‘80% of all marine debris found in the ocean is land based, and 80-90% of the marine debris is made from plastic.’
Today I’m going to be sharing with you 8 simple ways to reduce plastic consumption and improve zero-waste management. Since becoming vegan, I’ve done my best to have as little impact on animals and the environment overall. I am by no means perfect and there is always more I could do but I believe that any small changes can make a huge difference if enough people implement them. Over the past year, I’ve adopted some green strategies that have hopefully advanced my ecological footprint. Without further ado, here they are:
#1 – USE METALLIC STRAWS
I’m not somebody that uses straws very often but when I do, I use a metallic one that is re-usable just by giving it a quick rinse. Mine came with a mason jar I ordered but Etsy have really cheap packs of 4-5 you can purchase. Click here for one example. According to one environmental website, 500 million straws are used every single day just in the US alone and then tossed, only to wind up in the ocean. Plastic straws contain BPA which makes them unrecyclable and very difficult to break down. By investing in a metallic or bamboo straw, you can create less demand for plastic straw production. Bring them with you to restaurants, cafes and even juice/smoothie bars. It’s really that easy!
#2 – USE YOUR OWN CUTLERY
Plastic utensils, much like straws, are also typically made with BPA and cannot be broken down. All day long people take cutlery away with a meal from a restaurant and then dispose of them once they have finished eating, not really thinking of where they end up and what impact they have on the environment. The best way to avoid this is by carrying your own stainless steel/bamboo cutlery in a case wherever you go. I always eat my breakfast and lunch at work so I bring my own from home. If I need to buy my lunch, I either dine in so I can use their silverware or take the food away but use my own cutlery to eat it. Click here to purchase a set of bamboo flatware and a cute pouch for them. The trick to plastic reduction is to re-use what you already have so as not to buy anything new that will become trash later.
#3 – USE STAINLESS STEEL WATER BOTTLES
By now it is pretty common knowledge that plastic water bottles are not good for your health or the planet. Plenty of them are laced with BPA or other harsh chemicals that seep into your liquid if heated or repeatedly washed. Stainless steel water bottles (make sure they are BPA-free) are the optimal solution and great at keeping your water cold/warm for extended periods of time. I bought mine at The Source Bulk Foods in Byron Bay for only $19.95 – click here to see. I love how insulated and durable it is without containing anything nasty or harmful. Moreover, if you’re a coffee/tea drinker, I would recommend investing in a glass/stainless-steel thermo mug or cup. I know plenty of people that bring them to cafes to fill up so as not to create more waste. I’m not a coffee drinker so I use a mug for tea at work.
#4 – USE CANVAS SHOPPING BAGS
According to an environmental website, Australians use an estimated 5 billion plastic bags a year. 5 billion! That is over 20 million new bags being used every single day. It sickens me to know these are the figures just in Australia. What about the rest of the world? If you are reading this post, I urge you to keep a couple of canvas bags handy either in your car or by the front door so you never forget to bring them when you go grocery shopping. The same goes for the little plastic bags in the fresh fruit and vegetable section. I never use them to carry my produce. You can either pop them in your canvas bag as they are or, if you wish to buy a handful of veggies, you can use little mesh bags that are easily washable and re-usable. I bought mine here. In regards to bin liners, I use bio-degradable bags. I know some people compost and that is great. I may do that one day but I’m not there yet.
#5 – USE GLASS JARS TO STORE BULK FOOD ITEMS
I mentioned this in my September Favourites 2017! but I love shopping at The Source Bulk Foods because they are so environmentally-friendly. You can purchase glass jars there to store all your dry-goods in bulk which greatly reduces a significant amount of waste. For example, if you store a big serving of nuts in a jar from a place this like this, you won’t need to buy it in a plastic package from the supermarket. When you run out, you simply return and re-fill your jar. You’ll also find the prices are a lot cheaper and you’ll get much more for your money.
