Reduce plastic in your home
The boys and I watched Plastic Paradise, a documentary about the environmental impact of plastics, and it really inspired us to make some changes, like replacing the single use plastic items. I consider myself a “Green Mama”, and I don’t take our family’s impact on the environment lightly. Watching Plastic Paradise, I learned that plastics don’t ever break down entirely, they just get smaller and smaller. Microplastics (plastic pieces that are so small you can’t see them without a microscope) have been accumulating in marine waters and big lakes around the globe, even in the Arctic.
According to a 2015 study, 95% of the microplastics sampled were fibers, indicating they were broken down pieces of larger plastic items. (SOURCE) These pieces are a huge problem. Tiny fish are eating the bits of plastic, then bigger fish eat the tiny fish… and so on up the food chain, and that does not exclude humans. Even coral are consuming the plastics, which is contributing to the death of the reefs. Essentially, plastics have a massive negative impact on the earth. (SOURCE)
“Large pieces of plastic can strangle animals such as seals, while smaller pieces are ingested by fish and then travel up the food chain, all the way to humans.” – Oliver Milman, The Guardian
Another study concluded that plastics are clearly leeching phthalates and UV stabilizers into oceans and other bodies of water. (SOURCE)
For these reasons, we have decided to eliminate the single-use plastics from our home. It has been easy to replace plastic food storage containers with glass ones, but single use plastics make life so convenient, they are hard to give up!
Here are 5 ways to reduce plastic in your home:
Replace bottled water with reusable glass bottles.
I know when you’re on a road trip, or out at a ball game, and you get thirsty, the healthiest option is buying a bottle of water. The problem is that it actually takes more water to MAKE the bottle, than is in it! Not to mention, the plastic being an issue for the environment, and our health (due to the leeching toxins). Whenever possible, bring your own water bottles, made with stainless steel or glass.
And please, don’t buy single use, single serve bottles for your home. Even single serve bottles of juice or hydration drinks can be replaced by making your own. I’ve been able to satisfy my husband’s Gatorade addiction with Performance. It’s a natural hydration drink, with no artificial colors or flavors. It’s a powder that comes in a tub, and we make a pitcher or a single serving at a time. Better for the earth, and my wallet!
The bottles in the photo below, from LifeFactory, have a silicone sleeve and are BPA/BPS-free with no phthalates, PVC, or polycarbonates. (I LOVE the green!) With glass bottles, there’s no plastic or metal taste, like you get with reusable plastic or stainless bottles. Although, I do use stainless in the boys’ lunch boxes. No reason to temp fate!
WHERE TO BUY
Replace plastic baggies with reusable cloth baggies.
There’s a fantastic assortment available on Amazon. I absolutely love the ones we have. They are great for snacks or sandwiches, and go right into the laundry. Watch out for the ones with a plastic lining or coating, they can’t go in the washing machine. We have a couple like that and they end up being far less convenient.
WHERE TO BUY
Replace plastic straws with glass or stainless
Straws were the hardest for us to give up. Both the boys, and me, are addicted to using straws in our drinks. I debated whether to get glass or stainless to try, and decided to try some durable glass. I was worried the steel would be too cold on our lips, and might taste funny. I love love love our glass straws from Hummingbird! They are really durable and strong, like Pyrex. We’ve dropped them on the slate tile floor and still no chips or cracks! They are a bit thicker than normal straws, so it took a little time to get used to the different feel in our mouths, but not long. They are very easy to clean, and come with their own little brush.
I got the clear bent ones, shown on the left, but you can get straight ones in fun colors too.
Replace plastic grocery bags with reusable fabric totes
This one is easy, as long as you remember to bring the bags with you when you go shopping! I try to keep a bunch in the car so I always have them. Any bag with a plastic coating, or vinyl lining, will ultimately contribute to the problem of too much plastic on the earth. So please look for organic cotton bags, like the ones in the photo below. The inner pockets in these are awesome!
Replace regular cleaning products with concentrates.
Concentrates will save you money and reduce plastic use, because you buy one bottle of concentrate and one empty spray bottle and both should, ideally, last for years! Some concentrates can be reconstituted with different amounts of water, to make several different types of cleaners like window/stainless, all purpose spray, and degreaser… all from one single bottle of concentrate! This helps reduce the amount of products in your cleaning cupboard too, which is a huge plus for me!
Our fave is Basic H2, which works better than Windex, Formula 409, and is even greener and cheaper than cleaning with vinegar! (One bottle of concentrate makes 48 gallons of all purpose cleaner. You’d need 22 gallons of vinegar, which ends up being a lot more plastic to recycle!)
I hope these options inspire you to get some single use plastics out of your home, if you haven’t already.