The global effects of the overuse of plastic is on everyone’s mind. If we want our grandchildren to grow up with same beautiful planet we currently enjoy, we must go out of our way to reduce the use of plastic. According to National Geographic, eight million tons of plastic trash ended up in the ocean in 2010. Sadly, only around 9% of plastic is actually recycled.
Numbers like these are terrifying, and as much as I would like to effect global change, the most I can do individually, is spread the message and take steps to reduce the use of plastic in my home.
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I took my son to the aquarium the other day and there was a sweet little old man sitting behind a booth. He had a display of a toy school bus overflowing with plastic straws. He explained to us that the US throws away enough straws to fill 127 school buses every single day!
Here are 9 Easy ways to reduce the use of plastics.....
1. Shop at Local Food Markets
Local farmers pick in-season produce and sell them directly to the consumer. There is no shipping and packaging involved so no need to wrap food in plastic. This is beneficial for the planet in the reduction of plastic, but it also is beneficial for your family’s health. Phthalates in plastic packaging have been studied and linked to chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
2. Take Plastic Packaging to a Local Grocery Store for Proper Recycling Sometimes plastic packaging is unavoidable, but instead of throwing it in the trash, why not have a special spot dedicated for storing soft plastics in your home. We hung a cute little basket inside our pantry which makes the perfect concealed place to keep plastic packaging until it’s time to recycle.
Most local grocery stores have dedicated bins where plastic bags can be recycled. We take the plastic wrapping out of everything including cereal boxes and snacks. When it’s time to go out for the weekly grocery haul, everything comes with us and gets thrown it in the proper bins. Going out of your way to properly recycle used plastic bags is one small step that can make a world of difference.
3. Cloth Shopping Bags
It took me a bit to get in the habit of remembering to grab cloth bags when I went to the grocery store. For months I kept cloth bags in my car but would ALWAYS forget to bring them inside the store with me. I just hadn’t made a habit of it. One thing that helped me remember was I committed to not accepting plastic bags. Even if I forgot my cloth bags, I would tell the grocer to skip bagging my items in plastic. I was that person who took out all her groceries individually. It only took a few times of loading all my groceries in the car individually before I started remembering!
4. Swap out Plastic Home Essentials for Glass
Tupperware gets a lot of wear and tear from hard working families. Although most plastic Tupperware is marketed as safe, many are made from plastic #1 & plastic #7, which can leach hormone disruptors when used over and over again. For the sake of my family’s health, we switched all our Tupperware to glass. It was a bit of an investment at first, but glass Tupperware is long-lasting and not contributing to plastic waste. When shopping for baby bottles, LifeFactory or Baby Quoddle are great options for strong bottles made from glass. They also have a silicone wrapping which makes it much safer if you accidentally drop the bottle in the middle of the night. I have dropped my bottles many times and they remain intact. You can also find stainless steel baby bottles too with silicone teats, sipper spouts or straws.
5. Bring Your Own Water Bottles Wherever You Go One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see families use “disposable” plastic water bottles. These plastic bottles leach hormone disruptor into the water especially when left out in the heat. There are so many great water bottle options made from glass or aluminium from companies such as Ecococoon, S'Well, Klean Kanteen and Lifefactory. Don’t be caught out on a hot day without your own water bottle from home.
6. Trade out Plastic Bags for Sealable Wax Paper Bags After a recent browse at my local store, I found the cutest little wax paper bags with apples on them. Wax bags are a perfect way to bring sandwiches or snacks on the go without having to haul around heavy glass Tupperware. I found these little cuties and will never go back. There are also lots of reusable options for food bags and pouches on the market too.
7. Say No to Straws at Restaurants If you are someone who likes their cold beverages through a straw, why not throw a metal straw in your purse. This way, you will always have one on hand when you go to a restaurant and not be tempted to use the plastic straws they provide. Some cities will actually fine restaurants up to $1000 for using plastic straws. The anti-straw movement is picking up after the famous video of a rescuer pulling a straw out of a sea turtle’s nose. If you really do need a straw, its time to invest in a reusable one. 8. Make your Own Baby Wipes. Most commercial baby wipes contain plastic resins that take years to decompose. With the recent marketing of wipes as flushable, we are seeing more wipes clogging plumbing, accounting for a massive expense for cities. These “flushable” wipes still contain plastic. More and more small pieces of wipes are washing up on the shorelines around the world. That doesn’t sound like a delicious snack for a sea turtle or something I want my family swimming in. I don’t know about you, but I would rather turtles eat their usual diet without plastic. There are some commercial baby wipes that contain no plastic resins, but if you would rather save a boat load of money and avoid harsh chemicals, you can make your own soothing baby wipes.
9. Look at the Ingredients in Your Family’s Cosmetics Did you know that tiny particles of plastics are actually added to thousands of personal care products, including toothpaste, body wash, and laundry detergent? These microparticles aren’t visible to the naked eye, yet we are washing plastic down our drains and into the waterways. Animals are drinking this plastic-contaminated water and humans are eating those animals. That isn’t the kind of fibre I wanted in my diet. These little suckers are hiding out under the labelled names of Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), and Nylon (PA). We have recently started making our own cosmetic products out of organic, plant ingredients. My favourite recipe so far is homemade baby lotion, which can really be used on the whole family.
Every single piece of cheap plastic made today will be around for the next 400 years. Yes, 400 years from now our memory will be long forgotten, but our plastic sandwich bags will still be clogging landfills and oceans. So, what do you say? Let’s reduce the use of plastic, for the sake of our families, our animals, our planet, and our future. This starts one family at a time. #takethepledge About The Author Hey everyone! I’m Liv, a registered nurse and mommy to the sweetest little boy. I am passionate about clean living, organic eating, and finding happiness through simplicity. I believe that the key to raising healthy children starts at home, with a mom who has the courage to question the status quo and do the research to heal common family ailments with natural remedies. We are on a journey of zero waste by reducing our use of plastic and being more resourceful. I would love to connect with you! You can learn more about me on my blog The Cheeky Mommy.