When my husband and I moved into our townhouse two years ago, it seemed gigantic. Of course, I was seven months pregnant at the time, and so with just the two of us living here, it seemed like there was plenty of space.
Now that it’s me, him, a toddler, and a rather obtrusive baby bump, it seems a lot smaller. So, I have been on a massive purging kick. I’ve been donating what I can, recycling what I can, and reconstituting what I can—but the fact is, it still seems like I’m throwing away a lot of stuff. And unfortunately, a lot of that stuff seems to be made of plastic.
Obviously plastic is bad for the environment—we’ve been having that drilled into our heads from the time we were in elementary school. It takes hundreds of years to break down and it simply sits in landfills, taking up space. Even worse is the plastic made with BPA, which is horrible for humans and the environment. And unfortunately, it is inevitable that we will create at least some plastic waste. That being said, there are some ways to reduce plastic consumption, so I thought I’d share a few.
1. Using reusable shopping bags. In a lot of ways this one is a no-brainer, but as it seems that lately I can barely remember my wallet when I walk out the door, I don’t always remember to take these with me. But they are a fantastic way to reduce plastic consumption—and most grocery stores (like Whole Foods and even Target) will give you 5 cents off of your purchase for each bag that you use). The nice thing about Whole Foods is if you forget your bags you can always get paper ones there—and those can be reused and recycled in a multitude of ways.
2. Recycle your plastic bags. Speaking of plastic bags, a lot of grocery stores (my local Giant, for instance, does this) have collection repositories where you can recycle your old plastic bags that have piled up. I love this. I wish more places did it.
3. Nix the bottled water. I know, I know. It’s so easy to just buy a package of water bottles and then grab one when you’re on your way out the door. Believe me, I understand—I was a bottled water junkie for a while myself. But, you can buy an eco-friendly water bottle and reuse it again and again. And that’s a great way to go green and save green—bottled water costs really add up over time.
4. Reuse plastic tubs. Lots of foods come in plastic tubs, and the most common ones in my household are yogurt containers (I buy the big ones, not the individual serving ones) and cottage cheese containers. I use the large yogurt containers to store my homemade laundry detergent and the cottage cheese containers are great for storing leftovers. Occasionally I will give one to my son to play with, as he is very interested in containers right now. Additionally, some grocery stores collect these plastics for recycling, so check and see if there are any local ones near you that do this.
5. Reuse resealable plastic bags. I love resealable plastic bags, I won’t lie. They are extremely helpful for organization, and because I can’t seem to let them go, I reuse them until they are positively ragged before throwing them away. They can be washed and reused multiple times before holes crop up.
Plastic in some forms is inevitable, but I was amazed at how much clutter I have already eliminated by cutting back on it, especially when I switched to just using reusable shopping bags. It is my hope that more and more manufacturers will continue to be cognizant of how plastic affects the environment, and they will try to provide alternatives that will be better for the health of the planet.
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