Avoiding Plastic Strategies
JD and I spent a month trying to avoid plastic. While we were no where near as successful as we hoped, we feel that we learned a lot that we can share. We definitely are not experts and are guilty of breaking many of our own strategies, but we’ll tell you anyhow. Here is our bulleted list of different strategies and thoughts that we have gathered on avoiding plastic.
• Make it a priority. Understand that every single piece of plastic that you use really does make a difference.
• Buy Bulk items. This may not be possible for everyone depending on location and travel arrangements, but this can cut out the majority of what you use. You can find this at Pogue’s Run Grocer, Whole Foods, and Good Earth Natural Foods. Bring paper lunch bags, home containers, or cloth bags to fill. When you get home, place the items in reused glass jars, Ball jars, or other storage containers you own. Items include: rice, quinoa, oats, nuts, dried fruit, spices, flours, dried beans, other grains, and anything else you might want.
• Prepare for your week. Look ahead at when you might need a drink or a snack. Pack your own in reusable containers.
• Buy less cheap stuff. Buying cheap encourages the buying of more cheap things, and when those things break (because chances are they will), they will be tossed and more cheap things will be purchased. Save up. Buy things and materials that will last and that will mean something to you. If it happens to break, you probably can fix it. If you can find it, buy vintage.
• Use all natural wax paper if you need to wrap things for an on-the-go lunch. It is recyclable and doesn’t use in petroleum products. You can also use cloth depending on what it is.
• Get some reusable containers. This one is obvious and easy. We have glass containers. You can also find some nice stainless steel containers.
• Buy a spork. Not really, but it’s funny.
• Don’t eat fast food.
• Shop at a farmers market or join a CSA. These are definitely the best methods to get fresh, local food while also avoiding plastic. The benefits are endless here people, so make it a priority in your life and your finances.
• Get some reusable bags. Most people probably have this, but if not, make sure to buy 100% cotton bags that are made in the USA. There are far too many that are made with petroleum products in China (same as plastic).
• If you forget your reusable bags, ask for paper.
• Call your local post office and get all that junk mail stopped (Also saves a whole lot of paper).
• If you don’t like drinking with a straw anyway, ask for no straw. Silly but helpful.
• Consume less! Most of us are rich compared to the world average and have more conveniences than are probably healthy (including us). Consuming less and giving more will do more than help you avoid plastic.
• Stop being so damn busy. This is one that we will always be guilty of, but if you are super serious than this is a good strategy.
• Make your own deodorant (I love this recipe — 5-6 Tbsp Coconut oil, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch).
• Use washing soda, borax, and white wine vinegar for dishes and clothes, or find other homemade recipes. Or buy detergent that comes in a box.
• Buy bar soap instead of soft soap. You can buy something like Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap or find some at a local farmer’s market. It’ll last longer, be better for you, and use no plastic.
• Do the same for shampoo. Their are bar soaps specifically for hair (I don’t think it really matters though), such as J.R. Liggett’s Old Fashioned Bar Shampoo.
• If you’re hard core (I haven’t tried this), use an old-fashioned razor blade to shave with. I can’t recommend it though, because you have to know what you are doing and I don’t know how to do it. I hear there are safety razors made out of metal still, though.
• Start a compost pile. This will cut down on your garbage level and give you rich compost for a garden. If you are in an apartment, you can have an indoor compost bin.
• Don’t eat meat. Even local sustainable meat must be wrapped in plastic.
Okay, so some of these are very serious things to change in order to avoid plastic. Take what you want and leave the rest as later possibilities. Please add any strategies that you have found useful. We would love to hear them.
Also, one final thought. We were asked what is the biggest contributer to plastic that we found, the one thing that someone could change to make a big difference. What we found was that food and drink packaging was the biggest contributor. It’s just another reason to eat local in our minds. Good luck!