10 eco-friendly alternatives for everyday items

According to a Commons briefing in March, five million tonnes of plastic is estimated to be used in the UK every year.

The UK government recently announced its proposed ban on single-use plastics has been postponed until late 2020 due to the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, while a YouGov survey found more than eight out of ten (82%) Brits are actively trying to reduce the amount of plastic they throw away.

Online metals retailer, metals4U, has revealed 10 environmentally friendly alternatives for everyday disposable items that everyone can use:

1. Reusable tea bags

(Lynda Sanchez)

A handy alternative to disposable tea bags, reusable tea infusers made of metal or plastic are a great option for those looking to reduce their waste. Additionally, you can use tea strainers to give you the option of adding more tea leaves to strengthen your brew, reducing the need to double up on teabags.

2. Metal straws

(Polina Tankilevitch)

Single-use plastic straws are notoriously bad for the environment as they are rarely recycled, not reusable and do not biodegrade.

New legislation will see plastic straws banned in the UK as an estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws are used every year in England alone. A better alternative is reusable straws made of stainless steel or bamboo. These can be washed and reused, and metal in particular will last for a long time.

3. Bamboo paper towels

(Mabel Amber)

Whilst paper towels are recyclable and washable dishcloths are a good reusable alternative, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly hybrid then bamboo paper towels could be the perfect choice for you.

These paper towels are disposable, but can be reused for a long period of time. Not only that but they are fully biodegradable and are made from sustainable sources.

4. Beeswax cling film

(Ronise Deluz)

Beeswax cling film works in exactly the same way as plastic cling film, but without the environmental damage caused by disposed of plastic. The wrap is reusable, and you can even make your own, simply melting down beeswax and soaking cloth in the liquid.

5. Metal water bottles

(Gary Tou)

Usage of plastic water bottles in the UK shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s estimated that the average adult goes through 150 every year.

Whilst a plastic flask goes some way to eliminating the usage of disposable bottles, a stainless steel bottle is a longer-lasting, better quality option. Not only that, but the metal is less likely to leach chemicals into the liquid than plastic.

6. Wooden toothbrushes


Most people own a disposable toothbrush for holidays or weekends away, so instead of buying a plastic toothbrush, it might be better to purchase a wooden toothbrush instead.

These eco-friendly alternatives are just as effective as plastic manual toothbrushes, but are less damaging to the environment when disposed of. 

7. Compostable bin bags

(Lucas van Oort)

These biodegradable bin liners are the perfect alternative to conventional bags and work well for collecting garden waste that can be composted. Not only that but when used for household rubbish, they will naturally biodegrade whilst in landfill, reducing the amount of harmful plastic pollution.

8. Eco-friendly picnic sets

(Karine Monteiro)

Whilst there may not be much opportunity for picnics in the current climate, cutlery and plate sets made out of materials such as wood or bamboo are a great option for those bottom of the garden picnics, and are ready and waiting for future days out.

These sustainable sets can either be disposed of, or can be washed and reused, and they also make a good alternative to plastic crockery and metal cutlery for young children.

9. Reusable ear cleaners

(Karolina Grabowska)

Plastic stemmed cotton buds are one of the worst pollutants amongst single-use plastics, and are one of the focuses of the proposed ban, with an estimated 1.8 billion thrown away every year. Around 10% of those used in the UK are flushed down toilets and end up polluting waterways or the sea.

You can pick up a reusable ear wax remover for a relatively low cost. These can be either metal, or rubber, and can be easily cleaned and reused instead of being thrown away.

10. Fabric shopping bags


Although retailers have been banned from providing plastic bags for free, they are still commonly used and not recycled. Eco-friendly alternatives, made of fabric or other natural materials such as hemp, can be reused regularly and will biodegrade once disposed of. 

Fabric bags do exactly the same job as plastic bags, except they can be reused for multiple purposes and are unlikely to be lost, reducing any possible harm to the environment.

Paul McFadyen, Managing Director of metals4U, said: “It’s clear people are embracing eco-friendly initiatives more and more, and it’s great to see that so many have a passion for helping to improve the environment.

“Plastic is an amazingly versatile material, but it has its downsides and we should try our best to minimise the amount we use in everyday life. That’s why reusable alternatives made from metal or biodegradable materials are the best option, especially for things we use often, as this will reduce our carbon footprint, as well as save us money.” 

If you would like to learn more you can visit their website.

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