Plastic Sticks. We’ve found that one of the best ways to go Plastic-Free is to avoid plastics that would end up in our recycling bin.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH RECYCLING, ANYWAY?
Well, as it turns out, only 9% of plastics are actually recycled. The other 91% is burned or ends up in landfills, neither of which helps Mama Nature.
And since China isn’t taking our recycling anymore, it’s even more likely that what we put into the green bin will end up in a landfill or in the ocean.
SO HOW DO WE REDUCE OUR PLASTIC CONSUMPTION?
I’M GLAD YOU ASKED.
1. Water Bottles
Ok, so you’ve made the switch, you’ve got your reusable bottle. Great job! This is one of the surest ways to reduce your plastic trash. Dustin and I use Hydro Flask insulated bottles, they keep our drinks cold (or hot) and we love to mix and match the colors.
But what do you do when your bottle’s empty? If you’re at work or a friends house, you can easily refill it. But what if you’re traveling or spending the day (or night) in the city? How do you refill that thing? We’ve actually seen people buy plastic water bottles to refill their reusable bottle – that just blows my mind.
If that’s your only option, we get it. But did you know most bars, restaurants, and convenience stores will refill your bottle for a small fee or even free? It’s true, we do it all the time. Though many places don’t advertise it, all you have to do is ask.
Sometimes we fill straight out the tap, and if we’re unsure about the water quality we sterilize with a SteriPen.
2. Grocery Bags
We’ve all done it – you’re at the grocery store, in line to check out, and realize you left your reusable bags at home. What do you do? (After yelling at your partner for forgetting them – I’m lookin’ at you, Dustin).
Driving home to get them is always an option, but it might not be a practical one. The next best thing you can do is ask for a cardboard box or see if they have paper options and reuse them accordingly. Or ask yourself, do I really need a bag or can I just put my groceries back into the cart and bring them to my car?
So we all know to remember our reusable grocery bags. But what about our produce? Let’s be honest, if you’re worried about germs, those fruits and vegetables have been everywhere. That thin plastic bag ain’t gonna help. Just ditch the plastic!
When we can, we buy our produce from farmers’ markets. The food is a lot fresher and you won’t find your fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic.
Still, our main concern is our produce rolling around in the car getting bruised and broken, so we use Manatee reusable bags. They’re made from 100% organic cotton and work great for bulk goods too. Plus they donate 2% of their revenue to save manatees and marine wildlife and clean our oceans.
3. Takeaway and Leftover Containers
There’s nothing better than grabbing takeaway and binge watching Stranger Things from the comfort of your own couch. But when it comes to minimizing waste, dining-in is, of course, the best option.
When Dustin and I order takeaway we bring our own reusable containers, or we do our best to opt for vendors that offer compostable alternatives like bamboo or cardboard. When we eat out, we always end up with leftovers, so we recently started bringing our Abeego beeswax wraps with us. And while we’re on the subject, beeswax wraps are a great alternative to plastic wrap and foil.
When we’re hitting up our local festival or our favorite food truck, we carry our Fozzls solo pack. And don’t forget your reusable utensils.
These alternatives have sparked up a lot of interesting conversations, and I’m sure a few people have jumped on board. Doesn’t it make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Positivity is contagious.
4. Coffee Cups
Coffee. It’s a ritual no matter where you are in the world, and something I, for one, can’t live without. Escaping single-use cups, on the other hand, is not so easy.
Dustin & I recently visited a coffee shop in a small town where you can borrow and return actual coffee mugs to prevent waste – how cool is that? And many coffee shops offer a bring-your-own-cup discount.
Although, you can’t beat sitting and enjoying a cup of joe in a real mug. If your local coffee shop doesn’t offer some sort of discount or initiative to reduce waste, politely suggest it.
5. Plastic Straws
They suck! In the US we throw away more than 500 million plastic straws each day, enough to encircle the Earth twice. On our travels through Asia, most of the pollution we saw was cigarette butts and, you guessed it, plastic straws.
First, think, do I really need a straw? And if sucking is your thing, bring a reusable straw – bamboo or metalwork great. When Dustin and I go to our favorite daiquiri shop in New Orleans, we bring a reusable cup with a straw. Hydro Flask makes a nice one.
It’s almost a religion, when you go to a bar they drop a straw (or two) in your cup automatically. Try asking your bar or restaurant owner to switch to a straw-on-request policy.
6. Feminine Hygiene Products
I switched to reusable menstrual cups a few years ago and never looked back. I haven’t bought tampons since. As a traveler, a menstrual cup is really convenient because I can keep it in much longer than a tampon. And think about all the money I’ve saved, not to mention all the waste from plastic applicators. Another alternative is tampons that do not use plastic applicators.
7. Personal Care Products
Most personal care products come in plastic containers and many contain plastic micro-beads that wash down the drain and end up in our waterways and oceans. Animals eat them, then we eat the animals, our waste comes full circle. (Yuck!)
I recently started making my own face scrub & cleanser, deodorant, and toothpaste. Another great thing about making our own is that we know exactly whats in it.
If making your own isn’t an option, we’ve found many solid and/or bulk alternatives.
8. Cleaning Products
Apple cider vinegar + water and essential oils in a spray bottle makes a great surface cleaner. We clean our pots and pans with baking soda and buy dish soap in bulk in a reusable container. There are many options out there. Do a little research and don’t be afraid to experiment, that’s the fun part. We recently started using soap nuts, they’re a great, natural alternative to laundry detergent, and they’re reusable!
9. Sharing is Caring!
If you see a friend or loved-one taking steps to reduce their waste, commend them. If it’s a business, support them, buy their products, tell ya mom-n-em.
If you see an area where a loved-one or business could make improvements, politely make a suggestion. Remember, love is the answer, and we’re all doing our best.
Sometimes it’s not pleasant, but we are our brother’s keeper. If you see trash on the ground, pick it up and dispose of it properly. Spread awareness by chatting with and challenging your friends and family. Remember, there is no “away,” we are all interconnected on this beautiful planet we call home. And although our time here is brief, let’s make it livable and sustainable for all.
What we’ve shared here are changes we’ve implemented over time. We don’t suggest going “cold turkey” and trying to implement them all at once (unless you’re up for the challenge). Instead pick one or two things that are doable for you and try them in your day-to-day life. What works for us may not work for you, and you may find something that works better. If you do, we’d love to hear about it.
The thing is, we don’t have it all figured out (far from it). We’re on this journey together and together is the only way we can make a difference.
NOW WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
If you’ve found this post interesting or helpful in anyway, or if you have any tips or suggestions, please let us know in the comments or send us a message. And if there’s anyone you know who may benefit from this post, please share.