Trying to Reduce Plastic Waste In Your Home? Try These 4 Tips
Recycling isn’t working. Despite the widespread push for sustainability, only about 9% of plastics get recycled while the rest ends up in landfills. Yes, the effectiveness of recycling needs to be improved, but there’s an easier solution to prevent waste – eliminating plastic use altogether.
D.C. and other cities are making a push to cut back on single-use plastics. You’ve probably noticed the plastic straw ban in the city or the $0.05 charge per plastic bag at stores, but what about when it comes to everyday products in your personal life? From laundry supplies, to cleaning products & soaps, to toiletries, it seems like everything comes packaged in plastic. Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can contribute to eliminating single-use plastics, and plenty of new brands that offer eco-friendly products. Check out our 4 tips below, as well as a few brands that those in our community recommend.
1) Opt For Reusable Alternatives
One of the biggest solutions to cutting down on your plastic consumption is to simply limit the amount of plastic you bring into your home. Whether you realize it or not, most of the common household goods that you might use daily have reusable alternatives.
- Water Bottles – Ditch that case of plastic water bottles and instead opt for a stainless-steel reusable bottle.
- Plates & Utensils – Do your dishes! Yes, those plastic plates and utensils may be convenient, but that waste quickly adds up and can easily be eliminated.
- Shopping Bags – “Paper or plastic?” Your answer should be neither! Use your own reusable grocery bags when you go shopping. If you do have extra plastic bags laying around you can use those as well for produce and similar items.
- Meal Containers – Do you meal prep each week or take your own lunch to work? Opt out of buying plastic sandwich and snack bags, and instead use glass containers and jars.
- Cling Wrap – plastic cling wrap isn’t recyclable, but foil is. Opt for foil, but if you prefer cling wraps, choose Beeswax alternatives. They’re environmentally friendly and can be reused or composted.
- Straws – Switch to silicon or metal straws. They’re eco-friendly, durable, and can easily be washed and re-used.
- Coffee – Are you a coffee lover? Keurig machines changed how many people make coffee, but also greatly increased plastic waste. Consider using a regular coffee machine & reusable filter instead. If you can’t part with the convenience, you can always opt for a reusable Keurig coffee pod and fill it with your own grounds. Like water bottles, opt for a re-usable mug if you’re taking your coffee on the go.
- Teabags – use loose leaf tea with a tea strainer instead of teabags. Teabags are sealed with plastic and hard to dispose of.
- Dishwasher – use powdered dishwasher detergent that comes in a cardboard box.
- Deodorant – You might be surprised to hear that deodorants can be found in glass containers rather than plastic ones. Opt for these, as they can be recycled easily as well.
- Floss – silk floss is a great alternative to standard floss and comes in sustainable packaging. Standard floss can also be found in glass containers. Alternatively, water picks are a great long-term option, are extremely effective, and cut down on plastic floss packaging.
- Microbeads – those tiny plastic beads commonly found in face products are everywhere and are terrible for the environment! They aren’t filtered out in sewage systems and eventually make their way to the oceans. Opt for “zero plastic” labels when shopping for these products.
- Razors – opt for steel or metal razors that can be re-used with new blades. Be sure to recycle your old metal razor heads as they need replaced.
- Soaps – liquid shampoos, conditioners, and body washes that come in plastic containers are incredibly wasteful. Switch to bar soaps for an eco-friendly alternative. Many brands are transitioning to bar forms for shampoo and conditioner as well.
- Toothbrushes – did you know that most municipal recycling plants are unable to properly recycle plastic toothbrushes? As a result, these end up in the landfill. Try to shop for bamboo toothbrushes that can be composted or use a motorized toothbrush with brush heads that can be recycled.
- Laundry Room & Cleaning
- Detergent – like shampoos, plastic packaging for laundry detergent is wasteful and can easily be eliminated. Opt for non-plastic packaging when shopping for these products, or even think about making your own laundry pods! It only takes a few simple ingredients and is much more cost effective.
- Household Cleaners – all-purpose household cleaning products can be made yourself with a simple water and vinegar solution. You can also opt to buy concentrated cleaners that can be mixed with water in a reusable container.
2) Shop Local When Possible
- Local stores won’t always have everything you need on your shopping trip, but they do usually offer plastic-free alternatives and packaging. Farmers markets are great for shopping produce and cutting down on plastic packaging and bags. You can also return containers for berries and other small fruits to farmers markets to be reused.
- Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags.
3) Make Your Backyard Eco-Friendly
- Grow your own food! Gardening is great way to cut down on unnecessary plastic packaging around most fruits and vegetable. Plus, growing your own is a fun and rewarding activity.
- Compost! Instead of bagging leaves and other yard scraps into plastic trash bags during the fall, add them to a compost bin or use compostable paper bags instead.
4) Buy In Bulk
- Try to shop in bulk when you make your grocery trips. Food, toiletries, and other items should be bought in bulk to reduce waste from plastic packaging. Then you can easily store everything in reusable glass jars/containers.
- Look for bulk bins! Grocery stores like [MOM’S Organic Market] offer almost all dry foods and some personal care products from bulk bins. Just make sure to bring your reusable bags and containers with you.
That’s a lot of info and you’re probably wondering how to start or where to find most of these products. In addition to grocery stores and farmers markets, there are many eco-friendly companies out there that offer subscription-based services for non-plastic products. Here are a handful that people in our community recommend:
- Who Gives A Crap
- An online shop that offers toilet paper, toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels that are either 100% recycled or made of bamboo. Shoppers have the option to make a one-time purchase or subscribe to a monthly plan for a discount. Prices are very reasonable – 48 rolls of toilet paper is only $48!
- BlueLand offers and online shop for sustainable cleaning products. You buy their “Forever Bottle” once, and you get $2 refills for life. No more throwing out plastic cleaning bottles! Making the cleaner or soap is easy – you simply fill your Forever Bottle with warm water to the marked line, drop in the refillable tablet, wait a few minutes and you’re all set!
- Bite is an online subscription-based shop that offers eco-friendly toothbrushes and toothpastes. Their mission was to eliminate plastic packaging, tubing, and waste with their products. The toothbrushes are made from naturally grown, renewable bamboo and have replaceable heads. Their toothpaste products come in tablet form and are shipped in glass packaging instead of plastic tubes. Simply bite down on a tablet, brush with a wet toothbrush, and watch it foam up like magic.
- Creators of the original laundry pod! They offer sustainable cleaning products that are chemical free and packaged without plastic. Their subscription based products include laundry detergent pods, dishwasher pods, and wool dryer balls. Not only are the products eco-friendly, they’re cheap, priced as low as 16 cents per load. They even offer a rewards program so you can enjoy free benefits over time.
- Clean Cult
- Clean Cult offers sustainable, chemical-free products for all of your household cleaning needs. Their products include all-purpose cleaner, liquid dish soap, liquid hand soap, dishwasher tablet, laundry tablet, bar soap, and wool dryer balls. Everything is shipped to you in plastic-free packaging, and you simply order refills as needed.
- Dyper offers diapers that are better for you, better for your baby, better for the planet, and better for your wallet. Their products are made out of chemical-free bamboo and are soft, odorless, and breathable. They offer 5 different subscription sizes with varying delivery frequencies so that you can find a plan that works for you. Pricing starts at $68 + free shipping.
If you need any additional help our guidance then please give us a call. We’re here to help in any way we can. Be sure to share what methods have worked for you, or if you recommend a product/company that should be on this list!