Going completely plastic-free seems like a full-time job and it can feel quite overwhelming. I’d love to compost and make my own cleaning products, but it is nearly impossible in my small city apartment and having a full-time job. However, even if you don’t think you could contain all of your trash to a medium-sized mason jar, there are some simple ways to double down on your plastic usage. For starters, just being conscious of the amount of plastic you use helps you reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Safety Razors: Safety razors are easy on your wallet, skin and soul. I bought my razor for 18 Euros on Amazon plus 10 Euros for 100 blades. Safety razors are great for reducing skin irritation, red bumps and ingrown hairs. Plus they are made out of metal and the disposable part is very small.
- Bar Soaps, Shampoos and Conditioners: Swap plastic bottles for bars. This is an easy one that you will get used to right away. To find the right shampoo and conditioner bars, I had to try a few to find one that I liked. I recommend Lush, they have quite a lot of options for different types of hair. I am currently using 2 in 1 Godiva by Lush which smells amazing.
- Menstrual Cup: Ladies, it’s weird at first, but you’ll get used to it. In the long run, it’s much more convenient than toxic tampons and bulky pads. They can be left in for up to 12 hours and are toxin-free.
- Matches: Use matches instead of plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
Make Your Own Products or Use Simple Ingredients
- Baking Soda, Baking Soda, Baking soda! Baking soda can be used to clean your home and to get rid of bad odors. I use it as an exfoliant and on greasy hair as a dry shampoo. Add it to the pot when you are boiling eggs to make them easier to peel. There are so many ways to use baking soda!
- Toothpaste: This recipe is simple and doesn’t taste bad. Just mix up all of the ingredients until it has a thick consistency and voila!
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
1 drop peppermint, clove, or citrus pure essential oil
A few drops of water
BYO (Bring Your Own) or Give it Up
- Water Bottle: Get in the habit of carrying a bottle around with you.
- Reusable Bags: This one is a no-brainer but it makes a big difference! Store them in your backpack, car and purses so you never leave the house without at least one bag.
- Plastic Straws: It’s estimated that half a billion straws are used daily in the USA and most are found floating around in our oceans. There was a heart-wrenching video of a straw being removed from the nose of a turtle, causing him to bleed. I guess you could opt for a metal reusable straw, but I think we could just live without them completely.
Buy in Bulk
- Lentils, beans, rice, couscous, fruits and vegetables can all be purchased without plastic wrapping or containers. It might take some time to investigate a local store where you can buy in bulk. Depending on where you live you might have a coop or a local farmers delivery program available to you.
Buy Second Hand
- Be Thrifty: Some great products to buy second hand are clothes, kitchen appliances, anything stainless steel, furniture and sports equipment. This year I made it one of my goals to buy most of my clothes second hand or not to buy clothes at all. If I need something fancy I can borrow it from a friend.
If you don’t believe that your choices make a difference, there are several studies that point to the contrary. According to scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, it takes just 10% of the population to cause a shift in thinking. Typically the opinion of the majority spreads quickly, however, there is a tipping point when 10% of the population have a strongly held idea or opinion, the idea spreads like wildfire.
As long as we live in a world where our government doesn’t prioritize the wellbeing of the earth and big businesses do what they want to make money, it’s our responsibility to be conscious consumers and remember that our lifestyle, our buying habits and daily choices make a difference.