10 Easy Swaps To Ditch Single-Use Plastic
It's still January and we have 11 months left in the year to make a conscious change in our lifestyle. One of the many things I want to work on this year is cutting out single-use plastic. I'm not going to say it is easy. We have been so used to the easy way of life without thinking of the environmental impact our actions are causing that we tend to forget to bring these items with us. Me included! But don't feel bad. We are in this together. I have decided to share with you some simple ways you can start making a difference in your every day routine and go plastic free!
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WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID USING SINGLE-USE PLASTIC!
Before I start, I want to tell you why you should avoid using single-use plastic. Plastic is one of the leading causes of pollution and waste in our planet. One plastic water bottle can take anything from 450 to 1,000 years to fully decompose. Even during this process the bottle breaks down to tiny pieces of plastic over the years which end up in animals food chain, especially birds. Many of these animals think that what they are eating are other bugs, seeds, etc causing them to bloat, not get enough nutrition, and eventually die. Don't believe me? You should definitely watch the movie "Plastic Ocean" on Netflix. I watched it and it was just mind-blowing the damage we are doing to our planet.
Majority of us don't see behind the scenes. We use our products, throw it in the trash and put our trash on the curb for waste management to come and pick up. What you don't see is all of the trucks that are going in and out of the landfill every day full of trash dumping it into this massive hole in the ground. Ask yourself... how many bags of trash a week do you put on the curb. Now imagine that many bags for everyone on your street or even your neighborhood! Now try imagining that for your entire city? That's a lot of trash right! Even if you feel like your neighbor is not doing the right thing, you are still making a difference on the environment.
WHAT SINGLE-USE PLASTICS TO CUT OUT AND WHAT TO REPLACE THEM WITH!
There are so many options now a day as the awareness on our negative environmental impact continues to grow. Many big brands are even taking huge measures to practicing more sustainable options in their companies. Here are a few items that you can start changing in your lifestyle. Please note that if you currently have plastic items that can be reused, please reuse them as much as possible until they break. When they break please recycle or dispose of them in a conscious way.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
This is a must in my books. I always try to carry a reusable water bottle with me at all times. One reusable water bottle can help eliminate 1,460 single-use plastic bottles per year per person. This is according to the four plastic bottles per day that the average human needs to drink. Regardless of how much water you drink, you are still making a huge impact on our planet. I mean, that's a lot of water bottles that you will be saving from landing in landfills or in our waters. Here are a few of the water bottles I love to carry with me.
- Hydro Flask
- HydroBlu Clear Flow Water Bottle & Filter Combo (I like this bottle cause it has a built in filter perfect for the outdoors)
- Healthy Human
Related Article: HydroBlu Clear Flow Water Bottle Review
REUSABLE COFFEE MUGS
Another one that I have greatly cut out of my lifestyle is single-use coffee mugs. I do from time to time forget to bring my reusable coffee mug but about 99% of the time I either drink coffee at home or make it at home and take it with me in my travel coffee mug. Usually I buy one at Target in their dollar section at the entrance. I also have a few travel mugs I had before I started cutting out plastic from our lifestyle that I still use and are going strong. If they still work and have no cracks or leaks then I'm going to keep using them till they break, and you should too. No need to throw it away if it's in good conditions right. The less waste the better. Even if you choose to buy a plastic travel mug, you are still eliminating a huge amount of plastic going in to our world. It's a simple switch.
Don't be afraid to kindly ask a coffee shop to make your coffee in your own travel mug. Starbucks is very understanding about this as well as most other places. Hydro Flask and Healthy Human have a really good coffee travel mug that are durable and keeps your coffee nice and warm for many hours. Starbucks also has a few travel mugs of their own and some locations even give you a discount for choosing to reuse your coffee mug.
REUSABLE UTENSILS: FORK, SPOON, AND KNIFE
This is another switch I highly recommend on making. Reusable utensils such as your fork, knife, and spoon that you can take with you is a good way to reduce the amount of plastic utensils that are being thrown away every day. Just by bringing your own set of utensils you are eliminating 3 single-use plastic items each time from going in to our landfills. I have several that I use, mainly our camping ones.
- ToGoWare (these are the ones I use when I'm outdoors because they can clip to your pack)
- Chobee Supply Co. (these bring a reusable straw as well)
- Ki Creations (these also bring a reusable straw)
REUSABLE SNACK BAGS
One of my pet peeves is seeing a perfectly new Ziploc bags being thrown away. Like it was just used to hold a sandwich or some chips, no breaks or tears, and just tossed in to the trash without a second thought. I usually wash my Ziploc bags and even have a few of these single-use plastic Ziploc bags floating around my house that I continue to wash with soap and water to reuse. There are other options though. There's several brands that make reusable snack bags now and they come in various sizes to fit your every need. Here are some that I recommend.
