Recently I saw a post on Instagram about a movement called plastic free July. For those who don’t know I’m trying to live a zero waste lifestyle. I’m not perfect, I still HAVE to buy plastic sometimes (I bought cauliflower yesterday, why broccoli isn’t wrapped in plastic but cauliflower is I will never know). Although a part of me CRINGES when I throw plastic in the trash, it’s still a little part of my life. However I have done all that I can to minimize it’s existence in my life. I am proud to say I only have 1 to 2 bags of trash per MONTH, not quite a jar yet. I would LOVE for you to join plastic free July; however, I would accept just ONE change in your life to minimize plastic because every little thing makes a difference. Who’s in?!
It makes me very SAD to look at even one article that contains the issues associated with plastic but I will link some articles if you live in the ground and don’t know just how TOXIC plastic is for our planet and our bodies… YES there are MICRO-plastics in your body right now… the stuff is everywhere and it’s just plain GROSS! I’ve done some research, as I would love to go 100% zero waste, and although trash is never good plastic is the worst! So if you can’t cut out single use, then I urge you to at least reach for cardboard and glass first, if you can!
Here are my tips and tricks on cutting out plastic! I’ve found them to be quite easy to incorporate into my life and I love the way my home, dinner table, camping adventures, my life! look without ugly plastic containers. You will feel SO good knowing you are helping such a devastating crisis!
Reusable water, coffee, beer, and wine containers
This is usually the first suggestion I give people when they ask about cutting plastic out. This is a super easy way to minimize plastic. Buy a super cute reusable water bottle, or 3! And if you can’t, at least try to reuse your single use water bottle. I see SO many plastic bottles at places like Costco with water, sports drinks, juices, etc. Not only will you cut down on plastic if you reuse containers but you might lose a few pounds cutting out things like sports drinks, soda, etc! I have a Yeti water bottle and coffee cup, a Stanley thermos, and a Stanley beer cup with a handy bottle opener on the top. I chose Yeti and Stanley over other brands because their products are dishwasher safe. I never leave the house without water and bonus my water bottle could also be used as a weapon (I sometimes have to walk to my car after work alone! You never know! Ha)
I fill mine up at home, at work, and even while traveling at restaurants and gas stations (most soda dispensers have a water option). You can bring your own coffee cup to most cafes and coffee shops and have your drink placed in it instead of in a to go cup! Grab a growler for beer - they even have refillable containers for wine if you can find a place with wine on tap! If you are super lucky you can find places that have refillable hard alcohol.
PS if I can’t convince you.. read this article about all the CRAP that in is bottled water. A friend of mine wasn’t trying to go zero waste/plastic free but after reading an article I shared she bought both her sons reusable water bottles. Even though I have a small following I was able to decrease plastic water bottles by about 350/year just by sharing information! (She sent both kids to school with water bottles so figuring ~175-180 days of school per year per kid!)
This is the second EASIEST way to decrease plastic. Bring your own bag to the grocery store and even other stores such as Walmart and Target… heck bring them anywhere you need a bag! I splurged just a bit (3 for $25) and bought some nice heavy duty ones from Amazon for groceries because I figured it would be cheaper in the long run vs replacing them frequently. I fill those things at the store and after a year of using them they are still in perfect working condition. I have a few cloth ones which I love for carrying lighter things. And I have one burlap bag that’s long and narrow and extremely heavy duty.
Another great way to decrease plastic is to either NOT use a plastic produce bag… does a lemon REALLY need a bag?! Or buy cloth sacks to use as reusable produce bags! I have ~10 and find that amount perfect for things like mushrooms, cilantro, peppers… They have a HUGE selection of them online. They are so easy to use, wash, and they look so much cuter in my bag! Bonus: they won’t rip like cheap plastic ones.
You may think this all sound EMBARRASSING but you would be surprised. Almost every time the cashiers compliment me on my reusable bag and ask where I got it. Bonus - I feel like when I use my own bags and people see how cute/easy/good for the planet they are it might encourage them to buy some!!
Bonus tip: I always refuse a bag. The other day I went to the store to grab 2 oranges and the cashier placed them in a bag. I told her “no thanks!” and threw them in my purse. Sometimes things become habits but when we start to challenge them we realize how wasteful they are!
