You’ve no doubt seen the powerful images of the Global Climate Strike, where activists marched through their hometowns and called upon governments to make positive changes for the planet. You may have been inspired by Greta Thunberg’s speech to world leaders, begging them to make impactful change for the future. I know you’re already implementing as many eco-friendly changes into your life as you can because you’re a #greengoddess, but you’re always down to learn more, right? I could write a mammoth article about how to minimize your impact on the planet, but let’s be honest: nobody’s got the time or brain bandwidth to remember all these things. No fear though, because eco-friendly changes are more impactful when you focus on one thing at a time. So plastic, we’re coming for you. Being eco-friendly has gone far beyond the feel-good, half-efforts of the past. Research has shown that some initial efforts, such as the cheap, reusable tote bags from the grocery store can actually be more harmful to the planet than paper. Articles like this show us that we need to get serious about our changes and make sure they make more of a positive impact than a negative one. I’d also like to point out that to achieve this eco-friendly world we need to be willing to take the journey. We will make mistakes, we will sometimes hop in an Uber instead of walking because #rain, and sometimes we’ll forget our cloth grocery bags and be forced to carry the plastic bag of shame. You’re not perfect, and neither am I, so let’s try to help each other along this ride, OK? So let’s start with how to de-plastic our home life.
1. Grocery store culprits
This is what inspired this article. As someone who goes to her local bulk foods store to refill her glass jars instead of buying new, I was amazed at how much plastic I was still bringing home through my other groceries, like veggies, bread, and eggs. The ultimate solution to overly packaged produce (why are bananas wrapped in plastic?) is to shop at your local farmer’s market, where almost everything is sans plastic and you’re expected to bring your own (durable, well-made) canvas tote. If the grocery store is your only option, opt for loose veggies and fruits instead of those already wrapped in bags, bakery fresh breads instead of prepackaged ones, and hit the bulk section for grains, nuts, and spices.
2. Give up on bottled water and to-go coffees right now
Like, today. This is by far the simplest change to make, and a chic one at that. If you don’t have a reusable water bottle and coffee thermos — my favorite company for both is Hydro Flask — buy them now. A sobering 91 percent of plastic is not recycled, according to National Geographic, so quit adding to this pile with unnecessary drinking vessels. Many coffee shops give discounts when you bring your own cup, and with apps like Tap, you can find places to refill your water bottle anywhere. https://www.instagram.com/p/B3aPtbXFcZh/
3. Pack your own eating out kit
It’s like you’re camping all the time — fun right?! How many single-use plastic sporks, mini packets of ketchup, and straws do you have from takeout? Not only are they annoying (where do you put them?), but they are unnecessary. Find a simple, multi-use utensil (Light My Fire Spork is pretty great), reusable napkin, and to-go container to cover your bases next time you order out. Many places will even allow you to take your items home in your own container if you call ahead and explain what you’d like to do.
4. Bar soap instead of pump bottles
Here’s a super easy win: swap out all your pumpable soap bottles for bars. To go an extra step in your kitchen, fill reusable glass jars with dishwashing soap from bulk buy stores for another squeaky clean green win.
As if periods weren’t annoying enough, we now need to confront just how harmful this monthly visitor can be to the planet. Luckily, companies like The Flex Company and DivaCup have made switching from tampons and pads to menstrual cups seriously easy. According to One Million Women, the average menstruating person will use 9,600 single-use feminine hygiene products in their lifetime… or a single menstrual cup for about five years. The math is easy. https://www.instagram.com/p/B3Xsmr-Bmwz/
6. Plastic-free shower
Swapping out shampoos, conditioners, and bath soaps has never been easier now that bars are in. Companies like LUSH have created a whole variety of products suitable for any hair type and are all delicious smelling. Bars like these not only reduce plastic waste, but are also very plane-friendly, as they don’t need to comply with TSA’s liquids rules.
7. Pearly whites
Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one and your regular toothpaste for tabs or powder for a serious step up in the bathroom. Some bamboo toothbrushes are even compostable, so look out for those!
8. Swapping your razor
Refillable plastic razors can be a single-use nightmare. Oftentimes, the blades dull far too quickly, the plastic handheld pieces don’t last as long as they should, and the whole thing crumbles. Swapping these for a stainless steel razor is an initial investment, but one certainly worth it for a piece that’ll last. The Package Free Shop stocks some hearty versions here. Eliminating plastics from your life won’t happen overnight. I find it easier to make changes when I focus on one room of my house at a time, and this might be a good option for you too. Small changes are far better than no changes, so strap on your green thinking cap and start tackling those plastic culprits in your life!