Ways To Reduce Plastic Use
Hello Calico Babes! Today I want to chat about plastic and ways we can cut back on the amount we use and waste.
It's pretty well known by now that plastic is bad for the environment, but are we aware of the affects plastic has on our bodies? Plastic is being found to lead to create direct toxicity, carcinogens, endocrine disruption which then can lead to damaging health issues such as cancer and birth defects.
BPA is one of the most commonly known chemicals in plastic which is why you see most plastic saying "BPA-free", which is great. But it's just BPA free, not free of all the other toxins that are harming us. We can't assume something is safe simply because it is free of one thing. This is a list of some of the toxins found in our plastic, common places they are found, and their many, many, adverse health affects (Ecology Center):
Remember back to elementary school when they taught about recycling? Those little numbers on the bottom of plastic mean more than if they are recyclable or not; they let us know what toxins the plastic is made out of.
#1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
#2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
#3: Polyvinyl Chloride
#4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
#5: Polypropylene (PP)
#6: Polystyrene (PS)
Although all plastic should be avoided as much as possible, numbers 3, 6, and most importantly 7, should be avoided at all costs. #7 plastic is essentially a combination of multiple chemicals. 95% of all plastic tested comes up positive for estrogenic activity, meaning they are hormone disruptors. Endocrine disruption is the cause many of today's common health problems like cancer, thyroid problems, diabetes, obesity, hormone imbalances, etc.
The good news is, people are realizing that plastic is harming our environment and our bodies and the revolution to switch to more sustainable living is happening and growing. All we need now are the major companies to catch on. In the meantime, there are small things we can do to avoid plastic in our daily lives.
Let’s take a look at what we can do to reduce our plastic use, for the environment and for our health.
Instead of to-go coffee cup, use reusable coffee cups
Although it seems like coffee cups would be recyclable or compostable because they are made of paper, it's the plastic coating inside that makes them trash. Not to mention the toxins that get released into your steaming hot coffee from that plastic lining. Gross. Protect your health and the environment by bringing your own Reusable Coffee Cup or drinking your coffee in the shop. Many coffee shops even give a discount for bringing your own cup!
Instead of plastic water bottles, use reusable bottles
Invest in quality drinking water and fill up your own glass jars or glass water bottles from your filter at home. I only ever drink Berkey Water because it's the purest out there. No hormone disruptors or pharmaceuticals in my water, thank you! (To learn more on the truth about your drinking water, check out this post.) If I need to take water somewhere, I will fill up a Glass Water Bottle or a Mason Jar and take it with me :) Even to restaurants!
Instead of plastic ziplock bags, use reusable snack bags or jars
Ziplock bags go right into the trash after they've been used once and not to mention can be quite costly to purchase. Using reusable snack bags is a great way to create less waste and save money. Yeah it might be a pain at first to have to drag everything back home to wash instead of throwing it away, but when we throw plastic "away", it never really goes away. It's worth going the extra mile for. I love Lunchskins as well as Organic Cotton Bags.
Instead of plastic Tupperware, use glass or stainless steel jars and containers
When I am taking a lunch on the go, instead of using plastic bags I try my best to use Mason Jars and Pyrex instead. I'll put my snackies like fruit and nuts in a mason jar or reusable snack bag mentioned above, and things like salads in a pyrex bowl. This way my food is not soaking up any chemicals while sitting in plastic, and I don't have to throw anything away. I just wash them and reuse! This also goes for storing food at home in the pantry or fridge. I like to transfer things like beans, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, anything else that I purchase in bulk, into mason jars when I get home from the store. Purchasing milk and other drinks in recyclable cartons or glass bottles is also the better option, when possible.
Instead of plastic cling wrap, use Beeswax wrap
Plastic wrap is a pain in the butt and doesn't even stick to things half the time, so why bother? If you need a simple bowl cover, invest in some Beeswrap which is reusable and can go in your compost after it's worn out. Better yet, grab some beeswax (from a treatment free local beekeeper of course) and natural cloth and make your own. Cotton Bowl Covers are a great alternative as well.
Instead of plastic grocery bags, use reusable canvas bags
Many cities are voting to put in place taxes on plastic bags, encouraging people to bring their own reusable bags to the grocery store. Did you know that plastic bags aren't even technically vegan? They are covered in animal fat and lard to help cashiers pull each bag apart. According to National Geographic, a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. That is scary. And sad. Bring your own reusable bags on your shopping trips instead of adding to that massive number. My favorites bags for shopping tripes are Market Baskets, Canvas Totes, and French Style String Bags.
