The smallest things can make the biggest difference, especially when it comes to the environment.
Plastic pollution is one of the major causes of environmental degradation in the world. It’s speeding up global warming and is killing our nature. Yes, it is versatile and easy to produce, but it literally takes centuries to decompose, leading to an accumulation of waste in our landfills and seas.
Being conscious about your use of plastics is now easier than ever. It is simply a matter of making some simple lifestyle changes and can be done by people of all ages – from little kids to the elderly.
It starts with being conscious about your practices and accepting that there are now more sustainable ways of enjoying the same luxuries you already have.
So here are 12 simple practices to reduce your consumption of plastic waste and help you and your family to enjoy a more sustainable life.
Let’s start with a bathroom essential. Most of your household plastic waste comes from plastic packaging – using shower gel, body wash, and shampoo, for example, with their plastic bottles.
Switching to a bar soap is one step that would result to big changes. Make sure to get soap bars that are wrapped in eco-friendly packaging, like paper, rather than plastic.
If you’re also planning to make the switch to completely plastic-free shampoo bars, check out the ones from Lush. Each bar is made to last around 60-90 days, saving you money as you, in turn, save the environment.
While good oral hygiene practice entails changing toothbrushes every 3-4 weeks, changing your plastic toothbrushes often means more of them will end up in landfills. Did you know that each plastic toothbrush takes up to 400 years to decompose?
Avoid this by switching to bamboo toothbrushes. Their handle is decomposable, which means that you won’t be contributing to the problem of plastic pollution just because you maintain good oral hygiene.
Finding a bamboo toothbrush is easy: just make sure that you get those with biodegradable nylon-4 bristles so you don’t break the habit of reducing your plastic waste.
Single-use plastic utensils may be easily available and convenient, but they also contribute to the plastic waste polluting our environment.
Keeping reusable utensil sets handy, like the Bare Vida reusable bamboo utensil set, means you get the convenience of plastic utensils but you also save the environment.
They’re ethically made in Bali and are coated with food-approved varnish so they can be reused over and over again. This makes you and your family ready, especially while you’re traveling, to eat whenever, wherever, in an eco-friendly way.
Plastic straws are one of the worst offenders for plastic pollution because they are too small to be recycled. From our smoothies and shakes, these non-biodegradable straws end up floating in the ocean and harming our marine life.
A really easy swap is turning to reusable bamboo straws instead. These reusable bamboo straw sets are 100% plastic-free – even the straw cleaner is made out of coconut husks – making them your ultimate eco-friendly, zero-waste partner in crime.
They also make a great present for kids as you can educate them on the importance of reducing waste in order to create a better future for themselves.
Making toothpaste at home is remarkably easy. It’s cheaper, and you end up staying away from the plastic tubes that toothpastes come in.
Just mix together the following ingredients in a bowl:
To use, apply 1 tsp of the mixture to your toothbrush and brush away. To prevent it from melting, make sure to store it in a cool, dry place.
Good oral hygiene isn’t complete without using mouthwash. With this easy recipe, you can say goodbye to plastic-bottled mouthwash brands too.
This recipe comes from the amazing @kb.abode. Just mix together the following:
Now say hello to guilt-free fresh breath!
The average person in America uses 100 rolls of toilet paper every year, contributing to a lot of unnecessary plastic. This is especially true when buying just one roll in its standard plastic packaging, which will be immediately thrown away.
Shop from online brands that don’t just offer toilet paper made from recycled materials, but also ships through eco-friendly ways.
The brand “Who Gives a Crap” offers two types of toilet paper: one made from bamboo and the other made of recycled paper. They ship in boxes, so they don’t use any plastic at all. Plus, they donate 50% of their profits to provide toilets for third world countries.
Wrapping your food in plastic is not only costly to the environment, but chemicals can also seep into your food. When it comes to wrapping your kids’ or grandkids’ packed lunch, it’s no surprise that so many people want a much safer and more environment-friendly alternative.
Say hello to reusable beeswax wraps. Made from cotton covered in beeswax, these wraps keep the air out and have antibacterial properties that help keep your food fresh.
These wraps can last up to a year and can be molded around any food using the warmth of your hands. The batik patterns also make them a fun alternative to plastic wrap and provide a sustainable way to enjoy your food to-go.
About 1 million plastic bottles are used every single minute around the world, and almost 20,000 plastic bottles are produced every second.
Investing in a reusable bottle will therefore make a huge impact in lessening plastic waste.
Chilly’s have reusable bottles that are not only sturdy but also keep your drink cold or hot, and come in different colorful designs. The collapsible Hydrapak bottle is another neat product, which folds so it doesn’t take up too much space in your bag.
When at home, use normal glasses and avoid purchasing water bottles. Most communities in America have simple filtration systems which means that good water is readily available – there’s no real need to purchase heaps of plastic bottles for household use.
Did you know that your favorite cup of afternoon tea contains plastic in the lining of the tea bags?
The UK produces 6 million cups of brewed tea every year, making the plastic in the tea bags add up to 150 tons of polypropylene being produced every year.
You can reduce this without missing your favorite cup by using loose leaf tea instead. You can also reuse the loose leaves and brew a second cup, so it doesn’t have to be too costly.
If you’re an herbal tea fan, you can try using fresh herbs and spices. You can replace your lemon and ginger tea bags with fresh ginger and squeezing some lemon in hot water. There is a variety of tea options, the ingredients of which can be easily found in your kitchen or garden.
Your go-to breakfast drink might be adding plastic waste too. If you buy it outside, chances are you’ll get a plastic lid, and the coffee itself may well be stored in a bag containing plastic to keep it sealed airtight.
Good news is, you can invest in plastic-free French Presses like this one. You can grind the beans by yourself too, then keep them fresh by storing them in glass jars. Coffee made at home is the best because you cater the strength and flavor to your own tastes, and you end up reducing the waste as well.
Large grocery stores and supermarkets use a lot of unnecessary plastic, especially in their fresh produce section. With the scale of their operation, they also have a very high carbon footprint.
A trip to your local market is the best way to avoid contributing to unnecessary plastic usage of the food industry. Farmers from these markets plant their own produce, take care of them, pick them and hand-pack them in paper bags.
The produce is fresher, tastier, cheaper, and more eco-friendly. And don’t forget to take your own reusable bags too!
With all these new trends popping up on the different ways to become eco-friendly – trends that did not exist just a few years back – it’s hard to think that these small things matter. Does the effort of one person really matter that much?
Yes, it does. These small changes add up, and if we all do these little tweaks to our everyday routine, the impact would be huge.
These are just a few simple practices to live a more sustainable life. Saving the environment is not about being ‘hip’ or ‘new age’ – it is the responsibility of every single one of us.
The world can’t change overnight, but with these simple acts of sustainability, we can be a part of the solution, ensuring a better and more sustainable future for the next generations.
What do you do to reduce your waste? Which practices do you think you can readily implement in your daily routine? Please share any other tips that can help us reduce the waste on our planet.