A few months back I started to make a real effort at reducing, limiting, and removing as much of the plastic from my family's life as possible. I have always been fairly conscious of plastic in general and when another option was available I took it.
This usually happened for more obvious things though, like using reusable shopping bags or buying our soap in paper wrapping. It wasn't until I really started to look around that I realized there was quite a bit of plastic still lurking in our lives.
The large container of vinegar I use for cleaning and laundry was plastic, as was the wrapping on the toilet paper I was buying, among so many other things!
I hadn't thought much about these things because optional products were going to take time and research to make a change. One day though, I took a long hard look at all of our recycling and thought, what actually happens to it all?
I didn't realize that most plastic is really downcycled not recycled, and honestly after taking a moment to get over my shame and embarrassment, I felt sick. How can we all continue to consume like that?
I am far from running a zero waste home or lifestyle, but I have made quite a few changes that were simple and have reduced our recycling by at least one-third.The first thing I did was start buying in bulk as much as possible.
I buy flour, sugar, sea salt, baking soda, beans, dried fruits, and soap in bulk now, just to name a few things. The bulk items available in my area aren't vast, so I am somewhat limited, but for staples I find I have plenty of options.
Another easy change I made was to buy organic cotton bags to place the bulk items in. I purchased mine from simpleecology.com. They came in a pack of six, three different sizes, two of each. They have a built in drawstring so I don't need a twist tie, and the tare weight is on a permanently sewn in label for easy check out.
When I get home, I empty everything into glass jars and throw the bags in the laundry. The glass jars did create an initial investment, but I purchased two or three a week until I had enough for everything in the pantry, eliminating the need for plastic bag storage completely.
Buying fresh produce that I place directly into my reusable bags helps too, and the bar soap I buy comes in bulk, completely eliminating even more packaging. I buy toilet paper wrapped in recycled paper now instead of plastic, and vinegar for cooking, cleaning, and laundry in glass.
The sad part is, I have a long way to go. I still have to use plastic trash bags, since that is the rule within my city, and I have yet to find a shampoo bar I love, but I am still looking. I hate paying for a product full of water and packaged in plastic just to wash my hair, but I do buy it in a huge bottle that lasts a few months.
I wish baking soda and vinegar worked for me, but I am not sure if it is the hard water in my area or the texture of my hair, or both, but it was an epic fail after a few months.
What creative things have you done to eliminate plastic from your life? I would love to know!