Growing consumer awareness of the environmental impact of purchases on the health of the planet is prompting a turn away from single-use plastic products

Single-use plastic products are icons of consumer culture. More than 300m tons of plastic are produced annually and nearly every piece of plastic ever produced still exists, floating in our oceans or buried in landfills.

Awareness of the environmental consequences and planetary impact of our love affair with plastic appears to be growing. This year witnessed the largest involvement in Plastic Free July since the campaign’s launch in 2011. For a whole month, more than one million people refused single-use plastics.

Responding to this burgeoning desire for footprint-free consumption, eco brands and innovative designers are rethinking mundane everyday designs, and replacing ubiquitous plastic products with compostable alternatives.

Super-Synthetics by Maria Idicula Kurian

Maria Idicula Kurian, a recent Central St Martins MA material futures graduate, believes the lasting environmental impact of a single-use plastic product should be relative to its intended use. For instance, she suggests that a cup that will be used for only a few seconds should be designed to have very little, if any, environmental impact. In her Super-Synthetics project, Kurian used layered rice starch to create a cup that disintegrates after 10 minutes’ use. By increasing the number of starch layers, she produced similar vessels with slightly longer lifespans, such as a pint glass and a water bottle that could last for two days.

Created by Heather and John McDougall, a dentist’s daughter and son, Bogobrush is a toothbrush with a biodegradable handle made from a biocomposite material with flax particle waste from American farms. When the brush wears out, remove the nylon bristles with pliers, and throw the handle on the compost pile.

Organic cotton tampons by Sustain

Sustain’s hypoallergenic 100% organic cotton fibre tampons can be delivered straight to customer’s door. Each tampon is tucked neatly into a compact, biodegradable, bio-plastic applicator that is friendly to the body and the environment alike.

Remaining in the eco-bathroom, Personna’s BioShave razors have biodegradable handles made from 80% plant-based sustainable resources. They contain no chemical dyes and have not been tested on animals, and their packaging is made from post-recycled cardboard with vegetable-based printing inks.

Single use and throwaway plastic products are slowly being designed out of today’s consumer landscape by innovative designers tackling the mundane and everyday. From cups to toothbrushes, razors and tampons, these compostable solutions are encouraging new, conscience-clear, consumer habits.

Words → Cathrine Disney