Taking steps to reduce your usage of plastic should be a fun and empowering experience. You don't have to physically hug trees to care about the environment or understand the role we can all play in contributing to its wellbeing. We can't always be perfect when our modern lives rely so heavily on unsustainable practices, but making any effort to mitigate our impact does go a long way, and feels great too! Here are some simple tips to help you reduce your usage of plastic.
Single-Use Plastics & The Power of Doing As Much As You Can
Single-use plastics are the greatest contributors to the plastic waste accumulations around the world. They are also typically the easiest to avoid. As you begin to find ways to replace the unnecessary use of plastic in your life, you will see how it becomes easier and easier. Have patience with yourself, but maintain this practice knowing that you play an integral role in healing the planet. Here are some simple swaps:
Reusable Water Bottle- There are so many fantastic options available to us now with so many different materials to choose from including, most commonly, glass and metal. You can essentially use anything that safely stores liquids and can be reused. If you don't want to buy a new reusable bottle, you don't need to. Here are some great alternatives:
- Mason jars- Next time you go grocery shopping and pick up your favorite pickles, kimchee, or pasta sauce, keep the jar it comes in and reuse it for your favorite beverages daily.
- Glass mineral water bottles- Treat yourself to an attractive bottle of sparkling or still mineral water and reuse it. No extra expenses here and you can look extra fancy, impressing all of your friends with your simple sustainability secrets.
- Blender bottles- Most people have these but can be negligent toward their maintenance and end up through them out. Blender bottles are wonderful for quick smoothies and mixed drinks, but they also work just as well for any other liquid beverage. If you can't finish the smoothie you made, throw it in the freezer to preserve it, share it with your spouse, or feed it to the dog. Whatever you do, don't leave it in the car on a hot summer day. Now you can't say we didn't warn you!
- Thermos- Thermoses come in handy for all of those avid coffee and tea drinkers. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil. Because of how much it's consumed, there is going to be a lot of waste to follow. Bring your thermos to the shop or if that's too much to carry around all day, you can simply use a reusable, non-plastic lid to cap the paper cup you are served in. Keep it simple and practical- convenience will always be an easier habit to maintain.
Grocery Bags- Buying reusable bags that fold conveniently into themselves is essential. During times of pandemic, you might find some stores not allowing this, but take the time anyway to have them for when restrictions lift. Keep them in your car so they can't be forgotten and use them regularly. People often associate reusable bags with the grocery store, but they can and should be used on all shopping occasions.
Produce & Bulk Food Bags- These types of bags surprisingly help avoid more plastic than you would think. Many grocery stores in this day and age are using paper bags instead of plastic to haul groceries, but fall short with produce and bulk bags. That's where you come in! If you can't find these reusables at the health food store, Amazon surely has your back.
Reusable, portable cutlery- Most health food stores will carry reusable cutlery along with something to carry and store them in. If you are a person who gets take out often, this is an excellent way to reduce the amount of plastic you are using. Bringing silverware from home is another way to avoid the unnecessary use of to-go cutlery and is already in the drawer waiting to be called into action.
To-go containers- Many stores, such as IKEA for example, sell amazing and affordable glass Tupperware to store your food in. These are great for meal prepping and bringing food with you on the go if you have room for it. If you find yourself commuting, or with limited space, collapsable, silicone containers will be your best bet. Take care of them and they will serve you and the environment for years to come.
Protein powders- It has been estimated that two out of five Americans consume protein powders regularly. With numbers that high, we feel it is our responsibility to provide our customers with a more eco-friendly option. By choosing 22 Days Nutrition protein powder, you are choosing 60% renewable plant-based resources and using 88% less material than you would with a traditional protein powder tub.
Straws- If you are a fan of using straws and enjoy beverages more with them, you can easily find bamboo or metal straws at most grocery stores.
