New year, new post! I’ve been transitioning to a plastic free lifestyle for about 3-ish months now. I was going to wait until the New Years and make it my resolution, but we all know that most resolutions are abandoned by February. I didn’t want that, I want this change to be a permanent part of me and my families lives. Also, I asked myself “why wait? You can start saving the planet one change at a time, starting right now!” So, with full force, my journey started.
One replacement at a time is a good place to start with, in my opinion. It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed with thinking about completely overhauling the habits you’ve grown accustomed to, and how to change them all at once. For me, as I near the end of one plastic encapsulated product, I start searching for its plastic free replacement. There are, though, everyday changes we can all make immediately. Here are the easy first swaps I’ve made in my first 3 months.
Reusable shopping/produce bags
I talk about my trusty reusable bags a lot on this blog. This was a swap I made before I even started my plastic free journey. I have a good collection of them that I’ve acquired through family and gifting, and have only ever bought 2 myself thus far. I keep them in my car, and it’s become such a habit that its second nature for me to remember to grab them before I head into a store.
When it comes to produce, bring your own produce bags to avoid having to use those single use bags. You can make them quickly and easily, and you can even use old pillowcases or sheets as the fabric.
BYO Coffee Cup and Water Bottle
I love my morning coffee. Most of the time I make it at home. When I’m out and about,or when there’s a fun new holiday flavor, I sometimes stop at Starbucks or Dunkin to get my fix. The problem here, is the inner linings of the coffee cups. They are lined with plastic, as well as the lids being made fully of plastic.
So ditch the disposable cups, and opt for bringing your own. Starbucks gives you 5 cents off for doing so! I have this one from Package Free Shop, as well as a stainless steel insulated tumbler my daughter got me for Christmas. I keep one in my car so that I’m always prepared. You don’t have to go out and buy one though, you can even use just a simple mason jar, fitted with a DIY coffee sleeve. If you’ll be drinking your coffee in the establishment itself, ask for it to be served in a mug instead.
The same goes for water bottles. My tumbler doubles as a water vessel and keeps my water ice-cold for about 24 hours. Your mason jar can also double as a water vessel, with no sleeve needed. More and more water fill up stations are popping up all over the world. Utilize them and save money at the same time.
Say “No” to straws, napkins, utensils, and anything single use
Straws are probably one of the most unnecessary and ecologically damaging single use items out there. Make it a habit to ask for no straw when eating out. If you must use a straw, say if you’re on the road and it’s easier to have one, there are so many reusable options out there. From stainless steel to bamboo to glass, keep them in your car along with your reusable coffee cup so that you’re always prepared.
The same goes with those plastic utensils some places give out with your order. Keep a set of regular silverware or ones made of bamboo in your car.
Even though a lot places are using recycled paper to make their napkins, it’s still so much better for the environment to keep with you a folded up handkerchief or fabric napkin.
Ditch the paper towels and napkins
I’ve got two more rolls of paper towels left. After that I’ll be cutting up an old crotch destroyed pair of my man’s cotton pj pants to use for spills in the kitchen. If you’re not the DIY type, there again are also loads of options out there. Just use a tea towel, or invest in some unpaper towels. If there are reasons you must have them in your home, opt for ones made from recycled paper, bamboo fibers, and without being wrapped in plastic. Who Gives A Crap is a great resource for eco-friendly paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels.
At the table, fabric napkins are a fabulous alternative to paper napkins. Here are some I’ve made in the past, they’re linen but you can use any fabric you have on hand. Cotton, flannel, linen, bonus if they’re things like old bed sheets or pillowcases, all of these will work superbly.
All of these changes are so easy to make, and will even save you some money as well, win/win! The hardest part about making a change is the breaking the habit of disposables. Soon enough, these changes will become your new habit, and your wallet, the earth and yourself will all be happier as a sweet, sweet reward.
Reduce, Reuse, Refill, Recycle!