Is it possible to live without plastic? Or to at least live with less of it? This is a question we are often asked. It is pretty tough in this day and age to avoid contact with plastic completely. Many of us need to use a phone, drive a car, or work at a computer in our everyday lives, and all of these items tend to have lots of plastic in them.
If you look around, you’ll realize that we live in a world cluttered with plastic. It’s literally everywhere and even if you’ve made some conscious choices in your life to contribute to the environment and be less of a burden to it with the things you do in daily life, plastic still plays a big role in it. Plastic is so commonplace in our world today that it’s nearly impossible to imagine a life without it. All it takes is a little awareness and initiative. Striving for a plastic-free life, however, remains a noble and worthwhile goal – and it’s becoming easier with every year that passes, as more people demand plastic alternatives and refuse to participate in the grotesque plastic waste that’s filling our planet’s landfills.
While breaking up with plastics once and for all would be rather difficult, there are some steps you can take today and a few switches you can make, that will take no time or energy, but which will make you a better citizen of the planet and keep plastic from suffocating our planet and ourselves. No one can do it all at once. But we can all get started!
1. Carry reusable shopping bags
Stop buying a plastic grocery bag at the grocery store every time. Because you can bring your own bag and be more fashionable at the same time. A reusable shopping bag is fairly cheap and reduces plastic waste. But you can also get a more expensive designer bag as well. Carry whatever works for you. Some people like reusable canvas totes. Others prefer to put their purchases into a backpack or messenger bag. Always bring your own bags whenever you shop because by bringing your own bag, you alone can save between 400 and 600 plastic bags per year.
2. Use non plastic containers
Whether you prepare school lunch, order takeout, or go out to eat, take along your own reusable containers for sandwiches, snacks, and leftovers. This will help you achieve your plastic free lifestyle goal. You can use a glass container because it is an overall safer bet for food storage than plastic. Glass can be safely used for hot foods or liquids. Unlike plastic containers, it can release chemicals into the food and liquids we store in them; it’s not smart to microwave food in plastic or leave plastics, including water bottles, out in the sun.
3. Give up bottled water
A reusable water bottle is a great alternative for bottled water. It prevents a lot of plastic pollution that is caused by the plastic bottles. The best zero waste option is a stainless steel water bottle. Where possible, buy your milk or juice in a glass returnable/reusable bottle. It may seem old fashioned, but it tastes great, and it’s better for you. You may have to look for it, but many local shops and even some larger ones carry glass-bottled milk and juice.
4. Use natural fiber brushes
A clean kitchen without plastic is possible by choosing cleaning equipment that is made with natural materials and using natural cleaners that you mix together in a bucket or a jar. It’s about going back to basics as our grandparents lived: simply and smartly. Pure cellulose sponges are made from cellulose that has originated from wood pulp and a natural fiber such as cotton as reinforcement. They are the most environmentally-friendly sponge as the end of their life they fully biodegrade and can be thrown in your compost. Do make sure you look for 100% cellulose with no polyester filling.
5. Say NO to plastic straw
Going plastic-free has not been a huge burden, for the most part. Is the straw necessary? Bartenders and servers will often give you one by default. When you order, remember to tell them, “No straw, please.” If you really need one, carry your own stainless steel or bamboo straw. If you have to drink with a straw, try to reuse it over the course of your night. Even better, invest in a reusable straw, like the stainless steel or glass ones. Not only are the straws strong, but they are also beautiful, with decorative colored accents. And they come with little cleaning brushes, because how else would you clean out a drinking straw?
6. Use wooden and stainless utensils
Carry a reusable travel mug wherever you go. If you regularly find yourself buying takeaway coffee, take your own clean thermos and avoid adding to the Styrofoam and plastic-lined cardboard rubbish pile. Cafe businesses usually appreciate not having to buy their own cups to hand out, and the environment appreciates being cared for. Many coffee shops are happy to see people using their own cup and some will even offer a discount to people, making that caffeine hit a little cheaper. There are plenty of good value, good looking and eco-friendly options out there.
7. Switch from disposable face wipes to cloth ones
Use cotton facecloths instead of disposable wipes. Don’t underestimate the versatility of old rags! Some cleaning cloths are made from cotton and cellulose, work like a cloth, absorb like a sponge, and can take the place of 15 rolls of paper towels. And of course, good old rags made from old clothing and towels are free and probably the greenest option of all. They’re also chlorine-free and contain water-based colors and inks. While highly absorbent like sponges, they are thin and dry out fast.
8. Use reusable produce bags minimize or eliminate packaging
If you were to examine your trash, you’d likely see that food packaging makes up a large proportion of what you throw out. Packaging waste takes up a huge amount of space in our kitchen bins and, ultimately, in landfills. Using reusable produce bags is a fantastic way to use less plastic and reduce packaging waste, which cuts down what we accumulate and throw away in the kitchen. Avoid little things that usually end up in the bin, such as twist-ties, bread tags, plastic code stickers, receipts, and paper lists.
9. Use disposable bamboo cutlery sets
Metal food utensils for a party can be too much for your storage. Disposable utensils are an outcome. The negative side is that most are plastic which pollute our ecosystem. The biodegradable forks, spoons, knives, and mini-spoons are a good non-plastic option for disposable party ware. It is strong and works really well for outside events where disposable is often needed. You can tackle this by buying eco-friendly and bio degradable bamboo utensils. Which you can throw away with the leftovers of your party.
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