5 tips for reducing plastic use
Updated: Aug 15, 2018
Earth Day is this weekend and I thought it was the perfect time to bring up practical ways I have eliminated plastic in my life. Around this time last year I noticed just how much plastic was in my life. Well, not just my life but my world really. Plastic is e v e r y w h e r e !!! Just go to the grocery store and notice how much plastic there is. You can’t buy many items without coming in contact with plastic. We wrap food in it, store food in it, purchase food in it, store liquids in it, etc.
But why is it important to be conscious about the amount of plastic we consume?
It takes more than 500-1,000 years to biodegrade.
Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth 4 times.
Just about every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists in some shape or form.
93% of Americans above the age of 6 test positive for BPA.
Some of the compounds found in plastic may alter our hormones and have potential health effects.
In a lifetime, the average American will personally throw away 600 times his or her own body weight in plastic.
This inspired me to begin my journey towards reducing the amount of plastic I use. And let me make it perfectly clear, I am NOWHERE near perfect when it come to plastic but I like to think that my awareness is a little bit clearer each day and I am finding creative ways to work around the system.
I decided to share with you some of the most common ways plastic sneaks into our lives and a few ways I have tried to combat it! My biggest suggestion is resist getting overwhelmed and choose one or two ways to switch to plastic free over time.
Reusable drink ware: This has been one of the most accessible shifts in our lifestyles and you may have already done this. Using my own water bottle has made my life so much easier and not to mention cheaper. As Berkey Water reports, “most often bottled water is no safer or healthier than tap water, yet it costs about 600 times more than tap water per gallon”. I use my Hydro Flask every day and I have linked it here.
Reusable produce bags: You can find the bags I use here. When I made this switch all I could think was DUH! Each week using plastic bags to carry my fruits and veggies was the biggest waste!! I keep them in my car and use them each week. Sometimes when I forget them, I just buy groceries without the plastic bags wrapped around them because you need to wash your fruits and veggies anyway! I also try my hardest to buy fruits and veggies that aren’t wrapped in plastic (salad, pre-washed and cut vegetables, etc.) but obviously know that some are unavoidable (berries and other fruits) unless shopping at the farmers market.
Glassware for lunch: I use a variety of jars to bring my lunch and snack to work each day. My favorites are Snapware and Weck Jars. I like to load up my salads, dressings, and snacks into the glass jars instead of using plastic bags and containers. They are also SO much easier to clean because they are dishwasher safe and do not melt like plastic.
Reusable utensils: Each night when I pack my lunch I also make sure that I throw in a fork, knife, or spoon from my kitchen. Another obvious switch that changed the game for me! Using my own utensils each day at lunch is huge because I not only avoid using plastic but also save money! There was a time that I was using plastic forks, knives, and spoons every meal. Now I look back and think how ridiculous that was!!
Tote bags or paper bags when grocery shopping: Maybe another obvious switch but one that definitely changed shopping for me. Using your own bag at the grocery store is so easy these days and most stores even give you some money back for using them. There is NO need to use plastic bags when shopping. I like to keep my reusable bags in my car so each time I shop I know to grab them before going inside. Be careful when buying reusable bags because some are made with plastic! This is better than using plastic bags one time, but still doesn’t hurt to be aware!
The biggest challenge I face, and see so many others face, is convenience over being eco-friendly. It is so much easier to get a to-go cup at your coffee shop, or buy bulk items wrapped in plastic, or grab plastic utensils because we are not being mindful when packing up lunch. The real challenge is choosing to respect the planet and do our part to save the world and our bodies. How do we make it easier? Choose one or two things per week you want to change and stick to them! The more you do this and ease into the transitions, the more habits you will create that have lasting effects. These days I can feel myself cringe when I forget my tote bags when grocery shopping or grab a drink at Starbucks. Of course I let myself slide every once and awhile but the environment and planet are so important to me and I hate making them suffer because of my laziness. We can do this! Every little bit helps!