This year’s Earth Day focus is on reducing plastic. Plastic is destructive to our environment (and can be harmful for human health as well). Time recently shared an interactive tool which demonstrates just how much plastic we use. When you stop to consider all the ways we rely on plastic in our daily lives, it can seem like a daunting task to remove or replace its use. We’ve compiled five ways our family has been able to lower our plastic pollution to help spark some ideas to reduce your use of plastic around your home.
Reducing Dependency on Single-Use Plastics
This is one of easiest ways to cut down on plastic use, but truthfully, it’s also difficult because it requires a hard look at daily activities and substitution research for each item you use.
Plastic straws and disposable coffee cups are two common single-use items you might be able to replace. Instead of using a plastic straw, opt for a reusable metal or glass straw. There are many sources for these straws - check out Simply Straws if you aren’t sure where to start. Bringing your own coffee cup to the coffee shop is a simple step but one which will make a large impact.
Instead of reaching for plastic lunch bags for kids’ school lunches, use a bento box or glass containers. Don’t buy plastic water bottles for convenience; instead, use reusable water bottles - you can even keep these prepped and ready to grab from the fridge if you find that you miss the grab-and-go convenience of single-use plastic water bottles.
Using Glass Containers Instead of Plastic Storage
If you haven’t already made the switch, it’s a great idea to look at switching to glass containers for storing leftovers, packing lunches, or meal prepping. Glass doesn’t retain smells (you might have noticed that can happen in plasticware), and it also can withstand hot/cold.
Bonus: we love the look of glass containers in the fridge!
Skipping Plastic at the Stores
When heading out to the grocery store, be sure to bring along reusable bags. Don’t forget to also take them along when you are at other retail stores. We’ve found keeping a few bags in the car will help us stay prepared. Also, avoid using plastic produce bags. You can either use reusable produce bags you bring from home or try shopping the farmers’ markets where plastic isn’t a factor for the produce.
Sourcing Plastic Alternatives When Possible
In general, take stock of your family’s use of plastics throughout the day. Look for ways to minimize what plastics you use. Make natural cleaners to replace purchased cleaning products that contain chemicals and are sold in plastic bottles. We love using lemon as a cleaner! Composting is a great way to reduce your household’s trash volume (which in turn reduces your need for plastic garbage bags!). Starting a compost bin is easier than you may think & these tips from Better Homes & Gardens will help you get started.
Did you know? Fridge Coasters are compostable!
For the plastic you can’t avoid, make sure you purchase plastic that is recyclable. Not all plastics can be recycled in all areas. The plastic bags that do make their way home with you should also be recycled. Many stores will take your plastic bags, and you can also check here for a recycling location near you.
Changing the status quo of plastic use might seem intimidating, but it’s something you can get the whole family involved in, which sets a great example for your kids to form greener habits. Happy Earth Day!