It seems most everywhere we look there is an overwhelming amount of plastic. From the packaging of the food we eat, holding the water we need to sustain ourselves, or virtually any other container imaginable; I felt like plastic was everywhere and I couldn’t escape. I decided I wanted to make a change, but felt like no matter what difference I could try to make it would never be enough. I figured cutting out plastic completely would be pretty much impossible, but why not do some easy swaps where I could? These were my top 5 easiest ways I was able to reduce my plastic use pretty much overnight.
Bring Your Own Bags
Bringing a reusable bag proved to be one of the easiest switches I have made so far! Simply turning down a plastic bag for single item purchases, and requesting no bag for leftovers when you go out to eat will have you saving plastic left and right. By having about 8-10 reusable bags, you should be able to make even the largest grocery hall and with bags to spare. A great way to store all these bags is by keeping them in a large hot/cold bag in the trunk of the car. Additionally, by keeping them in the car, opposed to trying to just remember to bring them places straight from home, you won't be forced to use plastic when you take an unexpected trip to the mall or grocery store.
Water Filter & Reusable Bottle
I’ll be the first to admit, I loved the convenience of a plastic water bottle. They fit in your fridge, you can buy them virtually anywhere, and if you accidentally leave one somewhere it is no big deal. I thought one a day really couldn’t be that bad, until I learned that out of the 50 billion [plastic] bottles used every year that 80% of them end up in the landfill. I felt a sense of guilt for having contributed to this number, no matter how small my contribution may have been. That, along with the health negatives associated with plastic bottles was enough to get me on the reusable water bottle chain. Not only did an insulated water bottle and water filter pay for themselves in no time, I also found myself drinking more water since I could consistently have the water temperature I like.
This may seem like a given, seeing as though a reusable water bottle had quickly become a niche in my everyday life, but it took a little getting used to for beverages besides water. The hardest part was remembering to bring a cup with me. It took some thought and planning every day, but after a couple of weeks I got so good at remembering, I was able to start matching my mugs and/or tumblers to my outfit; a tad over the top I know, but I sort of love it. Bonus Tip: I keep a small basket in the back seat of my car with emergency supplies, adding a reusable cup took up virtually no extra space and has come in handy countless times.
While many cities offer convenient recycling bins, there are one thing these bins don’t cover, and that’s plastic straws. The more I paid attention, the more I noticed that straws are pretty much everywhere. I started carrying a few reusable straws in my purse or backpack. Now, when I go out to eat I just request no straw, businesses don’t seem to mind – after all, it is saving them product and in turn cutting down expense. When I forget my straw, I found I get used to going without one in about 5 minutes or less. I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference until I realized I had only used about 3 disposable straws in the past 3 months, down from an average of about 1.6 per day.
Switching to Bar Soaps
I jumped all in and brought in bar shampoo and bar conditioner into my hair washing routine. By alternating between bars and the products I already had under the sink, I could see a noticeable change in my plastic usage. This one may not be for everyone, but one switch everyone can do is making the switch to bar soap for hand washing. There is actually a number of benefits to using bar soap as opposed to liquid soap from a plastic pump, too. Bar soaps are also a great way to support local and/or small businesses; at Grey Design we work with an all-natural vendor here in Phoenix to bring our customers safe and quality products using traditional soap making techniques. I like to use our California Coast as my main hand soap, and Naked as my body wash. Dahlia is my favorite soap to use for my face and my go-to gift idea. Bonus Tip: I like microwave my soaps for about 10 seconds then cut them in half or even thirds to make them last a little longer before I use them in the shower.
Trying to go completely plastic free can be difficult and overwhelming. But by making small, conscious choices every day we can all make a difference in reducing our waste. I'll admit, some are a tad over the top, and it takes some getting use to, but the impact you're making is more than worth it.