Shampoo & Conditioner- It is becoming increasingly more common to find shampoo and conditioner in bar form these days, and let me tell you, they work just as well! When you swap bar shampoo and conditioner for it's devolved predecessor, you will be pleasantly surprised by the extra room you have in the shower. The days of bottle dominos and avalanches onto your feet and ankles are over!
Body Soap- This one may seem like common sense, but this is where we go back to basics. There's nothing like a good old fashion bar of soap that comes in either a cardboard box or with nothing but a sticker on it. No need to complicate things!
Hand Soap- It's understandable for some people who have frequent visitors or children in their homes to be apprehensive about using bar soap for handwashing, so for them, we have a solution. A liquid hand soap pump can be a nice way to add to the decor of your bathroom while providing an eco-friendly solution to cleanliness. We recommend purchasing soap concentrate that mixes with water to create an identical match to hand soap that comes in a plastic bottle.
Dog Bags- Bio-degradable dog waste bags are amazing! If you have a dog, you know that you are using and throwing out a plastic bag two or three times a day. What an opportunity this is to reduce your plastic footprint. If you prefer or currently use yesterdays newspaper, you're already ahead of the pack!
Garbage Bags- Sadly in America, there are still parts of the country that do not recycle. When you reduce the amount of plastic you use, you will in turn have less to recycle. In addition to this, paper grocery bags or bio-degradable trash bags are the answer.
Sandwich Bags- Once again, bio-degradable alternatives are a worthwhile swap, especially if you are sending the kids off to school, or yourself off to work with them several times a week. This or smaller Tupperware containers will do the trick.
Dish Soap & Detergent-Some stores will sell liquid soaps in bulk, so you can refill your containers. If this isn't available to you, plastic-free dried soap concentrates can be ordered and mixed in with water effortlessly.
Deodorant- If zero waste deodorant sticks are not available in your local grocery or health food store, you can ask for a special order, or order them yourself online. If you have not used a natural deodorant before and would like to make the transition, it is very much worth the health benefits!
Toothbrushes- While some options are recycled plastic, biodegradable are best. Corn starch, for example, is a material used to make these alternatives and will endure far more teeth cleaning sessions than you would expect.
Dental Floss- Some companies just use cardboard instead of a plastic dispenser. These flosses will be made of cotton or another organic material, not plastic.
Mouth Wash- Make your own! This may sound too inconvenient at first, but consider the money you will save and the plastic you will reduce. By adding simple, yet common ingredients together, you can easily replace this household staple. The internet, as always, is a goldmine for recipes. If this all still sounds like too much work for a busy person like yourself, try chewable mouthwash tablets that come in eco-friendly packaging when the mouthwash your using now runs out. Chew a tablet while rising with water and you won't be able to tell the difference.
Plastics With Continued Use
- Water container/ storage- As we mentioned earlier, single-use water, juice, and soda bottles are the number one contributors to plastic pollution. If you find yourself still purchasing these items, this might be the place you want to clean up first. Everything from soda to water can be purchased in canned form. This can also easily extended to soups and sauces. Water is greatly under-consumed in this country. We highly recommend purchasing a large water storage container and using the excellent and very affordable water filtration systems available at most grocery stores. This will ensure that you save money, reduce plastic, and stay hydrated.
- Detergent containers- Plastic can also be greatly reduced in this department of household maintenance by making your own or buying dissolvable soap squares to mix in with water. If this seems like too much work, just google what is need to make this happen and you will see that the struggle is more so just stepping outside of what you normally do and trying something new. The recipes are so much simpler than you think and in addition to using less plastic, you will save money in the end.
Maintaining Mindfulness Towards Plastic Use & The Environment
Once you become aware of exactly how much plastic is building upon the planet, it becomes harder to turn away from. What matters most is what we do to reduce, reuse, and recycle. By having reusable items on hand, avoiding plastic will become second nature. Everyone will have their thresholds to how much is realistically avoidable, but the effort and commitment we maintain to this cause is what will inevitably lead us to a cleaner world.