Why reduce plastic use in your home?
Plastic pollution – one of the most severe environmental threats of the 21st century. Over the past few decades, we’ve incorporated this material into every aspect of our lives without being fully aware of what impact that would have on the environment.
Only now we are finding out about the consequences. From the island of plastic that’s the size of Texas floating around in the Pacific Ocean (known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch), to microscopic plastic particles being carried by the water cycle into even the most remote areas on Earth, it goes without saying that our plastic habit has become quite sizeable environmental issues.
However, the good news is that we can each contribute to eliminating plastic from our lives and reducing plastic pollution worldwide. To help you in doing so, we’ve created this list of 10 tips to help you reduce the plastic in your home and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
1. Invest in a reusable water bottle
Bottled water and soda are responsible for a lot of the plastic waste leaving our homes – even though the alternative is so simple. Invest in a reusable water bottle (stainless steel and glass are usually best) and take it with you everywhere you go, filling it up at water fountains.
This will actually save you a lot of money in the long run, even though the bottle itself may set you back a bit to purchase.
2. Stop buying synthetic clothing
One plastic skeleton in a lot of our closets is synthetic clothing. It’s just as damaging as (if not more damaging than) household plastic waste, but often goes undetected when we’re tackling the plastic in our household.
Not only does this synthetic clothing create plastic pollution in landfills after it’s discarded – it also releases microplastics (microscopic plastic particles) into greywater anytime it’s washed. Wastewater treatment facilities often fail to filter them out, so they keep polluting our oceans for hundreds of years.
3. Buy your produce unpackaged
The plastic free, unpackaged options on supermarket shelves are becoming rarer and rarer. However, one area where you should still be able to find many of the things you need without plastic packaging is the produce section.
If you want to step up your plastic free shopping, you may also want to get a few reusable produce bags, for your potatoes, apples or other produce you’ll likely be buying multiple pieces of!
4. Opt for plastic-free cosmetics
There are many different plastic-free alternatives to the products in your bathroom! Soap bars are just the beginning – you can substitute your shampoo, toothbrushes, cotton swabs, makeup wipes or menstrual products with completely plastic free.
Give these options a try one by one and see which ones work for you. Remember not to get discouraged if the first alternative you try isn’t good for you – keep looking for one that will be a good fit, it’s worth it to reduce plastic in your home.
5. Find a plastic free shop in your area
The number of plastic free shops in towns and cities worldwide is increasing and there’s likely one somewhere near you – you may just not know about it!
It’s best to start with looking online, as most physical stores will nowadays at least have some digital presence, if not a full website. Go pay it a visit and see if you can get your food or any other household staples there, without the plastic packaging they’d otherwise come in!
6. Give up office supplies – go digital!
Most of us already use a laptop or computer for work, so why not use it to its fullest potential and eliminate the need for office supplies? Highlighters, folders, plastic sleeves and many other items from your office drawer can easily be skipped that way!
If you can’t avoid using these plastic items, reuse them as much as you can before throwing them away.
7. Reduce your consumption of fish and seafood
While this isn’t necessarily about plastic entering your home, it has to do with your household’s plastic pollution contribution. Industrial fisheries use plastic nets and other equipment, which are often lost in the ocean or thrown overboard when damaged.
This equipment, often referred to as ghost gear, has a bigger presence in the ocean than you might have thought! Did you know that 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of fishing nets alone?
Before tighter restrictions are put in place, the best way for us to reduce this source of plastic in the ocean is to stop creating demand for the products of industrial fishing. Try vegetarian alternatives instead or look for local sustainable fisheries!
8. Use your glass jars to store leftovers
There’s no need for plastic food boxes or plastic wrap for your leftovers. A great way to reduce plastic in your home is to simply save glass jars from pasta sauces, pickles, olives or other foods and use those for food storage!
If you want to get rid of the label on the jar, you can remove it by mixing baking soda with dishwashing soap and scrubbing the label with an old toothbrush until it comes off, along with the glue.
9. Skip plastic cutlery
If buying takeaway food, many restaurants will now package their food in paper containers instead of plastic. However, many of these restaurants will still give you plastic cutlery with your order.
Whether on the go or ordering for home, make sure to ask for no disposable cutlery and use your own set instead!
10. Reuse plastic before you recycle it
Lastly, if you have any plastic in your home now, or if you can’t avoid it in the future, find ways to reuse it before recycling it. This is an easy way to give the item or packaging another purpose, once it’s already in your home.
For example, you could keep the mesh bags some fruits and vegetables come in to use for scrubbing, save yoghurt pots and use them for planting starters for your fruit and veg, or reuse ice cream tubs for storage! I wrote an article looking at more ways to reuse items in your home.
Tell us how you reduce plastic in your home
We’d love to hear how you are tackling plastic pollution and working towards a plastic free lifestyle. Are you doing anything? Something? Have you changed many of your shopping habits? Please leave a comment and share your top tips.
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