5 Quick & Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use
Posted on August 29 2018
Updated: July 2019
You may have noticed the hashtag #plasticfreeJuly popping up all over social media last month. Many of the eco and sustainable brands, companies, bloggers, etc. jumped on board to intensify the focus on the problem with plastic and suggest ways to reduce our use of it.
So what is the problem with plastic? For one, it isn't biodegradable. It hangs around for hundreds of years and, sadly, has also made its way into the world's oceans. In fact, over 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the world's oceans each year, killing 100,000 sea animals along with it. Blech.
The other big problem? Well, how we use it is the big problem. A high percentage of the plastic we use is single use (like almost half!).--the stuff we use once before throwing it out (straws, plastic water bottles, disposable utensils, beverage cups, wipes, produce bags, etc.).
While we commend those who went completely plastic free for that month, we chose to use the month to focus more on plastic reduction rather than attempt to go plastic free. We believe every little bit helps and we personally felt trying to make that change would be akin to someone who's never ran before deciding to start with a marathon. So we're starting with a 5k.
Interested in training with us? Here are 5 easy ways to reduce your plastic use. One for each kilometre. ;)
1. DITCH THE PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES
We admit, this one takes some planning, but once you get into the habit, you'll find that you seldom leave your house without your water bottle in tow. For years, our kids have been walking the talk on this one and only use reusable water bottles at school, so we figured it's about time we follow suit. The key for us was investing in a high quality water bottle that would keep our water cold and not leak! There are so many choices out there, but we're still partial to S'well bottles, as they work just so darned (s)well and have so many swoon worthy designs (true story: it took our founder Christine more than 3 months to finally commit to one design).
Bonus if you're in the GTA: the Quench app will tell you exactly where you can refill your bottle for free!
2. PAPER OR PLASTIC? COTTON PLEASE!
You know what makes it wayyyyy easier to bring along your water bottle? A good tote bag. Toting around a tote (clearly the perfect name) has been a game changer. Not only is it a handy place to store all of our non-plastic, reusable goods, but also it holds any impromptu purchases we make when we're out and about allowing us to say no to plastic bags at the checkout. You know what else the tote can carry? That's right, your water bottle!
3. USE STRAWS THAT SUCK AND NOT STRAWS THAT SUCK
Although some argue that the gesture of major brands to ban straws is more about them capitalizing on the plastic-free trend with minimal effort, it's still a step in the right direction and one we applaud. But sometimes we still need a straw (anyone with a toddler can pick up what we're saying, right?) or maybe you just prefer a straw. Kama Money, Canadian super mama behind Ethigal blog, agrees: "I will also only drink my morning green smoothies through a straw and didn't want to create more waste with disposable ones". Money ended up purchasing metal ones through Norwex, and hasn't looked back, "I use them every day and love them!" We've also been intrigued with other options such as Bow Valley Straws that are made of glass! They are shatter/break resistant and, since they're clear, you're never left wondering whether or not they're clean.
4. GET RID OF THE CLING ON IN YOUR LIFE
We all want to keep our food fresh, especially if it's leftovers or cut up fruit and vegetables, but it's time we ended our love affair with cling wrap. Cling wrap is not recyclable and not biodegradable and is single use, so it's a big plastic waste culprit. We've been thinking of creative ways to store leftovers with items already in our kitchen (glass containers with snap lids and upside down plates over bowls), but we've also become a big convert of beeswax food wraps like Etee, which are handmade in Canada.
Tip: You can use regular soap and water to clean them (and then hang to dry), but make sure your dish soap is alcohol-free, as your wraps will then break down much faster.
5. TIME TO BULK UP
Did you know many of the places you can buy in bulk now let you bring your own reusable container? In fact, Zero Waste Home has a bulk finder app to help point you in the right direction. One of our good pals, Hemma Vara from The Good Trend in New Zealand, suggests going "to a bin inn/refillery to purchase pantry staples and use jars (pasta, grains etc)". Not only will it save you money, but it reduces all of the recyclable packaging we use that isn't always recycled (sadly, even if we recycle it, far too much of it still ends up in the landfill).
There you have it, five easy fixes that will help you reach that 5k! A few additional points to help you in your training:
- Even if you don't have your reusable straws on hand, remember to ask for no straw when you order at restaurants
- If you have a tote on hand, but that speedy cashier has already put your purchase in a plastic bag, don't be shy! Just tell them that you don't need the bag and ask that they take the bag back.
- Speaking of packing in plastic, don't hesitate to reach out to online retailers and ask them not to send your orders in plastic (psst--we never do!)
Good luck with the training! Keep us updated.