9 Sustainable Swaps that Won't Cost the Earth

9 Sustainable Swaps that Won't Cost the Earth

By Alys Marshall

In recent weeks, the fantastic #FridaysForFuture movement has brought millions to the streets, and there’s no doubt that the press coverage surrounding climate change has reached fever pitch. But as global awareness increases, it seems our political leaders move in the opposite direction, guffawing their way through the UN Climate Change Summit and fervently favouring profit over planet.

With such determined deniers in charge of legislation and policy-making, it’s easy to feel overcome by eco-anxiety. But here at Harpy, we’re big believers in the cumulative power of small changes. If 16-year-old Greta Thunberg can shed light on our wholly inadequate climate agreements, flout patriarchal expectations and serve us the damn tea, we can all do more than ditch the disposable cups.

It’s true that a lot of green alternatives cost more up front that their plastic counterparts, but many of them will save you money in the long run, and it’s an investment which our planet simply cannot live without. Here are some of our fave sustainable swaps… 

1)     Scrubbies Plastic-Free Eco Un-Sponge: made of hessian, these little babies are the perfect replacement for washing up sponges. They’re £6 a pop on Etsy, but they’re long lasting, vegan, machine-washable and come in tonnes of cool patterns!

2)     Reusable makeup remover pads: the face wipe habit is a hard one to break. You can find these on Amazon (and elsewhere) in various colours, sizes and materials, but more often than not, they’re made of bamboo.

3)     Go local: obvious, but easily overlooked. If you can grow your own, or buy your food from greengrocers, butchers and the like, you’ll reduce the carbon footprint of your dinner and support a local business to boot.

4)     Who Gives a Crap: the bog roll brand with an epic ethos. Toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap is made with recycled materials and 50% of their profit goes to build loos in areas without them… so wiping your butt helps someone else wipe theirs.

5)     Period products: if you don’t already know, there are heaps of these to choose from. Most big-name tampon and sanitary towel brands bleach their cotton and wrap everything in plastic, but there are plenty of more sustainable choices out there. Why not try…

  • Ohne: an organic, plastic-free tampon brand which delivers a (customisable!) box of goodies to your door each month, just in time for the red wave to crash. Ohne also does great work providing sanitary products and facilities to school girls in Zambia.

  • Mooncup: you can get by with just one of these bad boys, and they come in different sizes! As there’s zero waste, Mooncup is probably the most environmentally-friendly period solution out there.

  • Modibodi: period pants! They exist! And they’re not the adult nappies you’re imagining – these are absorbent, machine-washable, comfy and even (if big pants are your bag) quite sexy?

6)     LUSH shampoo & conditioner bars: think about how many plastic bottles are in your bathroom… yep, us too. Texturally, these aren’t for every hair type, but LUSH is constantly experimenting with new formulas to improve their shampoo and conditioner bars, so it’s worth a dabble! For an easier swap, ditch the shower gel and revert to a humble bar of soap.  

7)     Cling film alternatives: there are a surprising number of these available now, from The  Beeswax Wrap Co. to silicone tupperware stretch lids and good old fashioned tin foil (which you can wash, reuse and recycle).

8)     Ration fast fashion: we’ve all seen that Stacey Dooley documentary. According to 7Billion for 7Seas, the fast fashion industry generates 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year. If you struggle to resist the allure of an evolving wardrobe, try scratching that shopping itch on Depop, Vinted, and eBay, or at local clothes swaps and charity shops.  

9) Do gigs not gifts: ahh, shiny presents; the appeal is real. But what if instead of buying your bestie a gift, you treat them to dinner out? Or tickets to a show? You’re almost guaranteed to save waste and you can stretch that birthday out for another few weeks… it’s a win-win.  

Some of these might not work for you, but going green is a war of attrition and it’s important that we all keep trying, however that may look for us as individuals. Making small adjustments can have a big impact – just think of every plastic bag you turn down as a tiny act of rebellion against the idiots in office.

Illustration by the marvellous Amalia Wahlström.

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