My first 10 shifts to go plastic free
We are addicted to plastic; we don't realize how much we consume.
Before I dive in, I want to acknowledge that it is impossible to be completely plastic free. If you are reading this then you are staring at a screen that is made up of plastic. Plastic is essential for the internet, electronic devices, medical equipment, pipelines and vital to many cutting edge technological advances. However, unnecessary consumption of plastic is hazardous and must be avoided.
Plastic is a health hazard, just as much as an environmental hazard if used unwisely.
I was appalled at the amount of plastic a household of 3 (that's us) were consuming - I didn't realize it until I began to consciously keep track.
How did so much plastic creep into my life so fast? I don’t remember using any while growing up.
I began reading up and came across many easy swaps and zero waste journals that inspired me.
I thought reducing plastic was going to be difficult, well it wasn't.
I decided to start with making small shifts. Here are the first few. - none drastic, no huge lifestyle changes, nothing causing me serious inconvenience.
- Cookware: This was probably the very first change, I replaced all my nonstick pans with aluminum, cast iron and earthenware. Also gone - those ugly black plastic spatulas.
- Toothbrushes: We moved from plastic to bamboo. There was also something symbolic in making the first thing I touched every day ‘natural’ – it helped reinforce the choices I was making and the decisions I had taken.
- Face wash and soaps: I stopped using a face wash, microbeads are plastic and so is most cosmetic packaging. I now do an oil cleanse (which I love) and buy handmade soaps that come in little jute bags.
- Bottled Water: We installed a water filter and stopped getting the 5-gallon plastic cans. This one is extra special, as it was inspired by my brother when he visited. He hated the taste of the water at our place; and a week after returning home, he shipped over a water filter :). The water tastes much better and it also cleared up space in my kitchen.
- Plastic water bottles: An obvious one after we installed the water filter. I carry my own stainless-steel water bottle everywhere. There are days I have two in my car (in case I run out). On the days I forget to carry them, I come back with a bad taste in my mouth.
- Straws and other single use disposables: Most coffee shops serve coffee in a takeaway cup even if you are sitting in. I make sure I specify a ceramic cup / glass without a straw. I carry a steel straw with me for my daughter. I also have a steel spoon and fork with me in a pretty cloth pouch, they are usually put to use in food courts.
- Cling wraps: Gosh, when did they become so popular? I try to store food in containers that have a lid. For ones I can’t use a lid, I have switched to beeswax wraps.
- Grocery bags: I usually buy my fruits and veggies from a farmer's market, thus avoiding plastic packaging. I have a set of cloth bags kept in the car for groceries/other buys. On days I forget them, I decline a plastic bag and carry groceries (if I can) by hand. If unavoidable, I try to reuse these as dustbin liners. In the future, I also plan to carry containers to get my grains and pulses.
- Condiments and Oils: I buy them in glass bottles, and I reuse the glass bottles. I am also collecting these for when I start to do my container shopping :)
- Toys: We try our best not to bring in cheap plastic toys into our home. My daughter does get upset when we don't buy her a bubble gun, but when we tell her it is plastic - the 4 year old turns all serious and says "..plastic is not good for me…".
- Diapers: My daughter is off diapers, but this was one of our fundamental changes. A switch to cloth diapers which were much more comfortable and hygienic. And most importantly I knew what they were made of.
I had to make conscious changes the first few times, now they are automatic - I am tuned to choosing natural and handmade.
It's only about taking a first step, and then you will see how it shifts your mindset. Choose to change at a pace that works for you. I am now mastering my compost journey - the organic waste from my kitchen generates methane in a landfill, instead if composted it will help me expand my vegetable patch. Also on my list - learning to make my own soaps!
As I said - work in progress