Source: Google ImagesPlastic is absolutely everywhere it seems. It's used for everything from bubble wrap, microbeads, disposable produce bags, shower curtains, perishable and non-perishable food packaging. It feels very difficult to avoid. This might just be the case...but I'm going to make a go of it and see what I can do to fight back against plastic.
In my business, I have been very careful to use only recyclable or reusable materials in my product packaging because I respect our earth and I want to respect my customers who value this as well. I know I can do better in my day to day life though. In my quest to find ways to help myself and you determine ways to reduce plastic use I went googling and found a website: http://www.myplasticfreelife.com where I found a many resources to help me on my way. My Plastic Free Life (www.myplasticfreelife.com) has a handy guide with a list of 100 ways to go plastic free. Many of the items in her list we are already doing (insert pat on back), but my garbage can tells me I can do better. It's a long list, but I'm going to walk us through all 100 suggestions with some comments along the way:
1. Carry reusable shopping bags to replace plastic shopping bags provided by stores.
Check. I remember when plastic bags were the norm at the grocery store. But now, with reusable bins and bags, this one is fairly easy.
2. Give up bottled water.
Check. We use filtered tap water and LifeFactory glass bottles. With so many shapes and sizes there's one for everyone. I'll write a post on that later.
3. Shop at Farmer's Market and use reusable shopping bags
As My Plastic Free Life points out, there also aren't any plastic stickers on the produce at farmer's markets.
4. Use re-usable produce bags instead of those plastic ones.
I am so on board with this idea. I feel like we'll be implementing this one soon.
Here's a pattern for a DIY upcycled cloth produce bag:
5. Buy from bulk bins.
I like this idea and we did this a lot more before I discovered I have a gluten intolerance/allergy. Because of the worry of cross contamination from the bins I tend to shy away from them.
6. Cut out plastic bottled beverages.
No problem. We only drink water (filtered tap water), tea, and milk (dairy for my boys and rice or almond for me). I've been wanting to make my own almond milk anyway. Time to get started on that one. (Sounds like another post to me!)
7. Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags.
Gluten free bread typically comes in plastic bags in the freezer section. I have recently found a baker that makes a fantastic gluten free bread though. Perhaps he'll package in paper if I make a special request...or maybe I need to spend some time perfecting my own recipe.......I think I smell another post here.
8. Return containers for berries, cherry tomatoes, etc. to the farmer's market to be reused.
Or visit local berry farms and bring your own containers.
9. Bring your own container for meat and prepared foods.
This really only works if you're buying from the butcher counter, but it's doable. Often butchers will wrap meat in paper anyways though.
10. Choose milk in returnable glass bottles.
I like this idea. I don't know how many places in Canada sell milk in glass bottles, but it might be worth looking in to.
11. Buy large wheels of unwrapped cheese.
12. Choose wine bottled in glass with natural cork stoppers.
13. Let go of frozen convenience foods.
14. Give up chewing gum.
Apparently (according to My Plastic Free Life) it's made from plastic. No surprise there. Another great reason to avoid it. I knew there was a reason why I don't like it.
15. Carry your own containers for take out food and leftovers.
16. Carry a stainless steel travel mug or water bottle at all times for coffee and other drinks while out and about.
17. Carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws in your purse.
There have been very few times that I have been out and needed utensils. I can't see me carrying a set of steel utensils in my purse but maybe a light weight reusable alternative is more likely.
There are many options, like these ones from www.to-goware.com.
18. When ordering pizza, ask for them to refrain from using the plastic table in the middle of the box.
19. Get your ice cream in a cone rather than a bowl.
This one will rarely work for those with celiac since cones are made from wheat, but taking your own container will work.
20. Keep reusable food ware at the office.
21. Use reusable containers for your lunch and snacks.
22. Choose reusable cloth sandwich/snack bags.
There are multiple stores on Etsy that craft and sell these bags.
If you want to make your own, here's a couple tutorials:
|From: Angrychicken.com http://angrychicken.typepad.com/angry_chicken/2010/07/snack-bags-a-sewing-tutorial.html|
23. Choose glass/stainless steel food storage containers for left overs.
I admit it, I still have roll of plastic wrap in the cupboard...but I use it sparingly and usually will use a reusable container or a glass dish instead. Really. I can give this one up completely.
24. Preserve food without plastic.
Those plastic freezer bags are handy. But they are plastic. We tend to use, and reuse them until they are torn or worn out. But here is another we can do without. Jars and glass containers work just as well.
