IMG_4571FIVE Convenient Alternatives for the Most Popular Plastic Items

There is a lot to be said about plastic and how it has made our lives easier. There are benefits to plastic that have revolutionized our world: advances in healthcare, air travel, manufacturing, buildings, etc. There is no argument that the creation of plastic has changed our lives. However, one of the major benefits of plastic is the leading cause of our plastic pollution epidemic: convenience.

Convenience… Easy. Simple. Time-saver. Quick-fix. No-mess. Effortless. Something that come with no apparent consequence. A word we have been trained to value more than anything else, yet we so casually dismiss it as an expected constant, like air or water. It’s a lifestyle that needs to be protected and continuously nurtured by the soft caress of ignorance.  So it is no wonder, when someone comes along showcasing those consequences that we would cower in fear. Fear of change. Fear of losing our convenient, easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, lifestyle.

Well have no fear! Plastic Free YYC is here to show you there are awesome alternatives that will not force you to live like our ancestors. You can create change without sacrificing your lifestyle or spending a bunch of hard earned dollars. In fact, most of these purchases will save you money in the long-run! Check it out…

Bamboo Toothbrushes

DuPont_4-Pack_42d3bdfe-37ef-4536-8236-08a648d7bfdc_grandeMy dentist recommends replacing my toothbrush every 3 months. Saying I followed that advice and I started brushing when I was a toddler than I have used and disposed of approximately 120 toothbrushes! All of which still exist in a landfill somewhere (hopefully) and all will outlive me. Luckily a few years ago I stumbled upon a sponsored ad in my Facebook feed for biodegradable Bamboo Toothbrushes! Thank you Social Media!

There are now a handful of Bamboo toothbrushes out there, competition is good… it shows that there is demand! I prefer Brush Naked – a Canadian Company based in BC – plus they offer brushes that have plant-based bristles! Not all do – many bamboo toothbrushes still have Nylon bristles. 

The price of these are competitive to your typical plastic ORAL-B toothbrush. And I have had them personally “Dentist-Approved” by my dentist, zero cavities since switching! (COST: $5.99 CAD or a 4-pack for $20)

Metal Refillable Lighter

When looking at those horrible images of sea-birds stuffed with plastic, one item is consistently present: a plastic lighter. So cheap and readily available at every gas station or corner store, always offered in “cool, new” designs, that BIC lighter is hard to turn down! I am not a smoker, but one thing I know for sure is that cheap little light always has a way of getting lost or stolen, so you simple go buy another one… and another… etc

refillable Lighter
Engraved Lighter – Perfect gift and so baller

There is a solution to both problems: Metal Refillable Lighters (Zippos). Not only are you going to look Hella-Cool flashing that shiney trinket around, sharing a light with all those friends experiencing the “missing lighter” trauma, but you are also eliminating the multitude of BICs you would’ve consumed! And how would this solve the problem of “always losing one’s light”? Well… Zippos aren’t super cheap so spending money on it will automatically increase the value you bestow on it ergo you take care of its whereabouts.

A basic Zippo starts at $40. Think about how many lighters you buy in a year – the Zippo is less expensive – guaranteed. Only extra cost is the lighter fluid which usually comes in a metal container!

Check out your local tobacco store to find yourself an awesome new flame! Tobacoo Outlet in Bridgeland is a pretty cool shop to check out.

DE Safety Razor –  Yes for Girls Too!

Somehow over the years, we have been convinced razors are temporary, disposable items that need to be gender-specific and colour coded appropriately. They (the large razor corporations) will have you believe, each new hair-shaving device will revolutionize hair removal with promises of the smoothest, closest shave.

But really, has razor technology really changed? I mean, since the invention of the safety razor in 1901, the only real change has been adding extra blades to a razor (ie: Gillette’s triple blade).  Every other so-called advancement in this mature market has simply been created to ensure profitability. Manufacturers frequently update their shaving systems, so we become locked into buying their proprietary cartridges, for as long as they continue to make them. And by making the razors and cartridges disposable, with a “use-by” date, they again ensure a steady revenue stream.

DE Safety Razors

Double-edge (DE) safety razors are a great plastic-free alternative to proprietary cartridge razors.  And have a significantly lower total cost of ownership since they are not marketed under the “razor and blades business model”

And, yes ladies, you can use these razors for legs, pits and bikini lines! I picked myself up a little purple one by Edwin Jagger for only $35 (on Amazon). Replacement razors last A LONG time and are super inexpensive.

Have you ever checked out Kent of Inglewood? These guys are the experts in everything razor.


Stainless Steel Straws

I have strong feelings about straws in general. In some instances, like a smoothie or thick shake from Peters (obviously in your own large cup), straws are needed. However, there is this strange idea that every drink we are presented with must be aesthetically finished with a straw. Every bartender and server knows what I am talking about. And it is not acceptable to re-use a straw from one drink to the next. No, they must replace it with a new one. The frivolousness of straws is painful.

While I am on a mission to avoid all straws at restaurants #nostrawplease, when it comes to my morning smoothie I need a solution. And here it is. Stainless Steel straws. Easy to clean with the little brush that they come with and because they are metal, they can bee96d0eb88d992aa2bc80b364665e4ad8_ra,w380,h380_pa,w380,h380 sterilized in hot water without concern (reusable plastic straws may not be so lucky).

A pack of four can cost between $10 – $20 depending on brand, style, and where you buy them. I found a nice pack of Onyx straws at Community Foods for $12.

P.S. There are many non-plastic options for straws. If you’re hosting a party and need a bunch consider bamboo, paper or the good old Twizzlers straw instead of plastic!

Folding Travel Dishes 

We all need to eat, and in our daily rush it can be hard to make sure we eat right. Transporting food to and from work or school or yoga class… wherever your travels take you…. can be difficult. Some of us keeners, pack our neat little lunches into our reusable containers and off we go. Many of us swiftly walk to the nearby food court for a quick to-go meal. Unfortunately there tends to be a lot of waste… generally made of plastic.

So, before I begin, before you get all “hey i thought these alternatives were meant to be plastic-free!?”… yes this next innovative product is made of plastic. My caveat being, I mentioned in the intro plastic has revolutionized many parts of our lives. There is a difference between single-use disposables and long-term re-usable items. My mission is to “meet you where you are” to encourage change, thus, I introduce to you, Fozzils.


A perfect fit for those busy Calgarians, biking to and from work, and speed-walking the Plus 15. Get your take-away lunch, without the packaging! (see more ideas on lunches here) Fozzils are flattened dinnerware. Created for back-country camping but absolutely great for those on-the-go, who still want to make a difference and create less waste. BPA  free and at a sweet price point too – $14.95. I found mine at MEC.

I just used mine on a long trip through airports to the land-down-under! They were fantastic. Super easy to wipe off and stow back into my carry-on.

Stay tuned for more great products and local services that help fight plastic pollution!

PlasticFreeYYC is always on the look out for great products (and services) that help us in our mission to live plastic free. Do you have a great alternative product or service that can assist Calgarians in their transition to plastic-free living?

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