Even though plastic is only used for a short time, it stays in the environment forever. Once discarded, it’s likely to end up in landfills, waterways, and marine life. According to scientists at the US Department of the Interior and the US Geological Survey, it even shows up in rainfall samples in Denver and Boulder Colorado. The infiltration of plastic into our ecosystem is killing fish and other animals. They aren’t the only ones being harmed by plastic. A 2019 study by the University of Newcastle, Australia estimates that each person ingests five grams of microplastics per week.
Despite plastic’s public health concerns and ecological damage, it’s sturdy, cost-effective, and hard to avoid. What can consumers do when the largest grocery stores and corporations don’t have the will to phase out plastic? Identifying the most common sources of plastic is a good place to start. These include packaged foods, bottles, bottle caps, bags, straws, and takeout containers. This list will show consumers how to replace these common items with plastic-free alternatives.
1. Buy in Bulk
This will allow you to get the same things you normally buy but without all the plastic waste. Usually, bulk bags and containers will be provided. Be sure to label them and bring them back when you take your next trip to the grocery store. An added benefit to buying in bulk is that you can choose the amount you want to buy and save yourself some money. It’s great for the environment and your budget! If you aren’t sure where to go, check out the BULK mobile app.
2. Learn How to Cook
This is a challenge, especially for those of us who live a busy lifestyle, but it’s doable and worthwhile. Many of these packaged foods and drinks can be homemade. It can be a great alternative to all the sodium and sugar you’re consuming when you eat processed foods. You’re bound to find something on the internet that will satisfy your cravings.
3. Invest in Reusables
Instead of buying a plastic water bottle, why not buy a reusable one and bring that with you? If you don’t have any reusable grocery bags at home, almost every grocery store has one. If you need a place to store your produce, you can go to Ecobags https://www.ecobags.com/, Life Without Plastic https://lifewithoutplastic.com/home-and-zero-waste-living/bags/, Flip & Tumble flipandtumble, or Net Zero Company https://www.netzerocompany.com/. You can
purchase a net produce bag online at IKEA too. https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20372834/.
4. Buy a Plastic Free Straw
Whether they’re made of glass, metal, bamboo, or paper, you have plenty of sturdy options. Paper straws can be found at Aardvark Straws https://www.aardvarkstraws.com/. Bamboo straws can be found at Straw Free https://strawfree.org/ and Bambu https://www.bambuhome.com/. Glass straws can be found at Glass Dharma http://www.glassdharma.com/, Simply Straws https://simplystraws.com/, or Strawesome https://www.strawesome.com/. Metal straws can be bought at Eco at Heart https://www.ecoatheart.com/ or Mulled Mind http://mulledmind.com/. You could even get bendable stainless steel straws at Twisted Straw www.thelaststraw. For more options, check out the website https://thelastplasticstraw.org/.
5. Buy a Reusable Takeout Container
In our busy lives, there are times when buying takeout is just inevitable, especially after a long day at work. When you decide to eat out, always bring a takeout container with you. There are plenty of brands and options at Amazon. These include Seacoast, Xena, and Heim Concept.
6. Adopt a Plastic Free Beauty/Hygiene Routine
Bamboo toothbrushes can be found at most natural food stores. They can also be found online at Brush With Bamboo https://www.brushwithbamboo.com/. Eco Easy offers toothpaste tabs that will replace the conventional plastic tubes https://ecoeasy.co.nz/products/toothpaste-tabs. If you love beauty but hate plastic, download the Etsy app if you haven’t already. There, you’ll find plenty of affordable, unique and environmentally friendly makeup brands. These include Clean-Faced Cosmetics, EKBareBeauty, ZerraCo, and NudiGoods. Outside of Etsy, Antonym Cosmetics https://www.antonymcosmetics.com/, Axiology https://axiologybeauty.com/, and Lush https://www.lushusa.com/ are good options too. Switch to bar soap. If possible, replace your shampoo and conditioner bottles with bars too. If you’re lucky enough to live near a store that sells soaps, shampoos, and conditioners and bulk, take advantage of it. You can also shop online at Unwrapped Life unwrappedlife, or Chargin Valley Soap & Salve https://www.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com/. Lush’s website offers deodorant in a bar. You can also find deodorant sticks, sunscreen sticks, menstrual care products, body lotion, and reusable facial cloths at Package Free Shop https://packagefreeshop.com/.
7. Clean Up Your Cleaning Routine
Doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to clean your house while adding plastic to the planet’s messy oceans and landfills? It doesn’t have to be this way. According to Good Housekeeping, sodium bicarbonate is an effective tool for removing odors from carpets, refrigerators, or upholstery. Good Housekeeping also recommends using white vinegar as a window cleaner. There are plenty of DIY recipes online that will help you make your own spray cleaners, which you can store in a glass spray container. Usually, they’ll require a combination of vinegar, lemon/lemon juice, baking soda, water, or olive oil. These recipes can be found at Good Housekeeping https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/ and TreeHugger https://www.treehugger.com/. Good recipes are available at https://friendsoftheearth.uk/ as well. If you use the Etsy app, you’ll find bars of dish soap and laundry detergent from a brand called ShadedLily. ShadedLily sells reusable and sustainable sponges and cloths too.