In my last post More Plastic, More Problems I said I’d be posting my tips to start reducing your plastic footprint. I’m no expert on plastic-free or even plastic-minimalism living, but I’ve started practicing some plastic-reducing habits that are so easy even Donald Trump couldn’t resist them. Here goes.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse
I have begun to reduce my plastic footprint a few ways. I just moved and decided that would be the best time for me to transform my kitchen to a plastic-free space. So I recycled the old, ugly, stained, plastic bowls, and containers and what I didn’t recycle was donated to Goodwill. Then I replaced everything with glass, bamboo, stainless steel, and (some) silicone.
When I do find myself buying something plastic, I reuse it as much as I can. And then I recycle it. The Houston/Clear Lake area has the Ellington Airport/Clear Lake Neighborhood Recycling Center that I visit weekly to make recycling dumps for not just plastic but also cardboard, green glass, brown glass, clear glass, and aluminum.
As great as reducing, reusing, and recycling is, what I’ve found to be the greatest way to reduce my plastic footprint is to refuse – which you can do by refusing OR reusing.
Reusable Shopping Bags
This one is super easy, especially since most every store you enter now sells reusable shopping bags. We currently have about 15,000 floating around my apartment between me and my roommates so there are always enough for any shopping we’ve gotta do. I always make sure to keep a few in my car that way I’m always prepared for an impromptu grocery run or shopping trip. And I never forget to reload my car with my reusable bags because as Eco-friendly as they are, they aren’t the cutest dinner table decor and they don’t leave the dinner table unless they’re going back to where they came from.
Reusable Veggie Bags
Earth Junky and Simple Ecology make organic cotton, reusable, washable, mesh grocery bags to replace the plastic bags you find in the produce section of every grocery store in America. You can even use the solid, non-mesh bags to hold the loose coffee beans, rice, quinoa, etc. you find in the natural, pay-by-weight, package-free section.
Reusable “Plastic” Wrap
I’ve eliminated saran wrap from my kitchen vocabulary and replaced it with beeswax. Bee’s Wrap Reusable Food Storage uses organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin to provide a natural alternative to plastic wrap. Using the heat from your hands Bee’s Wrap will seal a bowl or wrap your food and when you’ve eaten it all you rinse with cool water and soap, let air dry, and reuse it! The wraps even come in a variety of colors and patterns to match your kitchen.
Plastic isn’t the only foul thing filling our oceans. So when I find anything reusable to reduce waste I get pretty excited. This year for my birthday, my roommate got me snapping “UnPaper Towels” from Etsy. They’re made from one layer of cotton flannel and 1 layer cotton terry cloth with plastic snaps to keep the towels together on the roll (the plastic is minimal so the trade-off for the paper-saving is worth it in my opinion). You can use them however you’d use a regular paper towel and when they’re dirty, just throw ’em in the wash and reuse… infinitely.
Stainless Steel and Glass Straws
Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used in America each day (source) with a large percentage of them ending up in places they should’t end up – like this sea turtle’s nose. My simple solution? Regardless of where I’m drinking or dining I always ask for no straw and I’ve purchased tons of FDA-Approved Stainless Steel Straws and glass straws from Amazon and Simply Straws – for myself and as gifts for friends. I keep some in my kitchen and the rest in my car, so whenever my friends or I order anything requiring a straw I’ve got it covered.
If you shop before March 17th, Simply Straws is offering 25% off all green-colored straws for their St Patty’s Sale!
Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market or Community Garden
When you think of reducing your plastic footprint, shopping at a farmer’s market or community garden probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But depending on the garden you could actually help to do more than just reduce your footprint. Some community gardens teach “shoppers” about gardening and have them help with gardening tasks like planting seeds and removing weeds in order to leave with food. Plus, both farmer’s markets and community gardens usually enforce BYOB “Bring Your Own Bag” policies.
Want to Start Living Plastic Free?
I’m probably doing this wrong by directing you to other blogs, but I’m not going to recreate the wheel and tell you every single thing you can do to reduce your plastic footprint. So if you want to learn more about how you can start living a plastic free life, pledge to stop using plastic straws, or ask your local eateries to stop serving plastic straws check out these blogs and websites for step-by-step guides and informational pamphlets you can share with family, friends, and businesses!
- Don’t take my word for it, educate yourself!
- You can watch A Plastic Ocean on Netflix
- You can rent Plastic Paradise on Amazon or buy the DVD from their website
- Check out NOAA Marine Debris Program Fact Sheets
- No Straw Please – The Plastic Pollution Coalition
- My Plastic Free Life – 100 Steps to a Plastic Free Life
- Buy a glass straw (or three) from Simply Straws
- Use this link for 25% off your first order!
- How to Get Rid of Plastics
Already made the switch to a plastic free life? Or currently in the process? I want to hear about it in the comments below!