampons and pads are a chemical soup. Researchers have found that they are laced with artificial colours, polyester, adhesives, polyethylene (PET), polypropylene and propylene glycol (PEG), contaminants linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, dryness and infertility. All of this has been enough to get me using these natural biodegrable sanitary towels, which I have used for a while. But when we are travelling using these just isn’t going to be feasible. So I have opted for a mooncup, as yet untried. Don’t panic, the above photograph is boxfresh!
I’m sure by this point I have hammered home the point of how harmful plastics are to the environment, but what about the chemicals. Most toiletries that are available on the high street contain a vast array of chemicals.
The natural health practice says; “There are over 7,000 ingredients available in the manufacture of cosmetics and toiletries as well as nearly 1,000 aromatic or synthetic perfume chemicals. Of these ingredients, 1,000 are known to have harmful effects on us and another 900 may have been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals during the manufacture of everyday toiletries such as toothpastes, deodorants and sanitary products. Technically all beauty products are “safe”, as they must be approved by the EU in order to be sold. However there appears to be an undeniable link between the presence of all these chemicals and the alarming increase of eczema, allergies, skin sensitivities and cancer.”
So there you have it, our round up of eco friendly family travel essentials. We hope we have inspired you to make these easy small changes to your lifestyle that will have a massive impact in the global waste crisis.
“Environmental Pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented.” – Barry Commoner