Progress Over Perfection: 3 Small Ways to Live More Sustainably, Part 1
SWITCH TO REUSABLES
Reducing the amount of single use plastics you use is a good step to take towards living a more sustainable life. Plastic waste and pollution is a major threat to our environment and our health. According to a 2021 report compiled by the United Nations Environment Programme, discarded packaging makes up 46% of total annual plastic waste generation, which is about 158 million metric tons. This includes items like grocery bags, food packaging, and plastic water bottles. That statistic may feel a little overwhelming, but I think if a larger percentage of people made small changes, those changes would add up.
Instead of trying to immediately eliminate all your disposable plastics, I think the easiest way is to pick one type of disposable plastic to eliminate/reduce at a time. A zero waste lifestyle is a great ideal, but is not currently doable for everyone and there is no shame in that. Again, the true burden of plastic reduction should be on corporations, but we as individuals can still try to help! Here are some ideas for sustainable swaps to help get you started.
Switch out disposable food packaging for reusable containers
When you run out of plastic ziplock baggies, try opting for reusable silicone bags, waxed cotton sandwich wraps, or reusable storage containers. We use storage containers in our household and we rarely miss having plastic baggies. We have a mixture of glass and plastic containers in a variety of sizes. The glass ones we use for fresh fruit as well as snacks and dry goods that we purchased in bulk. We use our reusable plastic containers exclusively for freezing chopped up vegetables, since glass containers should not be frozen.
Switch out plastic grocery and produce bags for reusable bags
One of my favorite swaps and one that has really helped cut down on my use of disposable plastic is switching to reusable grocery bags and produce bags. There are many low cost options and these bags can last for years. My husband and I keep the majority of our reusable bags in a go to location in our kitchen, and then we each have 1 or 2 stashed in our cars for those unplanned stops at the store. We also have sheer mesh produce bags that we keep stuffed into our shopping bags so we don't forget those, either!
Switch out disposable plastic water bottles for a reusable bottle
This is another swap that I have made that significantly cuts down on my plastic waste. Studies have shown that not only are plastic bottles pretty bad for the environment, but that they are also bad for your health as they can leach toxic chemicals and microplastics into your drinks. You can find reusable bottles and beverage containers just about everywhere, Amazon, Walmart, Target, thrift stores, etc. Oftentimes you can even get them for free. My husband has brought home multiple reusable cups and bottles from work and we have been gifted quite a few as well. They come in many different styles, sizes and shapes, so you can be sure to find one that fits your lifestyle. My go to water bottle is a half gallon stainless steel bottle with a flip top/straw. It may not fit in a cup holder in my car, but I drink a lot of water and don’t like running out, so it is perfect for my lifestyle.
Switch to refillable containers for household items
Another great option for reducing the amount of plastic in your life is by switching to refillable containers for things like dish soap, hand soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, cleaners, etc. You can buy certain items in bulk, like hand soap, and refill into your own reusable dispensers. There are also many new companies popping up that offer refill services. We have a great one here in Dallas called Usefull Co that offers refill services for many household products.*
While this is not a list of all the swaps you could make to help minimize waste, these are some good starting points for anyone looking to change things up. What swaps have you made to help reduce your use of disposable items? Let me know, I would love hear about the little things you are doing to help the planet.
*I am not affiliated with Usefull Co, I just love their concept and want to share it with as many people as possible :)