Now more than ever plastic is everywhere. From your online orders and the packaging it comes in to the containers that hold your next meal, plastic has unfortunately become a necessity in your everyday life. Plastic materials and the goods made from it have become so common it's hard to envision a world without it. Yet such a commonly used material has caused havoc to our environment. Oceans are filled with entire islands of plastic based materials and landfills in which it will take centuries to break down.
However, there are easy ways in which you can make small adjustments to shrink your dependence on plastics and make a big difference. Below are Foamie’s top ten tips for living a plastic free lifestyle.
Avoid one time use coffee cups
It all starts with your morning routine when it comes to a plastic free lifestyle. Make fresh coffee at home and save on your daily cup of coffee. Plastic one time use coffee pods should be avoided. However you can get a continual reusable coffee pod and fill it with your favorite beans or pods. We found a great one here! This will quickly save you valuable money.
If you are in a rush and don't have time to make coffee at home, simply bring a refillable cup to your favorite coffee establishment, deli or cafe. Most will be more than happy to fill from your cup. However, if they are not, make sure you are purchasing your fresh brew from a shop that uses paper based cups and lids instead of plastic.
Go plastic free: Skip those plastic cups and straws and opt for refillable options.
Plastics have been used in the packaging process for manufacturing bottles and wet goods for decades. It’s well-known that plastic water bottles harm the earth, however they can potentially harm you as well. Plastics are known to contain many nasty chemicals that can be bad for your health. Plastic bottles and packages contain a plethora of unhealthy substances that dissolve into your drink. With time, these substances can have negative effects on your health. Both glass and stainless-steel bottles are fantastic alternatives that provide you with a cleaner, healthier drink.
Wooden cutlery over plastic
Did you know the composition and chemical makeup of your plastic based utensils begin to break down when heated or cooled? For example: What happens with your plastic spoon when you stir a hot soup with it? However, wood single use cutlery is both better for you and the environment.
Wooden materials easily break down in landfills and waterways over time. If you can choose between single use wooden or plastic utensils, choose wood to avoid melamine, micro plastics, and formaldehyde in your food and protect the world around you!
Liquid based conditioners, shampoos, soaps, and body washes are an integral part of our beauty routines and common in the bath. However, these products are typically packaged using plastic based bottles and containers. These plastics end up in landfills and waterways taking hundreds of years to break down. If you must use liquid soap, we suggest switching to a refillable soap dispenser. However, most of the refill solutions still are packaged in plastic.
The best sustainable option is the tried and true soap bar. But did you know they make soap bar based solutions not only for your body but also for your hair? Simply switch to plastic-free shampoo / conditioner bars to avoid using any plastic packaging. FOAMIE products provide some of the best of both worlds; plastic-free body washes, shampoos and conditioners suitable for normal, dry, and damaged hair types.
Buy your groceries in biodegradable glass and paper packaging
It is becoming more and more common for grocery stores to offer at least one brand of household staples like milk and yogurt in glass or sustainable packaging. Next time you go shopping for groceries, be on the lookout for glass and paper containers as well as anything marked as recyclable or sustainable. You will be surprised to learn just how many of your favorite brands and their alternatives are now producing plastic free packaging.
Purchase vegetables, fruits and other produce without packaging
This one should be more obvious than it currently is: In many stores fruits, vegetables and other produce are now being pre-packaged in plastic containers. Additionally it is hard to purchase multiples without placing them into a store supplied plastic bag. During your next visit to a supermarket, look around the produce department– you will be surprised just how much unnecessary, redundant plastic packaging is actually used.
Everything from tomatoes to lettuce carries plastic wrappings in some sort, simply for the sake of convenience. Choose produce that is wrapper free and bring your own reusable bag to store them at checkout.
No single use plastic bags!
It's becoming popular for municipalities to outright ban plastic bags in stores. However, this is not a national mandate so this varies from location to location. Paper bags make for an excellent alternative at the point of purchase.
Additionally, many locations now offer reusable bags for a small fee. Either opt to bring your own or be sure to choose a recyclable alternative. Regular plastic bags do not easily break down in landfills, and pollute both land and sea.
Eat fresh, never frozen! Stay healthy and steer clear of frozen foods.
The frozen food aisle has many household favorites: From frozen pizzas, pre-made pasta dishes, frozen tv dinners, microwaveable goods and other dishes. All these frozen foods have one thing in common – they are packaged in non biodegradable plastic trays and sleeves. Most frozen meals sold are full of sugars, fats, and artificial additives. All ingredients that make for a bad meal for you.
If you find yourself in a hurry and do not feel like cooking, prepping meals for the week can help keep you eating healthy and help the environment. Choose several dishes to avoid meal fatigue and choose one day to get all your meals cooked and ready.
Pay attention to ingredients in cosmetic products
This is a big one! Many do not know this but liquid soaps, face peels, body washes, mascara, lipstick and much more have micro plastics hidden in its ingredients under various names. These tiny particles can be renamed as polyethylene (PE) or poly quaternium (PQ). Liquid synthetic polymers amongst others.
All ingredients that are impossible to naturally break down in the environment. Switching to a solid bar soap instead, for example, can be great for you and the environment. Many hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners are available in bar form as well.
Always remember to pay attention to the ingredients list when buying cosmetics.
In some cases, it is impossible to eliminate plastics altogether. What can make all the difference is simply reusing plastic containers and goods as much as possible. Single use takeout containers for example can be reused as a lunch box for your week of meal prepping. Alternatively, plastic shopping bags can be used as bathroom garbage bags. With a bit of creativity, you can make a big impact.
Every small adjustment you make to your lifestyle in being environmentally conscious makes a difference.