A part of my minimalist journey has been focusing on going a step further in reducing my plastic consumption. I have been actively reducing my usage of plastic bags, single-use water bottles, and other plastics since I was in high school, but I wanted to take it a step further. We use way too much plastic and we use it without even thinking twice about it all. It’s just become second nature to just buy plastic products and take without thinking. So because I have been working to reduce plastic in my life, I decided that I wanted to take it to the next level by thinking about those items that we don’t often consider swapping out. Below you’ll find those items that I have now cut from my life that typically have always been plastic. Basically, I want this earth to be more beautiful for my children than it was when I was a child. Realistically, that will not be the case but I can do everything in my power to make it happen. At this point, there’s more plastic in the sea than fish which is heartbreaking and it’s not going to go away unless we physically remove it because as we all know, plastic doesn’t biodegrade. Okay, it does but not in your or your child’s or your grandchild’s lifetime. So here are the things I’m avoiding or changing to reduce my plastic consumption.
Just a quick note before we get to our plastic swap list, I included links to these products on each of the pictures and throughout my article so you can easily find my recommended alternatives. These links are also Amazon affiliate links, which means I do receive a small income if anything is purchased but I am never told what to include or not to include. I do not work with any of these companies. I have specifically chosen my favorite brands to share and ones that I have purchased in the past.
Drop the straw
Disposable straws are one of the most worthless items and so incredibly damaging to the earth. The amount of resources that goes into making a straw that’s only going to be used for maybe 20 minutes is not worth it. The worst thing is that its second nature to just grab for them. This was my problem too so to make sure that I stopped grabbing for them, I started carrying metal and glass reusable straws with me. They are so cheap to purchase online and you won’t be depriving yourself. It’s an easy swap!
I never quite understood why we bag our fruit in the grocery store. Is it because your stuff will be laying around in your cart, is it because of germs? I just don’t get it so I don’t use plastic bags for any of my produce. I actually went out and purchased mesh bags to stuff in my reusable grocery bags to use for my produce instead, they also were super cheap to get and they’re machine washable. If I do happen to forget them, then my produce is just going into my cart and yes on the conveyer belt at checkout. Maybe that’s gross but random hands touch your produce anyway so you should be washing it all when you get home. Click on this link or the picture below to check out my go-to bags!
You know something is wrong when the inventor of something regrets their invention, especially one that made them tons of money. Here’s the deal Keurig sells billions of k-cups a year and they’re not compostable or recyclable, plus they’re made of plastic which is something we need to avoid. The inventor of k-cups and the Keurig has even gone out of his way to draft up plans and new ways to make the k-cups but the company doesn’t care since it’ll decrease their profit margin. They did say that they’ll start moving in a more environmentally friendly direction but even the newer recyclable third party k-cups aren’t exactly green. Think about it, yes they may be recyclable but most likely people who are using this convenience of single serve coffee will not actually be recycling the cups, so to make them green, they really need to be compostable. Billions are sold, billions are filling up landfills. If you line up k-cups one by one over 12 times (back in like 2015). In my opinion, I will never purchase a Keurig even though you can buy third-party reusable pods that you can fill up with coffee grounds. My reasoning is that this company could not care any less about the environment and with their lack of true action, I’m not going to put my money into their hands. Yes, I’m one person and it probably doesn’t impact much but I like to vote with my money.
I know growing up I used to go through these bags like crazy, especially when I was in high school and college when I was dragging fruit and snacks around with me. If I had a kid I’m sure I would still be using them like crazy. So here’s the thing, you need to move away from single-use items, especially single-use items that are plastic. What’s a little better and good to know is that Ziploc brand bags are recyclable. So if you’re not ready to give up Ziploc bags, all you need to do to recycle them is to clean them out, dry them and bring them to any grocery store that recycles plastic shopping bags. You can just drop them in the bin there and you’re done. Now I still use ziploc style bags but they’re reusable. Yes, it’s another thing to clean but I’m okay with that. There’s one brand of reusable bags that I absolutely love and I’ll be sure to link the information below. These bags are made from recycled plastics and are FDA-grade PEVA blend which is food safe and free of both BPA and lead. One reusable bag replaces at least 300 single-use bags and the company is a Certified B Corporation. You can freeze these bags, and put just about anything in them. I’ve actually used them for holding my liquids while flying. By the way, you can actually see me using these bags in this post here.
