Living a plastic free life doesn’t have to be complicated, you just have to commit to it. With a little preparation, inspiration, and some creativity, living a plastic free lifestyle can be effortless and easy. It doesn’t have to be perfect; after all, switching to sustainable alternatives is a journey and there are multiple different ways to do so.
Learning how to incorporate a new lifestyle change takes practice and time, but as long as you are being more mindful about your decisions you’ll have it down in no time. Reducing your consumption of plastic and swapping for plastic-free alternatives is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to sustainability. You might be asking yourself, “What changes can I make today that will set me up for success in the future?” Here are our top 10 tips for a more plastic free life that you can start doing today.
1. Buy in bulk
This one is one of my favorites. I remember the first time I took my glass mason jar to Earth Fare to use their rice, flour and grains bulk bins. I was ecstatic and felt like a kid in a candy store. Not only could I reduce food waste by controlling how much I wanted, but by using a glass alternative instead of plastic it didn’t have to end up in a landfill. Did you know that disposable containers generated 14.5 million tons of waste in the U.S in 2018?
Bring glass jars with you to the grocery store or your favorite health food store and stock up! You can refill your containers with a wide variety of things from pasta, cereal, fresh peanut butter, olive oil or even dog food. The possibilities are endless. For larger items that can’t fit into your mason jars like fruits and veggies, I recommend bringing a cotton mesh bag so you can ditch the plastic there as well. If you want to know where to shop in bulk in Charlotte, NC, check our sustainable guide here.
2. Swap out disposables
Think of all the single-use plastic disposables in your house that you are going to throw away and end up as pollution after you are done using them. Every room in your house could probably use some improvement of some kind. There’s a wide variety of swaps you can do in the kitchen and bathroom alone. Try swapping out your kitchen sponge for a washable one or a wooden brush. Swap out your plastic toothbrush with a plastic free bamboo option. Replace your paper towels for reusable rags instead or a Swedish cloth.
3. Shop secondhand
Fast fashion and keeping up with the Jones’ is overrated. It’s hard to keep up with what’s seemingly trendy and in style because it changes so rapidly. This is negatively impacting our planet. The fashion industry alone is responsible for 10 percent of global emissions, and by 2030 that number will climb to 50 percent if we keep going at the rate we’re going. Synthetic textiles such as elastane, polyester, nylon, acrylic, polyamide, viscose, spandex, and PVC are the largest source of primary microplastics.
Create your unique style with pre-loved clothes and accessories
There’s no shame in shopping at second hand clothing stores, or even wearing hand-me-down clothes. It extends the life of the clothes, and doesn’t end up in a landfill. There are a lot of different in person second hand stores or you can even shop at an online marketplace if you prefer.
4. Upcycle products before throwing them away
Upcycling is the new recycling! It takes what we already have and creates something of higher value for yourself or others instead of throwing it away. This also encourages a circular economy as well as sustainability because you are using items you already have rather than going out and buying something new.
This means that there are less emissions being produced, less production, less resources, and less environmental impact. Do you have any old starbucks cups laying around? Use them to start your own seedlings. Upcycle your resources and have fun making new things! It most likely will end up costing you less to make it too.
5. DIY Cosmetics / Zero waste beauty
The bottles, tubes, and containers used annually by the cosmetic industry add up to 120 billion units of plastics packaging. Of those 120 billion units of plastic packaging used each year, 70% ends up in landfills.
Creating your own plastic free cosmetics is easier than you think. Have you tried to use Jojoba oil as a make-up remover? That's my favorite way to remove mascara!
But if you don't feel like making your own products, Ekologicall has selected clean and plastic free products like zero waste shampoo bars, eco friendly blush, lip stains. They are easy to use, cost effective, and plastic free. They are better for you and the planet.
6. Swap to a reusable water bottle
Plastic water bottles are cheap, easy and convenient. But there is a ridiculous amount of resources that go into producing, bottling, and shipping those single use bottles. Why not swap for a reusable one? It's one of the easiest things to do and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials. I personally like stainless steel options to keep my drinks cold during the hot summer months. There's even the added benefit of some stores offering a discount to you if you bring your own reusable cup, so be on the lookout or inquire about that option when you're out.
7. Shop at your local farmers market
It's always a good day whenever I can support my local farmer's market. Not only do I get that warm fuzzy feeling from supporting a local business, but I'm also being mindful about my plastic consumption as well. Whenever I go I take my reusable shopping bag with me as well as some cloth wraps for any loose items.
The great thing about shopping at farmers markets? They usually don't have their produce wrapped in plastic, and they also don't have those little plastic stickers on them either. Shopping local also means less emissions due to reduced transportation and money going back to your local economy. It's a win-win situation all around.
8. Plastic free food storage alternatives
Once you've bought your delicious produce at the farmers' market, one of the most difficult part is to keep it fresh as long as possible, without using plastic! Try replacing plastic film with beeswax wrap or bowl covers, even a simple plate over a bowl works great. Glass containers- like mason jars or repurposed pasta sauce jars, can go in the freezer. Did you know that placing your berries in a mason jar in your fridge will make them last twice as long? You'll also keep your vegetable fresh for up to two weeks and more thanks to the Vejibag, an organic cotton vegetable crisper bag made right here in NC.
9. Switch to homemade gift giving
Gift giving is ingrained in almost every aspect of our lives. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, holidays, the list goes on. Personally I love homemade gifts, and there is a wide variety of sustainable plastic free options out there to make for the next occasion in your life. Taking inspiration from tip 5, you could make homemade cosmetics, or even body butter or lotion. The best thing about plastic free gift giving is that you don’t have to worry about the environmental impact. If homemade items aren’t really your thing, you will find several plastic free gift ideas at ekologicall.
10. Make a plastic free kit to keep in your car
Worried about being plastic free on the go? I always kick myself whenever I forget my reusable bags at home. Why not make a plastic free kit that you can keep in the trunk of your car or that you can carry with you when you go out?
You can add as few or as many items as you see fit, but a staple for me is at least one reusable bag, a medium sized mason jar, a cloth napkin or wrap, and depending on the day ahead, reusable cutlery.
With these tips and tricks in hand you'll be off to a great start to living a more sustainable plastic free lifestyle. Have any more tips? Leave them in the comments below.