There are now 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans. Even worse, 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die every year because of it. So what can we do to help? Reduce our plastic waste! When tackling the plastic pollution situation on our earth it is easy to get overwhelmed. This is why I’ve put together a list of 20 sustainable habits you can begin implementing in your everyday life to reduce your waste. Let’s get to saving the sea!
1. Carry a Reusable Water Bottle
Plastic water bottles are the worst. Carrying a reusable water bottle is one of the easiest ways to reduce your plastic consumption. You can purchase a glass or stainless steel water bottle from almost any store in person or online. You can often find reusable water bottles at thrift stores as well. When you leave home, fill your bottle and take it along. This will eliminate the need to buy a plastic bottle of water, pop, or juice.
2. Bring Your Own Coffee Cup
When grabbing a coffee out with friends or on your way to work, take along your own travel mug. Order your coffee like normal and at the end tell them you’d like to use your own cup. The barista or cashier will almost always have your drink made directly into that mug. You will sometimes get a discount for bringing your own as well! You’re saving the oceans and money in your wallet!
3. Pack Your Own Lunch
Instead of ordering out, grabbing a to-go meal from the grocery store, or a sandwich from the gas station, pack your own lunch. This will reduce the amount of fuel you use and plastics. When we order out we are usually creating waste with the large packaging. Eliminate this by packing foods in eco-friendly containers. If you need recipe ideas grab a copy of The Zero Waste Vegan Cookbook to help!
4. Shop At Bulk Stores
When it’s time to get groceries, visit a bulk food store. These stores will have bulk food bins where zero plastic packaging is enclosing the food. You’ll find seeds, nuts, flours, dried fruits, chocolates, popcorn, lentils, beans, and more. Take reusable bulk food bags or other reusable containers to fill.
5. Bring Your Own Produce Bags
When shopping for produce bring your own reusable produce bags rather than using the plastic ones at the store. Most of the time these plastic produce bags are used for only a few minutes to transport the produce home.
6. Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
The same concept above applies to plastic shopping bags. Especially if you’re getting a lot of groceries. Bring along reusable cotton bags to take your groceries home in. This will greatly reduce your plastic usage.
7. Store Greens in a Glass of Water
After purchasing greens from the store or farmers’ market, store them in glass jars with water in them. You can place them on the counter or fridge and your veggies will stay fresh longer without the use of plastic bags. Here are more food storage tips to reduce your waste.
8. Store Carrots in Water
The same circumstance from storing greens in water applies to carrots. Instead of storing them in a plastic bag, fill a glass jar up with water and submerge the carrots.
9. Store Potatoes and Onions in a Basket
Instead of getting a bag of potatoes and onions wrapped in that plastic net, get bulk and store them in a basket. You’ll want to keep this basket in a pantry or other dark space to help them stay fresh longer.
10. Use Washable Cloth Napkins
Did you know some paper napkins are created with microplastics to make them feel more firm? This is why it is important to use cloth napkins instead. You can get a bundle of cotton napkins that you’ll wash after each use.
11. Use Refillable Household Products
Rather than buying household products in plastic bottles, opt for glass bottle refillable items. This includes cleaners, shampoos, body washes, and even dish soaps. You can also opt to get a glass container and make your own!
12. Reuse Glass Jars
When finished with an item in a glass jar, hold onto it for later use. Instead of getting berries at the store in plastic packaging, take your old glass jars to the farmer’s market or bulk store. You’ll be able to fill them up and reduce your plastic waste.
13. Store Food In Glass Containers
Instead of storing food in plastic containers or throwaway plastic saran wrap, opt for glass containers. This will reduce your waste and keep microplastics out of your body.
14. Freeze Food In Stainless Steel Containers
If you’ve got food needing to go in the freezer use stainless steel containers to store them rather than plastics. This has the same concept as storing food in glass in the fridge or pantry.
15. Reuse Plastic Containers
If you find yourself in need of an item in a plastic container, find a use for it. Instead of throwing out the plastic container of yogurt, turn it into a plant’s pot. You can cut a few holes in the lid of the yogurt and use that as a saucer underneath.
16. Cover Leftovers with a Plate or Cloth
Instead of covering leftovers with saran wrap or tin foil, opt to cover the dish with a plate or cloth. This is not only more simple but it also reduces the amount of waste you’re creating.
17. Use Reusable Food Wraps
Instead of using plastic saran wrap, opt for reusable food wraps. These wraps are usually made out of beeswax but you can also get vegan wax food wraps! They look so cute and come in many colors.
18. Buy Loose Tea Leaves
If you love drinking tea, opt for loose tea leaves at the store. You can find these in many bulk food stores, health food stores, and online. By using loose tea leaves rather than tea bags, you’re reducing the number of plastics you use. The tea bags in most circumstances are made out of plastic. When you steep the bags microplastics seep into the hot water and actually go into your body.
19. Bring Your Own Reusable Straws
Keep a few reusable straws at home, in your car, in your purse/bag, and even at the office. Reducing the number of plastic straws you use will help our oceans greatly! 1.8 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. There are quite a few different sustainable alternatives to plastic straws!
20. Bring Your Own Cutlery
Instead of using throw-away cutlery when ordering takeout, gas station foods, or drive-ins bring your own bamboo reusable cutlery to reduce plastic. If you’re worried you’ll forget, keep a set or two in the car or purse to always have when needed.