Plastic has become one of the most harmful materials to our environment.
From polluting oceans and harming wildlife, to filling up landfills for decades without decomposing, this material is having devastating short term and long term effects on our planet.
The main culprits are the companies producing these products. Plastic is cheap, economical, and easy to mold, so it’s no wonder its use is so rampant.
Our society has become increasingly dependent on plastic products, so making the shift to living with less plastic (and, eventually, living plastic-free) can be a challenge.
Do you think it’s possible to live life without plastic? Wondering how to do it or at least get started?
To help point those who want to make the shift to a plastic-free lifestyle in the right direction, we decided to put together this guide to reducing your plastic use. Think of it as a “cheat sheet” to living plastic-free. The list is not meant to be overwhelming but simply to show what is possible. Choose a few that seem doable and that will make the most impact. No one can do it all at once. But we can all get started!
Carry reusable shopping bags.
Carry whatever works for you. Some people like reusable canvas totes. Others prefer to put their purchases into a backpack or messenger bag. Do you often forget your reusable bags? ChicoBags are a great emergency alternative. While they are made from synthetic materials, they compress into their own attached stuff sack, which makes them very convenient and likely to be used. I carry several of them in my purse so I am never without a bag. If you have a car, keep your grocery bags in it and remember to bring them into the store with you! And one more thing: reusable bags are not just for groceries! Carry them for all your purchases, from electronics to clothing.
Give up bottled water.
Not only does it come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it. And many brands of bottled water are simply filtered tap water. Get a reusable stainless steel bottle or stainless steel travel mug, fill it up with tap water before leaving the house, and refill it wherever you happen to be. I don’t recommend reusable plastic or aluminum bottles. Plastic may leach chemicals into the water and aluminum bottles are lined with an epoxy resin, some of which has also found to leach into water depending on the brand. Why take a chance? Read my posts about bottled water for more information.
Carry your own containers such as stainless steel travel mug or water bottle
for take-out food and leftovers.Request takeout places use your container instead of their disposable one. If they won’t do it, give them a Take Out Without card to help them understand why they should. Some examples of convenient containers are:
Carry a stainless steel travel mug or water bottle at all times for coffee and other drinks while out in the world.(I use my travel mug for water instead of a water bottle.) Besides the plastic lid and plastic straw, paper cups are lined with a plastic coating. When I first began this project, I got in the habit of requesting “no lid and no straw” when ordering a drink in a disposable paper cup. But nowadays, if I’ve forgotten my mug, I simply do without until I can find a water fountain or sit-down cafe or restaurant with durable cups and glasses. This process helps me to remember my reusable mug next time.
Carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws.
I keep a To-Go-Ware bamboo utensil set .And actually, I didn’t need to go out and buy the bamboo. I could have just as easily used my own stainless steel utensils.
When ordering pizza, say no to the little plastic “table”
in the middle of the pizza box.It’s called a “package saver.” Think about it. A single-use plastic device meant to save a single-use cardboard box. What about all the marine animals that swallow that type of disposable plastic? It doesn’t save them, does it? When ordering, say, “Please don’t put that little white plastic thing in the middle of the pizza.” They’ll know what you mean.
Say no to plastic produce bags.
They are generally unnecessary. What are we worried about? That our apples won’t get along with our broccoli during the trip home? Or is it that the produce will get dirty? Hey, it grew in the dirt, and we’re going to wash it anyway, right? At the grocery store, I put most produce directly into my cart and then into my reusable bag.