12 steps to less Plastic Waste
Plastic – it’s versatile, shiny, super affordable and extremely long-lasting, up to 2.000 years to be exact. Nevertheless, a plastic bag is on average only in use for about 12 minutes before it is ditched. Once celebrated as amazing material for products such as electronic gadgets, kitchen utensils, it now has a bitter aftertaste especially when it comes to plastic packaging. Plastic not only harms our environment but also our own health. Therefore we have enough reasons to reduce its presence in our daily life and move towards less plastic waste.
When you carefully look around in your house, you might become overwhelmed by how much plastic we actually invite into our life. Zero plastic waste is an inspiring concept and hopefully we will all be there one day, but for now reducing our plastic is the first important step to a better future. Here come 12 powerful tips for beginners to produce less plastic waste and free yourself of many harmful consequences.
1. Reusable shopping bags
Luckily countries like Australia, China, Kenya already banned single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and many others implemented laws to reduce the use drastically. But we don’t have to wait for our respective government to make the first step. Show the world that reusable bags totally rock and become one of the pioneers in this movement.
2. Cloth bags for fruits and veggies
Long gone the days you used to take a little plastic bag to weigh out your two peaches in the supermarket, just so that you can then throw it away back at home. Apart from the fact that peaches are so amazingly healthy that you should rather buy a whole box right away, there are also simple plastic-free options. Many organic stores already sell reusable cloth bags for fruits and veggies that are super light and therefore don’t let you pay extra when weighed along with your produce. We used our first batch for almost four years even while traveling the world, since they can be easily washed.
3. Plastic water bottles
I know, the glass bottles are just too heavy to carry home from the supermarket every week. Lucky you, since there are some great water filter systems that can spare you the extra weigh lifting. Sure, you now have to spend a little more time in the gym, but this plastic-free as well as much healthier option is totally worth it. Why healthier? Well, in a lot of countries the tap water as well as bottled water also include harmful substances like flouride, heavy metals and way more. With a good water filter you can make sure to avoid those dangers for your body.
4. Bring you own reusable water bottle or cup
Buying plastic water bottles on the go or stop by your favourite coffee shop and leave with a plastic cup of almond macchiato. These little habits add up and we are leaving behind a big trail of plastic waste on our life’s path. Not only do the reusable cups and water bottles often come with super cool designs, they are keep your green conscious clean as well as our trash bins. We are traveling all over the world with our Kleankanteen bottles, that by design don’t have any piece of plastic on them.
5. Reusable straws
If you have been to the tropics before, you might have also fallen in love with fresh coconut water. Well, we certainly did and I wonder how many litres of this magical liquid we already slurped through our stainless steel straws. If you rather observe your colourful green juice travel through the straw, there are also alternatives made of glass. And for the naturalists among you, bamboo straws are also a friendly option. A little piece of advice though, regularly clean your straws with a brush little brush to make sure it safely endures many litres of your favourite liquids.
6. Bring your own container for leftovers
You love to eat out? Thats totally fine and from an environmental standpoint much better than ordering food which often fill up your plastic bin afterwards with all that plastic packaging. In case you are known for ordering much more than you could possibly eat, bring a food container along so that you can enjoy your leftovers the day after with a clear conscious and an empty plastic bin.
7. Shopping in bulk
They are popping up in many big cities already and in some countries even conventional supermarkets have a specific aisle for them – bulk products. The concept is easy, you just bring your own reusable containers (e.g. glass, steal or alternatively tupperware also works in case you already own it). Then fill in the amount of Brazil nuts, herbal tea, turmeric or soap that you need, weigh and label it. Big advantage for small households and food explorers here – you don’t have to buy a whole package of everything but can take only the smallest amount you need.
Many companies are already integrating sustainable packaging – like using glass bottles for herbs on an organic market or the take-away box for pizza from a raw vegan restaurant in Bali.
8. Cosmetics with less plastic waste
Yes, some bulk food stores do sell shampoo and other body care products without package, you can just fill it in your own reusable bottles. In case you might not have access to such places, there are many great recipes out there to make your own toothpaste, shampoo, makeup or face mask out of natural products. And anyway, many of the products we use are not even necessary for us to be healthy and beautiful, so that some downsizing at first can make your care routine much more simple and the way to a life with less plastic definitely easier. As a rule of thumb, never use anything on your skin that you could not also eat without any concern.
9. Reusable Cloth diapers
Since we don’t have any kids yet, we can not share any experience with cloth diapers. But I do know how much waste the conventional ones produce as well as how pricy they can be. Do some research and the idea of cloth diapers might become a great alternative for you. Many people are already doing it successfully and enjoy their benefits. To go even further, some parents also keep their offsprings without any diapers and for many it works out fine – research all the great alternatives!
10. Waste free menstruation
It’s time to take women’s care to the next level – menstruation cups. They are not only environmental friendly but also contribute to much less vaginal dryness as well as toxic exposure in women’s sensible parts. Despite my first resignation to such a new method, I now use such a cup for about two years and am totally convinced.
11. Conscious buying decisions
I believe we all want to be good to mother earth but often our automated daily processes get in the way of treating her with more respect. The focus here is on making decisions consciously – when we buy candies that are all separately packed in plastic, submit a big order of clothes from our favourite online store, get food delivered wrapped in several bags and boxes of plastic and more. If we start to look at our regular habits and reevaluate their necessity and environmental impact, we can begin to make new choices that are much more aligned with our true values.
12. Repairing instead of buying new
You bag has a little hole? Your head lamp is not working properly anymore? You don’t have to be super handy to repair your stuff, sometimes a simple needle and some yarn can do the job, sometimes an expert at a repair station can help you out. Any way, youtube has your back if you want to go full handyman. This option is so much more budget-friendly and you get to value your things much more. Another extra tip to make this easier for you – buy quality products right at the first time so that you don’t need to send your blender for repair every other month and your shoes will be strong enough to go the extra mile with you.
Our own journey with less plastic waste
One year before we went on our travel journey, a zero waste store opened in our home town and we were crazily happy about it. With great options in reducing plastic waste and most of the above mentioned steps we lived almost completely plastic free. But of course after we started travelling it was not so easy anymore and sometimes you have to make some compromises. For example, when it comes to organic vegetables vs. plastic free conventional produce we would always go for the organic options.
Now, are you excited to set up your life for less plastic waste? Or just super overwhelmed by all the waste that is still filling your trash bins? Don’t stress yourself out over every little piece of rubbish in your life. One new, more conscious decision at a time can totally transform your life in the long run. This can be an exciting journey and not only lead to a cleaner environment but also a more minimal and natural life for you. Enjoy the adventure!