Plastic is everywhere. It’s used in almost all packaging; grocery store bags, bottles for water, milk jugs. However, using less plastic isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Here are 23 Ways To Use Less Plastic In Your Life.
Plastic use is the legacy of a culture obsessed with convenience. It makes things easier, quicker, and more convenient. So, the question is how can you reduce the plastic you use?
There are many steps you can take to reduce the use of plastic in your life. There will inevitably be things where you cannot avoid plastic, but you can reduce your plastic footprint.
Re-use Not Recycle
You are bound to have many plastic containers around in your house. The first thing to do is to think about how you can re-use them.
Making plastic consumes a huge amount of energy. Recycling it also consumes even more energy – both in the collection and in the recycling process in itself. Also, very little of the plastic that we put in the recycling bin actually gets recycled.
The capacity of the world’s plastic recycling plants is dwarfed by the amount of plastic we produce. Much of the plastic designated as recycling, simply gets bailed up and sent to other countries for them to recycle it. The problem is many countries can’t recycle this waste – they simply don’t have the facilities. Often it’s just left in open heaps or worse still, it gets burnt in open piles. This has become a real problem in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
With the plastic you have, always try to find another use for it. Instead of buying storage containers, try to use the empty containers you have. Take away containers are great to freeze food or store bulk buy spices, but they also make great containers for nuts and bolts in the garage.
If we all make an effort, the effect will grow. When something does eventually wear out, if you have to buy new, try to buy glass or metal containers. They last longer, can be sterilised easily, and will have a much longer life than any plastic containers.
1. Don’t Buy Bottled Water
Theres no need to buy a 6 pack of small bottled water – simply use a refillable bottle. Stainless steel water bottles are best because you can sterilise it easy, and often it won’t wear out as quickly as a plastic bottle.
You could even use a water filter or even a distiller if tap water isn’t ok to drink. Refilling your bottle rather than buying water will help save the planet AND save you money, so it really is a win-win situation.
2. Re-use Shopping Bags
Having a small bag folded up in your pocket or car will mean that you don’t need to use more plastic shopping bags.
Re-usable bags made from natural materials are always better, but re-usable plastic bags are much better than buying new bags.
3. Don’t Buy Pre Packed Vegetables
Buying loose vegetables without polystyrene trays or plastic wrapping is a lot more environmentally friendly. Fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic aren’t necessary.
However, the supermarkets will only change their ways when we change our shopping habits.
4. Buy Only What You Need
By buying big bags of pre packed food, you’re encouraged to buy more than you need. This just leads to more waste, especially if you’re buying a bit bag of fruit or vegetables. Doing this often costs you more.
By buying loose vegetables, you can choose the best and only buy what you need.
5. Buy In Bulk
As the move towards eco friendly packing is on the rise, you’ll find more and more suppliers who will now supply foods without the packaging – From flour, to coffee, and even spices.
All you have to do is take your own containers and fill them from large barrels within the shop. This is an amazing way to remove retail packaging from the food chain. Remember, re-using any container is better than buying a new one.
6. Bake Your Own Bread
It may sound daunting, but seriously making your own bread isn’t hard. It’s also delicious compared to supermarket bread.
If that sounds too much, go to a baker and buy fresh bread without the plastic wrapper. It can be kept in a paper bag. No plastic required.
7. Say No To Throw Away Plastic Utensils
There is always a better option than using plastic knives, forks and spoons. Many take-away’s are now moving back to wooden alternatives, and bamboo is an amazing alternative too.
Bamboo grows incredibly quickly, and converts a huge amount of CO2 to oxygen in the process, so is a big step towards sustainability.
8. Avoid Straws
Many franchises are moving towards using paper straws instead of plastic ones. Whereas plastic won’t degrade and will often end up polluting the oceans, however paper straws will still go to landfill.
Will it harm you to drink from the glass? If you really think it will, buy a reusable straw beforehand and carry it with you. I recommend using a stainless steel straw.
9. Don’t Buy Bottled
The best way is to make your own 100% pure juice. If you can’t, try to buy drinks in glass bottles, because they’re much more likely to be re-cycled. Making your own juice opens up a whole world of goodness.
10. Buy Milk In Glass Bottles Or From The Farm
If you can’t get raw milk straight from the farm, try to buy milk in glass bottles. It helps protect the temperature longer, no weird chemicals will leach into your milk, and the bottles are reusable.
