10 Simple Ways to Reduce the Plastic in Your Life

I woke up this morning and brushed my teeth.  I went into my closet and pulled clothes off hangers.  Before leaving for work, I packed my lunch for the day and put my sandwich in a plastic storage bag. Then I grabbed my water bottle and a grocery bag to hold my lunch.

In the time it took me to get ready for work, I had used seven plastic items, which could easily be replaced with more sustainable products. More than likely, these items will eventually find their way into the ocean, where they will be a threat to marine life—and ultimately to the environment and our own health.

Plastic Is everywhere. Can we break up with plastic completely?

Probably not, but we can “audit” our lives and think about where we might make small changes to reduce our plastic use. Try these 10 ideas:

1) Audit your personal care products. Are there things you can replace with longer-lasting items or those that had a former life? Think Preserve toothbrushes/razors or a rechargeable toothbrush.

2) Revamp your grocery run. Use a reusable produce bag. One plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.

3) Eliminate plastic straws. Refuse them in restaurants and if a straw is a must, purchase a reusable one.

4) Look over kitchen storage containers. There are many alternatives to plastic storage bags. If purchasing sustainable containers is not for you right now, use your plastic storage bags, but wash, hang to dry, and reuse!

5) Try plastic-free tea steeping. Most tea bags contain up to 25% plastic! Using a stainless steel tea infuser and loose tea eliminates plastic contamination.

6) Say goodbye to single-use bags. Bring your own reusable bags for shopping, store in your car, and always have them ready. For bulk bins, label used bags and reuse.

7) Scrutinize take-out. Can you bring your containers to a restaurant, or carry a reusable coffee cup and reusable silverware with you?

8) Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters. Another idea: invest in a refillable metal lighter.

9) Minimize buying frozen foods. Most packaging is plastic. While frozen is a good back-up, think fresh first.

10) Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Opt for fresh fruits/veggies instead of products in single-serve cups.

You get the idea. We can’t do everything, and we aren’t going for perfection, but there is probably something that we can each take on. 
Small steps can lead to big changes! 

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Laurie Gelb

Laurie Gelb

Laurie Gelb is the Co-op's Member Engagement Specialist. Contact her at LaurieGelb@coopfoodstore.com.