I shared on Instagram stories a few weeks ago that my goal for lent was to try to "give up" (or at least reduce) single use plastic. We say all the time that living more organically and intentionally isn't an overnight thing and shouldn't be stressful. It's about finding the small ways that you can make life changes and using the money and resources you already spend in ways that are better for the environment and people. But I will be honest that attacking the plastic monster is HARD. I don't think I realized how prevalent it was in my life until I took the time to recognize it.
I know that if there's one area of the house that single use plastic reigns, it's the kitchen. We already strive to bring reusable bags to the store and don't buy single use water bottles, but we knew we were ready to take on some of the other plastic that was ending up in the garbage or recycling bin each day. With a bit of advice, I found four strategies that seemed to make the biggest impact on my plastic use. \
We are perimeter grocery store shoppers and buy A LOT of produce each week (I am not joking when I say that our family of 3 eats about 15 pears a week). Because we scan groceries ourselves, our fridge was always stocked with those thin plastic produce bags. I picked up these organic cotton mesh bags from Organic Cotton Mart and voila - plastic produce bags are gone! Our local grocery store doesn't have a way to input tare weights (the existing weight of the bag before the produce you buy), but I simply weighed the produce without the bag and then put it in the mesh container when I was done. I throw them in my reusable shopping bags so I'm never without them when I head to the store.
It's easy to throw plastic wrap or aluminum foil over a pot or container without second thought (and then toss it into the trash can just as easily). Bee's Wrap can be washed and reused, and while they do have a lifespan, we've heard that you can rub them with new wax to bring them back to life. If you ever do need to toss them, they're biodegradable and compostable. Our other favorite perk. No plastic chemicals in contact with our food! It took a bit of time
3. Shopping the Bulk Bins
One thing I noticed during this experiment was how much plastic was used in my off the shelf purchases from the grocery store. Easiest way to combat this - shopping the bulk bins with reusable bags. Nuts and grains are available in bulk bins at most grocery stores for way less than their prepackaged counterparts. We head there first for pantry essentials and snacks and store everything in resealable containers. We're even entertaining the idea of a grocery co-op membership so we have more bulk options!
We're a Ms. Meyers family (Honeysuckle is by far our favorite scent). Instead of buying a new bottle each time we run out, we're purchasing bulk containers so we can refill our dispensers. We also bought one big container of multi purpose cleaner and have been making our own surface/counter cleaner. It's reduced our need to buy five or six different cleaners, reducing our plastic use and keeping us more organized under the sink.
What I loved about this experience is that every change I implemented, I plan to continue (way better than all of those years giving up caffeine and chocolate only to gorge myself at the end of lent). My next goal is to head to Phase II and figure out how to extend this plastic reduction to other rooms in the house. First on my list: The Bathroom. More to come!