When you see the headlines and heed the warnings about climate change, it can be somewhat overwhelming. Even a little frightening. You want to help the planet, but you’re not even sure where to begin. Luckily, just like anything, all it takes is the right mindset and a goal. Let’s call it a resolution since we’re about to kick off a new year, too.
Ready to turn a new leaf this upcoming year and go green for the good of the planet? While there are many steps you can take to live a more sustainable lifestyle, reducing your dependency on plastic is as good a place to start as any. So if you are ready for a plastic-free challenge to stick to your Earth-friendly resolutions, Pela is here to help. Here is how to reduce your plastic use this new year so you can take part in a green lifestyle and a more sustainable future for everyone.
Buy Reusable Bottles and Thermoses for Hot and Cold Drinks
If you don’t have a reusable water bottle by now, it’s time to get on board the plastic-free train. Plastic water bottles and plastic-lined coffee cups and lids are incredibly harmful to the environment. In fact, even the best recycling intentions fall flat when it comes to plastic. Why? Because plastics can rarely be recycled and what’s left winds up in our landfills where they break down into microplastics.
What are microplastics? Essentially, microplastics are microscopic pieces of plastic that can ultimately harm the soil, waterways and even the foods we eat. We are already seeing the effects of microplastics in the oceans, disrupting ocean life and exposing us to polluted seafood like mussels and oysters. So as you can see, microplastics are bad, which is why it’s important to reduce plastics.
Pick up a reusable water bottle that is insulative and works with both cold and hot beverages. Of course, there are even reusable water bottles made out of plastic, but stick to glass and stainless steel materials. They’re healthier and won’t leak harmful toxins into your water.
Make More Foods From Scratch
Many of the foods we consume are wrapped in plastic so they stay fresh. But you can’t find a fresher meal or treat than one you baked right at home. Plus, you have complete control of all the healthy ingredients and nutrients that go into it (and stay out of it). So do yourself a favor and take a baking class or learn a few cooking skills so you can make more home-cooked meals and foods from scratch.
Baking bread, for instance, is a great place to start. Instead of buying a loaf of bread wrapped in plastic, purchase a bread maker or use your oven at home. Even if you are not handy in the kitchen, you can still buy bread from the farmers market bakery vendor who offers loaves in paper bags. The same goes with cupcakes, cookies and all other kinds of foods you can make at home. By making more food at home, it can eliminate the need for plastic containers.
Buy Bulk Food with Less Plastic Packaging
When you visit the grocery store, do you simply grab items willy-nilly or do you stop and consider its packaging? Supermarkets run rampant with disposable containers, and most of these are made of some kind of plastic. Polystyrene, PET and more are terrible for the environment and are hard to get around. But when you know what to look for, shopping at the grocery store becomes much easier.
When you are presented with a shelf of a specific item, steer away from plastic. Instead, aim for items that are packaged in other materials, like glass jars, aluminum cans and cardboard boxes and cartons (like egg cartons), which are much easier to recycle. Bring your own jars and head to the bulk food section where you can pick up anything from dried fruits, coffee beans and flours and grains. Since your bulk items will be weighed at checkout, know the “tare” (the weight of the container) to deduct it from the total. Once you do this a few times and know the tare of your heavier glass jars and containers, it becomes super easy.
Pick Up Food at Your Local Farmers Market
Need an alternative to the grocery store? One of the best ways to buy bulk and minimize your purchase of plastic-packaged foods is to head to the farmers market. Farmers will not pre-package their produce, which means you will have to bring your own containers or reusable produce bags. But it’s one swift way to nip this bad habit in the bud. Taking home a haul? Then invest in a metal folding cart to get your bounty home.
Shopping at your local farmers market does more than reduce your plastic use. Supporting local farmers also reduces your dependency on fossil fuels and minimizes carbon emissions.
Carry a Reusable Bag — Everywhere!
The United States goes through roughly 100 billion plastic shopping bags each and every year. So even if you don’t live in a US city that has already banned the use of plastic bags, it’s wise to ban plastic bags yourself — even if it’s in your home. Telling the cashier at the grocery store you prefer paper over plastic is a great start, but there’s a lot more you can do like carry a reusable tote or bag.
However, many of us only think to bring a reusable bag when we head to the market for food. But in reality, you can use a reusable bag just about anywhere. So break out your bag whenever you head to any type of store, saving one less plastic bag from winding up in the landfill or ocean. Take it an extra step and choose a bag or tote made from a sustainable material like organic cotton or a woven rattan. And, of course, try not to forget them! Place them back in your car or in your bike basket for next time.
Carry a Reusable Food Container, Too
If you tend to eat out a lot, a glass food container or metal Bento box might be your saving grace. Doing double duty, it can be used to carry home leftovers and to also carry at-home meals with you to the office and more. Ditching the styrofoam to-go containers, you can place any unfinished meals in your container and save it for another day without wasting food. On the flip side, you can also pack a healthy lunch, preventing yourself from purchasing those tempting, plastic-wrapped items at the store.
