Easy ways to reduce plastic waste
I have a love hate relationship with plastic. Well, it’s really more a hate hate relationship but I don’t want to freak you out right off the bat. I used to be all about the convenience. I would eat ready made dishes in plastic tray or stirefoam containers, have a drawer full of plastic containers and go through ziploc bags like I went through plastic bags, and buy single serving anything. Because I was recycling, I thought it was fine. Then I lived in Thailand for 8 years and saw the sea suffocating in plastic. My righteous me thought it was because of the “bad people” who don’t recycle. After a little bit of research (or you can read this book about all the pros and cons, it is a great read), I found out that we produce so much plastic that the recycling facilities can’t keep up. As a result only 80% of the plastic collected is recycled. Collected. When you look at all the plastic produced, only 10% gets recycled. What doesn’t get recycled ends up in the ocean. And in the 8 years of living and diving in Thailand, I saw the situation going from bad to worse.
So today I am a lot more mindful of my plastic consumption. And when I think about it, some of our habits are kind of silly: you go to the store, pick up a gallon of milk (which, by the way, has a handle, there must be a reason for that), and you are fine carrying it across the store, but for some reason, we think it necessary to put it in a plastic bag for the short trip back to our car and from our car to our home. We effectively used the plastic bags for a few minutes (must I remind you that the gallon of milk has a handle??) and then it lives on as trash for years. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
And there are some very easy switches that will save A LOT of plastic. Here are my favorites:
That was my very first switch. I got myself a collection of reusable bags that I can stash in my car, or my purse so that I always have one with me. They come in just about any design you can dream of and fold super small. You can even make your own out of old t-shirt if you feel crafty. Some countries in Europe have banned plastic bags from Supermarkets (hello France) so you have to bring your own.
I also got myself a nice collection of cotton produce bags for my fruits and veggies, and grains, nuts and seeds from the stores with a bulk section.
Refillable water bottles.
Plastic bottles is one of the first thing I gave up. In most places, tap water is just fine. Bottled water often comes for the same sources as your tap water (but at a premium price), and scientists recently found that there is a lot of micro particles of plastic in the plastic bottles (hint: that not good). There are a lot of different water bottles with a lot of super cute designs. I have a number of them and collect them like I collect mugs.
Reusable Bamboo Paper towels.
I have replaced the paper towels in our house with bamboo paper towels. I use them to wipe my kid’s hands and face, to wipe down counters, mopping up spills or cleaning windows. You can use them and rinse them several times, then throw them in the wash and repeat. I have a special drawer in our kitchen with about 30 cloths total and a special laundry bag for storing dirty ones until I have time to wash them. When we go anywhere, I place a couple of wet ones in a stasher bag to replace the wet wipes.
I bought a collection of Stasher bags to replace Ziploc bags. They are awesome. You can use them as snack bags, produce bags, you can freeze them and wash them in the dishwasher, and because they are made of silicone, they do not leech any armful chemicals that plastic would. Hell I have even used them as ETA compliant bags for my liquids on an airplane 🙂
Okay, so this is not an item that I use a lot, because I just don’t use straws. But I am familiar with the obsession for straws that is happening right now and straws are a big culprit in the plastic pollution and cannot be recycled. It is such a big problem that Starbucks has decided to ban plastic straws by 2020. And this is such an easy fix. Besides the obvious drinking without a straw fix, you can also purchase bamboo or metal reusable straws. Some of them come with a little pouch for easy carrying and a brush for easy cleaning.
These are really easy to implement and they make a huge difference! So go get yourself these items right now and help stop the plastic madness! By the way, none of these links are affiliate links, they are just items that I love and use everyday 🙂