Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste in Your Home

As a society, there is an ever growing concern over the use of plastic. It is estimated that 18 billion tons of plastic waste flows into oceans every year.

About 8 percent of the world’s oil production is used to make plastic and power the manufacturing of it. That figure is projected to rise to 20 percent by 2050. This makes plastic not only a pollutant but a major contributor to climate change.

Rich and I have been constantly evaluating our own plastic consumption and making daily changes to reduce our contribution to this growing problem.  

Why is Plastic a Problem?

Plastic is slowly poisoning our planet and is one of the most important environment problems we face today. It is estimated that 79% of all plastics end up overflowing our landfills, clogging our waterways, and injuring and killing our wildlife. Plastic negatively affects the environment and its inhabitants in many ways, chief among them is the fact that it is not biodegradable.

Plastics contain thousands of possible additives, many of which are toxic to the planet. Currently, manufacturers are not required to disclose which additives are present in their products. Any plastic can leach, depending on the conditions (light, heat) and what additives it includes. 

Some plastics we know are toxic, such as #3, which is also known as PVC or vinyl. PVC contains phthalates and heavy metals. When burned plastic #3 creates dioxins that are released into the atmosphere. 

Other plastics contain Bisphenol-A (BPA) a chemical that has been known to disrupt hormones, especially estrogen. It is know that exposure to BPA increases the likelihood of cancer and diabetes in humans.

How to Reduce Your Plastic Waste

1. Say No to Produce Bags

This was one of the easiest and most gratifying steps we took. Rich and I tend to shop in the produce isles more frequently than any other place in the grocery store. This means we use a lot of those little plastic produce bags. 

Well, no more! I picked up these inexpensive mesh produce bags and make sure we carry them in our cars at all times. It’s easy now to just grab them as we head into the grocery store. This alone has reduced our plastic waste dramatically!

2. Keep Reusable Foodware at the Office

Too often I found myself grabbing a plastic cup at the watercooler or using the plastic forks and knives my company supplies to eat my lunch. 

I also use my reusable lunch bag instead of plastic or paper options. Every little bit helps.

3. Upgrade Your Food Storage Containers

This took some time phasing out our plastic tupperware for glass alternatives, but we have converted to 100% glass containers for our daily food storage.

We also use Beeswax wraps over dishes in place of plastic wrap. This has saved us money because we no longer purchase expensive plastic wrap. Bonus!

4. Reusable Shopping Bags

I will admit, we have a ton of reusable shopping bags all over this house. Do I ever have them in the grocery store when I need them? Nope!

I recently purchased two packs of reusable (and washable) shopping bags to take with me wherever I go. They arrived in a cute travel bag that fits beautifully into my purse. I now have them with me all the time. It took some time to get into the habit, but this alone has made a big difference in our plastic habits. 

I also use them at retail stores. I see many these days at produce and grocery stores using their reusable bags, but rarely see the same people using them at retail locations. I’m more aware now and try to make the extra effort to avoid plastic bags all together.

5. Purchase Products Sold in Glass or Metal Containers

So I have noticed a lot of companies are going to more environmentally friendly packaging. One such method is the use of glass containers instead of plastic. I much prefer buying a glass container over a plastic one any day. This avoids any chemicals leaching into my foods, I always defer to products that are sold in glass or metal containers, or at least in recyclable containers if I must.

6. Say No to Straws

There are great alternatives to plastic straws these days. Try using stainless steel, bamboo, or glass straws instead of plastic next time. 

Companies even make travel “zero plastic” straws incase you are on the go and need a better alternative! 

7. Ask for Less Plastic When Shipping

This is something new I’ve started, but it’s actually been great. When ordering something on Amazon (or any other retailer, but lets be honest I use Amazon a LOT) I ask them to ship eco friendly and without plastic

This is a simple request really. Instead of the plastic air pockets, I usually get lots of crumpled up paper. That’s a great compromise for me. I can recycle the paper and don’t have the guilt about the plastic.

8. Say No to the Shower Puff

We swapped out our plastic shower puffs for sea sponges and natural bristle brushes

9. Use Biodegradable Plastic Trash Bags

Landfills are full of plastic, mostly in the form of plastic bags. Unfortunately, we cannot recycle plastic bags that are used to transfer waste to landfills. Our solution has been biodegradable trash bags! They aren’t much more expensive for us and is another way we reduce contributing to plastic in landfills.

We are on a subscription via Amazon, and we never have a problem running out!

10. Check Your Facewash and Toothpaste

Much of the plastic that’s polluting the oceans is microplastics. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are commonly added to consumer products like face wash and toothpaste. These little beads are intended to be exfoliators in common products, but unfortunately they are next to impossible to filter out by wastewater treatment facilities.

There are many biodegradable alternatives, so may sure you read your labels. Avoid items with “polypropylene” or “polyethylene” on the ingredients list.

We are just starting our journey into less plastic, but I think we’re off to a good start. We are by far from perfect, but these attempts to minimize our waste make us feel better about our impact on the planet.

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to reduce plastic waste? 

We would love to hear from you. Please share in the comment section below. Let’s keep the conversation going and learn from one another!

 

Cheers,

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