While plastic has become an integral part of our daily lives, it unfortunately has several harmful effects on the environment, wildlife, and even us humans. Plastic is a major source of pollution and waste that not only adds to our landfills but also ends up in our oceans.
Luckily, there are a lot of easy ways to use less plastic at home. As an added benefit, using less plastic will also save you a ton of money down the road.
Many companies now charge customers for plastic bags when shopping at their stores, and some cities have even gone so far as to ban plastic bags entirely — a good thing, of course, because plastic bags are one of the most common types of litter.
If your city offers plastic bags, either for a fee or for free, you can still hop on the anti-plastic bag movement by purchasing your own reusable shopping bags. This is often the easiest way to use less plastic at home, which is why it’s so many people’s first step. The trick is to remember to bring them with you when you go shopping! A good habit to get into is to keep at least one in either your purse or car, but you can probably just store all of them in your trunk.
While a lot of people have made the switch to reusable shopping bags, an often missed step is making the switch to reusable produce bags.
Reusable produce bags can be bought online, or even upcycled from the loose fabric you have at home. That way, you can skip using the plastic bags offered at grocery stores and still have something to hold your fresh picked fruits and veggies in.
Buy in Bulk
To take it a step further, you can buy things like trail mix, cereals, rice, pasta, tea leaves, coffee, sugar, and more at a store like Costco, using your own reusable bags to transport them home and storing them in glass containers afterwards.
All of this helps cut back on a huge amount of wasteful plastic and cardboard packaging.
Instead of using plastic bags, plastic wrap, or plastic containers, you’ll find it better for the environment (and for your own health) to store food in glass containers. Glass is safer for storing liquids and hot food. It also doesn’t secrete potentially harmful chemicals.
If you already have a ton of plastic containers, you can rest assured knowing that they’re still a better for storing food than plastic bags or wrap. On the bottom of most plastic food containers, you can find a triangle with a number in it. Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are the safest options for food storage. You should also try to use containers that are BPA-free. Regardless of the container you might be using, you should never reheat food in plastic.
Another great option that’s becoming more and more popular for food storage is the reusable beeswax wrap. These are typically made from 100-percent cotton fabric cloths that have had beeswax melted into them, making them a super eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap.
The warmth of your hands helps wrap the beeswax around a piece of food or over a dish, and in a matter of seconds, it’ll cool and hold a tight seal.
With local straw bannings making the news lately, people are beginning to realize just how unnecessary these single-use items are. While you could easily choose to not use straws at all, some drinks just taste better with them, especially ones made with ice.
That’s exactly why a lot of people are switching to reusable straws, which are often made of stainless steel. That way, you can still sip your iced coffee without ice cubes hitting your teeth and feel good about the positive impact you’re making on the environment. Reusable straws usually come with a cleaner and are dishwasher safe.
Even though we all know how evil plastic water bottles are, we still use them all the time — usually because we either don’t like the taste of tap water, don’t trust the tap water, or simply prefer the convenience.
There are a few solutions though. If you don’t like tap water, you can always get a water cooler. Alternatively, you can get a water filter. As far as your on-the-go needs are concerned, you should consider investing in a reusable water bottle.
Grabbing a coffee on the go is part of a lot of people’s morning routine, but every day you buy a coffee from your favorite café, you’re also using a little more plastic. Even if it is recyclable, recycling still uses a certain amount of resources and energy, as does the production of plastic.
Instead of throwing away a new cup every day, get a reusable coffee mug and ask your barista to put your drink in that. Some places even offer a small discount to people who bring in their own mug.