Sunday, April 22, 2018

Simple Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Usage

Have you seen a documentary on the amount of plastic in our oceans? How there are animals dying because their stomachs are unable to digest the mass amounts of man-made materials? How the chemicals in the plastic bioaccumulate in the food that we eat? We recently watched A Plastic Ocean on Netflix and I encouraged the kids to watch along because they need to know about the world that they are living in. If you need a shorter article and video, this one is a good summary.

It can feel overwhelming when you look at the vast amount of pollution from our plastics but we can make noticeable changes for our future generations. Here are just a few examples that are simple and have very little cost involved:

How to reduce our plastic usage: 

1. Diva Cup and Cloth Pads/Liners
Maybe a risky one to start with as it can seem very "out there". Feminine products for menstruation create a lot of waste. Several years ago I started using the Diva Cup and my only regret is that I did not use it earlier. It is beneficial because it is reusable, holds more fluid than a tampon and ends up saving you money in the end.

Reduce waste by using a Diva Cup

2. Cloth Diapers.
When our kids were born we went the cloth diaper route. It definitely got trickier for us as more babies were added to our family but every bit helped and then we could pass them on when we were finished with them.

Cloth diapering is a great way to reduce waste

3. Bento Boxes.
Although our box itself is plastic it is recyclable. There are other ones that are stainless steel and highly recommended as well. I love bento boxes because it eliminates the need to wrap items individually and therefore cuts down on waste.

Bento boxes allow for a decrease in usage of individual packaging.

4. Abeego.
Saran wrap has always seemed so wasteful because it's a one time use piece of plastic. I recently discovered Abeego which is a reusable beeswax product for wrapping and preserving food. It does not last forever and after a year or more will be compostable. The cost for three wraps was $18 and it is locally made in Victoria, B.C. They also have reusable snack bags. I appreciate that the packaging it came in was also 100% recyclable.

5. Reusable bags/totes/bins.
This should be a simple one for everyone as you can leave bins in your car and carry a large purse. I try to never say "yes" to a plastic bag but no one is perfect. I hope that they ban them here in Canada soon.

Using resuable bags and totes allows for a reduction in plastic bag usage.

6. Refillable containers. 
There are local places that can refill your containers such as the Soap Dispensary in Vancouver and the Chuckling Duckling in Fort Langley, B.C. Also, if you go to Bulk Barn you can bring your own containers and just weigh them beforehand. We're fortunate to have one locally in Langley, B.C. Also, if you are unable to get to a location where this is an option, try to buy full size yogurt and apple sauces and juices etc. If you need them for lunch boxes, remember, the bento is awesome for that (besides the juice). We also stopped using body wash because of the containers that they are in and now just go with good old bars of soap. I also make my own deodorant and just refill it each time!

Glass containers are great for refilling bulk items and reducing plastic usage.

7. Stainless steel straws.
There is no need for plastic straws and yet they are so prevalent! Paper or stainless steel straws are a great alternative and I keep a few in my purse ready to go in case we visit 7-Eleven. Bring your own stainless steel travel mugs for coffee, too!

There's no need for plastic straws! Paper or stainless steel ones work just as well.

8. Reusable water bottles.
Many plastic water bottles are only used one time and it's estimated that only one in five gets recycled. Did you know it takes 700 YEARS to start decomposing? We love our reusable water bottles and have them on the table every day (saves on dishes!) and pack them for road trips, too.

9. Make food from scratch.
Often buying prepackaged food comes with a lot more plastic to throw away and/or recycle. For example, baking your own muffins, cookies and bread greatly reduces packaging. Doing your own cooking and baking rather than store bought is a lot friendlier on your wallet, too.

10. Buy and sell secondhand clothes, toys and household products.
It makes me cringe when I have to throw a broken toy into the garbage. If there is still life in it try to donate or sell it. We buy most of the kids clothes secondhand right now which is great again for both the environment and our finances. This goes for furniture and sporting goods too!

These are just some easy changes to make in order to reduce the plastics in our environment. We need to make changes now for this beautiful earth and it's future for our children and generations to come. It doesn't help to say "Oh, I'm just one person, what's the point" because we can encourage others to make simple adjustments, too.

What are some ways that you reduce your plastic usage? 


Are you looking to make some eco-friendly changes in your home? Here are some simple ways to reduce your plastic use.

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