25. Avoid non-stick cookware.
I love my cast iron pan. We still have a couple coated frying pans though. I would love to replace them with ceramic cast iron when we're done with them. Yes, they are pricey but I really only need one and at least I wouldn't be cooking with toxins (teflon really is nasty stuff).
26. Choose a glass blender.
My blender is not glass. Although I'm not about to replace it because it's plastic, if I'm in the market for a new one in the future I will consider this for sure.
27. Spin salad without plastic.
Plastic free life suggests using a cotton produce bag instead of a plastic spinner. Worth a try for sure. ...right after I make the ones up in #4 out of an up-cycled t-shirt.
28. Use stainless steel popsicle molds.
We don't buy popsicles anymore. This is more due to the high sugar levels and the use of food dyes. We have reusable (not disposable) plastic molds. We'll continue using these.
29. Use a stainless steel ice cube tray.
30. Make your own yogurt.
I have tried this. We'll work on this one again. Maybe.
31. Make your own soy milk.
I say no to soy because it is a hormone disrupter. ...but I say yes to almond milk. (see # 6)
32. Make your own condiments.
Plastic Free Life offers recipes for mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup.
33. Make your own snacks that you would normally buy in plastic packaging.
We have a dehydrator and have on occasion made crackers. I would love to try to do this more often.
34. Compost food waste.
35. Clean with vinegar and water.
36. Use baking soda as a scouring powder.
Baking soda works really well in the bathtub.
37. Use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.
Or check out my recipe here. Alternatively, you could use a homemade powder detergent containing equal parts borax & baking soda, with a vinegar and water rinse. My preference is for the dry version because it is easy and quick to make and works well.
38. Hand wash dishes without plastic.
Plastic Free Life suggests using baking soda or bar soap.
I have used my bar soap before, but never baking soda. The bar soap doesn't seem to work as well on plastic containers (go figure) as oil seems to really be attracted to the plastic. I have another suggestions for this too, so stay tuned for another post on this one.
39. Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers and synthetic scrubbers.
I would add in not to use disposable wipes which are a synthetic fiber, not to mention the harsh (toxic) chemicals they often contain.
40. Wash Laundry with soap nuts or laundry powders without a plastic scoop.
This one I have concurred. Glorious Life has an awesome laundry stain stick. I grate this and add it to borax and washing soda for a great laundry detergent. Glorious Life also sells soap nuts (they are not really nuts but rather soap berries).
41. A reusable Swiffer cloth is great for those of us who already own a Swiffer mop.
I don't use a Swiffer, but I did find this article by One Good Thing By Jillee where she uses a sock to create a reusable Swiffer pad.
ParentalPerspectives.com also offers a pattern for sewing your own using a towel.
42. Use natural rubber gloves. ??
43. Check labels of personal care products.
Watch out for those plastic microbeads in your personal care products. Look for 'polyethylene' in the ingredient label.
44. Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap.
Again, Glorious Life to the rescue. I don't use any plastic packaging.
45. Give up shampoo in plastic bottles.
Use the 'no-poo' method or shampoo bars.
Okay. So it's starting to look like I'm writing this article to promote my own products. Honestly I'm not. But Glorious Life has a great shampoo bar. You can find it in my store on my website at www.gloriouslifehandcrafted.com. I have also used the no-poo method (using baking powder to clean followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse) and will often change up between these two methods.
46. Try hair salves and pomades in metal tins or glass jars.
There are many options. But again, Glorious Life makes a hair serum, packaged in a metal bottle. Although the pump is plastic, it is reusable.
47. Color hair with henna purchased without plastic packaging.
48. Baking soda is the best deodorant ever.
I have experimented with a recipe using baking soda and coconut oil. I liked it and used it for a while but didn't like the marks it left on some of my shirts. Usually I go without deodorant and use essential oils if anything.
49. Use soap instead of canned shave cream.
Shaving bars offer a great lather. Glorious life has a bar for that too.
Okay. Here is where I will stop for now. It's a long list and we got to 50! Hurray!
I feel like most of my family's plastic consumption comes from food products. And with this, I think I have determined our starting point - the kitchen. Let see what I can do reduce my family's use of plastic. This is my mission and I accept it. I will report back with part 2 of Going Plastic Free, which will include the remaining 50 items on My Plastic Free Life's list of ways to go plastic free.
Do you do any of these things?
Do you think you could?
Have any suggestions to add to the list?
I would love to hear from you.
Follow my blog to stay informed of when I report back with part 2.