01 - Top Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste
Give up bottled water.
Not only does it come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it. And many brands of bottled water are simply filtered tap water. Get a reusable stainless steel bottle (Klean Kanteen has just come out with a completely plastic-free water bottle — no plastic on the cap at all!) or stainless steel travel mug, fill it up with tap water before leaving the house, and refill it wherever you happen to be. I don’t recommend reusable plastic or aluminum bottles. Plastic may leach chemicals into the water and aluminum bottles are lined with an epoxy resin, some of which has also found to leach into water depending on the brand. Why take a chance? Read my posts about bottled water for more information.
Carry reusable shopping bags.
Carry whatever works for you. Some people like reusable canvas totes. Others prefer to put their purchases into a backpack or messenger bag. Do you often forget your reusable bags? ChicoBags are a great emergency alternative. While they are made from synthetic materials, they compress into their own attached stuff sack, which makes them very convenient and likely to be used. I carry several of them in my purse so I am never without a bag. If you have a car, keep your grocery bags in it and remember to bring them into the store with you! And one more thing: reusable bags are not just for groceries! Carry them for all your purchases, from electronics to clothing.
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02 - Eating and Drinking on the Go
Carry your own containers for take out food and leftovers.
Carry a stainless steel travel mug or water bottle at all times for coffee and other drinks while out in the world.
(I use my travel mug for water instead of a water bottle.) Besides the plastic lid and plastic straw, paper cups are lined with a plastic coating. When I first began this project, I got in the habit of requesting “no lid and no straw” when ordering a drink in a disposable paper cup. But nowadays, if I’ve forgotten my mug, I simply do without until I can find a water fountain or sit-down cafe or restaurant with durable cups and glasses. This process helps me to remember my reusable mug next time.
Carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws.
I keep a To-Go-Ware bamboo utensil set and a couple of GlassDharma drinking straws in my purse at all times. And actually, I didn’t need to go out and buy the bamboo. I could have just as easily used my own stainless steel utensils. Check out blogger Mindful Momma’s cute DIY utensil wrap.
When ordering pizza, say no to the little plastic “table” in the middle of the pizza box.
It’s called a “package saver.” Think about it. A single use plastic device meant to save a single use cardboard box. What about all the marine animals that swallow that type of disposable plastic? It doesn’t save them, does it? When ordering, say, “Please don’t put that little white plastic thing in the middle of the pizza.” They’ll know what you mean.
Treat yourself to an ice cream cone.
Instead of keeping containers of ice cream in the freezer, I will enjoy the occasional ice cream cone while I’m out. That keeps my ice cream consumption down, which is better for my health, and it also does away with the plastic-lined containers as well. Ice cream cones require zero container or utensil waste. If I do want to bring some home, I can have my ice cream handpacked in my own container.
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03 - Grocery Shopping
Cut out sodas, juices, and all other plastic-bottled beverages.
I’ve made the decision to eat fresh fruit instead of buying juice. This eliminates the need for all disposable bottles — glass as well as plastic. I don’t drink sugary sodas, but I do like seltzer water. Especially in the summer. So I got a Soda Stream Penguin soda maker for those times I crave some fizz. The soda maker itself is plastic, but the carafes are glass, and the soda maker replaces hundreds of disposable bottles. What’s more, the reusable CO2 cartridges are returned to the manufacturer for refilling.
Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags.
At the farmers market or natural food stores I can buy bread that comes in only paper. At the bakery down the street, I can have my bread placed in my own cloth bag and avoid all packaging. Bread keeps fresh when stored in the cloth bag inside an airtight tin. I reuse a popcorn tin that was sent to me as a gift several years ago. Often, thrift stores have more of these tins than they know what to do with. Fresh bread is a bit more expensive than its plastic-packaged cousins, but to me, it’s worth it. And since I buy so few new things, I can afford to spend more for quality, plastic-free food. See my post Fresh Bread: Buy It, Store It, Keep It Fresh Without Plastic.
Return containers for berries, cherry tomatoes, etc. to the farmer’s market to be reused.
We use plastic in almost everything today. The use of plastic has increased rapidly. Our foods, cosmetics and almost everything we buy are packaged in it. Our cars, phones, computers… all have plastic. Even the gum we chew has a little amount of plastic! Plastic products cannot be recycled, they can only be “downcycled”. A plastic milk carton can never be recycled into another carton — it can be made into a lower-quality plastic, which is harmful for health and cannot be recycled.
Plastic is inexpensive and cost–effective, which has led to its widespread use in every industry. But the use of plastic for food and water packaging can cause a lot of health problems.
We need to be very careful with the usage of plastic as it has certain chemicals like BPA, which are bad for our health. BPA is fed to animals like cows and chickens to make them gain weight before slaughter, so that they look healthier. BPA is also added to plastic products to make them more durable and long lasting. The BPA used thus enters our systems and affects our health.
Some of the major effects of the use of plastics are:
- Allergies and neurological problems
- Obesity Type 2 diabetes
- Deformities of male and female genitals
- Premature puberty in women
- Decreased sperm quality
- Increase in breast and prostate cancers
There are some alternatives to plastic which are safer and will not cause any health issues:
- Start using glass or stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic water bottles. These can easily be re-used and would greatly reduce our drinking water’s chemical exposure.
- Switch to resuable grocery bags made of jute or cloth instead of plastic or paper bags. Carry your own bags to supermarkets.
- Replace plastic food storage containers with safer stainless steel or glass containers. Or use unbreakable options like silicon.
- Buy wooden or metal toys or board or card games for children as the effect of plastic upon children can cause many health issues.
- Use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones; cloth diapers can be reused and are also cost-effective.
- Use microwave safe glass or ceramic bowls to reheat food instead of plastic.
- Try to recycle as much as you can.
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