Hello everyone! Life’s been pretty hectic lately with traveling and work, but since last month was Earth Day, I wanted to do a post with some sustainability tips. Since plastic use is a HUGE problem that anyone can take steps to reduce, I compiled some tips that are easy to do AND help the environment.
Before I tell you the tips, I want to briefly explain why plastic is so horrible (you have to know why you’re doing it, right?). Plastic isn’t biodegradable, so it doesn’t go away. This can be harmful to us, animals, and the environment. Have you ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? If not, look it up (here’s a CNN article you can start with). It’s a huge accumulated pile of plastic that’s actually twice the size of Texas. Sure, not all of the plastic that ends up there is from us (but from ships/fishing/etc), but we can still limit the amount of plastic we use. All the animals don’t know what plastic is, so they can easily mistake it for food.
Anyways, here are ways that you can reduce your plastic use:
1. Bring your own bags
Some places will even give you a slight discount for bringing your own bag, and almost every store I know sells reusable bags (normally they’re pretty cheap too) in case you do not have one already. I found that it’s easy to get free ones from apartments, events, grand openings, and colleges. Also, if you tend to buy a lot of produce, there are even reusable produce bags that you can use like these BaHoki ones at Amazon!
2. Say no to straws
Straws are so wasteful, yet many restaurants give out straws without even asking. Try to say no to straws, and if you do enjoy using straws, invest in reusable ones! You can buy reusable straws almost anywhere cups are sold (Starbucks, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.) and online. There’s even a project for collapsible reusable straws that can fit on a keychain-check it out here!
3. Purchase package-free products
Lots of products, ranging from food to beauty, can be purchased without packaging! Buying fresh produce from places like Farmer’s Markets (or even regular grocery stores) can help as well, plus is likely to be healthier than packaged goods. Places like Lush sell lots of shampoo bars, soaps, and other products that are package free!
4. Recycle, recycle, recycle
Whenever you do end up using plastic, make sure to recycle! It’s better for plastic to be reused than to end up in a landfill or an ocean. If you’re not sure if something can be recycled, research online! Not all places take electronics and such, but you can probably find a location that does nearby.
5. Use your own water bottle
Instead of purchasing a new water bottle every day, use a water bottle that you can wash out and use again. This can be hard in some areas where water is polluted/water advisories are in effect (like me right now because there’s high levels of fluoride in our water and our water is supposedly polluted), but it can also save your money on buying water. You can even get coffee mugs to reuse if you frequently go to places like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.
6. Cook more at home
I found myself eating granola bars before work every day…each one individually wrapped in plastic. Especially since I eat bars like Larabars with little ingredients, it’s so much easier to cook things like that at home and put them in a reusable container. Also, eating out can require a lot of trash depending on the place with to-go containers, silverware, plates, etc. It can be less wasteful to eat at home and use your own tupperware and silverware that you can wash and use again.
7. Use reusable feminine care products
I’ve heard of plenty of options to reduce the amount of plastic from pads/tampons, such as the Diva Cup and cloth pads. I think there are also some tampons without plastic applicators. This is one I have yet to switch over to, so if you have any experience with this, let me know!
Before I end this post, I wanted to share an awesome challenge called Plastic Free July. Essentially, it aims to bring awareness of plastic overuse and provides multiple resources for people who want to be waste-free. It has a lot more tips than my post here, so feel free to check it out after reading and perhaps do the challenge this summer! I know I might try it out.
I hope you all had a great Earth Day! Let me know any other suggestions for reducing plastic use!