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30 Ways to Eliminate Plastic From Your Life

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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 number of pill bottles you have to use by using mail orders or buying in larger quantities (3-month supplies for instance). These are simply suggestions on how to reduce the use of things that we commonly use a lot of. 

  1. 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.

2. 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 lived in Montana, you were bringing your own bag, or they changed you for a paper one, which will make you remember, real quick!

3. 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!

4. 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.

5. Buy bulk spices.

Same as the bulk coffee, you can put them in paper sacks or a reusable bag like this one.

6. Buy fresh produce without plastic

While I highly recommend utilizing local farmer’s markets and CSAs to reduce your dependence on the grocery store, if you’re picking stuff up and have to put it in a bag, use a reusable bag.

7. Bake your own bread.

Such an easy task, really. Homemade bread not only doesn’t require any plastic whatsoever, it’s also better for you without all those funky preservatives and questionable ingredients.

8. Avoid takeout.

I’m not saying we are 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, but most of it is also in plastic containers and comes with plastic utensils.

9. Say no to plastic utensils.

They’re really about worthless, they break, and they will fill up a landfill very quickly in all their brokenness.

10. Avoid straws.

Is it really going to harm you to drink from the glass? If it will, grab a reusable straw, like these, and take it with you wherever you go.

11. Don’t buy soda.

Or juice, or other beverages packaged in plastic bottles. You can make your own, or buy juice in glass bottles.

12. Find milk packaged in glass.

If you can’t source your own, local raw, or at the very least non-homogenized 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.

13. Make your own condiments.

Ketchup, peanut butter, mustard, mayonnaise… none of them are super difficult to make and you can put them in your own glass containers.

14. 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!

15. Use a not so plastic toothbrush.


I have been eyeing this version here.

16. Use a not so plastic hairbrush.

Hairbrushes are completely plastic now, but they didn’t use to be and you can still find natural hairbrushes if you look.

17. No more chewing gum.

Believe it or not, chewing gum is often made with plastic. Um… yuck!

18. Ditch the plastic cups.

Use glass instead! Worried about breaking them? Try stainless steel as an unbreakable alternative!

19. Make your own yogurt!

It’s super easy to make, delicious, and no more little plastic containers.

20. Compost.

You can rid yourself of a lot of the garbage and kitchen waste by composting. Even if you’re limited on space, vermicomposting is effective and can even be done indoors!

21. Make your own cleaning products.

It is so easy to clean with just vinegar and baking soda! No more toxic chemicals, no more plastic (vinegar is often sold in glass, baking soda is sold in cardboard).

22. Wash dishes using bar soap.

I love dawn, I do, but there are far better ways to wash your dishes without the plastic bottles! Dr. Bonner’s bar soap is an excellent alternative and will clean your dishes.

23. Ditch the non-stick cooking stuff.

The non-stick coating is toxic, not only if it begins to peel off of your cooking surface, but as it’s heating. It’s better for you, the environment, and your food to use cast iron and stainless steel.

24. Make your own laundry soap.

Homemade laundry soap is better for you, your clothes, your appliances, the environment and uses far less plastic.

25. Make your own salves.

Such as this one, and store them in glass or metal.

26. Find natural remedies for common, everyday ailments like colds.

They’re usually more effective, cheaper, better for you, and better for the environment and reduce plastic pill bottles. For prescriptions, you do need, try mail order, or see if you can purchase in larger quantities so you’re not getting new bottles every month.

27. Use paper butcher wrap.

Whether you’re raising your own meat, or purchasing it from the butcher, see if you can get it wrapped in paper.

28. Learn to preserve food.

Can it in glass, freeze it in glass, store dehydrated goods in glass, this will cut down on those plastic containers. Another idea is to purchase goods like flour or wheat berries in bulk and store those in glass as well.

29. Use glass food storage containers.

As your Tupperware containers wear out, trade them for glass or stainless. Ello duraglass has some great glass options covered in silicon to reduce breakage.

30. Nix the plastic pet bowls.

Your pets don’t need plastic junk any more than you do. Opt for stainless options to avoid breakage.

31. Cloth diaper.

Disposable diapers are made with polyethylene plastics which take hundreds of years to break down and contain toxic chemicals and microplastics. Not only do you not want that on your precious baby’s bottom sitting up against the largest organ in the body, but you also don’t want to leave the legacy of hundreds of diapers sitting in a landfill that won’t break down for generations.

32. Try reusable razors.

These reusable razors are completely plastic-free, you simply replace the blades and recycle.

There you go. These are only 32 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.

Other Posts to Reduce Use and Live More Sustainably:

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Norell

Tuesday 25th of February 2020

I recently found a site that uses only compostable packaging, and natural ingredients in their products. So far I have bought their laundry stain stick and laundry detergen strips (I used to make my own detergent but did not like how my laundry came out looking dingy and eventually not feeling clean). No more plastic, ingredients I can trust and products that are working very well for me.

Shannon

Wednesday 18th of September 2019

Fantastic list. One tip I would add is to reuse glass jars from food like spaghetti, jelly, peanut butter, etc. They make an eclectic option for drink ware, are great for food storage, and they are FREE

Dee

Wednesday 3rd of July 2019

Nice thoughts. Just one thing... you don't raise meat. ;) and... People who really love the planet and want to heal it know that consuming flesh is an environmental disaster. A major way everyone can have a massive positive impact on the planet is reducing or eliminating the consumption of flesh. This is demonstrated in the documentary Conspiracy and many others. I encourage everyone to consider the impact their diet has on the planet in addition to plastic, and seek out some information. Thanks for the tips.

Danielle McCoy

Friday 5th of July 2019

The reason raising meat was mentioned is because it is almost always packaged in plastic and/or styrofoam. And, raising your own reduces deforestation by a landslide because we don't need the cropland or the lots to raise many animals in one spot. It's also more humane.

Factory farming of any sort has a large impact on the planet, more so than raising your own anything meat or otherwise. Deforestation for not only feed lots and crop land for feed but also for development and urbanization is a huge contributing factor to carbon emissions. Shipping is also a large contributor (almost as much, and in some countries much more so) to carbon emissions.

Agricultural meat production consists of roughly 13-18% of total carbon emissions globally. And that figure is often far less in developed countries like the United States where it contributes around 3%. Is it a contributor? Absolutely. But burning fossil fuels for heat, electricity and transportation are much larger contributors. The consumption of stuff overall, urbanization, travel, and throwing petrochemicals all over our croplands definitely have a very large impact on carbon emissions. Much more so than having an occasional piece of fried chicken. Especially if that meat was raised on your own land.

dee

Wednesday 3rd of July 2019

OOPS autocorrect got me.... COWspiracy is the documentary

Lynn

Saturday 23rd of March 2019

Only comment I would make is, nixing the Tupperware, so throw it away? Recycle it? Plastic recycling is not always available and recycling is at a crisis moment due to other countries shutting down or downsizing their recycling industry. Much better to just use the plastic you have and not acquire anymore. Reduce, REUSE, and recycle

Danielle McCoy

Friday 29th of March 2019

Absolutely reuse it, gift it, donate it whatever is necessary that you feel comfortable with... but it will eventually wear out and you can replace it with glass and hopefully find a place to recycle it so it isn't going into a landfill.

Abby Z.

Saturday 5th of January 2019

These suggestions and tips are totally rad!! I can’t wait to invest in a new toothbrush! Keep it up!!!!

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