Instead of plastic produce bags, use reusable produce bags
Those single use plastic bags that you're supposed to put your produce in are the worst! I prefer not having plastic particles all over my fresh organic produce. My favorite alternative are Mesh Produce Bags.
They work great and keep my produce SO fresh once it goes into the fridge. Between uses all I do is hand wash them and hang to dry :)
Instead of plastic eating utensils, use bamboo wear
This is something I am trying to get into the habit of! I have a Bamboo Utensil Kit that I use at home but I need to get one to keep in my purse for when I'm out and about or at a gathering where there is only plastic wear. I love using wooden spoons and forks because it makes me feel like I'm living my best life in Hawaii or something. Lol
Instead of k-cups, ditch the coffee machine
It's time to say goodbye to your coffee machines and Keurigs. I hate to be the one to break the news, but you're drinking gross coffee! Coffee makers and Keurigs never truly get clean, even if you remember to press the self cleaning button once and a while. They are plastic machines filled with all kinds of plastic tubes, filters, etc, leaching toxic chemicals into your coffee each time burning hot water runs through them. It's time to part ways with toxic coffee and switch to an all natural pour over or french press method. Seriously, this is the good stuff. I've been using the pour over method and nothing else for the past 4 years now. It may take you just a minute longer than waiting for your Keurig to brew your coffee, and it's a beautiful way to work with your hands while valuing craft over convenience. Those little plastic K cups are unnecessary waste and only contribute to pollution and health problems. All you need for your healthy coffee is a pour over mechanism. I like Chemex and this Pour Over Topper or a Glass French Press.
Instead of one time use coffee filters, use a reusable (plastic free) filter
While we're still on the topic of coffee, unless you compost your unbleached coffee filters when using the pour over method, you are most likely throwing them in the garbage. Even if you do compost your filters, it's just unnecessary paper and trees cut down. I love using reusable coffee filters made out of organic cotton. It makes my coffee taste so much better than paper filters ever could, and just one filter lasts an entire year or more. After it's worn out it can go right into your compost :)
Instead of carry out containers or single use dishes, bring your own
Carry out containers from restaurants are usually plastic or styrofoam, two things you never want hot food to touch. Dine in if they have real dishes, or see if you can get your food in your own container to go. (Some places may say no because of "sanitary regulations", but it's worth a try. I haven't been brave enough to try this yet but I definitely want to start!) This goes for things like parties or get togethers where the only option may be plastic, paper, or styrofoam plates. Bring your own Glass Containers or Metal Containers that you can keep your food in, or ask if your host has a real plate you can use, and offer to wash it yourself if they are avoiding doing dishes by having disposables!
Instead of plastic straws, use reusable straws
Have you seen that video that went viral on facebook of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in his nose? (If not, watch here) Unfortunately, that isn't a rare occurrence these days. Marine life are swimming in probably more plastic and pollution than water these days. Take the pledge to stop using plastic straws. At home use Bamboo Straws, Glass Straws, or Stainless Steel Straws and tell the waiter "no straw please" at restaurants.
Instead of plastic ice cube trays, use silicone or stainless steel
I just recently made the switch to Silicone Ice Cube Trays instead of plastic. My family had our ice cube trays for so long, I didn't even want to know what type of plastic was disintegrating into our water. We made the switch to silicone ice cube trays which are a lot safer than plastic. Unlike plastic, silicone does not "leach" into products. Meaning it does not release anything into the liquid it is holding. I’ve also had this awesome Retro Stainless Steel Ice Cube Tray on my wish list for awhile. This may just have to be one of my summertime purchases this year!
Plastic is destroying our earth that God so lovingly created for us to thrive upon. Plastic is infecting our food, our land, our air, and our water. It is also destroying our bodies, our temples of the Holy Spirit. At this point we are eating, breathing, and drinking plastic and it's up to us to stop that.
Using less plastic is not an easy journey or an overnight switch, and by no means do you have to be perfect. But there are simple things that can be done to get you started. I hope a few of these ideas spark your interest and inspire you to make your own changes! Remember, small steps are better than none at all. Every change you make adds up to make a huge difference! Feel free to share in the comments different ways you avoid plastic so we can encourage and inspire each other. Until next time!
This post contains affiliate links. I will only ever share brands and companies that I know, love, and stand behind. Shopping through these links creates no additional cost to you, but simply provides a way for me to continue creating free content like this. Thank you for your continual support!