#6 – USE A MENSTRUAL CUP
This next tip is for the ladies only. I am not exaggerating when I say a menstrual cup changed my life. Before this awesome product was released on the market, I was spending money every 30 days on packets of pads that made me feel like I was wearing nappies. They were bulky, uncomfortable, costly and disgusting when disposed of. When everybody began raving about the menstrual cup, I decided to try it. I’ll admit, at first it was difficult to insert and get used to but once I learned the proper placement, I couldn’t feel it at all. It was so comfortable. A menstrual cup is made from silicone and can last up to ten years so you don’t have to buy boxes of tampons and pads every single month. You simply insert, let it collect your blood, remove it, rinse out in a sink and repeat. After each cycle, you should place it in a bowl of boiling water for sterilization or clean it with an oil-free based soap. This product lasts for years which means you will be reducing the amount of waste you would be producing if you stuck to tampons and pads. Please give it a try if you haven’t already. I bought mine here.
#7 – USE A BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH
In Australia, over 30 million toothbrushes are used and disposed of by Australians each year, amounting to approximately 1,000 tonnes of landfill each year. That is a lot of waste. A couple of years ago, I invested in a bamboo toothbrush and haven’t looked back since. Made from bamboo, a natural cellulose fibre, the handles are biodegradable, environmentally sustainable, and do not pollute the environment. The amazing growth and self-renewing ability of bamboo means that deforestation is not necessary either. They are also a lot cheaper and thinner making them perfect for travel. I bought mine in a health-food store but you can purchase one here.
#8 – USE A CERAMIC/STAINLESS STEEL LUNCHBOX
Last but not least, I would recommend investing in a ceramic or stainless steel lunchbox for work or school. I have a ceramic, microwave-safe dish that carries my lunch every day to work. It is far better than the take-away plastic containers found in restaurants and cafes. Most establishments will put your food in whatever lunchbox you give them so don’t be afraid to bring them along with you. The same goes for leftovers. It’s all about being prepared and having things handy so you don’t feel forced to use plastic products. Click here for some good ideas. To add to that, yesterday at World Vegan Day, I bought a pack of 3 reusable food wraps made from plant-based wax. They are such a great alternative to plastic wrap that I had been using every single day to cover my breakfast bowl. Now I use these and they are amazing. They will last up to 6-12 months and come in lots of cute designs.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you for reading. Please leave more plastic/waste reduction tips down below that I didn’t list. I want to keep doing as much good as I can.
Peace & Love xoxo
Disclaimer: I am not being paid or sponsored for this post/products – all my thoughts/opinions are my own
Such a great post on how to be more environmentally friendly, Bec. Definitely agree with you on the water bottle point. For a long time I used plastic water bottles at work, only to realise they collect bacteria over time. So I switched to using a glass mug to drink water at work 🙂 Hope you have been well my friend. Enjoy the warm weather and hope to see you soon 🙂
Thank you my friend! Proud of you for having a glass mug to drink out of! I am loving this weather as I am sure you are too. Hope to see you soon xxx
This is a really good post. Must say, I’ve been meaning to try the menstrual cup for a while. Think I will give it a go. Thanks !!
Thank you so much! From one woman to another, it will change your life haha 🙂
I really liked each and every advice! Since i am from a developing country, implications of all the advices is bit difficult! Still I try to keep the use of plastics as minimum as possible. We reuse the plastics more. Anyway, thanks a lot for sharing 😊
Thank you so much for reading! I understand that it isn’t so simple in all countries. It’s great that you reuse plastics 🙂 have a great day!
You’ve made some valid points. I think packaging and labelling controls should be stricter; the fat/sugar/salt/calorie content on foods should be displayed on the front of packaging alongside the recycling information, with companies given a deadline of when to make all packaging recyclable. We only have one planet, let’s start nurturing it.
Thank you!! I absolutely agree with you. The care and health of our planet needs to be a much bigger priority than I believe it is. Here’s hoping that the world becomes more and more eco-friendly as time goes on x
Great article! In my home, to make using a reusable water bottle easier, I have 3 metal water bottles for each of my family members already pre-filled with water in the refrigerator. I found that previously when we are really “on the go” we would grab a plastic water bottle because it was quicker. Now because the metal bottles are already pre-filled we grab those instead. I feel much better and it is just as quick as grabbing our old stand by plastic water bottles.
Thank you for reading!! That’s such a great idea! A lot of the time, we go for plastic because it is convenient so little life hacks like that are perfect for avoiding more waste 🙂 x