Another fun and easy way to reduce plastic is to use glass and wooden/bamboo containers. I use Pyrex for leftovers/lunch to avoid plastic wrap. Some people use bees wax paper but I’ve never noticed needing much plastic wrap or tin foil so I just go without. I have reusable sandwich bags for snacks such as crackers. I don’t have the adorable bamboo utensils pictures above but I wish I did! I bring silverware to use at work, camping, etc. I even have a fork and spoon in my car just in case. I use glass jars, left over when I buy things like olives, and mason jars/jam jars to store things I buy in bulk. Surprisingly, even being in an isolated place like Montana, there are quite a few stores that offer buying in bulk. Bring your own sack and fill up to avoid unnecessary waste! I love doing this with nuts, pasta, grains, popcorn, etc!
TIP: make sure you have them weight containers before you put things in them to save money!
ditch straws or opt for reusable
This was never a hard one for me because I’m not a straw lover. I can’t really remember the last time I used a straw - maybe at a drive thru. If you are at home, no need to use them! If you go to a restaurant you can refuse or just not open and use them. Same at a gas station, coffee shop, etc. If you are set on using one I recommend a bamboo or metal one. Since they are small they are super easy to stick in your purse or pocket.
I definitely think this is easier for me to say this since I am a vegetarian but try making your food from scratch instead of buying it premade, frozen, or covered in packaging. I’ve started cooking more and found out just how much I love it. I feel a lot better and know the ingredients I am putting in are healthy - there are no added preservatives, sugar, salt, etc. If you look around the store you will find some packaging that is more environmentally friendly and if you are savvy you may even find what you are looking for in bulk (example popcorn microwave vs stove top)! Some things are hard to buy but even things like meat and dairy - bring your own container to the butcher block. Not only can you decrease waste but you get to have a conversation with an actual human, the way grocery shopping used to be!
PS: It’s fun in a challenging and creative way to make your favorite food from scratch. I’ve made cheesy crackers because I LOVE Cheez-Its, popcorn on the stove top. sweet potato fries, and kale chips to name a few. And I find I snack on different things such chickpeas instead of chips! I’ve found healthy, tasty, and just as satisfying alternatives to popular snacks - heck I even feel better (more energy!) when I snack on something healthy!
Avoid single use products
Whatever it may be, coffee pods, razors, cotton balls, plastic silverware, etc - stop using one time products and instead switch to things you can use over and over again. I make coffee at home, I use a wash cloth over a cotton ball (or an old rag to take off nail polish); I’ve switched to buying jars of facial creams (or making my own naturally) instead of buying single use masks. There are lots of ways to decrease waste. And seriously compare the cute picnic above to one replaced with plastic products… no comparison! Plastic free is SO is so much more enjoyable to look at.
If you aren’t sure what you are wasting, I recommend you look at things you throw in the trash and Google of ways to decrease their use. My waste is mainly food and that’s only because I don’t have compost. Once I buy a house I will compost things in my yard and haven even less trash…maybe a mason jar?! Like I said, in addition to feeling great, overall you will save a lot of money by reusing things!
buy in bulk
Buying 1 larger item instead of 3 small ones is a great way to reduce plastic. Unfortunately not all of my things are so easily made and replaced, especially based on where I live. I haven’t been able to find vinegar in bulk, at least not as much as I would need/cheap enough for cleaning. So I buy giant containers at Costco to reduce waste. I buy 1 large bags of beans instead of 10 cans when I can’t find them in bulk. I also do this wish spices and frozen products like veggie burgers - and now as I think about I realize I should make and freeze some veggie burgers to have even less waste! Buying in bulk is a great way to reduce plastic.
These are just a few ways you can greatly decrease your plastic use. You will save time and money, your picnics and home will become more Instagrammable, and you will feel better about yourself! I would LOVE for you to take on plastic free July with me but if not pick just one of the things I listed above and let’s make the world a better place, a place our family and family and future generations can enjoy just like we do for years to come.
I’ve attached my Amazon shopping list with the things I own that are zero waste/plastic free if you are interested in taking the next step. Bonus - it’s the 4th of July soon so many stores will have sales if you head out NOW and buy that reusable water bottle and bag! Thanks so much for reading and I hope you share this article with family and friends so together we decrease all of our plastic use!
PS this list is very general. Over the next couple of months I plan to post more specific things I do, including breaking my house down by room, traveling tips, beauty routine, fashion ideas, and cooking! I am so excited to share! :)
This post is not sponsored nor do I make commission off my Amazon shopping list linked above; these are things I love, believe in, and own!