While avoiding plastic entirely is not realistic, considering ways to reduce the amount we use at home is a good way to do something good for the earth, animals, and future generations.
The invention of plastic was one of the most revolutionary things to happen to humanity in recent times. We use plastic for many things in our everyday lives, from the moment we get ready to go to work to the moment we prepare to go to bed. However, for as convenient and practical as it is, the harm it causes to the environment is undeniable.
If you’ve decided to cut down on plastic use, here are a few simple ways to do it.
Try the following tips to help reduce plastic use in your kitchen.
- Reuse plastic containers: Whenever you’re done with a food item that came inside a plastic container, consider how you might use it again. More often than not, they’re either ideal for storing leftovers or for DIY projects. This can be an excellent way to get more creative in the kitchen and enjoy a healthier lifestyle, buying fewer processed foods and making your own instead.
- Avoid buying single-use plastic water bottles: If you’re not a fan of glasses and prefer bottles, consider that choosing a reusable bottle instead can save using as many as 170 plastic bottles every year. Opt for a steel container, which you can carry around the house and take it to work, and always choose filtered tap water when available.
- Get a reusable bag for groceries: Get cloth bags to carry with your whenever you’re going to the market or the store, or even a foldable one you can leave inside your everyday bag so that you always have it with you.
- Don’t buy plastic tableware: Although convenient when having a party or preparing for a road trip, it’s best to stick to reusable items. It will save you the hassle of having to buy more the next time you need them.
- Avoid individually wrapped and unnecessarily bulky items: Ever seen oranges or cucumbers being sold wrapped in their own plastic, or big bags of chips containing smaller bags of them inside? They are pointless and a complete disservice to our landfills. Try to buy wholesale or in bulk, and if you can, bring your reusable container.
Even in the bedroom, you can avoid using some plastic items:
- Use wire or steel hangers: When buying clothes always refrain from getting the plastic hangers they usually come from. At home, only use wire or steel hangers, which last for years and can be recycled.
- Buy a bamboo hamper: A simple way to give your bedroom a refined touch is by swapping a plastic hamper for a bamboo one. They’re more stylish, last longer, and are better for the environment.
- Avoid plastic toys: Instead of purchasing more plastic-based toys for your kids, why not choose wooden ones or some made of recycled or sustainable material. You can also buy second-hand items, though they’d require a thorough cleaning.
- Use plastic bottles for plants: this is probably one of the easiest ways to upcycle plastic bottles. By simply cutting a bottle at a third of its height, you can make a new pot to grow those seeds you’ve meant to bring to life for a while. You can even get creative and build a vertical garden by simply using multiple bottles, soil and seeds, and some rope.
- Make compost: it’s inexpensive and a natural way to dispose of organic waste, saving you on garbage bags and reducing your carbon footprint.
- Have a recycling bin: educate your family about the kinds of plastics that can be recycled and encourage them to integrate this new habit into their daily routine. It’s simple yet beneficial for our landfills.
In the bathroom, these tips can help you cut the plastic:
- Swap razors: If you’re always buying disposable razors, consider switching to razors with replaceable blades or even to a metal one. They may be more expensive or heavier, but they are better for the environment, and they do a better job than their plastic counterparts.
- Get a bamboo toothbrush: Though it still requires changing every three months, a bamboo toothbrush is a more environmentally friendly option compared to a plastic one which can take over 400 years to decompose. Bamboo only takes six months to biodegrade.
- Opt for reusable period supplies: The environmental impact of a lifetime supply of menstrual products for every woman on earth is significant. Pads take up to 800 years to biodegrade while it’s estimated that tampon applicators contribute to 0.5 percent of the plastic waste found in the ocean. Two very convenient options are menstrual cups and period underwear. The initial investment is higher compared to the mainstream options, but they are much cheaper in the long run. A menstrual cup can last up to five years while period underwear can last up to two.
- Use cloth diapers: Similar to pads, diapers can take about 500 years to biodegrade if exposed to oxygen and sunlight. Infants go through an average of 12 diapers every day, and if you consider the amount of plastic involved in the process of changing them, such as disposable baby wipes and packaging, the amount of waste that’s accumulated is astounding. Cloth diapers are a more sustainable and manageable solution for parents looking to be kinder to the environment.
Cutting down on plastic use doesn’t mean getting rid of every plastic item you own. It’s about making wiser decisions when making new purchases and getting creative to reuse and upcycle things you already have. Sometimes a small change is all it takes to make a significant impact.