By now you’ve probably ditched the plastic shopping bags for re-usable, green bags. They’re rather convenient, too. If you get in the habit of keeping them in the car at all times, there’s no reason why you couldn’t turn down a retailer’s plastic bag for your supermarket green bags or a trendier, printed calico option.
This in itself will make a significant difference to your plastic consumption, but if you look around your kitchen and your car through a plastic-free perspective, chances are you’ll still see plenty of room for improvement when it comes to using less plastic.
So far, I’ve never come across a café that doesn’t service and support customers who bring their own coffee cup. Coffee is something you may buy every single day. Multiply that by the number of people on their way to work or in their break (or both!) buying coffee and you’ve got millions upon millions of plastic coffee cup lids going into landfill.
The same goes for bottled water. Always have a couple of stainless steel bottles on hand whenever you leave the house. Some bottles have filters, so you may feel comfortable refilling your water bottle somewhere convenient if you need a top up.
How to use less plastic in the kitchen
- Start with your produce. Avoid pre-packages foods (they often work out more expensive per kilo to buy anyway).
- Shop at your local farmers markets with your green bags.
- Opt for NO plastic produce bags when buying your produce at the supermarket – just put straight into the shopping trolley and then into your green bags as you wash all your produce before eating it anyway.
- Opt for organic cloth or reusable netting produce bags.
- You could even make your own produce bags using old t-shirts or second hand fabrics.
- Ditch the glad wrap. Cover bowls, half-used fruits and vegetables with plastic-free wraps such as this one called the Honey Bee Wrap. A natural cotton and beeswax wrap that is also perfect for putting your kids’ sandwiches in for school lunches.
- Invest in stainless steel, glass or solid, BPA-free plastic storage containers for your food that last much longer than the plastic Chinese takeaway containers for your leftovers and work or school lunches.
- Take a good look at your appliances and utensils. When they wear out, save a little more and invest in blenders made from glass instead of plastic (this is also better for your health), stainless steel ice-cube trays, popsicle holders, jugs, toasters, even appliances such as a food dehydrators have stainless steel options that are much longer lasting and much better for your health, too.
- As a general rule, try to make your food from scratch. Juices, yoghurts, lunch-size packs of nuts and other snacks – they all come in individual packaging and are easy enough to make from scratch and package in your own, no waste packaging from home.
Using less plastic in your personal care items
- There are a variety of different eco-tools available for replacing your hair and makeup brushes with plastic-free, often recycled options.
- Bamboo toothbrushes are available now too with replaceable heads.
- Opt for bar soaps at every shower or basin instead of body washes and hand washes in plastic bottles – your local farmers market will most likely have a stall with beautiful homemade soaps.
- Experiment with the “no-shampoo” method. Save on plastic and cash.
- Choose skin care products that use glass or metal containers. There are loads of organic skin care products available now where you can be sure they don’t contain polyethylene or types of plastic beads within the product, but not near as many that take the plastic-free principle right through their packaging.
If you make a conscious effort to consider all options before you make a purchase, chances are there is a plastic-free option available.
If something breaks, ask yourself:
- Can it be fixed?
- Is there a second hand option?
- Is there a plastic-free option?
A little can go a long way. Once you start applying plastic-free filters to your purchases, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can do to avoid using plastic.
There are some fantastic tips on the following blog dedicated to plastic-free living: http://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
Image credit: Steven Depolo on Flickr
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