First and foremost, YES you can! With the caveat that most people don't go zero-waste overnight, but take thoughtful steps towards low-waste living and reducing plastic consumption. This approach is more likely to stick and creates a huge impact over time.
So where to start? First, take stock of where you are consuming plastic, and try eliminating 1 or 2 uses for a week, 2 weeks, a month. And like any lifestyle change, know that you will not be perfect immediately - making progress is key. Getting your household or a friend on the same page often helps, or create a friendly competition!
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The "Big 4" of plastic waste:
(1) Single-use beverage bottles: Did you know+60 million single use plastic bottles are consumed in the US alone PER DAY?? YIKES. Even the occasional use when on-the-go can add up, and on the flip side, making a reduction here can help a lot
(2) Grocery bags
(3) Plastic straws
(4) To-go coffee cups: unfortunately, the majority of these are coated in plastic so they're not recyclable...
The last one was hard for me, but I also found enjoyment in the $ savings that come from home brew. And, as an added plus - when I go out for coffee, I am intentional about visiting a local, independent shop and enjoying my coffee there in a mug. Its a much more enjoyable experience vs. mindlessly grabbing & going!
Alternately, choose a room: The kitchen and bathrooms tend to harbor the most plastics in your home. You shouldn't just throw all of your plastic items away immediately, but rather make sustainable swaps as items need replacing. For example, try making your own cleaning products when your current bottle gets low, or try out a refill shop and decide it this is something you can do regularly. Here's a list of 10 swaps you can make over time in each room.
10 Kitchen swaps:
- Reusable grocery bags - keep them in every car or a foldable bag in your purse so they're always close at hand!
- Reusable water bottles & coffee mugs - again, the key is keeping these on hand when you're likely to need them, or skipping the on-the-go purchase
- Reusable straws, or skip the straw altogether
- DIY cleaners in reusable bottles or refillable products - start with one and then see how many bottles under your sink you can replace with DIY!
- Glass food storage vs. plastic containers
- Beeswax wraps instead of saran wrap (or just cover a pot/bowl with a plate!)
- Natural wood brushes vs. those with plastic handles
- Swedish dishcloths vs. paper towels - often wrapped in plastic!
- Natural wood cutting boards and serving trays
- Loose leaf tea (yes, most tea bags are made from plastic, so you're steeping with polypropylene)
10 Bathroom swaps:
- DIY cleaners in reusable bottles or refillable products (there's probably a lot of cleaning products in plastic bottles under your bathroom sink too!)
- Use bar soap instead of body wash
- Try a shampoo and conditioner bar, or use a refillery for these products too!
- Other beauty products (skin care, shaving cream, lotions) in recyclable packing or refillables
- Ditch disposable make-up wipes and use a washcloth
- Stainless steel razors with refillable and recyclable razor blades
- Replace plastic hairbrushes with natural wood and bristles
- Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
- Try plant-based dental floss (yes, most floss is plastic! Eco-friendly versions are made of corn or other bio-based materials)
- Recyclable or reusable cotton swabs
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