September 25, 2023

Easy Ways to Cut Down on Plastic and Paper

Plastic. It’s such a fascinating, innovative product. There are so many benefits of it, but lately I’ve been looking for ways to cut down on plastic and paper. I’m not a person that is totally anti-plastic, but overusing it doesn’t sit well with me. Once in a while, I take stock of how I’m using items around my house and in my life and see if there is a better way. There usually is, and that’s what I’m going to share with you in this article. Even when we have the best of intentions, sometimes we forget to implement them in our day-to-day life. Sometimes we simply don’t know there is a better way until someone tells us there is. No matter what, our stewardship of this earth can be taken more to heart, and we can treat our planet with much more kindness. Don’t think you can’t make a difference, because you can. One more is one more, and that is a lot. Let’s spread the good word on cutting back and finding alternatives. It’s not as hard as you may think.

Always with My Refillable Water Bottle!

Refillable Water Bottle

There are so many benefits to using refillable water bottles as a way to cut down on plastic and paper. Drinking out of a plastic water bottle has become a big turn-off for me. I can’t keep it cold, and when I’m done with the bottle I know that it’s likely going into some landfill. There is a lot of skepticism about whether or not our recyclables actually go to a recycling plant. Since I have no idea, I’ve opted for reusable water bottles and I’m sticking to it. With owning a business, it’s also a great way to get a logo on there and give them out as gifts. What a win-win. Helping the planet and spreading my business visibility are an easy yes. My encouragement is to make the investment yourself or find yourself a business owner giving them away. Maybe you can talk me into giving you one!

Metal Straw Variety Pack - with Cleaners

Metal Straws

While I’m not a frequent straw-user, I do like one every now and then. When I have the little kids in our family over, they also love to sip out of a straw. For some reason, they feel that it gives them agency, and I support that. The straws typically come with a straw cleaning brush, and if not, they are easy to come by. I’ve bought some extra ones in case I lose one or it gets gross. Some water bottles with built-in straws could also use a good cleaning every now and then, and these are perfect for that usage, too. As I said, I’m not a huge straw user, but the metal ones have been the perfect way for me to help cut down on plastic and paper. Even the paper straws are technically trash at the end of their use. And who wants to suck on a piece of wet paper? No thanks.

French Bag I Carry Everywhere

Reusable Bags

One of my favorite and first things I ever did as a way to cut down on plastic and paper was to get reusable bags. I take them all over, and even carry this one linked in my purse for when I go clothes shopping. It could fit one of everything in a mall. Sure, it looks small, but it’s not. And I love the colors - French flag! Or American flag. Not a fan of the colors? Choose a neutral. Reusable bags seem to be given away constantly by vendors or organizations, and it’s a great way to do your part to reduce your plastic consumption. Grocery stores love sending you away with 1000 plastic bags for your 4 items, and it makes me seethe. I actually stopped shopping at a particular store because I would ask for no bag, and some how I ended up with a plastic bag no matter what. Maybe they get paid for how many they give away. Either way, they have lost my business forever. Keep some bags in your car, wash them when they get dirty, and feel good about your efforts.

Cloth Napkins on Etsy

Cloth Napkins

It took me a long time to warm up to using cloth napkins as a way to cut down on plastic and paper. Using paper towels or paper napkins was just so easy. Use it and toss it, right? A friend of mine had told me that they committed to using cloth napkins and for months I thought about this. She even has kids so I know that she is super committed. It’s like using cloth diapers, to me. The level of respect I had for this person skyrocketed and I vowed that at some point I was going to do the same thing. I had to find the right napkins and wanted to buy from a small vendor. Etsy was where I went for my new interest, and I ended up purchasing a pack of 12 napkins that can be washed and reused. You can go for a bulk set, and I would encourage it for a larger family, but for two of us the set I got is perfect. It’s a joy to wash them, fold them, and use them at mealtime. Highly recommend.

Items from My Local Farmers Market

Shop at the Farmers Market

This one might seem odd, but what I’ll tell you is this: birds of a feather flock together. When you arrive at the farmers market empty-handed and no bags, you might feel a hair out of place. Most people that attend take bags with them to fill with their goods. Plus, not all the vendors have plastic bags. Carrying around loose potatoes is not the most fun way to enjoy a farmers market, but it is a good way to cut down on plastic and paper. It’s just not practical. I’ve mentioned shopping at the farmers market many times before, told you about the benefits of it, and now I’m compounding that with helping the environment. You know when you go to a supermarket you will get a bag no matter what. But when you go to a farmers market, you have to work a little harder. And hey, hard work is good for us all sometimes. Take your bags, support local, and support Mother Earth.

Brilliant Rubbermaid Containers - the Absolute Best

Buy at the Deli

When you buy meat, make it a point to hit the deli instead of the pre-packaged plastic containers. The people behind the counter will typically wrap it in paper. I’ve even asked if they will put my items in my own containers if I present them and they said yes. Then you don’t have to transfer anything and it definitely helps to cut down on plastic and paper in this case. Yes, it’s easier to grab and go. You’re not getting the freshest meats, though, and you’re definitely adding to the plastic issue. The more you buy, the more these factories make. If you don’t buy, they don’t have a market. You can make a difference, so I do encourage you to take that extra step. Buy at the deli. Your items will be fresher, yummier, and I will be so proud.

My Extra Silverware in a Caddy Always Ready to Go

Have an Extra Set of Silverware and Washable Plates

My husband and I frequently have people over to eat. We love feeding people, having gatherings, and enjoying their company. I got absolutely disgusted with buying plastic silverware to serve our guests, so I headed to Sam’s Club. Purchasing an inexpensive set of silverware was one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Not only does it cut down on plastic and paper, it’s a nicer look for service pieces. I keep them in a caddy at all times, whip it out when I have a party, and voila. Service with a smile. Now I will admit that the plates I use are plastic, but they are washable and we use them over and over. Not a lot of paper plates happening at our house these days. If I’m feeling overwhelmed and know I’m going to have a lot of people over, I will use paper plates, but never plastic. That’s my commitment to my guests, and it’s my commitment to the future of this earth.

What is Your Commitment?

Some of you reading this are going to be like “hell yeah!” and some are going to think “I can’t do all of this right now.” It has taken me years to implement all of this, and this is all based on my own lifestyle. If you’re not into entertaining ever, no need to buy that extra silverware set. But I bet you can find something you can commit to, at least some of the time. Don’t get discouraged if you forget your reusable bags when you go to the store. Just do it the next time. Picking up at some point is more important than getting it right every single time. I definitely don’t, but I definitely don’t beat myself up about it. Committing to learning more was to cut down on plastic and paper is the very first step. Figuring out what works for you and implementing it are next. So I ask you: what is your commitment? What do you want to modify or alter? I can’t wait to hear about it, and I know you’ll be proud that you did it. Let’s give this lady earth something to feel good about, and the humans coming after us. It’s the least we can do.

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