By Sherifa Ismail
Battling high levels of pollution on a daily basis can make most people shrug at the concept of going even remotely green. But, there are simple swaps that can make a difference, it all adds up. Beyond your typical bamboo tote bags, stainless-steel straw and car-pooling-towork recommendations, there is an array of basic swaps and simple products that can improve your life.
Opt for local products vs. mass produced imported goods
Over the past few years the Egyptian natural goods market has been gaining rapid traction based on quality of content and packaging. Stores like Nefertari, Imtenan and similar pop-up boutiques like Black Lotus and Secrets of Eden supply shampoos, body wash and oils, and even mosquito repellents at an affordable price. In addition, these stores follow a strict sulphate-free, no-artificial coloring, no-preservative and biodegradable policy. Therefore you’ll be getting higher quality good-for-you products at lower prices whilst reducing the long commute imported goods have to travel to reach this side of the world. End-result: A lower carbon footprint and better hair and skin!
Tea strainers vs. tea bags
Paper tea bags contain toxins, pesticides and dioxins. Epichlorohydrin, a commonly used pesticide found in tea bags is known to cause cancer in animals. Brewing this junk with your favorite tea will not only completely negate opting for a healthier option but also knock your immune system down. Buy a tea ball or tea strainer from any supermarket and start using loose leaf tea for an aromatic and toxin-free afternoon fix.
Reusable coffee cups vs. single-use coffee cups
Why not avoid single-use coffee cups and just bring your own cup to your workplace, gym and even favorite coffee shops? Some may even offer you a small discount for doing so! It should be known that coffee cups generally cannot be recycled even though they are made out of paper. This is due to the wax coating on the paper rendering them too costly to recycle.
Bare bar soap vs. liquid soap pumps
Pump or liquid soaps and body washes usually come in thick heavily inked plastic packaging. They are easily found unwrapped or in a thin paper/plastic wrapper in any super or mini market. Most FMCG and body-care companies manufacture bare bar soap versions of the same liquid product, so you can stay squeaky clean without giving up on your favorite scent or brand. There are a few companies out there such as Lush that have created shampoo and conditioner bars for the hair which advocate a longer shelf life and less product and packaging waste. Avoid refilling liquid soap dispensers as they are commonly riddled with disease-causing bacteria.
Vinegar, baking soda, lemon and essential oils vs. chemical cleaners
Make your own all-purpose cleaning liquids, all you need is a small spray bottle (you can get one from any good pharmacy) and fill it with:
• ½ cup white vinegar
• 2 tablespoons of baking soda
• Juice of a single lemon
• Any essential oil you fancy And there you go, a multi-purpose cleaning spray and air freshener that can be safely applied on all counter tops, stubborn stains and grease marks in both the kitchen and bathrooms. By replacing toxic industrial household cleaners with natural recipes, you will make your life better, eliminate any bad odors and save yourself a few hundred pounds a year.
Reusable bottle vs. plastic bottled water
Here are a few disturbing facts about plastic pollution:
- Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than we have during the whole of the last century.
- It takes 500 – 1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest ocean garbage site in the world located off the coast of California. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
- Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface – with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
- Plastic chemicals are absorbed by the body.
- Please stop buying plastic water bottles. You’ll find sleek stainless steel and other re-usable water bottles in every super-market – some can even be customized!
Pads or tampons vs. menstrual cups
Disposable menstrual products are virtually a chemical soup, fortified with polyester, adhesives and propylene glycol (PEG), and bleach, all linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, dryness and infertility. In addition, they contribute vastly to waste where plastics in a pad can take several hundreds of years to degrade.
A range of reusable alternatives has been introduced to Western markets and has recently managed to discreetly make its way to our local market. These include cloth pads, period underwear and the menstrual cup. A menstrual cup is a small flexible cup made of silicone or latex rubber, which collects rather than absorbs. It can be used for up to 12 hours.
They are easily washable, come with travel bags and they can last up to a decade. A prominent brand, the Diva Cup can be ordered via Amazon, it is also available in Nūn Center in Zamalek.