Plastic can be found almost anywhere, even in the most unlikely of places. We have become completely dependent on using plastic for almost all of our packaging needs and the majority of objects we purchase are themselves made out of some form of plastic.
By now, many of us are well aware of the devastating toll plastic consumption is taking on our environment and especially our oceans. While efforts are being made to minimize this waste — the majority of us recycle plastic bottles and packaging automatically — the fact of the matter remains, only nine percent of plastic waste in the U.S. ends up being recycled at all.
We are working to eliminate or at least drastically reduce our use of plastic bags for groceries, but still up to 12 million barrels of oil are used each year to produce enough plastic bags for the U.S. alone. Fortunately, awareness is spreading, and more and more people are putting these best practices into action, incorporating things like reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and grocery bags into their daily lives.
The question then becomes, how can we take this initiative even further and really make a difference on the planet? Below are 10 simple life hacks to significantly cut down your plastic consumption.
1. Replace All Cleaning Supplies With One Natural All-Purpose Alternative
Do you have a different cleaner for every surface in your house? Glass, counters, floors, toilets, etc? Many of us do but it is often fairly unnecessary, and the majority of these cleaners could actually be replaced with one all-natural alternative, which can not only save you money and cut down on plastic consumption, but also reduce the amount of chemicals going down the drain and into the air in your home. You can simply buy one bottle of concentrated all-purpose cleaner and mix it with water in an empty spray bottle, or you can check out this link for a great homemade alternative.
2. Make Your Own Deodorant
When you add up how many containers of deodorant you go through in a lifetime, it becomes clear why it may be a huge bonus to yourself and to the environment to ditch those containers and start making your own. Fortunately, it’s extremely simple! In fact there are a number of personal care products that you can easily make yourself and store in reusable glass containers or mason jars.
3. Purchase Products That Already Come In Glass Containers
If there is more than one option of a product you plan to purchase, go for the one that is contained in glass or cardboard. When you do this, not only are you boycotting companies that choose to use plastic over more sustainable options, you could also end up with a cool glass jar that can be repurposed into many different things.
4. Use Essential Oils & Diffusers Instead Of Plastic Air Fresheners
With increasing evidence to show that store-bought plug-in air fresheners are very toxic to inhale, you may want to switch these out for that reason alone. Add in their inherent wastefulness and the decision becomes easier still. Essential oil diffusers will provide you with subtle smelling aromas that, depending on which oil you choose, can also offer some aroma therapeutic benefits and put you into a state of relaxation, calm, and peace.
5. Use Reusable Containers Instead Of Plastic Wrap & Ziploc Bags
Use reusable glass containers instead of Ziploc bags for leftovers and lunches. If need be, paper bags are also a much better alternative, as they can easily biodegrade. A reusable alternative to plastic wrap, made of beeswax and cotton, is another great option.
6. Switch To Reusable Bags For Your Produce
While nowadays we often remember our reusable grocery bags when heading to the store, we may not often think of the plastic bags our produce goes into. Luckily, there are many reusable alternatives available, or you could even just avoid the bag altogether — it isn’t entirely necessary, after all.
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7. Use Soap Nuts & Baking Soda Instead Of Laundry Detergent
Most store-bought laundry detergent that I see comes in big hard plastic jugs or plastic bags. To eliminate this plastic fiasco altogether, consider using soap nuts for your laundry instead. Soap nuts are an all-natural alternative that can keep your clothes clean, and for an added boost of whitening power and freshening, toss in a half a cup of baking soda.
8. Buy What You Can In Bulk By Bringing Your Own Reusable Bags Or Jars
Reusable bags exist for bulk items as well as for produce, and buying in bulk is both cost effective and economical. You can buy almost all of your dry food items in bulk if you go to a specialty bulk store, which is an even bigger way to cut down your plastic use. You can even bring reusable jars and containers into these stores and have a clerk weigh them beforehand, ensuring you’ll always have just the right amount for that cute jar in your pantry. Look at you — saving the environment while staying organized!
9. Make Your Own Juice & Other Beverages
Not only are most store-bought juices just as harmful to your health as sodas, they also contribute significantly to the plastic waste problem we currently face. Why not make your own fresh juices and maximize the nutritional qualities your delicious fresh fruits and vegetables have to offer?
10. To Avoid BPA-Lined Cans, Prepare & Freeze Legumes & Other Veggies
Bisephenol-A, more commonly known as BPA, is a known endocrine and hormone disruptor. It has also been linked to many other adverse health effects. The majority of canned foods sold at the supermarket are lined with this chemical, which is a type of plastic used to prevent certain foods from eroding the can. Unfortunately, traces of this plastic end up in the food that we then consume. To avoid this chemical, you can look for specifically marked cans which clearly state “BPA Free” or you save yourself the stress (and added cost of organic canned goods) altogether by making your own legumes and other veggies you generally might purchase in a can. You can soak, boil, and then freeze chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans – you name it — for a fraction of the cost. Veggies can also be prepared this way, but why not just eat them fresh?
Not only will drastically cutting back your plastic consumption be tremendous for the environment and our planet Earth, but as you can tell from the steps listed above, it can greatly improve your quality of life as well, because in doing so you are indirectly reducing your own personal exposure to many other chemicals. Win win.
Do you have any easy tips for cutting back your plastic consumption? Share in the comments section below!