EASY WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR PLASTIC CONSUMPTION
It’s that time of year again: Plastic-Free July! Which, for those who don’t know, is a wicked tough challenge to go the whole month without consuming plastic.
Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever been successful with this challenge.
Despite the almost inevitable failure, it’s a great time to assess your plastic consumption and figure out how you can do better! There are some areas that we just can’t do anything about in our current waste-driven society, but there’s a ton we can do to LESSEN our waste!
carry reusables with you to stay plastic free
One of the easiest and cheapest things we can do is to carry our reusables with us. Of course, the pandemic has taken its toll on our reusables and we’ve all had more single-use plastic foisted onto us. Ultimately, we need to simply do what we can, when we can!
For example, reusable cutlery and napkins easily fit into most bags. Bringing your water bottle will save you money. Travel mugs are more convenient as they keep your bevvie warm for a longer period of time. It’s all about building those sustainable habits.
pick up litter
Litter is everywhere. And, after you’ve participated in a clean up, you realize that it really is EVERYWHERE. Despite walking the same short loop with my dog everyday and constantly picking up trash I see, I still fill up a bag every walk.
That’s every day. The same, short loop. Generating a full bag of trash.
That’s a ton of litter!
Picking it up is easy, free, and really doesn’t require a ton of time or effort on your part.
use what you have to be plastic free
We face SO much pressure to buy, buy, buy, buy every day. We’re pressure to impulsively spend so much money on brand new things that we’ll never use. I mean, how can we be a good eco-advocate without them?! As a result, we’re left with things we don’t actually use and less money. These “eco” swaps aren’t cheap!
What if I told you that you didn’t have to buy the fancy “eco” item? After all, the most eco friendly item is the one you already own!
I bet you already have a plethora of ziplock bags and takeout containers you could wash and reuse. Instead of throwing out the plastic cutlery you got (even though you specifically asked them to leave it out), use it as your travel cutlery! My personal favourite are those big plastic leafy green containers. We use them for everything – bread, leftovers, bulk snack storage…. The possibilities are endless!
pick one area to make plastic free
Start small. Pick one area of your life or home and really focus on reducing waste and plastic in that area. Some popular spots include:
By breaking your habits down into sections, you can focus on a gradual shift to plastic free living. Whenever we make major lifestyle changes, it’s always better to go slow. That way, we don’t get overwhelmed, discouraged, and eventually give up!
reduce your food waste
Reducing food waste is a major part in any sustainable life. Did you know that, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter? That’s huge!
But wait… Doesn’t food break down into soil? It does, but only in the right conditions. In a landfill, like where all our trash goes, food breaks down in an oxygen-free environment. Under these circumstances, it produces methane, which is more than 80 times more powerful than CO2.
Instead, plan out your meals each week to avoid over buying. Not only does it save you money, but it prevents food from ending up in landfills. You can also find creative ways to reduce your food waste! Use broccoli stems in your stir fries, throw kale of spinach stems into a smoothie, keep that sourdough discard for pancakes, brownies, or crackers. Eventually, you’ll have an entire arsenal of food scrap recipes at your fingertips!
DIY your cleaning supplies
For low waste cleaning, you really only need to buy 3 ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, and soap (I love castile soap). You could even reuse a plastic spray bottle from a previous cleaning spray to keep that low waste aesthetic going.
That’s it. You’re all set to clean your house!
Just a note: don’t combine these ingredients. So many blogs will tell you to combine vinegar and baking soda or vinegar and soap, but you’re just neutralizing the items and removing their cleaning power. Avoid the waste and keep them separate!
skip the dryer sheet
Dryer sheets are an easy thing to ditch to reduce your plastic. They’re also expensive, resulting in an even pricier laundry routine, but I digress. Most dryer sheets are just pieces of polyester and often coated with synthetic fabric softeners and fragrance. In addition, they are intended for single use, making them single use plastics.
Can’t live with the static?
Invest in some wool dryer balls! They can be used for upwards of 500 dryer loads, reduce static, and can be composted when their use is over. Make sure to get at least 3 for them to work properly. And, despite many sites saying otherwise, do not add essential oils to them. It increases your risk of dryer fires.
do what you can and give yourself a break
Buy discounted or imperfect food at the grocery store, even if it’s in plastic. Buy fair trade. Hang your clothes to dry. Plan out your meals. Write to your rep.
There are so many things you can do to help the environment and reduce your waste. This goes far beyond plastic packaging, especially when we look at the scope of what lies ahead. Plastic is just one, small piece of the “sustainable living” puzzle. For more ideas on easy eco-lifestyle changes, check out my blog post on Easy Eco-Resolutions.
At the end of the day, we live in a wasteful, consumerist society. We’re stuck operating within those boundaries and, as such, can only do so much. Give yourself some grace and enjoy your eco-journey as much as you can.