Some companies ask for a deposit on the bottles, but they get returned, sanitized and used again. Much better than the excess energy involved in recycling.
11. Make Your Own
Making your own jams, ketchup, yoghurt, peanut butter, mustard and mayonnaise is always the best option from a taste and environmental perspective
Then you can store them in your own glass containers. You will be surprised how easy it can be to make many of the products you normally buy ready-made.
12. Use Natural Self Care Products
Using bars of soap made with natural ingredients not only saves the environment, it saves you money too. The latest research also shows that natural ingredients actually clean better than many bottled products.
Always check the labels (polyethylene is a common ingredient and is plastic). Shampoo can be brought in solid bars too. Try using natural conditioners (coconut oil, castor oil and shea butter are great), and make your own toothpaste. Natural liquorice sticks have been used as a toothbrush for centuries, the natural oils from the liquorice are antiseptic, and are great for gum health.
13. Use A Not So Plastic Toothbrush
You will find wooden, bamboo and other alternatives to plastic toothbrushes. Plastic toothbrushes can’t be recycled, so they’re sent to landfill. Think about how many toothbrushes you’ve used throughout the years. Chances are one of the old toothbrushes you’ve used is floating around, polluting in the ocean.
Why not try liquorice sticks too? Chew the end till the fibres fray and then use it as you would any other brush.
14. Buy Wooden Brushes
From the dustpan brush, to the yard brush to hairbrushes, you will always be able to find a wooden alternative.
15. Don’t Eat Chewing Gum
Believe it or not, chewing gum is made using plastic as a major ingredient. This is why you’ll see chewing gum stuck on the floor outside, because it doesn’t degrade.
16. Don’t Use Plastic Cups
Always use re-usable cups. Many coffee shops will serve you in your own cup now.
Standard ceramic cups are great in most situations, but glass and stainless steel are both good alternatives. Don’t forget the classic enamelled tin mugs used by the troops for years. They are just as good today as they always were, and are almost indestructible.
17. Compost Your Waste
Reducing the amount of household waste we produce as a whole, means using less rubbish bags.
Organic waste can be turned into a vital resource for your garden. Composting it and then using it as a fertiliser means you cut down on plastic waste and also increase your vegetable production. It really is a win-win situation.
18. Use Natural Cleaning Products
White vinegar and baking soda are great natural cleaners, so is borax, and sugar soap can make many cleaning jobs much easier.
You don’t have to use toxic chemicals, white vinegar is often sold in glass containers, and baking soda and sugar soap and baking soda is sold in cardboard.
19. Don’t Use “non-stick” Cooking Equipment
Whilst “non-stick” cooking equipment might seem convenient, it really isn’t because they often contains plastic. Switching to cast iron or stainless steel is a much better option – and they’ll often last longer too!
20. Find Natural Remedies
Many medicines come in plastic packaging. For common, everyday ailments like colds, natural remedies are often more effective, cheaper, better for you. Natural remedies are also better for the environment, compared to pills and potions from the pharmacy. Making your own salves and lotions means they can all be stored in re-usable containers.
21. Replace All Of Your Plastic
As containers wear out, replace them with glass or stainless steel. You can find glass products that are covered in silicon to reduce breakage. Metal containers and flasks that will even keep things hot or cold longer too.
Don’t just throw your existing containers away though. Use them until they are broken if you can. Re-using existing containers whatever they are made of is better than buying new ones.
If you can, when it comes to the time to replace things, try to buy second hand items. You can usually find second hand Kilner jars for sale, and they are a wonderful storage solution for many products.
22. Your Pets Don’t Need Plastic
Nearly all pet food and drink bowl you see are made from plastic. However, stainless steel options make sanitising them easier and it’s almost impossible to break them. They won’t wear out as quickly as plastic bowls.
23. Avoid Take-Away Food
Now I’m not saying that we’re all perfect and never have any take away food, but try to be mindful when you do.
Not only is it absolutely no good for you, but most of it comes in plastic containers, in a plastic bag and with plastic utensils. However, if you can try to reuse the plastic containers for storing homemade food.
There you are – 23 ways that you can eliminate plastic from your life.
Eliminating this material from all of our lives has become vital in the quest to save our planet. When you go shopping, look for non-plastic alternatives. At the very least, choose products that use less plastic.
We will probably never completely get rid of this toxic material. However, if everyone takes steps to reduce the amount they use, it will encourage manufacturers to limit its use. All it takes is one person to make a difference, be that person, for you, your family, and our planet.