Our family has been making several changes so we can reduce the use of plastic in our household. Plastic debris is slowly snowballing and taking up our environment causing direct and indirect harm to humans as well as animals.
Few plastic manufactures are making innovative changes to make their plastic biodegradable. But these are a minority. Majority of the plastic products are still filling up landfills and our oceans. So we decided we will do our part in minimizing our contribution to this crisis. Here are few of the many changes we made in our daily life
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We bring our own bottle of water from home to work, school and our outings. The disposable water bottles are totally unnecessary. We have several stainless steel water bottles which we bring with us everywhere. Sometimes I even make lemon and mint infused water at home and bring this with me so I can sip it all day long.
Stainless steel reusable coffee cups come perfectly handy and we can bring our own favorite coffee brewed at home. This also saves money on Starbucks coffee or Dunkin donuts you may be tempted to buy. These costs add up and cause small leaks i n your bank account. Some of the disposable coffee cups are made of paper, but there still the plastic lid, plastic stirrers etc that come with it. So bringing your own coffee in a reusable container is cheaper and environmentally friendly
Speaking of coffee, we have a Keurig coffee machine which we bough several years back. We both love the single serving coffee maker. When I heard K cups make up for a significant part of the landfill I intermediately wanted to make a change. I thought about about switching to a different coffee maker such as a Nespresso (which I believe uses aluminium pods). But this means trashing a perfectly functioning coffee maker and buying a more expensive coffee maker which uses more expensive pods. That did not seem like a financially savvy decision. So I researched and found a biodegradable K cups- San Francisco Bay. The plastic bags that these pods come in are also biodegradable. Their coffee is excellent. We used this for several months and then moved to a more economical choice, which is using reusable K cups. We buy our favorite coffee in bulk and use it in these Reusable K cups. It has the added advantage that we reduce the amount of trash leaving from our home by composting the coffee powder.
We researched biodegradable trash bags and found reviews that they don’t hold up well. It starts degrading once it gets moist and this does not help. So until we find a better alternative we are staying with the standard plastic trash bags. But we utilized some strategies that reduce the number of bags we use.
Composting: We started composting which will use up majority of our kitchen trash- vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grind, paper, natural fibers such as hair, and lint from drier. We use this for collecting the kitchen scraps and use this Compost Tumbler in our back yard. It works out perfect for our small backyard. I will be writing a whole post about composting in another. post.
Swedish dishcloth: I used to use kitchen paper towels to clean the house. But once I finish cleaning an area my trash bag gets pretty full with the paper towels. I came across this Swedish dish cloth and gave it a try. It was amazing. It cleans perfectly, and leaves no streaks on surfaces, and it I can wash and reuse it. Using this for my regular cleaning has not only saved me from using several paper towels but indirectly by reducing the total number of trash bags I use in a week.
Using these 2 strategies I have significantly reduced the number of trash bags used in our house. We went from having several trash bags on the trash pick up day to maximum 1-2 trash bags a week
I use mostly glass Pyrex glass containers to save left over food. But there are items such as 1/2 used blocks of cheese, or pieces of vegetable that required using plastic wraps to maintain the freshness. These beeswax wraps works perfectly for this purpose. And most importantly it is reusable.
Use reusable grocery bags to avoid the plastic bags as well as the single use paper bags that the stores offer. We had tried out amazon fresh for our groceries few years back. We stopped the service after few months, but we ended up with few of their bags they delivered grocery in. These are sturdy canvas fordable totes. I use these as my grocery bag. There are several sturdy canvas totes available online such as these or you can purchase it at your local grocery store.
Buy in bulk:
Now this is not plastic free option but will end up using less plastic containers and packaging by buying things in bulk. Items such as hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent can be bough in big containers and then fill smaller glass containers (mason jars) for daily use. This way you are not buying several small plastic containers. We used to buy Bounty kitchen towels in bulk, but we realized that even though it is in bulk inside the package each roll is covered in individual plastic wraps. That fails the purpose. So we recently switched to amazon brand Presto which is comparable in quality to bounty which I love, but also cheaper and moist importantly when you buy in bulk it is only the outer large package , individual rolls inside are not packaged.
What changes are you making in your household to reduce the use of plastic and single use items? Please share your ideas in the comments