Simple Swaps for Reducing Plastic Waste NOW

on
Thursday, May 24, 2018

I'm sure you've heard by now that plastic is kind of an epidemic.  Everyone has been talking about it. I worked at LUSH Cosmetics back in 2013 and we had a campaign called "Take Back the Tap" which encourage the purchase of aluminum water bottles and filling them yourself, instead of buying water in plastic bottles.  It was then that I sort of invested a little more in keeping unnecessary plastic out of my life.


National Geographic has launched the "Planet or Plastic" initiative to commit to reducing plastic waste (click the link to take the pledge!).  The numbers are absolutely staggering.  Americans contribute millions of plastic bags, straws, and other items to the environment every year.  Where does this waste go? Most of it ends up in our oceans.  If you eat seafood, you are consuming tiny bits of plastic every single time you eat something that came from the ocean (another reason to not eat seafood ;P)  Zooey Deschanel paired with the initiative to help us all realize our impact on the planet.  It's getting out of control (and has been for a while) and I am really committed to making a difference.

In the past year, I have grown more passionate about significantly reducing my plastic consumption, and waste in general.  At first, it seemed impossible and really inconvenient.  I have to carry around a water bottle? I have to drink my drink at a restaurant with no straw? (I know... the horror, right?)  How could I LIVE THIS WAY.

Let me stop you (and my past self) right there.  It takes very little effort to reduce your plastic waste, and you will feel much better about yourself, your relationship with the environment, and your trips to the dumpster. Since I made the conscious decision to reduce my waste output (especially plastic), I have found my favorite replacements.  So see, I've done a lot of the work for you!  Here are some simple substitutions that you can make TODAY as in, RIGHT NOW, that won't complicate your life in any way!

Tips:

  • Be conscious of items that you buy that are marked "biodegradable." This does NOT necessarily mean that your biodegradable garbage bag will end up as one with the Earth. In fact, most of these end up in landfills, where things are unable to biodegrade as they are (under EPA regulations) deprived of sunlight and fresh air, which are both things required for biodegradation.  
  • Recycling? Awesome! but pay attention to the numbers on the items you are recycling. No. 1 and 2 can be recycled together, but No. 7 must be separated.  These numbers have to do with chemicals in the plastic and how they interact with each other when they are melted down to repurpose.




There are compostable bags that are available for just about everything - groceries, garbage, pet waste...you name it.  Green Home has a ton and they are made from cellulose, so they don't release any harmful gases into the environment when they decompose.

Metal Safety Razor


I just recently bought one of these and I love it.  You will never need to purchase another plastic disposable razor again, and you can recycle the used blades.

Shampoo/Conditioner Bar


Shampoos are plastic goldmines (plastic mines? whatever).  If your shampoo/conditioner comes in a plastic bottle, it might be time to swap!  My favorites are Seanik and BIG solid shampoo and conditioner bars from LUSH. Alex swears by Avo Co-Wash.

Makeup Pads


I use makeup pads twice a day for toner and makeup removers. That was twice a day that I was using a disposable makeup pad and tossing it into the trash.  I've made the switch, and use one of these a day and then wash them with the laundry on Sundays.

Reusable K-Cups


Dude.  I'm addicted to my Keurig. In order to avoid contributing so much plastic in the form of single use k-cups, and also just enjoying better coffee (k-cup coffee is not the greatest...) Switch to a reusable k-cup and your favorite brand of coffee.  You can pre-make these for the mornings if you get a set of reusables!

Solid Soap Bars


There is honestly no need to use a body wash that comes in a spectacularly labeled plastic bottle.  Bar soap works just as well.  I just a bar for my body in the shower, and one for my face at the sink.  You can keep them covered if you prefer.  My favorite is Sam's Natural soap in Oatmeal, and I got mine at Whole Foods without packaging!

Reusable "Paper Towels"


Be honest, how many paper towels do you use a day? Knock it off! Get these instead.  They're perfect for cleaning up spills, wiping your hands or dishes,  and cleaning off surfaces.  I honestly use them for everything.

Cloth Feminine Care Pads or THINX 

As a woman, I experience a monthly burden on the planet.  Not like, other people, the actual planet. Using single use pads and tampons (which usually come with plastic applicators and filled with chemicals) contributes a ton of waste and is completely unnecessary.  There are so many alternatives, including washable pads, THINX underwear, and cotton tampons with cardboard applicators.  Get it together, girls!  These washable pads from Lunapads are perfect.  The packaging is even biodegradable! Plus, you can get them at Target and that's always a good thing. THINX are also super cool, and even though I haven't tried them (yet) I've heard a bunch of good things.  Both of these options will also help you save money in the long run, because pads are expensive and marketed to you as a necessity.

Reusable straws


Keep one of these in your purse, car, pocket, whatever and never use another plastic straw again.  Straws are so unnecessary, and if you must use one then use a reusable one.  Plus, these straws from Pretty Candy Pin Company are friggin adorable and you'll want to show them off.  But you gotta hurry up because she frequently sells out!

And there you have it!!
My favorite super simple swaps for living a more environmentally conscious and waste-free life.  It's hard to change your lifestyle, I know (hello, I went vegan after a lifetime of eating meat!), but it's not impossible.  It's important to put in the work, but to also have supportive people around who believe in your efforts and to have faith in yourself that you're doing the right thing and helping out the world you live in.  If you have any suggestions for me as well, feel free to message me! You can email me at sara@tinywolfheart.com or hit me up on Instagram @tinywolfheart!!

Also, note that I have added a section to the site called "Environmental and Zero Waste" (check the navbar!) and I will be posting  a lot more tips like this!


xo
Sara
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