Overtime I have been slowly changing my ways to be more eco-friendly. I want new habits to stick so I can strive to live a conscious, low waste, ethical, and sustainable lifestyle. It seems like a lot of changes at first.. and that is because is kind of is. My journey to become more environmentally friendly really took off about 2 years ago. In school I always was interested in environmental science and sustainable living and these courses fueled my love and curiosity for a more simple life. I watched documentaries about fast fashion, agriculture, the meat and dairy industry, bees and wildlife. I questioned how my actions as a consumer affected the bigger picture. I followed YouTubers who spoke about ethical and sustainable brands, zero waste living, or even tiny homes and van life. I became inspired by these individuals and I wanted my actions to reflect how I felt about my impact in this planet.
Many of the influencers in this eco area recommend making gradual adjustments and taking it slow when starting your journey to live lighter. This makes so much sense because I did not want to order 50 different zero waste items online and believe that is the answer to my questions. Instead, I reuse what I already own and continue to brainstorm the most effective and sustainable way to change a habit. For instance, I do not need to order a ton of glass containers online or a special silverware kit. Sure, I would love to have an aesthetic, minimal look to my belongings, however washed jelly jars and some silverware from my drawer at home do just fine! Also, so many goods are packaged in plastic so upcycling what you have is a great way to avoid creating more plastic waste when that is exactly what you are trying to avoid.
I have listed some simple plastic swaps that I strive to make and that you too can slowly make overtime to reduce your plastic waste with me.
I love my glass straws from Strawesome. I definitely recommend checking these out! Sturdy and made by hand in the USA.
#2 Shopping Bags
You can find cloth bags anywhere to substitute for plastic bags. I have even cut up old cotton t-shirts, sewed a few pieces together and I had my own diy bag!
You can choose to purchase bamboo toothbrushes. These are more expensive than plastic ones, but if you have an extra few dollars to spare go for it! Some brands offer toothbrushes made from recycled plastic that are designed to last up to three times longer which is what I use.
Swap disposable razors for a stainless steel safety razor. You can compost the razor blades and save a lot of plastic waste with this one.
#5 Water bottle
Refill your own water bottle instead of buying cases of disposable plastic water bottles.
#6 Storage containers
Wash old food jars and save them for food storage later. I like to use mason jars or old jelly jars for food storage or even glasses for smoothies.
#7 Phone case
#8 Sandwich bags
After packing lunches for school or work, I quickly realized it is easy to use disposable sandwich bags to bring snacks along. I have been using small containers or mason jars for now instead, but I hope to try these reusable snack bags soon!
#9 To go coffee cups
Bring your own to-go mug to your favorite coffee shop and I am sure they will gladly fill it for you. This is next on my list of small changes.
#10 Cooking utensils
It cannot get any simpler than moving your hand a bit to the left and choosing a wooden cooking utensil instead of a plastic one!
I have been using this natural deodorant for over a year and it comes in a small glass pot. You can save the empty ones to upcycle later.
If you are headed to the mall, stop by your Lush store for package free shampoo and body products. There are many online stores to purchase package free hair-care products as well.
#13 Produce bags
Use a small cloth bag or reusable bags made from natural fibers for your fresh produce.
#14 Bar soap
Try bar soaps instead of body wash. Some brands do not use any plastic packaging and just wrap the soap in paper or package it in a cardboard box. I like Dr. Bronners.
#15 Wax wraps
Check out these biodegradeable, compostable beeswax wraps that you can use to cover leftovers instead of plastic wrap.
#16 Bulk tea
Did you know there is a plastic lining on tea bags? Try loose leaf tea to avoid this hidden plastic waste.
Green beauty brands like RMS, Elate, and others package their products in glass, bamboo, or compostable packaging. So awesome!
#18 Menstrual cup
For my ladies out there, try a menstrual cup, period panties, or reusable cloth pads. I have all three and they are life changing!
#19 Cloth face wipes
If you're crafty, crochet some small squares or sew little cotton rounds to use for taking off your makeup. Etsy brands sell these as well.
#20 Dish brushes
Try an eco-friendly cleaning brush alternative by choosing wood or bamboo dish brushes.
#21 Wooden hairbrush
This swap helps your hair too! Wooden bristles are said to better distribute your hair's natural oils.
#22 Buy in bulk
This is one of my favorite plastic swaps that I have implemented so far. I love filling up my little saved jars with oats and dried fruits. This also encourages you to explore new foods in the bulk section as well.
#23 Toilet paper
Keep an eye out for toilet paper with the words recycled and wrapped in paper! No more plastic waste here.
#24 Drinks in glass
If you are grabbing a drink to go, choose one that comes in glass packaging. Glass is much better for upcycling projects and you avoid plastic bottles. If you drink cow's milk, some dairy comes in glass bottles along with a recycling program where you get $2 back per jar.
#25 Zero waste floss
Disposable floss does exist and it is usually made from natural silks. Some brands carry zero waste and refillable options.
Do not feel overwhelmed or pressured. No one is perfect and you may forget your reusable mug, silver, bag, whatever and must opt for a disposable one because I know I do. And let's be real, in no way do I live by these 25 swaps already. Some of these swaps I have made stick in my routine and I am loving it, however most are what I am aspiring to change and are goals for myself to live lighter and simpler.
The fact that you may wish to reduce your plastic waste or implement even ONE of these swaps is a huge step for the environment. If you feel passionate about this topic as well, share this article with a friend, encourage others to pledge to no single use straws, bring your own bag to the grocery store, or follow a sustainable account online. Any effort, no matter how small, is important and I hope this article inspires you to think twice about the impact you have on this planet and consider trying a new way of living for a day.
What are some of your tips for reducing plastic waste? What inspires you to live a simpler, eco-friendly life?