Want to make a difference in our reliance on fossil fuels but can't yet afford an electric vehicle? Here's something you may not yet have considered: eliminating or reducing single-use plastic from your daily life as much as possible.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are arguably the biggest shopping days of the year, so what better time to make a sustainable purchase than during those shopping days?
In this article, I will provide you with some tips and product suggestions to green up your shopping bag. I'm gonna rank these suggestions in terms of easy, medium, and hard. These are arbitrary values but they may correspond to the price point of some of the swaps recommended and or the difficulty involved in making the switch. But all of them are absolutely doable - where there's a will, there's a way!
Unbleached cotton shopping bags - this 15-pack of cotton bags is machine washable, reusable, durable, and plastic-free.
Stasher Bags - hello silicone, goodbye plastic! Well, almost. So, silicone is a synthetic product and fossil fuels are involved in its creation BUT it does not break down the way plastics do, meaning it's way more durable and it doesn't release microplastics. Also, unlike plastic products which release harmful and carcinogenic compounds when incinerated, silicone reverts back to its natural and harmless ingredients of amorphous silica, carbon dioxide, and water. Yes, they're more expensive than your typical ziplock bags, but these silicone bags are microwave and freezer safe and will outlast any standard plastic bag while also being the safer choice for your health.
Hanging laundry bag - swap your plastic laundry basket for a hanging laundry bag that is also a clever space saver. I've been using this hanging bag for a long time now and I prefer it to all the other laundry hampers I've ever used. It hangs behind my bedroom door and when I'm ready to do laundry, it's very easy to transport and empty into the washer. I've been recommending it to all my peeps, which includes you ;-).
Glass storage food containers - at the very least, please do NOT heat up or freeze your food in plastic bags or containers. Extreme temperatures like heat and cold cause plastics to leech out even more of their harmful compounds and chemicals, which then end up in the food you consume. So, make the switch to glass (or silicone) storage containers for your meals to protect yourself and your loved ones. Every little bit you can do helps make a change.
Plastic-free exfoliating shower gloves - I grew up in Nigeria and we used sponges that looked like nets to shower.
Boy, I tell ya....talk about daily exfoliation! Those things scrub the devil outta every crevice on your body and it felt great. Alas, I've learned that most body scrubbers are made from plastic materials that leech microplastics every single time they're used and that not only gets into our water supply but inside our bodies as well.
I was so excited to discover these exfoliating mittens made from natural bamboo and jute fibers. I love showering with exfoliating gloves but for so long, all the gloves I found were made from plastic, albeit recycled plastic. I really wanted something that wouldn't leak microplastics and I'm really happy that there are these alternatives.
Eco-friendly disposable dinnerware - you can reduce your plastic waste this holiday season by switching to this palm leaf cutlery set. I love that these plates aren't coated with artificial chemicals and are made from naturally fallen palm leaves, therefore not contributing to deforestation. They also look super chic and not cheap like many of the disposable plastic dinnerware. Now if we could only convince amazon and the manufacturer's not to wrap the product in plastic, we'd be set. Sigh...
Get a portable water filter that filters out microplastics as well as other toxins -
Two brands that test for filtering microplastics include LifeStraw and ClearlyFiltered. These two provide travel water bottles as well as filter pitchers for your home. They make products that are composed of BPA-free plastic (yes, still plastic, unfortunately) although it's medical-grade plastic that is supposed to be less prone to leeching out chemicals and degrading. We do the best we can, right? Anyway, I've used both these brands and currently have a stainless steel water filter bottle from Clearly Filtered and I can confirm that the filtered water tastes great.
Get a Steamshot cleaner - switch to chemical-free cleaning by purchasing this affordable steamship. Yes, it's made from plastic materials but this is a durable machine that cleans and sanitizes just about any area of your house, with just the power of steam. This little device has made those annoying little cracks and crevices around my sinks, windows, and corners a breeze to clean. Seriously, give it a try and I'm sure you'll be sold!
Try a sustainable clothing brand - my favorite sweater is from Quince and I really like that they're committed to fair trade and transparent pricing for all their clothing. Yes, it is pricier than the fast fashion brands we're used to, but you will feel the difference in the quality once you try on the clothing item. Slow fashion is better for you, and better for the planet. Why not give it a try (if you can afford to), or gift it to someone who might be in need?
Get a whole-house water filter - ditch the plastic water bottles and cut straight to the point by purifying the water at the source. This is under the hard category because it isn't something most people can install themselves and it is expensive...think, $3000-$5000. I know. But, your water will taste better and although the whole house filter will most likely not filter out all microplastics, it will target many other harmful chemicals that are in our water, like lead. If you'd like to further filter out microplastics from your drinking water, feel free to add a filter from ClearlyFiltered or LifeStraw.
I won't add any more to the 'hard' category in this article because I think it's long enough already.
I hope some of these were helpful tips to enable you to get started on your plastic-free or plastic-reduction journey. Remember, the goal is not perfection, just little changes that will later snowball into big changes. Do the very best that you can, whenever you can, and encourage others to do the same; that's how we make positive changes for our planet.
Please leave a comment below if you have any other tips or questions and don't forget to subscribe for more posts on sustainability, travel, and plant-based cooking!
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