Plastic, it is literally everywhere. There are even studies that report that plastic is in our seafood. It is used in almost all packaging; grocery store bags, bottles for water, milk jugs, coffee cans, condiment containers, peanut butter containers, yogurt, even cans are coated with plastic. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon also contain forms of plastic. So, as you can see…
Plastic Has Taken Over Our Lives
It is an icon of our culture that is obsessed with convenience. It makes things easier, quicker, and convenient. So, the question is… can you really eliminate plastic from your life?
The short answer? Not really. The long answer? You can absolutely take steps to reduce the use of plastic in your life. Sure, there are going to be things that no matter what you do, you cannot avoid plastic, but you can surely make your plastic footprint minimal in comparison. While we are on our way to a more self-sufficient lifestyle, we are trying to find ways to reduce our footprint on this earth, reduce or eliminate our use of plastics and live a simple life. Just remember simple doesn’t mean easy. Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.
30 Ways to Eliminate Plastic from Your Life
Note: It seems necessary to note that none of the things mentioned are absolute. Some of us need prescriptions, some of us have a ton of tupperware that doesn’t have anything particularly wrong with it. That’s okay. Replace it when it wears out and find other, plastic free alternatives. Find ways to reduce the amount of pill bottles you have to use by using mail order or buying in larger quantities (3 month supplies for instance). These are simply suggestions on how to reduce use of things that we commonly use a lot of.
- Never drink bottled water. Drink water from your faucet, your berkey, your reverse osmosis system, whatever you’ve got. Don’t drink bottled water. For a convenient way to take your water wherever, get a stainless bottle.
- Shop with reusable shopping bags. I have a local “natural” market that still bags their items in plastic shopping bags. Makes me cringe every time. When we were in Montana, you were bringing your own bag, or they were charging you for a paper one. That’ll make you remember real quick!
- Make your own, reusable cling wrap. My friend, Heidi, over at Healing Harvest Homestead has a great tutorial that you can find here showing you exactly how you can make reusable cling wrap from… cloth! Amazing!
- Buy bulk, fair trade coffee. Bulk bins are awesome, our local store has paper sacks you can use (some prepackaged coffee is packaged in paper), or get your own reusable burlap bag to put it in.
- Buy bulk spices. Same as the bulk coffee, you can put them in paper sacks or a reusable bag like this one.
- Buy fresh produce and say no to the plastic bag! If you insist in placing your produce in a separate bag, use a reusable bag.
- Bake your own bread. Seriously easy, incredibly delicious, no plastic required.
- Avoid takeout food. I’m not saying we are all perfect and never partake in take out food, but try to be mindful when you do and do it sparingly. Not only is it absolutely no good for you, most of it is in plastic containers and comes with plastic utensils.
- Say no to the plastic utensils. They’re truly about worthless, they break, and they will fill up a landfill very shortly with all their brokenness.
- Avoid straws. Will it really harm you to drink from the glass? If it will, grab a reusable straw, like these and take it with you wherever you go.
- Don’t buy soda. Or juice, or other beverages packaged in plastic bottles.
- Find milk packaged in glass. If you can’t get your own delicious, raw milk… try to find milk in glass. It helps protect the temperature longer, no weird chemicals will leach into your milk, and the bottles are reusable. We pay $1.50 deposit on our milk because it comes in glass. I’m proud to return it so that it can be sanitized and used again.
- Make your own condiments. Ketchup, peanut butter, mustard, mayonnaise…. None of them are super hard to make and you can put them in your own glass containers.
- Rethink personal care products. Use bar soap, check labels (polyethylene is a common ingredient and is plastic), use shampoo bars or the no-poo method, try using natural conditioners (coconut oil anyone?), and make your own toothpaste!
- Use a not so plastic toothbrush. I have been eyeing this version here.
- While you’re at it, how about a not so plastic hairbrush like this one?
- No more chewing gum. Believe it or not, chewing gum is made with plastic. Ummm.. yuck!
- Ditch the plastic cups. Use glass ones instead! Worried about little breaking them? Try stainless steel!
- Make your own yogurt! It’s super easy, delicious, and no more plastic containers!!
- Compost. You can rid yourself of all that garbage and have wonderful food for your garden!
- Make your own cleaning products. Do you know how easy it is to clean with vinegar and baking soda?! No more toxic chemicals, no more plastic (vinegar is often sold in glass, baking soda is sold in cardboard!).
- Wash dishes using Dr. Bonner’s Bar soap. Seriously, it works!!
- Ditch the “non-stick” cooking stuff. Switch to cast iron and stainless steel!
- Make your own laundry soap. It’s better for you, better for the environment and far less plastic.
- Make your own salves. Like this one and store them in glass or metal.
- Find natural remedies for common, everyday ailments like colds. They’re usually more effective, cheaper, better for you, and better for the environment and reduces plastic pill bottles. For prescriptions you do need, try mail order or see if you can buy it in larger supplies so you’re not getting new pill bottles every month.
- If you can’t raise your own meat, have your butcher wrap it in paper.
- Learn to can your own produce, or freeze it and use glass.
- Replace all of your plastic tupperware containers as it wears out with glass or stainless. Life factory has some great glass options that are covered in silicon to reduce breakage.
- Nix the plastic pet bowls. Your pets don’t need that plastic junk, either. Opt for stainless options to avoid breakage.
There you go. This is only 30 ways you can eliminate plastic in your life. There are many, many more small steps you can take to eliminate this material that has all but taken over our lives and our planet. Use your imagination and think about it when you are shopping. Think about “is there a non-plastic alternative for this?” I bet there is. At the very least, one that uses much, much less plastic. We will probably never, ever be completely rid of this material, it’s almost like a virus anymore. However, if everyone takes steps to reduce their use of plastic, encourages manufacturers to ditch its overuse, then maybe…. All it takes is one person to make a difference, be that person for you, your family, and your planet.