Plastic materials have become the most common pollutants of the Earth and its oceans. Although recycling helps reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and waterways, a surprising amount of materials are not considered recyclable. This plastic garbage is what ends up in the ecosystems and can take hundreds of years to degrade.
The only way to help the planet get back on its feet is to make an effort and ensure that we reduce our use of disposable plastic.
Being completely zero-waste can be hard, and it is not something that can be achieved overnight. However, there are a lot of little changes that can be made to steer us in the right direction. This may seem daunting, but there are some simple ways to reduce the use of plastic in our daily routines.
Below are 10 tips for beginners on how to be plastic-free:
BYOB (bring your own bags)
A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to decompose! Knowing this, bringing your own bag should be common sense. It is also considered such good advice that some governments implemented policies to encourage more people to do it. My suggestion is to try and keep reusable shopping bags in your car for whenever you need to run errands. That way, it is almost impossible to forget them when leaving the house!
In addition to bigger bags, you can further reduce waste by bringing your own reusable produce bags or skipping them entirely.
Stop Using Plastic Straws
Straws suck. Literally and figuratively. They are terrible for the oceans and the creatures that inhabit them. If you truly don’t need a straw, please don’t use one! However, if straws are a must for you, purchase a pack of reusable, stainless steel straws and carry one with you. Just make a habit of saying “no straw please” with any beverage order and you are good to go!
Plastic – Free Partying
Glitter? Balloons? Solo Cups? All plastic, all bad for the environment, and all unnecessary. If you are afraid of breakage or the massive clean-up, you can opt for sustainable products instead! There are plenty of options for biodegradable plateware or bamboo cutlery that are eco-friendly and will make your party look so chic.
Making your own all-purpose cleaning products is easy to do, inexpensive, and eliminates the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner. You can use non- toxic ingredients which means it is much safer for your skin and creates a healthier home environment. Click here for my multi-surface cleaning spray recipe!
Don’t Buy Bottled Water
Plastic bottles and their lids are among the most commonly found items on beach cleans globally. Buying and using a reusable water bottle will not only help you save money by decreasing the amount of plastic water bottles you buy, it will also keep your beverage cool (or hot!) for a longer period of time. Personal benefits aside, if each person reading this bought a reusable water bottle, the impact on the environment would be tremendous.
Another easy way to stop using water bottles is to buy a water filter!
Re-Vamp Your Food Storage
Plastic baggies, plastic wrap, and plastic storage containers are worth replacing. Instead of sandwich bags, why not pack a bento box for lunch? Instead of wrapping things in Saran wrap, try using glass jars and containers for the fridge. Another thing to remember is that foil is recyclable: after using it to store food you can just rinse it off and put it straight into the recycle bin.
Personal Care Products Swap
It is surprisingly simple to avoid single-use plastic with a few product swaps! The market today is continuing to offer a variety of alternative plastic-free products and the options are increasing every day. Using reusable or compostable toiletries and self-care tools can lead to a more functional and sustainable bathroom.
Carry Your Own Coffee Cup
Bringing your own mug or to-go coffee cup is an easy and effective way to reduce your plastic footprint. Disposable coffee cups might look like paper but they’re usually lined with polyethylene, a type of plastic resin that is difficult to process at recycling centers. Plus, think of all the plastic used for the lids and stirrers – which can all be avoided by carrying around your own cup.
I recently discovered these Bamboo Fiber Reusable Travel Coffee Cups: they are made from biodegradable materials and perfect for anyone who is on the go all the time!
Buy Fresh Foods
Try to be willing to skip buying any food if the only option is wrapped in plastic. This can obviously take some time to completely make the switch but you can start slow. Another great way to avoid plastic is to support your local farmers’ markets: the farmers rarely use plastic packaging and you can contribute to your community at the same time. In short, the more we limit our consumption of packaged convenience foods, the less plastic waste we’ll generate and the healthier we’ll be!
Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose
Old sheets can become kitchen rags, glass food jars can be used as drink glasses, strong food packaging can be a new piece of tupperware. The goal is to develop the mindset that “anything can be repurposed.” Delve into that creativity of yours and help save the Earth!
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