Single-use plastic straws is one of the main issues with plastic along with water bottles. So many plastic straws are being used every single day. I actually wrote a more detailed post about this over a year ago. I have made the switch to using metal straws instead that I can use over and over again. One straw can last you for many years and they are easy to clean too. They also come in glass as well but with kids I chose metal instead. These are the ones I bought. It comes in various sizes and forms making it easy to fit our family needs.
Related Article: How Straws Are Affecting Our Planet
REUSABLE STORAGE CONTAINERS
I had already bought in bulk a bunch of plastic containers to store food and liquids in and plan to use them till they break. This is another switch I will be doing over time. As one container breaks, I will be replacing it with a more sustainable option that will last longer. I am aiming to use metal, glass, or even bamboo bowls and containers in my kitchen down the road. They last longer and are the more sustainable option versus plastic. This is another easy switch you can make without breaking the bank cause you will be doing it over time. Another thing that I do is reuse the single-use plastic containers of our Chinese take out. These are so convenient when I am packing large portions of food for my husband for work. Just wash them and reuse them till they break. No need to throw it away once you are done eating. Once they do break, make sure to properly recycle them so they don't end up in our landfills.
Related Article: A Clean Sustainable Kitchen
REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS
Did you know that plastic shopping bags can take 10-20 years to decompose? That's still a very long time in my opinion. Using a reusable shopping bag can greatly bring the number down of plastic bags being used. Plus they're not all that ugly, carry more, more convenient, and good for the environment. I just use the ones I bought at Walmart but you can find them at just about any store now or you can also check out these pretty ones on Amazon.
REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS
I never realized how many produce bags I used until I started counting. I think in one grocery trip alone I used about 20 of these produce bags and they all went in to the trash cause they were broken by the time I got home. No way of even reusing them cause they are so cheaply made. I decided to make the switch and purchased these produce bags. They came in various sizes making it easier for me to organize my produce and set things apart. Another tip I would like to share with you is buying produce that is not packaged already. This helps also cut down on the plastic packaging consumption as well.
BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH VS PLASTIC TOOTHBRUSH
One switch I made from the very beginning was changing the toothbrush that I used. I decided to switch from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush which is biodegradable. Toothbrushes are switched out every 3 or 4 months (at least they should be for proper oral hygiene). Can you just imagine how many toothbrushes go in to our landfills daily if everyone changed their toothbrushes every 3 months? In my household alone that will be 16 toothbrushes a year. Now picture that for ever household on your street. These toothbrushes can take anything from 500 to 1,000 years to fully decompose and some may not even decompose completely. No thank you.
PADS & TAMPONS
Guys, if you are reading I'm sorry but this is crucial for everyone to know in my opinion. Many pads have small plastic in them or some form of plastic to help with the leaks. Tampons have plastic insertion tips which end up in our trash right after we use them. Not just that, many of these pads and tampons have chemicals in them to help ease with smell, leaks, etc. After learning about the environmental impact that my menstrual hygiene products were causing I decided to make the switch to a menstrual cup. One menstrual cup can last you up to 10 years if taken care for properly. They are reusable, flexible, and you won't even know it's there. By switching to a menstrual cup you are greatly reducing your waste. I used to go through about 24 to 36 pads every month. Now I used that many pads in the course of about 8 months and that's only cause I used them at night to go to sleep. Now that my box of pads has finished, I don't plan on buying them any more.
If you are not comfortable with a menstrual cup or can't for certain reasons, that is fine too. You can choose to use an organic cotton material or even reusable pads that clip on to your underwear. Here are some of the ones that I recommend.
Related Article: DOT Cup
Do your research for your area and see how you can properly dispose of your waste, especially the single-use plastic, so you can minimize your carbon footprint. You can even look into companies that take in plastic and reuse it as part of their manufacturing process (this is something I am currently looking in to as well). I personally believe that your waste shouldn't outlive you and I'm setting it my mission to do just that. Will you join me? Remember that this doesn't have to be an overnight lifestyle change. But together, if we all slowly change our lifestyle, we will be lowering our carbon footprint and helping keep our planet beautiful for many generations to come.
Well I hope this guide helps you live a more plastic free lifestyle. What are some changes that you plan on making to go plastic free this year? Would love to heard all about them in the comments below.
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