Plastic is incredibly commonplace. It houses nearly every good that consumers buy, and it’s used for everything from eating and drinking to taking out the trash. Sadly, this creates massive amounts of waste that will never biodegrade on a human time scale. In fact, some plastic waste will never break down at all. The good news is that you can start taking steps today to lead an entirely plastic-free life. Best of all, most efforts to avoid plastic can also make you healthier and more high-energy during the skin-baring and adventurous months of summer.
1. Start Taking Reusable Shopping Bags Everywhere You Go
You may already be in the habit of carrying reusable shopping bags to the grocery store, but make a point of carrying a few for shopping trips to the shoe and department stores as well. Keeping reusable cloth bags in your trunk will ensure that you always have some on hand, even for spur-of-the-moment shopping excursions. Reusable cloth bags can be washed by hand and hung to dry as needed. Moreover, if you buy quality reusable cloth bags, they’ll never have to go into the landfill. If you do a lot of produce shopping, consider carrying a small-sized basket into stores so that you don’t have to use countless plastic produce bags either.
2. Give Up Bottled Water
Stop drinking bottled water at all costs. It’s far too easy to bring potable water everywhere you go, without having to use plastic. More importantly, the thin, low-grade plastic that water is often bottled in has a tendency to quickly degrade. If you’re in the habit of refilling and freezing disposable water bottles, you may be exposing yourself to harmful toxins and bacteria. Investing in a glass or stainless steel water bottle is a quick and inexpensive way to make this change. If you use larger bottles of water for your household water supplies, invest in a water filter instead.
3. Stop Drinking Bottled Juices, Coffees, and Other Ready-Made Beverages
Here is where the health benefits come in. Stop buying bottled juices, smoothies, and mochas on the fly. Nearly all of these beverages are sold in plastic containers. Instead, start making your own juices and blended drinks at home. You can store and carry them in glass jars, stainless steel thermoses, or other reusable containers. This is a change that can help you cut countless, unnecessary calories from your diet, even as you do something that’s undeniably good for the environment. You can double the benefits of these efforts by eliminating frozen convenience foods and any ready-made pantry items that are stored in plastic cartons or bags.
4. Pay Attention to How You’re Packing Your Lunch
Most adults have moved away from lunches that are carried in cheap, plastic baggies to healthier and more refined spreads that are toted in relatively low-cost plastic containers. Bringing your own lunch is a great way to save money, control what you eat, and curb your hunger without feeling guilty. However, once you make the decision to pack your meals on a regular basis, you should invest in stainless steel food containers for lunch. These containers won’t just keep unnecessary waste out of local landfills, but they’ll also keep your food from developing a stale, plastic taste. Unlike plastic, stainless steel containers don’t retain the faint odors of the meals they’ve carried before, and they can last for years, if not decades.
5. Get a Solid Waste Management Strategy Going
Have a plan for managing your household waste without running through an endless number of plastic bags. Not only are plastic bags bad for the environment all by themselves, but sealing biodegradable items in plastic prevents them from naturally and rapidly breaking down. Set up a compost station that relies solely on reusable containers and paper bags, and invest in compostable, recycled, or plant-based garbage bags for your outside waste bin. Throughout the home, line your waste bins with paper bags, or trying going absolutely bag-free in rooms in which doing so makes sense.
6. Spend More for Quality Products That Aren’t Made With Plastic
Companies continue to manufacture plastic products that are harmful to the environment simply because consumers continue to use them. Whether buying a colander or soup ladle for the kitchen, a toothbrush rack, or even a back brush, be willing to spend a bit more for options that aren’t made from plastic. Most of these upgrades will look better, perform better, and last a lot longer.
Small changes that you make today can have a lasting impact on the environment. Although plastic is inexpensive and handy, the drawbacks of widespread plastic use can have centuries-long effects on both the environment and on individual life-qualities. With less plastic in your life, you’ll feel better, and you’ll get infinitely more value from the products that you buy.