How To Reduce Plastic Waste At Home – Our Tips
Admittedly, going zero waste right away can be quite difficult and it is something that we haven’t quite achieved yet. A “plastic free environment” is difficult to achieve in this day and age given the overall reliance on plastic products. However, there are some easy steps you can take to cut down the plastic waste you create at home.
You might be asking yourself “but why should we reduce the use of plastic?” and the answer is simple: we want our children to have a decently clean world when they grow up.. and right now, we’re not handing that to them!
From looking for ways to reduce the use of plastic bags to reducing plastic consumption at school or work, reducing plastic pollution should be an environmental priority. Here’s how we do it at home!
Use Your Own Reusable Grocery Bags
One of the easiest things you can do to avoid bringing unnecessary plastic into your home is to bring your own reusable bags when you go grocery shopping.
Not only are they often more sturdy than the thin plastic bags that you would otherwise get, but this might also save you some money. At some discount grocery stores such as ALDI or TESCO you don’t get free bags – so by bringing your own, you don’t have to buy any.
We have two big reusable bags with sturdy handles that we take with us whenever we go grocery shopping. They are big enough to hold all the food we need for approximately a week and save us at least four plastic bags every time we go grocery shopping. That’s a lot of bags in a single year.
At the same time, we also bring small bags for produce when we go grocery shopping. This way, we can avoid using these plastic bags in the produce section. You might think you’re not saving much plastic by doing that, but believe us – it does at up over time!
Compare Packaging At The Grocery Store
Related to the first point on this list, there is another way you can reduce plastic waste in your home when it comes to groceries. Walk around your grocery store with open eyes and you’ll most likely come across very similar products but in a different packaging.
For example, we don’t usually buy our produce at the grocery store but if we have to we try to buy the carrots that are either without any packaging at all or those that come pre-packaged in a simple thin plastic bag. We usually try to avoid those that come in plastic wrapping AND a plastic box.
This is just one example of a way you can save on plastic packaging when grocery shopping. It also works really well when it comes to buying pre-packaged snacks or treats.
Another tip we have is to get reusable produce bags if you usually buy unpackaged produce. This way, you can avoid using the very thin plastic produce bags that you can find at grocery stores. We just recently got reusable produce bags and they have been great.
Substitute Plastic Straws
You’ve probably read about how bad plastic straws are over the last few months. One of the reasons for this is probably that they are quite easy to get rid off.
Now, we are not saying that you should never use a straw again – we are just saying that you should substitute your plastic straws for straws made out of other materials.
Popular choices are straws made out of stainless steel or glass (which we would only recommend if you don’t have children). In recent months, we’ve also heard and read more about straws made out of other materials such as pasta straws. That does sound quite interesting but we haven’t tried them yet.. we will keep you posted if we do!
Cook From Scratch
Most of the frozen or ready-made meals come with a lot of unnecesary plastic packaging that you can avoid by cooking from scratch. Same goes for take-out containers.
So instead of buying those meals or getting take out a lot, we try to have the ingredients for a few of your favorite quick recipes at home. This is also one of our tips in our eating healthy when you have no time post.
You can still buy frozen vegetables or other ingredients with simple plastic packaging if you absolutely have to – but try to avoid buying those plastic trays or big plastic containers that food comes in.
Get A Refillable Coffee Mug & Reusable/Biodegradable Coffee Pods
Do you get a “to-go” coffee regularly? While you might think “Oh that little plastic top doesn’t matter” it actually does add up. And it is such a simple thing you can change to reduce your plastic waste.
Instead of getting a “to-go” cup at the coffee shop, just bring your refillable keep-cup from home. At some coffee shops you even get a discount for bringing your own reusable cup!
If you don’t usually get your coffee from a coffee shop but use your own coffee machine at home, look at the cups or pods that the machine is using. A long time ago, we had a Keurig coffee maker but we really disliked throwing out the plastic K-cups after every use. So we looked into getting a reusable K-cup that you can just fill with new coffee after every use. That created A LOT less waste!
If that is not an option for the kind of coffee maker you have, then look for biodegradable coffee pods instead. They are getting more and more popular as people become conscious of the amount of waste they are creating.
Alternatively, you can also do what we did and ditch your coffee maker completely. We now like to either use a French press or make our coffee the Turkish style. We wrote a whole post about different coffee brewing methods we have tried if you are interested.
Shop At Your Local Farmer’s Market
Have you noticed just how much plastic the produce at regular grocery stores is packaged in? Most of the time there is a whole lot of unnecessary plastic being used.
Going to your local farmer’s market can help you avoid this in most cases. We are very lucky that we have a local farmer’s market close to where we live every week. Buying (most of) our produce there not only saves us plastic waste but also ends up being cheaper than if we were to buy the items at the grocery store.
We know that not everyone has a good farmer’s market close – but have a look online and/or ask around. There might be a great one close by that you haven’t even heard of yet.
Use Reusable Water Bottles
One of the worst things you can do when it comes to plastic waste in your home is buying one time use plastic bottles. Luckily, this habit can be changed easily.
Instead of having to buy bottled water and carrying it from the store to the car and then inside your home, you have a couple of other options. If the water in the area where you live is
If you don’t like the taste of the water or you want to filter it before drinking, then you can either get a water filter for your tap, a filter jug or another kind of filter that can help make your tap water better.
In case you prefer carbonated water over still water, you can always invest in a soda stream or something similar. This way, you can stop buying plastic bottles and can still enjoy the water you prefer.
Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk can be a great way to save on plastic waste and also save some money. Buying staples such as rice, beans, lentils, and other grains in bulk usually
In most bulk stores you can bring your own containers or reusable bags and stock up on products this way. In case you can’t, buying
Unfortunately, we don’t have a bulk store close to where we live. However, we have recently heard of a “non-packaging” store opening soon and we’re looking forward to give it a try. Maybe you have a store like that close by as well since they seem to become more popular.
Make Your Own Beauty Products (Or Avoid Plastic Packaging)
We don’t really use a lot of beauty products
For example, Lisa uses coconut oil as a make-up remover as well as moisturizer and always make it a point to buy it in a glass container that we can either recycle afterwards or use as a storage container. (Btw, we’re planning on writing a whole post about how we use coconut oil in our beauty routine soon).
Similarly, we have stopped buying body wash in plastic bottles and instead now use soap bars that contain oils that keep our skin soft and moisturized. We have found that these bars generally last a lot longer than body wash as well which is great since it can save a bit of money in the long run.
And there you have it – a few ways to reduce plastic consumption in the home. These are things that you can do on a daily basis. We know that change doesn’t happen overnight – but change can – and does – happen! Let us know how you reduce plastic – we’d love to share tips!
As always, Stay Curious,