I’m well over a year into my plastic free mission. I continue to try to do more and get upset when I buy items in plastic. But as I reflect back to what I have accomplished in the past year, I am pretty darn proud. It certainly didn’t happen all at once but slowly over the course of the past year I have made significant reductions in my plastic usage and you can too. I would say it is easily a 70-80% reduction which was accomplished on focusing on the top items that produced plastic in our household. If you are looking for where to start see my comprehensive list below and pick one or two to start with. Or maybe this will make you think of something in your household or life that you can tackle and find a plastic free alternative 🙂
Being a road warrior and traveling a ton for work, I started with what I used on the go. I refused plastic water bottles, to go coffee cups, single use utensils and straws. Those items were replaced with reusable options that I carry with me for travel, when I go to the office and generally when I am out and about. Every once in a while I get asked to go for coffee and don’t have my reusable coffee cup with me. In that case, I will ask for the coffee without the plastic lid. When I am traveling and looking for lunch, I look for an option where they offer the lunch on reusable plates and cutlery. It forces me to sit down, eat my lunch and take a moment for myself. My go to place is Panera as they are available in many areas, relatively quick and healthy. To learn more and find some recommendations check out one of my very first blog posts: Plastic Travel Tales
In our house I started with the kitchen since plastic is seemingly everywhere! We cut out the following in this order over the course of the past year:
- I cut out flavored carbonated water that was bought at a very high frequency. I would say easily 4 to 5 bottles a week and transitioned seamlessly to the Soda Stream. That’s around 250 plasitc bottles on an annual basis that I no longer use! Bonus we saved a bunch of money!
- We also cut out single use Keurig pods and purchased reusable pods. Our household was easily using 14 single use pods a week or 728 a year. Looking back I am embarrassed we used these and thrilled to have made the change.
- I started making my own almond milk as often as I could when time permitted. Sometimes I will buy a carton of almond milk do to work travel and time constraints. Luckily in my municipality it can be recycled. To read more about the three items above read my blog Kitchen Plastic Rehab Part 1.
- I have made some yogurt and have switched to brands that come in a glass jar vs. buying single use yogurt in plastic. My favorite brand is St. Benoit Cremery which I can find at Rainbow Market.
- I have started buying bulk and buy the following items-protein powder, nuts, granola, dried fruit, rice, sugar, salt, tea, almond flour, vinegar, olive oil, coconut oil. chocolate chips. I use reusable cloth/ mesh bags as well as glass jars for my shopping excursions. I really love shopping and seeing how much I can buy that has no packaging. And I look forward to growing the list of items I buy in bulk! If you want to give bulk shopping a shot, you can read more in my blog about Bulk Shopping 101. It is really quite fun. I get excited preparing my shopping list and bringing all my reusable bags and bottles. I feel so accomplished when I can afford plastic entirely on a shopping trip.
- I have started shopping at Farmers Markets and back at my local Safeway vs. Trader Joes to buy produce without packaging such as lettuce, other vegetables and fruits.
- We now compost in our home. We were worried about the smell but not an issue at all!
- We have not used paper towels or napkins in well over 6 months and have converted to cloth towels and napkins. We love Marley’s Monsters unpaper towels + napkins! For more details read, Ditch your Paper Towels.
- When I shop and I have a choice of something that may come in a plastic bottle vs. a glass bottle, I always will choose the glass bottle.
- If am shopping and my only option is in a plastic container, I buy the larger size as long as I know I can use it all up before it expires. A great example is feta which I love on my salads. My salads are mostly plastic free with the exception of the feta when used so I consider that a win!
- Vitamins have been also slowly switching over from plastic bottles to glass jars where possible. More to come on that shortly!
In the bathroom:
- Bottled shampoo and conditioner has been converted to bar soap, bar shampoo and bar conditioner. Read all about it in Ditch the Shampoo Bottle.
- Boxes of tissues have been converted to handkerchiefs.
- I no longer use cotton rounds to wash my face but use reusable cotton rounds that I wash weekly
- For lotion, I will refill the bottle I have at a local store (Rainbow) which offers that option. Somehow I had a years’ worth of lotion but will refill and reuse the existing bottle shortly.
- Toothpaste was switched from Colgate to David’s which is in a tin container which can be recycled and dental floss was switched from glide to dental lace which a silk floss in a glass jar with a tin lid that you can refill. Plastic free dental options for your reading pleasure.
- Tooth brush was switched to a bamboo tooth brush. I now refuse the toothbrush and dental floss my dentist gives me and use the bamboo while traveling. At home I do use an electric one as I have soft teeth that are very prone to cavities. You should always prioritize health first.
- My hair brush was switched from a Revlon plastic brush where the plastic bristles would bend over time. I would replace at least one a year. I switched to Bass, the Green Brush which I found at Rainbow Foods. I have been using it for well over 6 months and can tell it will last me for years to come . Bass Brushes has designed luxury grade brushes for 40 years with an emphasis on natural sustainable materials.
Is there still plastic in our house? Absolutely! We work full time, I travel a bit for work and I have a heavy training schedule for my upcoming marathon swims. That said, sometimes due to time constraints and convenience, we may not be able to make it over to a farmers market or to a store that has more plastic free options. There were also some items my partner would not give up that came in plastic but after writing this, I think we have come a very long way! It is all about progress not perfection! So don’t beat yourself up if you end up buying a spring mix of lettuce in a plastic container. Think about all the other areas in your life and home where you can make a notable difference! Just keep at it and slowly you will see that your household has significantly less plastic.
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