Practical Ways to Cut Plastic Waste
Hello, everyone! It’s pretty late to still be talking about New Years resolutions, yet here we are! It’s the beginning of February so I’m pretty sure that I can still get away with it, right? Even if it’s technically too late for a New Years resolution, there is never a “wrong” time to make a good change or decision.
In the recent weeks I have been noticing something that I never realized before: my family and I use a lot of plastic. We use oodles of plastic bags and containers, water bottles, saran wrap, etc. In an attempt to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, I’ve decided that in 2020 we are cutting down on our plastic waste.
…or at least we are going to try to. Let’s be honest: it is hard to completely cut anything out of your life, especially something that is practically used everywhere. Most food comes in plastic containers, most toys and baby products are plastic, and it’s cheaper than most alternative materials. However, despite the inability to completely cut plastic from our lives, there are steps and measures we can take to reduce how much plastic we use.
I made a short list of things that my family is going to try to adopt in 2020 in an attempt to cut waste.
- Reusable bags
This one probably seems obvious. Most stores nowadays encourage the use of reusable bags and some stores (such as Lidl and Aldi) don’t even offer plastic bags unless purchased. Some other stores (such as Whole Foods) offer a small discount for every reusable bag used. Even some retailers who do not typically sell food items (such as T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s) sell large reusable bags that are great for shopping and storage.
Reusable bags are great, too, because once you purchase them you have them! They are not an item that must be continually re-purchased. When I’m finished unpacking my grocery bags I throw them all back in my car. I make sure to put them back because I definitely would forget!
Let’s be honest: we don’t need to hoard plastic bags. This is a small step that we can all take to be more environmentally friendly, and we might even wind up saving some money while we’re at it.
- Reusable water bottles and coffee mugs
This is another one that might seem obvious. Honestly though, my husband and I started using reusable water bottles and mugs to save money. The amount of cash spent on buying 2-4 plastic water bottles or cups of coffee a day is absurd. Even if you love your Starbucks lattes, bringing your own mug gets you a small discount on the drink.
Apart from the economic benefits of using reusable bottles, it’s better for the environment. Why waste 4 plastic bottles a day when I can refill my Yeti with my own filtered water? Not to mention, plastic is not great for people, either.
- Reusable produce bags
I didn’t even know these things existed before I was walking around the store and found them. I always found that putting produce in plastic bags only to take them out of the plastic bags the minute I got home was a waste. I usually just threw my produce in the cart and made sure to wash it really well when I got home. However, carts are filthy with germs and that always freaked me out, too.
I recently picked up these reusable mesh produce bags at the store and I love them. They are light, easy to clean, and I love that they are mesh because I feel like herbs can breathe in the bags (if that makes any sense). Also, again, I like the idea of not wasting plastic and these are a great alternative to the produce bags at the store.
- Baby food in glass jars
This one really only applies to the parents out there. I don’t know about anyone else’s baby, but our son eats a lot. The amount of baby food containers we were going through was insane. We decided to start using baby foods that were packaged in glass. The only exception to this “rule” we have created for ourselves is in regards to Daniel’s proteins. He loves Gerber’s, and refuses to eat anything else. These are his favorite!
In regards to veggies and fruits, we really love Beech-Nut and Gerber Organics. Apart from being packaged in glass, they contain little, if any, additives.
In addition to switching to glass jars, we also donate the empty used jars to our local grammar school. The art teachers use them for various crafts and it’s a great way to recycle the jars.
- Glass or cardboard milk containers
I love the aesthetic of glass milk jugs. They just seem so old fashioned to me and wholesome in some way.
This is one way to cut plastic that is not always easy. I happen to shop at a grocery store that carries this local milk brand. However, sometimes the only way to get glass milk jugs is to have them delivered and usually the delivery fee is crazy expensive. However, another alternative to plastic milk jugs is cardboard.
- Economy-sized foods
This was actually my husband’s idea! His favorite breakfast is yogurt and granola. Instead of buying individual containers of yogurt in the beginning of the week I buy a large container of Chobani and make him a parfait to bring to work. It’s awesome because I can add granola and fresh fruit exactly as he likes it. Further, less plastic! These are the Pyrex reusable containers I use for his parfait. I love that they snap to close.
This can also be done with things like applesauce!
So this is my short list! As I mentioned above, cutting plastic entirely is impossible. It’s important to still live practically. However, that doesn’t mean we cannot live wisely. For instance, the Gerber proteins my son loves only come in plastic containers. I can’t just stop feeding him his favorite proteins. They make him happy and healthy. But, we choose glass jars for his other favorite foods. Please let me know how you cut plastic waste!