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5 simple ways to reduce plastic
I noticed the #plasticfreeJuly hashtag on Instagram and I wanted to learn more about it. I was inspired to write this post about reducing plastic. Chances are you’re reading this in a month other than July, so don’t worry, these simple ways to reduce plastic are for any and every day of the year.
I’ve written a post about how to save money and reduce waste, but I wanted to write another one specifically about plastic. I live in a rural area nowhere near the ocean. Around here, it seems like most people don’t care about plastic use. You’ll see plastic thrown on the ground everywhere, it’s pretty sad.
In states like Hawaii, plastic bags are completely banned and many cities on the west coast have either banned or working to ban plastic straws unless requested. Recently, Seattle became the first major city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils. Go Seattle!
If you think plastic isn’t a problem – think again! Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Yikes! The question is what can each of us do, on a smaller level, to reduce our plastic consumption day-to-day? I realize that it isn’t possible for everyone to go zero waste, but there are plenty of ways to reduce plastic use every day. Here are 5 simple tips to reduce plastic use that you can start right now:
5 tips ways to reduce plastic use today
1. Say no to plastic straws.
This is one of the simplest but impactful things you can to reduce plastic. I’ve been using reusable straws for years, I can’t remember the last time I purchased straws. It’s important to remember to take straws with you to reduce plastic on the go.
I’ve gotten into the habit of saying “I have my own straw” if I order a drink somewhere. I use two kinds of reusable straws, and I’ve had both for years. For my coffee, I use the Koffie Straw. For everything else, I use a stainless straw.
You can either use a straight or bent variety. I add one of the straws to my bamboo utensils and strap it on whatever bag I am using for the day. Easy peasy! As a bonus, the bamboo utensils are great for avoiding single-use plastic eating utensils. Like straws, they are totally unnecessary and result in a lot of waste.
2. Stop buying bottled water.
American’s use 50 billion plastic bottles per year, but only about 23 percent are recycled. This is partially due to carelessness but what many people do not realize is that in some areas (like mine) recycling programs for plastic are few and far between. Most people simply don’t care enough or don’t have the time to haul their recyclables away when curbside recycling isn’t available.
There’s a simple solution – reusable water bottles. Get yourself a good water bottle and say goodbye to bottled water. I love my HydroFlask but there are plenty of good reusable bottles out there. Depending on the weather and what else I drink during the day, I try to fill my 24oz Hydroflask 2-3x a day. I prefer stainless or glass water bottles.
Reusable plastic bottles are better than single-use plastic bottles, but it’s still plastic. Non-plastic reusable bottles are better for you and for the earth.
3. Bring your own shopping bag.
Some stores like my favorite, Aldi, charge for paper or plastic bags. That is a great incentive to bring your own. Others like Target and my local health food store give you a small discount for bringing your own bag. This is very simple but makes a big impact.
The hardest part is remembering to bring your bags, so I suggest leaving them in the car. I love using small, foldable bags to save space. You can even take it a step further and use reusable produce bags too.
4. Switch from disposables to cloth.
If you have a baby, cloth diapers are not only easier on the environment but they also save a lot of money. Fortunately, cloth diapering is easier and more accessible than ever. There are more options now than when I started 10 years ago, and it’s finally becoming more mainstream.
Cloth diapering doesn’t have to mean prefolds and covers, although those are great choices! There are diapers now that are just like disposables, you just wash them! My favorite diaper was the BumGenius all-in-one.
Yes, the initial price is steep, but you will quickly recoup the money by not buying diapers every week. As a bonus, you can use cloth diapers for multiple babies or even sell them when you’re done!
I have started writing a series on cloth diapering, here is the first installment. The 6 different types of cloth diapers and how to get started.
+ a bonus for reducing waste
If you’re using cloth diapers, you might as well take it a step further and use cloth wipes. I didn’t do this with my oldest, but once I started using cloth wipes I realized how easy it was. When you use a disposable, you throw the wipes in and throw it in the trash.
With cloth, you can just put the wipes with the diapers and wash. It’s actually easier than separating cloth diapers from disposable wipes. They also work better!
You can use almost anything for cloth wipes, but I liked using a flannel variety. You can either keep wipes in an old disposable wipes container or use a cloth wipe spray solution. Not only does using cloth diaper and wipes reduce waste, it’s also better for the babies skin.
5. Have a waste-free period.
Even though Tampons are not technically plastic, most have plastic applicators and pads have plastic in them. Either option means results in quite a bit of waste every month. Options like the Diva Cup or cloth pads mean that you will have absolutely no waste.
I promise that it isn’t gross. In fact, after using a menstrual cup for quite some time, I actually find tampons to be much more disgusting. I wrote a post on everything you want to know about menstrual cups, it might seem a bit out there, but I highly recommend giving it a try!
Be green and save some green too
Reducing plastic is not only better for the planet, but it’s better for your wallet too. It might not seem like a big difference, but it really ads up over time! If you’ve ever had a baby, you know how many diapers they go through.
Even things like straws and plastic water bottles add up over time. I hope you enjoyed these 5 easy ways to reduce plastic today. Reducing plastic doesn’t have to be difficult, but it makes a big difference! What are you doing to reduce plastic? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.