In a world all about convenience, we have sacrificed quality items that will last a lifetime for large-quantities of items that are single-use and disposable. While it may be slightly more convenient to bag our items in single-use plastic bags rather than bring our own, the cost of this convenience far outweighs the benefits. Mother Earth is paying for it.
I believe taking responsibility for ourselves and doing our part can be fun and inspiring, so here are a few simple ways to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in your life.
1. Buy in bulk with re-purposed Glass jars
This tip is double-amazing, because it allows you to cut back on plastic food packaging and reuse the packaging of food you've already bought. On your next trip to the grocery store, opt for foods packaged in glass jars instead of plastic. As you use up the foods in the jars, clean them out and use them for purchasing bulk ingredients such as nuts, seeds, cooking ingredients, berries, granola, etc. Here's a hack for buying zero-waste in bulk: Bring two of whatever containers you will be using so that the empty ones can be weighed to avoid paying for the weight of the container itself.
2. Actually use your re-usable Shopping bags
I'm sure we all have an assortment of cute shopping bags and bought them thinking we'd actually use them. It seems like the slight inconvenience of taking them into the actual store is a hard one to overcome. I'm not sure if we always "forget" them because we are afraid of seeming strange in the supermarket or if we just don't care enough to put in a tiny bit more effort into our shopping excursions. Let's be real, if something is a priority, then we do it in spite of fear and inconvenience. So do it! Use your bags! Rock them, and be proud and inspired that you care about the planet! I will do it with you! I have gotten so many compliments on my shopping bags and my preparedness. I promise, it's not as difficult or scary as it seems.
If you don't have any re-usable bags yet, where have you been? Just kidding. I would recommend buying them second hand if possible or from an ethical shop. Have fun with it! You can even use them as an extension of your personal style. I enjoy using them in place of gift wrap or gift bags as well.
3. Pack re-usable Straws and Eating utensils
You don't have to buy new cutlery. Wrapping up a set from home in a cloth and sticking it in your purse works just fine. However, if you're feeling fancy, a favorite re-usable cutlery set of mine is To-Go Ware, a travel friendly set of bamboo eating utensils. You can find these on Amazon, and they come in different colors as well. I also carry around non-plastic straws, and you can buy these in metal, durable plastic, bamboo, glass, and the list goes on. I would recommend getting BPA-free and dishwasher safe if you go the plastic route, however the best option would be whatever can be re-used the longest and appeases your straw texture preferences. Some people despise metal straws and prefer bamboo, for instance.
4. Have fun with re-usable Bottles and Thermoses
Invest in good-quality bottles and insulated cups for water, coffee, and tea, so that you aren't constantly buying plastic water/beverage bottles and disposable cups of coffee every time you get thirsty throughout the day. There are so many sizes, designs, and styles out there, so you can have fun with picking a few out! Again, this comes down to simply prioritizing using these items and not just buying them, leaving them at home, and resorting in single use plastic once again.
5. Invest in Glass containers and Beeswax wrap
If you are using a new zip-lock bag every time you need to save some leftovers, you should try investing in a set of food storage containers or Beeswax wrap. This will allow you to have an organized fridge and pantry, and cut back on unnecessary waste. Beeswax wrap replaces cling-wrap, and re-usable containers replaces plastic baggies. You can re-purpose food packaging, find containers at your local second-hand shops, or simply invest in a nice set of re-usable containers and wrap.
6. Opt for Loose leaf tea and Coffee grounds
Instead of buying pre-packaged tea bags and K-cups, which often leak plastic into your hot beverages, opt for loose leaf tea and fresh coffee grounds. There are many options for steeping loose tea, from infusing teapots to reusable teabags to metal tea strainers. They even have reusable Keurig cups, so you can continue making your morning coffee in a convenient way.
I hope this has inspired you to actually use your re-usable items and stop succumbing to the convenience of single-use items. Every small step makes an impact, and these tips are easy, fun, and simple. I would love to hear from you! What are some of the ways you cut back on plastic and produce less waste?