10 Simple Swaps to Sustainable Living

Updated: Feb 14, 2021

In October 2020, The UK government confirmed its ban on plastic stemmed cotton buds, drink stirrers and straws forcing the majority of us to find alternatives. With the war on plastic being waged at national level it's only a matter of time until plastic free alternatives will need to be available for the majority of products we use each day.

Stem the tide of plastic to landfill, our rivers and oceans by getting ahead of the game and switching to one of these sustainable alternatives. Take a look at some of our simple everyday swaps to help you on your journey to sustainable living.


OK so it's lockdown and you won't be heading to a bar anytime soon, but next time you order a drink ask for it without a straw. A small sacrifice but a huge step towards reducing plastic we create and waste.

It is estimated we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers, and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England every year, many of which find their way into our ocean.¹

If you miss the straw experience, take a reusable one with you made from metal or bamboo. They often come with a cleaning brush too keep your straws squeaky clean too.


Heading to the shops? Don't forget to take your reusable bags with you. Cotton mesh bags can be folded and fit well into handbags, backpacks or even pockets!

Each year plastic rubbish causes millions of wildlife death from birds to sea animals and from April 2021 the government will be increasing the single-use carrier bag charge from 5p to 10p to further protect our oceans from plastic waste.²

Avoid the fee and take an eco-friendly version with you. Sustainable bags are usually made from easily biodegradable materials such as organic cotton, hemp, canvas or jute.

Coffee Cups

Off to get your caffeine fix? Take your reusable cup. Last June it was proven that reusable Coffee cups do not help to spread 'Rona, so take your own cup and just make sure its washed first!

It’s still not commonly known but the wax coating on disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled despite being made of paper. Almost all of them are incinerated, exported or sent to landfill because their plastic lining makes them costly to recycle.

Many coffee shop chains across the UK offer discounts to customers who bring their own cup. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you could save more than £100 a year.

Hair Care and Bathing

One in ten British people say they 'can't be bothered' to be more eco-friendly as a new survey finds the average household uses 216 plastic haircare bottles a year. A poll of 2,000 people revealed that the average family is throwing away dozens of empty plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hairspray and gel.³

Shampoo, Conditioner and Shower Gel often come packaged in plastic that cannot be recycled. Why not try an eco-friendly version with minimal or refillable packaging.


You should be switching toothbrushes 4 times a year. Next time you are due for a new one, go for a plastic free version that will reduce your waste and prevent one of the 200 million toothbrushes that head to UK landfills each year.

Dental Floss

You may have known that most of your dental routine was made up of plastic products but you might not have realised that conventional dental floss is made from Teflon (yes the stuff they coat pans with) or plastic that is then coated in synthetic wax.

Not only are these a hazard to the environment but these ingredients can be toxic, with elements being absorbed into our bloodstream when we floss!

Cotton Buds

It’s estimated that 1.8 billion cotton buds are used every single year, with 10% of them being flushed down toilets, which means they can end up in waterways and oceans, causing blockages and harm to wildlife.¹

Need to clean your ears out? Reach for a plastic free alternative made from paper or bamboo.

Tea Bags

Replace single use tea bags with a tea ball or tea strainer and start using loose leaf tea. Paper tea bags are full of toxins, pesticides and dioxins that are known to cause cancer in animals. Mix these with hot water, and you’ve got yourself a toxic soup that could take a serious toll on your immune system. Not to mention, many tea bags are chlorine bleached and made of non-biodegradable materials! Yuck! So get yourself a stainless steel tea strainer and opt for buying loose leaf tea for a toxin free tea.⁴

Water Bottles

This is a pretty simple one. STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER. Swap plastic water bottles for a reusable option. We love stainless steel water bottles as they keep cold things cold and hot things hot. Whether you're commuting, hiking or at the gym, a reusable water bottle is a handy way of ensuring you get enough water throughout the day while not wasting any plastic. Just fill her up from a tap and off you go.

Hate the taste of tap or worried about hard water? Grab a charcoal filter stick and pop it in your bottle, no excuses!

Shaving Razors

It is high time we said goodbye to disposable razors and start shaving the zero waste way!

Buy a plastic free reusable safety razor that can be reused time and time again. They can often allow for a closer shave, are less likely to cause irritation and leave your skin with a silky smooth finish. Vegan razors will also come without the moisture strips that often use glycerin (made from animal fat).

Period Products

Feminine hygiene products are expensive and often made from toxic materials. In some countries, people with periods are being taxed for the "luxury" of using Tampons. Fortunately, the U.K. introduced the Tampon Tax from 1st January 2021, abolishing the additional charge on sanitary products.⁵

Making the simple switch to a menstrual cup or reusable period panties, can not only cut back on your environmental impact but also save you money and your body in the process.

When making zero waste swaps, where possible try to buy items that are ethically made in the UK. By reducing the miles travelled the item will have cut it's carbon emissions (footprint) to reach you.

Looking to make sustainable swaps but not sure where to start?

All of our products are either designed or made in the UK. We've made sure all items have been manufactured and sourced responsibly. We also don't ship outside of the U.K. as we want to remain as low impact as possible.

Visit the Forever and Green online store or take a look at one of our zero-waste bundles to help you get started.

Useful Links and References

¹ https://www.gov.uk/government/news/start-of-ban-on-plastic-straws-stirrers-and-cotton-buds

² https://www.gov.uk/government/news/war-on-plastic-waste-stepped-up-with-extension-of-plastic-bag-charge

³ https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8647127/Average-British-household-used-216-plastic-haircare-bottles-YEAR.html



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