Here’s another kitchen item that you may not have thought about; plastic wrap. We have almost entirely moved away from plastic wrap in our home. We have one box of it and we’ve had it for 3 years so far. Once we run out, I do not plan on replacing it. So the alternatives that I’ve been mainly my pyrex containers. They’re glass containers that you can cook with and put into the freezer, multipurpose is always fantastic. There’s also two other options: bee’s wax wraps and silicone stretch lids. Bee’s wax wraps are basically cotton muslin, that is coated in beeswax and different food safe ingredients that can be reused is malleable and creates a seal. The silicone stretch lids, basically just stretch over the top of your bowl or cup creating a seal and is reusable. We use plastic wrap purely for storing meat in the freezer, once we do run out we’ll be switching to butcher or freezer paper. If we’re not too into how that works then we’ll be buying the bee’s wax wraps.
First, it’s not the best to store your food in any kind of plastic but my problem with plastic containers is that they’re very cheaply made. You use the container a few times and then one day it breaks, well, they are not recyclable. Now it’s going to go into a landfill. We switched out all of our plastic containers for pyrex containers. They’re glass and multifunctional. They are a little expensive but I will back them 100%, I have had my one set of pyrex since undergrad (about 6 years now) and I have never broken one. I drop them on my floor all the time and not once have they shattered. They’re durable, they’re the perfect sizes, they nest within each other including their lids and they’re made of glass. You can’t beat that. I tried to find my exact nesting pyrex set on amazon but I couldn’t find it so I would check your local target where I purchased mine!
This is an easy one, replace plastic bags with reusable ones. One thing that I recently realized was that I associated my reusable grocery bags with the grocery store, in other words when I went to Target, I didn’t bring them with me. It’s really odd that I didn’t realize this until recently. In order to help me with this, I now always keep extra bags in my car and if I don’t have them with me then you better believe that I’m throwing everything back into the cart and just tossing it all into the back of my car.
The American Dental Association recommends that you change your toothbrush out every three months. 98% of the toothbrushes at stores are all plastic which means they’re getting tossed into the trash and straight to a landfill. This week I switched out my toothbrush to a plain bamboo one. No it’s not fancy but it works just as well. I swear all those fancy toothbrushes don’t actually do anything additional, it’s just to sell you more expensive plastic things. Switching to a bamboo toothbrush is preferred though because when you do throw it away it’ll biodegrade. Now one note, not all bamboo toothbrushes are the same. Some utilize nylon bristles which do not biodegrade but it can by recycled, look for bristles made of charcoal enhanced bamboo bristles or just anything that doesn’t use polyester or nylon. If you get the charcoal nylon bristles you can always remove the bristles, recycle them and then the actual toothbrush is now 100% biodegradable.
When I first got my apartment I started getting kitchen supplies and I noticed that there is an overabundance of kitchen gadgets and supplies that are ALL plastic. If I didn’t have such an affinity for wooden spoons I’m sure I would have purchased the plastic stuff without thinking. So my recommendation for you here is to buy sustainably sourced wooden kitchen supplies, you can actually find quite a bit that are also fair trade. You may have to oil them every so often if you buy real quality ones but otherwise just wash and dry them. I also recommend just double thinking about what you really need in your kitchen. Do you really need that corn-cobber or plastic garlic mincer? This is also a practice in minimalism. Instead of buying a bunch of gadgets, invest in a quality kitchen knife.
When I was in high school and college, I was all about reusable water bottles. Plus our college campus made a commitment to not sell bottled water so we had so many water bottle filling stations. But the biggest mistake I made was having so many PLASTIC reusable bottles. You’re not doing the earth any service if you keep buying more and more reusable plastic bottles. I had a really weird obsession with getting fun ones. Now I’ve switched entirely over to glass and metal reusable bottles. I also use either glass or metal reusable mugs for my morning coffee. In an effort to make sure that I don’t use water bottles, I keep a reusable bottle in my car, one at my office and one with me at home. It’s just a better way to keep myself accountable. If you only have a plastic reusable bottle, no worries! You’re still keeping countless plastic bottles from filling up landfills and polluting our earth.
Plastic cutlery & stirrers
This should go under kitchen supplies but I wanted to make it, it’s own category. When we go out to eat at the mall or even when we get take out for work we typically get plastic cutlery as well. A really simple way to avoid using that unnecessary plastic it to get a reusable bamboo fork, knife, and spoon with a little case. I have one and I just keep it in my purse so it’s always there. Yes, I do bring it home to clean but I also keep sanitizing wipes and spray in my purse just in case(of anything).
This one depresses me. Glitter is the worst, microplastic is the reason why there’s more plastic in the ocean than fish. Think about it, microplastics get into the ocean, fish eat it thinking it’s plankton and other food and then we catch the fish and eat it. That’s not good. Back to glitter though, I love love love glitter, and I hate to list it here but it is a problem. I’ve started to avoid it and I know that’s hard especially if you have kids and around the holidays but you have the option of buying eco-friendly glitter which is made from plant cellulose.
Tell me, what are some of your favorite eco-friendly products or ways that you avoid using plastic.