If you look around, you’ll realize that we live in a world cluttered with plastic. It’s literally everywhere and even if you’ve made some conscious choices in your life to contribute to the environment and be less of a burden to it with the things you do in daily life, plastic still plays a big role in it.
And while breaking up with plastics once and for all would be rather difficult, there are some steps you can take today and a few switches you can make, that will take no time or energy, but which will make you a better citizen of the planet and keep you and your family much healthier.
1. Buy non-packaged food.
A good starting point is this. It might mean doing some brainstorming and research, seeing what in your local supermarket that you usually buy in a package is offered without one, etc. but it’s totally worth it if you are trying to reduce the environmental pollution and biodiversity destruction plastic causes.
The first thing you should do - which is also super easy - is to avoid packaging of fruit and other produce. Instead, when walking the produce aisles, pick plastic-free fresh fruits and veggies to place in your basket, and after purchase, pop them into your reusable bags. For some people, this might cause unnecessary headaches at the checkout. To save time, take zero-waste reusable food bags and when shopping the produce aisles pop the veggies directly into your reusable food storage bags.
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2. Say 'No' to bottled water.
Did you know that the drinking water that comes in plastic bottles has chemicals in it?
In fact, German researchers concluded that you’re exposing your body to up to 25,000 chemicals with a single plastic bottle, many of which have never been properly tested to see the impacts on your health.
So, the next time you’re traveling, or if you have the habit of carrying a bottle with you everywhere throughout the day (which is a great way to stay hydrated), switch to reusable ones.
If you have no such option, just get one and refill it until you find a better solution. But these days you can find metal or glass reusable bottles such as the King Do Way stainless steel water bottle for about $15 on Amazon. Purchase yours now.
3. Find a better alternative to the plastic bag.
Plastic bags have a negative effect in waterways, wildlife and on soil composition. They might be convenient, the easiest solution, and what we’re used to, but how they influence the environment is a fact we can’t overlook.
It takes 10-20 years for one plastic bag to completely decompose. Not to mention the number of birds and sea animals dying each year as a result of absorbing the chemicals.
Your very first step should be to avoid them at all costs and get yourself a stylish reusable one like the Baggu Reusable Shopping Bag pictured below.
If you have existing ones in your home, try to recycle them or to reuse them (although their life span isn’t long and there’s only so much a plastic bag can handle). Once you're completely done with them, say no to them when offered to you at the shops etc. The easiest way to avoid plastic waste is not to let it into your home to start with!
4. Use natural cosmetics.
If you’re often buying face wash, hand cream, toothpaste etc. know that these too have elements that turn into micro plastic which in turn pollute the oceans. Not to mention the additives inside these items that aren’t good for your skin or body.
If you’re willing to invest some time in living a more organic and green life, learn how create your own beauty products and do it all yourself. Yes, it’s not that hard to make your own toothpaste, or use natural ingredients to take care of your face, skin, hair, hands, armpits or anything else!
As for shampoo and conditioner, you can switch to coconut oil and natural soaps.
5. Don’t use plastic when storing food.
Another thing the average person does is relying on plastic zipper bags or ziplock bags, plastic lunch boxes, plastic takeout and more.
Here are the alternatives: use glass containers for keeping food in your fridge, go for a paper box when getting a takeaway or better yet bring your own container when you want to bring leftovers home after eating out.
There are many things you can do and it’s important to build this as a habit. It might mean asking people what else they have other than plastic containers prior to making a purchase. It might seem odd at first or even time consuming, but our wasteful lifestyles are built on convenience and to counter this, we must be mindful and take some time to think before we consume!
It might mean carrying containers and other reusable items when going out, but this is how the only way to get rid of plastic once and for all if you're serious about living a greener life.
6. Let vinegar do your cleaning!
It’s surprising what white vinegar has the power to do at home, and especially in the kitchen. You can use it to polish your silverware or even create a homemade cleaning spray that you can use on any surface. If you scrub stains on clothes with a toothbrush and vinegar, they will go away. Another way to make use of it is to unclog the sink, or to even disinfect every corner of your home naturally and for free.
7. Make your kids’ life plastic-free too.
There are many solutions to leaving the plastic behind and allowing your babies and toddlers to enjoy the same comfort.
Start by choosing cloth diapers, glass bottles with a silicon sleeve and plastic-free toys.
When the kids grow up and you organize parties, or go out and spend some time in nature, be prepared with stainless steel containers, metal cups and reusable glass bottles.
8. Get to the bottom of this.
Once you’ve taken care of the aspects of life where plastic used to dominate, it’s time to take a closer look and see where else it’s contained in.
If you see your plastic phone case needs replacing as it's worn out completely, purchase one made of biodegradable materials such as bamboo. You should do the same with the plastic pens at home, once they're at the end of their use, purchase metal ones.
Instead of purchasing physical items such as CDs and DVDs, go digital and purchase downloadable movies instead.
Eliminate things like receiving letters in envelopes with plastic elements and instead, choose to receive your bills via email.
There’s so much you can do to go plastic-free, but if you start with these tips you'll have cut out a majority of plastic that enters your home on a daily basis.
For more plastic-free lifestyle tips, check out another of our popular posts: 20 Steps to Plastic-Free Living.
Like this post? Feel free to connect with Sarah at Wingman Magazine.
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