Sorry, Plastic – It’s Not Me, It’s You (A Guide to Zero Waste Living)

Morgan Casavant
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Every piece of plastic ever made still exists. Yes. Every single one. Even the ones you recycled, even the ones you thought were getting a new life.

That’s because we live in a disposable society where nearly every plastic is made to be used once or twice and then discarded. When you recycle, plastic gets downgraded. This means a water bottle can never be another water bottle – it will become fencing, playground material, or speed bumps.

After that? It still goes to the landfill. Or worse – it ends up in the ocean.
 

Here’s How to Ditch Plastic For Good

One of the best things you can do for the earth is to seriously reduce the amount of plastic you use, or eliminate it altogether. Here’s your quick guide of simple things you can replace to help you do just that.
 

1. Grocery Bags

Instead of walking out of the grocery store loaded up with a bunch of plastic grocery bags, you have a couple options. The most sustainable option is to bring reusable canvas grocery bags, but those can be difficult to remember! If you left your bags at home, opt for paper bags that you can recycle or use in your compost.
 
You can pick these up at most stores, or save the ones you get from events.
 
 

2. Produce Bags

Unfortunately, the plastic bags don’t just come from the checkout line. When it comes to produce, first decide if what you’re grabbing even needs a bag – many fruits and vegetables have natural skin that protect it from the outside world. Just give it a nice wash at home before you eat it.
 
The second option is to invest in canvas or mesh produce bags. I love these because you can also use them at the bulk bins to avoid the plastic packaging that comes with things like rice, oats, coffee, nuts, chocolate, seeds, and more. Pro Tip: Write the PLU numbers for your bulk items in a note on your phone.
 
 

3. Food Storage

Ditch the plastic food storage containers and baggies and opt for glass containers and jars. I like to save the jars of all different sizes from sauces, salsa, ice cream, and more so I have a nice assortment. I also love tin lunch boxes that have separate compartments for everything you need.
 

 

4. Straws

In my opinion, this one is the most difficult. Not because you’re not prepared, but because most places just give you a straw without asking and I have a hard time remembering to specify beforehand. Grab yourself a steel or glass straw and keep it handy for when you’re out and about.
 
 

5. Water Bottles

I mentioned water bottles above, but I truly feel like they’re the most deceptive when it comes to plastic. We think we can recycle them and all is good but that’s really not the case. Do yourself a favor and get a steel water bottle. They’re BPA free, easy to clean, and a high-quality one doesn’t affect the taste of your water at all.
 
Bonus points for stocking up and getting a steel coffee mug as well. To-go coffee cups from your favorite local joint, aside from having a plastic lid, are also lined with plastic. This makes them exceptionally difficult to recycle.
 
Recommended Read: Found: This Water Purifier Makes Bottled-Quality Water Right In Your Own Home
 
 

6. Toothbrush

Thankfully, this one’s a pretty simple switch! Get a bamboo toothbrush with either natural (animal hair) fibers or more traditional (plastic-based) fibers. Either way, the toothbrush handle itself is compostable, but if you opted for traditional fibers you’ll need to separate those from the base with pliers before discarding.
 
 

Bonus! Food Packaging

When you’re ready to take your zero-wasting to the next level, try bringing your own food storage containers into restaurants when you want something to go. You may get some funny looks, but this eliminates so much waste! You won’t have to worry about styrofoam, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, extra napkins, and more.
 

Let’s Ditch Plastic Together!

This Earth Month, there are plenty of plastic-free pledges going around that you can get involved with. Make the pledge to reduce or eliminate plastic, and keep learning about all the ways you can reduce your personal waste.
 
Together, we can help to restore the planet and leave something good for the next generation.
 

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Here’s Your Guide to Recycling Properly - Are You Doing It Right?
Quite a few of us aren’t recycling properly, and that can cause big problems for recycling plants. Find out how to recycle each type of product here.
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Morgan Casavant

Morgan is a graphic designer and yoga instructor committed to inspiring compassion, balance, and centeredness - on and off the mat. She loves minimalism, the zero waste movement, and all the things working to protect the environment.

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