Mar 5, 2016

How I'm Doing On 5 Easy Ways To Use Less Plastic

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I saw this list of 5 easy ways to use less plastic and I thought I’d see how I was doing.

1. Ditch the bottled water.

This is the area where I excel. Hubby and I both have reusable water bottles that we use so we don’t need to buy single use plastic bottles. I have 2 one liter CamelBak eddy* that I use at home, and a 750ml one that I keep at work. As a bonus I picked up the one I use at work from a thrift store so I’m sort of even salvaging that.

Now I know that while I am preventing the use of probably thousands of single use plastic bottles due to using a reusable I understand that my bottle is still plastic. There are more and more plastic free water bottles on the market which are a great option if you are in search of a water bottle. However it doesn’t make much sense for me to trash mine, a perfectly good water bottle, just because it is made from plastic, the very thing I’m trying to conserve. My husband has a Hydroflask* which I will consider when my water bottle need replacing. It has a vacuum seal insulation so it keeps ice cold for up to 24 hours and hot beverages hot for up to 12 hours.

HydroFlask- A Reusable Waterbottle

2. Rethink the Tupperware.

Several years ago my husband and I were overflowing with plastic food storage containers. I decided that I wanted to use glass so we purchased some of the Anchor* and Pyrex* containers. I love them. The 2 cup ones are great for taking lunch in. The larger ones are great for storing food. When we finally ditched the plastic containers for good we had an entire 2 foot by 2 foot box full of them! Now the lids on the containers are still plastic, so I’m not 100% plastic free, but it is a vast improvement. An added bonus is that they last a really long time and don’t get stained or warped like plastic can.

Pyrex glass containers to reduce plastic use

3. Make your own bath and body products.

This is one area I’m not currently tackling. I’ve tried to go ‘no poo’ using baking soda and apple cider vinegar for my hair, but ended up going back to shampoo. I do generally use coconut oil to wash my face and as a moisturizer but that’s about the only non traditional thing I do. However I bought a small (plastic) bottle of castile soap and a large (plastic) bottle of vinegar with the intention of making other household cleaners, but they have sat for nearly a month unopened. Once we get moved, though I hope to make more homemade cleaners.

Shampoo bar if you aren't ready to make your own cleaners yet.

4. Bring your own bags/containers.

I obviously #skipthebag when it comes to checking out of stores, but I don’t have reusable produce bags or bulk bags. So there are still some improvements I can make in this regard. I’m thinking about buying these muslin* or these mesh* produce bags.

To carry items so you don't have to use a plastic bag.

5. Buy in bulk.

Thiis is another area where I need to improve. The author of the list was referring to buying larger containers of things to reduce the amount of packaging, but also buying from bulk bins. I would say I don’t shy away from buying in bulk, but not with an eye to packaging. Toilet paper is one example. Some large packages are simply wrapped 4 packs of toilet paper wrapped together. It would use less waste to simply buy the smaller packs.

Buying from bulk bins is a little more tricky. To be honest I haven’t really been on the lookout for bulk bins because I still haven't moved into my house, so I’ve only found bulk bins a couple of places. The first is The Fresh Market they have bulk bins but it is primarily for nuts and other snacks, items that I don’t use very frequently. A local international store, Four Winds, however has several bins from olives to chickpeas to flours. So I will definitely be utilizing them! Once I’ve got all my glass jars unpacked, and reusable bulk bags maybe I’ll tour some of the other international stores and traditional grocery stores to see what bulk items they have available.

Toilet paper wrapped in paper, not plastic

So all together I’m definitely making progress in my plastic free life, but there is still room for improvement. How are you doing in these 5 areas?

Looking for even more ways to reduce your plastic use? The bathroom is one area that can create a lot of waste and you not even realize it. Click to read about some simple plastic free swaps can be made in the bathroom.

Image of razor, shampoo bar and shower.
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  1. One other thing you might consider - we don't go out to eat often but when we do I'm using a lidded Pyrex for my leftovers. I hate, hate, HATE those Styrofoam monstrosities. I take my Pyrex into the restaurant with me. I'll package up my leftovers and into the fridge they go when we get home. I can then heat/eat from the same container for lunch the next day. When it's empty a quick wash and I store it back in my car with one of the 4 corners popped up (for air flow) That way I always have it with me if we decide on an impromptu meal out. Works great for us.

    Congrats on your waste reduction journey, sounds like you're certainly on the right track!

    ~Taylor-Made Homestead~

    1. Thanks for the tip, I love the idea of just keeping some in the car!

  2. I love the idea of taking your own containers for leftovers! My husband and I eat out 1-2 times a week, and always have leftovers. That's 2-4 Styrofoam containers every week! Yikes. I'm going to start doing this!

    1. I need to be better about taking containers to restaurants for leftovers. (And eating less so we have leftovers won't hurt either!) Let's both work on this! :)

  3. Well done on these 5. I don't drink water that much but do have a bottle for when I do - more often using my flip top flask for coffee on the go. We've all given up shampoo - hubby and son water only which I haven't managed, and mainly vinegar for cleaning. I have a shopping trolley and cloth bags so I can shop on foot and take own containers to a select few shops where they now know me. For bulk - we don't really have loose bulk options here so I buy large bags of things like rice to reduce the pro rata plastic and found large bag of couscous in paper ( cheap too as sadly the shop was closing).

    1. Sounds like you are doing really well! It was hard for me to find bulk options locally. I really had to hunt! But if they don't exist, you are doing the next best thing by making your purchases with waste in mind. Thanks for sharing.

  4. You're doing it right! I started with BYOBag about 26 years ago. Yeah, I got a lot of looks from people at the grocery store, bagger boys would avoid bagging my stuff, I was that crazy lady with the bags. I abhor Styrofoam and avoid it at all costs, I have a Dollar Store glass plate at work that I use while everyone else is using paper or Styrofoam, I get looks for that too. Glass water bottle, I've got it!, Rtic cup for my Bulletproof coffee from my house, got it! NO Tupperware in the house for the last 12 years. After I helped my mom fill out the MD Anderson Cancer questionnaire and it had two pages about using Tupperware/plastic for food, got me thinking. Make my own cleaners and personal items, check, check. How about re-usable glass or stainless steel drinking straws? Do you do that? I started this practice a few years ago when our daughter was working on private yachts in the Caribbean and told us about all the floating straws out there in the ocean. PS... I hate plastic!

  5. Wow 26 years of SkipTheBag! Please stick around, there is a lot we can learn from you! My sister-in-law got me some straws for Christmas. I love them, but I'm in the straw loving South so I still get served too many straws since I'm not in the habit of declining them. I'm working on it though!

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