Choosing a plastic-free container doesn’t just save the environment one meal at a time. It also keeps harmful substances from seeping into your everyday foods. If you still use plastic containers to store your leftovers at home, we encourage you to transition and, in general, aim for a more plastic-free kitchen.
Banish Bottled Beauty Products
Take a look around your vanity and inside your shower. What do you see? Bottled skincare, haircare and beauty products? Most of us are still attached to modern conveniences like bottled shampoos, body washes and lotions. And in this day and age, there’s really no excuse. There are countless plastic-free beauty products available to us. You just have to know where to look.
By simply switching to a bar of soap, you can say so long to plastic bath bottles. For instance, check out Pela’s completely waste-free self-care brand LONGWKND. Made with zero plastic and compostable paper packaging, each deodorant stick, shampoo and conditioner soap and body wash can help you reduce your plastic use this year and every year after.
Skip the Plastic-Filled Cosmetics, Too
Right alongside those bottled beauty products is one of the most disguised plastics on your vanity — cosmetics! Did you know that some cosmetics contain microplastics? Mascara, lip gloss and lip balm are some of the worst offenders.
Instead of reaching for just any cosmetics, look for more natural microbead alternatives such as natural clays, baking soda (for your toothpaste!), raw honey for those natural enzymes and even sea salts, sugar and oatmeal for face scrubs. Don’t forget to consider sustainable and plastic-free makeup brushes and tools, too! Reach for a biodegradable brush with a wood handle and natural fibers.
To learn more about microbeads in your cosmetics, visit BeattheMicroBead.org, an international campaign dedicated to fighting plastic use in our beauty products. They even have an app to help guide you toward a plastic-free brand.
Shave with a Reusable Safety Razor
Get a reusable safety razor for a cleaner shave — as in cleaner for the Earth. Studies have shown that by 2024, over 160 million people will be using disposable razors. That’s simply no good. Instead, the next time your disposable razor’s blade gets dull, replace it with a reusable safety razor.
Super easy to use and typically made of durable metal, a reusable safety razor can be used for a long time. All you do is replace the metal blade (which is totally recyclable) and you’re ready for a close shave. It beats tossing out a plastic shaver, even if it’s technically not single-use plastic.
Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners
In the same way you want to ditch the plastic shampoo bottles and body wash bottles, you should ditch your store-bought cleaning supplies, too. Not only do most cleaners contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to your health, but once you are done, in the trash your bottle goes. But you have to clean your home and do your laundry, so what can you do? Glad you asked!
Using a reusable bottle or even a glass container like a Mason jar, whip up a small batch of cleaning fluid using all-natural ingredients. Search online for countless recipes that offer a cleaning solution and ingredients for your wood floors, clothes, showers and toilets and much, much more.
Ultimately, stock up on natural cleaning ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, Castille soap and lemons. When you find a cleaning solution that suits the job, mix it up and wipe down the area with plastic-free cleaning supplies, too. Think wood brushes with natural bristles and microfiber cloths in place of paper towels.
Give Your Furry Companion Plastic-Free Pet Toys
Ditch the plastic and rubber squeaky toys with pet toys made out of a natural felt, wool or any other kind of cloth-like material. The same goes for all your other pet-related necessities. Switch from the plastic cat litter containers and bags and reach for a cardboard box instead. When you pick up after your doggie, do so with a bag made from compostable plastics.
Given the choice, reach for pet food that comes in a can. Even better, make your own pet food at home. This way, you know all the ingredients that go in it and are certain your precious pup or feline are getting only the best nutrients — not nasty plastics or chemicals.
Avoid Plastic Use in Electronics and Reduce E-Waste
According to a report by the United Nations, there was only 17.4 percent of e-waste recycled in 2019, growing 21 percent between 2014 and 2019. What this means is that we have a growing e-waste problem. But when our phones, tablets and computers are such a huge part of our daily lives, what can we do?
Essentially, you want to ensure your devices stay out of the landfill by extending their life as long as possible. Once they wind up in a landfill, they can leak harmful toxins and create microplastics. And one of the best ways to protect your phone and other devices is by keeping it protected in a case — preferably one that is plastic-free!
Luckily, Pela Case offers a wide range of stylish, sustainable phone cases designed to break down in your home compost in a matter of days or weeks. Explore our entire series of iPhone 13 phone cases and protect your glass screen from cracks and shatters with our Canopy Zero Waste Liquid Screen Protector.
At Pela, our mission is to help others live a more sustainable life. Looking for more ways to reduce plastic and live more green-friendly? Explore the Pela Case blog.
Meta Title: How to Reduce Plastic Use This New Year
Meta Description: Want to turn a new leaf? Make an eco-friendly resolution with help from Pela. We reveal how to reduce plastic use in this ultimate guide. Read more here.
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