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Shopping is a time where plastic usage is at its peak. Shopping bags are made of plastic, food is packaged in plastic, and bulk items are put into plastic. Most, if not all of this plastic ends up in the garbage or recycle bin. How do we reduce our plastic consumption when it comes to grocery shopping?
- Start using cloth grocery bags. You probably have some cloth bags laying around your house. Gather them up and put them in your vehicle. Start using them when you go shopping. This alone will drastically reduce the amount of plastic coming into your home.
- For bulk items you can either label and reuse the plastic bags you purchase bulk items in, or purchase some small reusable cloth bags for this purpose. Another option is to use boxes or containers from around the home. With this approach, you will have to weigh the containers first and mark down their empty weight.
- Keep cardboard boxes in your vehicle for storing and transporting heavy items.
- Look for produce that is not packaged in plastic. Buy loose potatoes, tomatoes and other items. Field cucumbers are not usually wrapped in plastic. Be diligent in finding foods and other items that are not packaged in plastic. Opt for glass and cardboard packaging instead.
- Stop buying single serve yogurts, fruit cups, beverages, etc. Buy a large container of yogurt and package it yourself in a reusable container. Buy fresh fruit and cut it up.
- Buy cheese and meat from the deli and store it in your own containers.
- Buy bulk cereal. Package in paper bags.
- Buy laundry detergent packaged in cardboard (or make your own).
- Buy tortilla chips packaged in paper bags.
- Buy milk in paper cartons.
- Purchase fresh produce from a farmers market.
Bottled water is a terrible burden on the planet. Millions of plastic water bottles are recycled or tossed in the garbage every year. If you are worried about the water that comes from your tap, it makes much more economical sense to invest in a water filtration system than to constantly purchase bottled water.
- If you are out and about, fill a stainless steel water container with drinking water so that you always have water handy. If you don't have a stainless steel container, you could use a simple mason jar.
- Always bring a stainless steel travel mug with you. When you order to-go coffee or tea, use your travel mug.
- Stop buying juice. Either squeeze your own juice or just eat fresh fruit.
- Use small mason jars as cups.
- Don't purchase plastic sippy cups, instead use a stainless steel water bottle, or add a cuppow to a mason jar.
- Stop buying plastic straws. Ask for no straw when you order a drink. If you love using straws, buy a stainless steel one.
- Use glass baby bottles.
Plastic food wrap has got to go. Ziploc bags get used once and thrown away. If you want to reduce the amount of plastic that gets thrown out, you need to find an alternative for transporting food.
- Reuse plastic and glass containers to store your food.
- Compost all your food waste to cut down on trash bag usage.
- Use wood, bamboo or glass cutting boards.
- Store all your food in glass containers, you can even freeze food in glass (just leave some room for expansion).
- When you order take-out, ask them to package your food in your own containers.
- Bring your own container to a restaurant in case you have to take leftovers home.
- Keep a set of utensils on your vehicle. Stop using plastic utensils.
- Bring your lunch in a cotton bag or stainless steel tin.
Around the Home
We use plastic everywhere. We can't avoid all sources of plastic, but we can take steps to drastically reduce the amount of plastic we use and throw away.
- Use cloth diapers.
- Buy wood toys for children. Stop buying kids so many toys, they don't need them.
- Use rechargeable batteries to reduce battery packaging.
- Give up gum. Gum is made of plastic.
- Make your own cleaning products with vinegar and baking soda.
- Buy bar soaps rather than liquid soaps in plastic.
- Use matches. Plastic lighters get thrown away. Or use a refillable lighter.
- Don't buy products containing plastic micro-beads. Avoid items with “polypropylene” or “polyethylene” on the ingredients list.
- When throwing a party, ask people to bring their own dishes, or have a communal clean-up where everyone takes a turn washing and drying dishes.
- Buy your music online rather than purchasing plastic CD's.
- Only buy clothing and bedding made of natural materials such as cotton, wool, or silk. Avoid synthetic fabrics, as these are made of plastic.
- Choose a fabric shower curtain rather than a PVC one. Hemp is naturally mold resistant as long as your bathroom is well ventilated.
- Opt for high quality natural area rugs.
- Look for natural products for your pets.
- Use non-toxic and natural paints on your walls and furniture.
Much of our personal care products come packaged in plastic. There are things we can do to reduce this usage. Opt for natural materials and reusable products.
- Use a shampoo bar rather than bottled shampoo.
- Use a body oil packaged in glass rather than a lotion packaged in plastic.
- Use a vinegar hair rinse instead of conditioner (Buy vinegar packaged in glass)
- Start using cloth menstrual products or a Diva Cup.
- Stop buying disposable razors.
- Make your own facial oils or serums. Store them in glass.
- Use a bamboo toothbrush.
- Use bar soap or shaving soap instead of shaving cream.
- Exfoliate and wash with a natural sea sponge.
- Use cotton or hemp makeup remover pads.
- Choose a wooden comb and a wooden hair brush.
- Go for toilet paper wrapped in paper rather than plastic.
There you have it. 53 tips for reducing plastic usage and plastic waste in your home. Do you have any tips to add?
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This post was originally published on September 27, 2016.