One of the simplest ways to be more sustainable is to green your home, office, and travel. For example, taking a set of reusable cutlery prevents thousands of plastic forks and knives from ending up in landfills. Imagine the collective impact we could all have with these small changes.
While it hasn’t always been easy to find zero or low garbage stores, some stores help us live a greener, cleaner lives. Even today, when in-store shopping is not possible everywhere, these online stores encourage us to adopt a sustainable lifestyle (starting with plastic-free packaging, of course). In general, the hardest to recycle the plastics are the softest, those that can easily be crumpled in hand, such as food packaging (think of pasta packets or individually wrapped portions of food). Polystyrene is another ubiquitous culprit that is never recycled in the waste stream.
So let’s take the next step in this dynamic of minimal waste and no plastic. Start small, take your time, and develop your good habits one by one.
1. BYO bag
Always take your shopping bags to the supermarket or stores. They don’t have to be made of canvas, the eco-friendly kind if you don’t have one. Even the simple reuse of plastic bags from your kitchen cupboard can help reduce waste.
2. Use a thermos or KeepCup
If you regularly find yourself buying coffee to go, take your clean thermos and avoid adding to the pile of Styrofoam and plastic-coated cardboard waste. Coffee makers generally appreciate not having to buy their cups to dispense and the environmental values being taken care of. Some coffee shops even give you a discount!
3. Avoid individually wrapped products
Don’t buy food in pre-portioned packages. Buy in bulk instead! Instead of buying 15 mini-packs of cookies or potato chips for school lunches, buy a sizeable individual box and put it in portions in containers. Apply this theory to yogurt, blanks, and anything else that can be purchased in larger quantities. Every little bit counts!
4. Don’t buy fruits and vegetables that are wrapped in plastic!
As with bulk packaged foods, avoid buying pre-packaged or pre-weighed fruits and vegetables. You know that bananas packed on foam trays and the like are useless and waste money. Instead, choose bulk bananas and put them directly in the fruit basket or refrigerator when you get home. In fact, why does a banana need more packaging than nature has already provided?
5. Replace the Gladwrap with beeswax wrappers or containers.
Invest in good, airtight storage containers used both in the microwave and in the freezer. It’s a good idea to have several different sized containers for the different types of foods you’ll be storing, as well as snack-sized containers for lunch boxes and for storing liquids, dressings, etc. The phthalates in the plastic film are very harmful to your health, which will benefit you, your friends, and your family.
6. Buy your meat or cheese at the delicatessen and ask to use your container.
Pre-packaged meat and cheese are usually sold in plastic or polystyrene trays, but if you buy directly from the deli, you can bring your container to carry your treats.
7. Have a bottle on hand
Plastic water bottles are one of the most common items in the world. Don’t help perpetuate the market for this ridiculously wasteful product; take your water bottle when you’re on the go. Water comes out of the tap for free, so why the hell pays for it!
8. Refuse the straw! Use your lips.
They may seem small and harmless, but they build up incredibly fast for a night of drinking. If you have to drink through a straw, try using it again overnight. Better yet, invest in a reusable straw, such as the stainless steel or glass straws. We’ve found that stainless steel straws are a little stronger because glass is not the thing.