Join me today, with my new friend, Teri from Homestead Honey, as she shares her family’s journey to reducing plastic.
7 Ways to Reduce Plastic
Recently, a great image circulated around Facebook, visually prompting people to reduce plastic in nine easy ways. While my family was already implementing many of the suggestions, it prompted a thoughtful discussion about additional ways that we could reduce plastic in our home. Here are seven more ideas that we came up with:
1. Buy Previously Owned Items – Our family members are huge fans of thrift store shopping, yard sales, and auctions. By carefully inspecting used items to ensure quality, you can find incredible bargains on gently used goods. Recently, some of my thrift shop “scores” have included a pair of $150 hand made shoes for $2.00, a stainless steel stovetop espresso maker for $.25 , and a wool diaper cover for $ .50. A word of caution: Don’t make purchases for the sake of the bargain alone. Still ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”
2. Refill! – Herbs, printer toner, shampoo, nut butters, and dish soap are just a few items that my family refills at our local natural food store. Bring your container to the checkout counter first to have it weighed then fill it yourself from bulk bins. Reuse the same container for years!
3. Join a Food Buying Club – Buying bulk is a fantastic way to reduce plastic packaging in your kitchen. If purchasing a 25 pound bag of rice, beans, grains, or nuts seems like too much for your own family, find someone in your community with whom to split a bag. Store bulk foods in glass gallon or half gallon containers in a cool pantry.
4. Make Your Own – Recently, a friend mentioned that she reduces plastic in her home by making homemade yogurt. When I looked in my recycle bin that evening, I noticed that over half of our recyclable plastic was indeed yogurt containers! So my family is now experimenting with raw milk yogurt recipes that we can make quickly and easily at home. Best of all, we could save close to $10 a month doing it ourselves!
5. Store Leftovers in Glass – consider glass storage containers, such as those made by Pyrex or Frigoverre. Glass can be used in your pantry, fridge, or freezer. When freezing, fill mason jars, commonly used for canning, no more than three quarters full.
6. Reuse Ziploc Bags – I live around the corner from an Elementary school, and the most common piece of plastic trash I spot lying around the school perimeter is discarded Ziploc bags. Instead of using them once and tossing, wash them with dish detergent, dry them upside down and use them again!
7. Do Without – I know this might be the most radical suggestion, but it’s probably the most important of the three R’s: Reduce. Think twice before you purchase, and reduce copious amounts of plastic packaging on new goods. Do you really need a new appliance? Do your children have to have one more plastic toy? Consider alternatives such as repairing items that still have some life in them, swapping with friends to provide your children with new-to-them toys, or see if something you already own can meet your needs.
Even though I like to imagine myself as an environmental conscious person, when I walked through my home and honestly assessed the amount of plastic we still use, I was surprised. It takes a bit of effort to remove plastic from our homes, but the health, environmental, and economic benefits are worth it.
Teri Page lives in northeast Missouri with her husband and two young children. Together they are building an off-grid homestead from scratch. You can read about their adventures in gardening, knitting, natural building, animal husbandry, and more on her blog Homestead Honey.