10 Easy Ways To Reduce Plastic Waste
Something hit me the other day…I realized how much I really DO NOT like plastic.
Here’s what happened: This past weekend I went to my local Target to pick up random household necesseties: toilet paper, paper towels, dishwashing soap, and sponges. There was nothing particulary special about this trip, just a typical Sunday of cleaning.
It wasn’t until I walked past the aisle with the laundry detergent that something hit me like a ton of bricks. And that was, how much plastic STUFF there is in the world, and how much we waste buying everyday items.
Virtually everything we consume and purchase has some kind of plastic.
Pack of gum? Plastic wrapping.
DVD? Hard plastic case
Toothpaste? Plastic tubing
It was a bit strange, as I’ve always been very conscience of my own personal plastic use. I’ve gotten rid of all plastic tupperware and traded it in for glass, I bring canvas bags to the grocery store, I cook with wooden or stainless steel utensils, and I very rarely drink from plastic bottles.
Perhaps it was the seemingly endless shelves of neatly arranged plastic jugs that stood out to me, but, I began to wonder as I was putting a 15 count package of paper towels wrapped in plasitc in my carriage, if I even really needed the paper towels?
Is there something else I could be using besides paper towels?
And, what else could I be doing to reduce my waste?
All of a sudden, I felt that bringing canvas bags to the grocery store and separating my recyclying wasn’t enough. Seeing the rows upon rows of unneccasary plastic packaging made me question myself:
Could I be doing more to reduce my overall consumption?
It’s funny to think how we can take a resource from earth (we use petroleum which is a by-product of oil, to make plastic) and create a non-biodegradable substance that eventually kills the very source it came from — our planet.
Ever heard of The Great Garbage Patch? Well, if you haven’t, just imagine a landmass the size of Texas floating between San Francisco and Hawaii that’s made up entirely of PLASTIC. Yep, a big heap of plastic floating in the Pacific. A result of our over-consumption of plastic materials.
Could I be doing more? Of course I could. We all could. So, for starters, here are 10 simple and easy ways to begin to reduce your plastic consumption. Enjoy!
10 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste
1. Eat fresh foods. Here’s an idea…drastically reduce or eliminate all processed foods. Not only is it better for your health, but better for the environment. The less processed foods we eat, the less waste we throw away with paper and plastic packaging.
2. Start toting around a stainless steel or even better, glass water bottle. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, we (and by we I mean Americans), purchased 31 BILLION bottles of water in 2006. Sad to say that only 10% of that 31 billion was recycled. Which means that nearly 28 billion water bottles are floating around in our landfills. Using a resuable stainless steel or glass water bottle that you fill with properly filtered water is an easy, economical and sustainable way to drastically cut down on plastic consumption.
3. Bring canvas bags to the grocery store. One of the easiest and most convenient ways to cut down on plastic bag and paper bag consumption. In some countries, like Japan, stores will actually charge you a small fee to use plastic bags, a practice I feel we should adopt to help encourage the use of canvas bags.
4. Skip on putting all your produce in those little plastic baggies. This is huge source of waste that I don’t think most of us even pay attention to. If you’re anything like me, the majority of your groceries are veggies and fruit. And just think about how much plastic we waste by putting a couple of apples, a tomato and a cucumber in one of those little baggies. Put your produce directly into your canvas bag while you shop. But, don’t forget to thoroughly wash your produce when you get home, especially since they’ll be sitting naked on the conveyor belt.
5. Choose paper or glass packaging over plastic packaging. Buying eggs? Choose the cardboard egg carton over the plastic. Laundry detergent? Buy the cardboard box over the plastic dispenser. Soap? Choose bar soap over liquid in bottles.
6. Replace your tupperware with glassware containers. Glass containers are so much cooler than tupperware for many reasons 1) You’re not as likely to lose a glass container than you are a cheap plastic one. 2) You can cook, store and reheat in a glass container. 3) They don’t stain like plastic tupperware if you put spaghetti sauce in it. 4) No icky toxic chemicals will leak into your food.
7. Forget buying another bottle of lotion. Use coconut oil (sold in a glass bottle, of course) for a skin moisturizer instead. Coconut oil is a safe, natural and chemical and paraben free moisturizer. Gently melt a tablespoon in a small saucepan and use as an overall body moisturizer. Here’s a link to my favorite brand of coconut oil by Tropical Traditions (OK, I’m a little biased that it’s from the Philippines too!)
8. Buy in bulk and bring in your own papers bags or storage containers if you can. Not only does buying in bulk save a ton of money, but you also cut down on unneccsary plastic packaging. Nuts, beans, rice, spices and legumes are items that are great buying in bulk.
9. Choose wax paper or glass containers instead of Ziplock baggies. Pretty self-explanatory.
10. Use brown grocery bags instead of plastic garbage bags for your trash. There probably isnt’ a house in America that doesn’t have a pantry, closet, or storage space filled with folded up brown paper bags. Instead of buying the white plastic garbage bags, make use of the pile of old grocery bags to line your trash cans instead.