We live in an increasingly disposable world. Nearly everything we buy in grocery stores and shopping centers is wrapped in plastic or cardboard. Almost all of our containers are justified for single-use, basically to get the item from the store to your home. Shipping, transportation, and even just aesthetics are all common reasons for our plastic-enveloped goods, all of which are negatively impacting the environment. Thankfully, companies are now expanding more into the sustainable, eco-friendly sphere through the use of plastic-free packaging.
Sure, plastic is convenient. It's a cheap material that does a great job preserving foods and packaging goods. But, all of our plastic usages are piling up. While we do make an effort to recycle, it is proving to be not enough; after all, only about 9% of our plastic waste ends up recycled.
So, it's time to get proactively smart about things. Instead of trying to make our plastic usage a "wash," there are measures we can take to eliminate (or at least reduce) the amount of plastic we use personally in our lifestyles. To do so, here are some fantastic plastic-free alternatives to everyday items that will have you walking on the greener side of things:
Plastic-Free Hair and Body Care
We're so used to seeing plastic bottles that we've practically become blind to them. Chances are, you have at least one plastic bottle of shampoo, conditioner, or body wash in your shower right now. Without even really thinking about it, we toss them into our carts, because what's the alternative?
There are actually many different plastic-free alternatives for self-care products lately. As more and more consumers and companies recognize our planet's plastic problem, an increasing amount of plastic-free solutions are available. Take Lush, for example; their shampoo is formed into bars, completely eliminating the need for plastic. Instead, users just lather up the bar in their hands as you would with regular soap. Once bubbly, simply shampoo as normal, sans plastic.
There are many new plastic-free alternatives to all of our bathroom necessities
Logically, the same applies to conditioner and soap bars. But for those more tricky items such as razors, you have to think outside of the box. Rather than racking up a bin full of disposable plastic razors, opt for a zero waste Safety Razor. Although they can cost a bit upfront, the replacement blades are usually very affordable. Plus, you can rest assured that you aren't contributing to the 2 billion plastic razors thrown away each year.
Plastic-Free Cleaning Supplies
This one can get a little tricky, given the chemical content in the majority of cleaning supplies. However, an increasing amount of people recognize the power of more natural cleaning alternatives with less (if any) toxic chemicals. This makes it easier to package them plastic-free, and it's a safer bet for environmental health in general.
While you can make your own cleaning supplies, it can take quite a bit of time and effort. If you're looking for an easy, plastic-free solution, look no further: There are tons of alternatives for plastic-free cleaning on the market. For laundry detergent, look for a powdered version that is packaged in cardboard, like Bio-D's. Bio-D also offers bleach and other cleaning products without plastic.
In terms of scrubbing and wiping things clean, try to avoid paper towels. While there are some good paper-free ones, it's usually best to invest in reusable, washable cloths. Soak them in your solution and pop them in the washer when they're looking dirty.
Grocery Shopping Plastic-Free
Probably the largest plastic hurdle is food packaging. We love keeping our meat, cheese, and produce fresh for as long as possible. Unfortunately, the main means of doing so is by using plastic.
However, it isn't impossible to turn your grocery shopping into a plastic-free event. A great place to start is by eliminating the need for plastic bags at check-out. Make sure to bring a reusable tote to transport all of your goods home.
As for the shopping itself, there are two main tips: Buy things in bulk, or shop consciously for items that pledge not to use plastic packaging. For buying in bulk, you can save yourself the hassle of unnecessary packaging. More often than not, small quantities of food at the grocery store are way over-packaged. Buying bulk means storing and transporting without the need for plastic and cardboard.
Bringing your own reusable totes and glass jars is a great way to avoid plastic usage at the grocery store
As for shopping consciously, try and avoid any products that take up more space than they need to because of their packaging. When buying produce, skip the plastic bags; use a cloth produce tote instead. The same goes for the deli counter; bring your own reusable containers or jars to fill up your food needs. If you're using glass, just make sure to remember to have the jar weighed first. It might feel funny at first, but these habits have enormous potential over time.
The bottom line is that although plastic is handy at times, we've abused it. Our excessive usage of plastic is finally catching up with us. Our oceans and landfills are filling to the brim, with nowhere else to go.
Although it may not feel like much, making the personal choice to ditch plastic has a huge environmental effect. Not only will you be eliminating the plastic waste from yourself, but you'll most likely influence others to do the same. By setting a positive example, others around you can pick up on your habits. Once they see how easy it can be to live plastic-free, chances are they'll do the same. Before you know it, you'll be the prime example for people around you by staying consistent with your commitment to a plastic-free lifestyle.