A few weeks ago, we wrote about ways to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle, that is, making conscious lifestyle switches that help you reduce both your possessions and waste.
One of the biggest contributors to a “high-waste” lifestyle is the amount of plastic that we go through. Disposable items are so convenient, but the amount of one-time use plastics we use really adds up and is a huge contributor to the amount of waste on the planet. It’s extremely taxing on our environment, and it poses problems even when it’s properly recycled.
In today’s post, we’re sharing nine simple ways to help you cut down on your plastic use. These tips won’t only help you to reduce your carbon footprint and the amount of unnecessary waste you put out, but it will also save you money in the long run!
Sounds counter-intuitive right? When you go plastic free, you may be tempted to go out and buy glass/reusable versions of all of the plastic items in your home, but this can really just create more waste. Before you go out and buy anything new, try to use the plastic items you already have at home to the best of your ability. Use up any disposable plastic products you have before buying reusable options and reuse the plastic (such as yogurt containers and plastic cups) as often as possible before making the switch.
We all have that out of control ball of plastic bags buried somewhere in a cupboard in our kitchen. If you think your pile is out of control, just imagine how out of control the situation really is when you think of all of the kitchen bags out there hiding in people’s cupboards. It’s an unbelievably massive amount of unnecessary plastic.
Simply by switching to a couple of reusable plastic bags, you can drastically reduce your plastic consumption. Sometimes you may find that getting plastic bags while you’re shopping is useful if you reuse them frequently (as garbage liners, doggie bags, etc.), but a reusable bag will help you significantly reduce your plastic bag use to a more reasonable level.
To ensure you have it on hand, get a fold up bag that fits easily into your purse or keep a few in the trunk of your car.
The amount of packaging on most foods at the grocery store is excessive and really not that necessary. Rather than frequently buying small packaged items, find a local bulk food store near you and stock up there. You can bring your own reusable jars, thus completely reducing your use of plastic food packaging.
Combine this with carrying your bulk foods home in your reusable grocery bags and you’ve already made a huge dent in your plastic use.
Think of the personal products you use on a daily basis and consider if there are plastic free alternatives you can switch to. Two big ones that are a great place to start are your toothbrush and tampons. These days, it’s easy to find plastic-free alternatives to both, like wooden toothbrushes and menstrual cups.
You’d be surprised at how many plastic alternatives are now on the market. Take inventory of the disposable personal hygiene items you use most often and do a quick search online for “reusable alternatives to x.” You may be surprised and the options out there!
If you frequently eat out or get your daily iced coffee to go, your plastic use can really add up. Also, while some plastic items recycle really well, plastic cutlery and straws often end up in a landfill.
The solution? Bring your own! Travel cutlery and reusable straws are easy to find online or at health food stores, and you just need to throw them in your bag or keep them at the office to ensure you always have them on hand.
At home, you can switch from plastic straws to metal or bamboo.
Considering the amount of plastic wrap most people go throw, this one little switch can really add up! Like cutlery and straws, plastic wrap is not often recycled properly, and a super easy swap is beeswax wrap. You can buy them online (we love abeego), in health food stores, or even make your own.
As an added bonus, because they are breathable, they help to keep your produce fresh for longer, so you’ll also have less food waste!
Store bought products typically come in plastic packaging, so you can seriously reduce the amount of plastic in your home (and the amount of chemicals you use in your home and on your body) by going DIY! Take a quick search online and you’ll find a ton of really simple recipes for many of the products you use on a daily basis including body wash, moisturizer, cleaning products, and skincare. Storing your products in glass or metal containers and buying your ingredients in bulk will really help you to reduce your plastic use. Our Ultimate Guide to Non-Toxic Cleaning is a great resource to help you get started!
A less obvious (and frankly, pretty alarming!) source of plastic is actually your clothing! As we shared here, there is a shocking amount of microplastics in our clothing, which is wreaking havoc on our oceans and water supply. Many synthetic materials, including polyester, nylon, and acrylic are forms of plastic, and these microplastics leach into our water every time we wash them in the laundry.
Switching to clothing made from natural fibres is the best way to limit your plastic use in your wardrobe. Another important textile switch? Your bedding. Check out our line of 100% organic cotton bedding for sheets that are as good for you as they are for the environment (not only are they free from microplastics and chemicals but they’re also insanely soft!!).
As we mentioned in our zero-waste guide, reducing your plastic use and waste in general is about more than just choosing reusable alternatives to disposable products. Remember the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. The first step is to simply reuse the amount of things you consume. Yes, metals straws are great, but do you need five of them? Likely one (or none!) will do just fine. Begin questioning your consumption habits and checking in on whether or not you really need something before you buy it. This will not only save you a ton of waste but also a lot of money.
Making small switches and questioning the plastics and products that your purchasing and consuming can drastically reduce your plastic use. Your wallet, and our planet, will thank you for it.
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