Single-use or disposable items are products and packaging that are used once and then discarded. These items are often only utilised for a few seconds, yet their environmental influence can last for thousands of years. If you would like to become more environmental-friendly, one of the things you can do is to reduce your usage of single-use items in your daily life. Some of the things we’ve done include reducing the use of plastic bags, plastic straws, and disposable containers. However, there are more items in our lives that we could swap out for alternatives that are better for the environment. These alternatives should either be made of materials that are sustainable and/or reusable.
We may think that such small things wouldn’t make a difference, but small actions can amount to big change. Here are some products that you could switch to (I’m also happy to say that some of them are from Malaysian companies) in your journey to become more eco-friendly:
1. Bamboo toilet paper – Twenty Eco
Bamboo is a great source of sustainable material that may be used instead of trees. It is a highly renewable resource and most importantly, they grow without the need of fertilisers or pesticides that could pollute the Earth. Not only that, but bamboo is also naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial which makes it safe to use for all skin types. At Twenty Eco (a Malaysian-owned company), the toilet paper is made using the most environmentally safe method (which is totally chlorine free) and also 100% plastic-free packaging in their products. The next time you are running low on toilet paper, why not consider making the switch to bamboo toilet paper instead?
2. Beeswax food wrap – Saffron & Serai
I first learned about beeswax paper when I saw them on TikTok and I was amazed by what they can do. A wonderful alternative to cling film that we usually use to wrap and store food, beeswax wrap is made of a coated fabric, usually cotton. It is made by combining food-grade beeswax, rosin, coconut oil, and jojoba oil with cotton. The end result is a type of wrap is sticky and mouldable – which you can use to wrap around food products or containers. After a year (or about 150 to 250 uses), beeswax wrap would lose its hold and that’s when it can be thrown into the compost bin. This explains why beeswax wrap is considered a reusable and sustainable alternative to single-use plastic. You can find gorgeous batik printed beeswax wrap at Saffron & Serai along with other equally pretty sustainable Malaysian homewares.
3. Reusable bamboo kitchen towel – My Ati
You already know by now that bamboo is an incredible alternative to plastic because it’s strong, durable, and biodegradable. Other than toilet paper, you can also find bamboo being used to make cutleries, clothing and even toothbrushes. Imagine my surprise to find that there is such a thing as bamboo towels and not only are they made from a sustainable material, but they are also reusable! In fact, a single bamboo kitchen towel can be rinsed and reused up to 100 times – you can wash it by hand or throw them into the washing machine. While they may be more expensive than paper kitchen towels, they can absorb and clean just as well and being reusable means that it would save money (and the environment) in the long run. Get your reusable bamboo kitchen towels from My Ati – they also sell other eco-friendly products such as organic sponges and cotton mesh bags.
4. Shampoo bar – The RainTree
I still remember seeing shampoo bars a few years ago on social media and feeling intrigued by the concept. I think it’s because I’m just so used to seeing shampoo in a liquid form that is contained within a plastic container that I never considered it can be used the same way soap bars are used. Other than being a good way to reduce single-use plastic packaging, shampoo bars are known to be gentler on hair as they are usually made without sulphates and other harsh ingredients. For example, the shampoo bars at The RainTree are handmade with ingredients that are known for their natural benefits. They are also biodegradable, fragrance-free, paraben-free and SLS free. If you are hoping to lead a zero-waste lifestyle, switching to shampoo bars is one of the best ways. But do take note that your hair may become oilier or dryer than usual during this transition period!
5. Reusable bubble tea cup – One Cup
For all lovers of bubble tea, you no longer need to feel guilty when you indulge in your favourite bubble tea drink! Although most bubble tea places have made some effort to be more environmental-friendly such as using paper straws instead of plastic straws, I’m sure some of you empathise with me when the paper straw becomes soggy and limp after being left in the drink for a while. One way to combat this is to use reusable tumblers or cups to contain our drinks. However, we may struggle with looking for a tumbler or cup that can contain all the goodness of a bubble tea. That’s where One Cup comes in – their reusable, plastic-free bubble tea cups are the perfect container that fit all sizes of bubble teas! Your purchase also includes a metal straw, brush cleaner and a drawstring bag.
6. Eco-friendly cosmetics – Siobhán Handcrafts
As we all know, beauty comes with a price and one of it is the negative environmental impact it leaves behind – the cosmetics industry contributes to pollution and depletes our natural resources in various ways. Hence, making the decision to be more environmentally- conscious includes using cosmetic products that are made with such considerations in mind. So, if you are looking for more eco-friendly alternatives in your makeup and self-care, check out Siobhán Handcrafts for handmade eco-friendly cosmetics which are made in Malaysia! From tinted mineral sunscreen, organic deodorant to healing lip balm, their products are made with mineral and plant-based ingredients without any of those nasty chemicals. I purchased the Natural Armpit Detox Clay Mask which looked interesting as I have not seen such a product elsewhere. The detox helps to increase the effectiveness of natural deodorants, reduce irritation, and improve skin tone.
7. Organic cotton sanitary pad – Kefi
Did you know that tampons, pads and panty liners including their packaging and wrapping generate more than 200,000 metric tons of waste every year? Making matters worse, plastic and other non-compostable materials found in period products can take 500 to 800 years to decompose. After all, a single person who menstruates will use between 5,000 and 15,000 pads and tampons throughout their lifetime. Which means we should make a conscious decision when it comes to what we use. In light of this, there are several alternatives that are more environmentally friendly such as reusable pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups. But not all of us are comfortable using these products for various reasons and we still prefer the familiar which is sanitary pads. Good news is that there are organic sanitary pads such as Kefi which are made with 100% organic cotton, are biodegradable and contain lesser additives and dyes. Consider making this switch if you are able to.
Liked this? You might enjoy this too: