We all have read the mind-blowing statistics of how much damage we are doing to our planet with excessive waste and plastics that won’t break down. We know we are exposing ourselves to so many carcinogenic toxins from our foods, kitchen utensils, and cleaning chemicals. We’ve heard that our recycling efforts aren’t producing the drastic outcome we had hoped for and we know that cutting our consumption of things is really the only way to help make a dent. The statistics and calls-to-action can feel overwhelming, but there are simple ways you can help solve a massive problem and set an example for your children who will have to inherit this earth.
I’d like to share with you some low-cost easy ways I’ve “gone green” for a healthier household–and ultimately, a healthier planet.
Reusable Silicone Freezer Bags
For $25 I have used these same three silicone freezer bags for most of our meats and produce all year and I no longer have to remember to buy plastic Ziploc bags. You simply wash them out when you remove the food inside. Not only does this cut costs on our grocery bill, but it reduces the number of plastics we are exposed to and the amount we are adding to a landfill. Originally, I just bought three as a trial run before I planned to buy more. However, three has been the perfect amount for our small family.
Not only am I reducing the amount of plastic that will end up in a landfill, but these scrubbers are just so much more beautiful and make washing dishes a more enjoyable task. This particular brand, Full Circle, uses recycled plastics for their scrubbers, which you can replace with a newly recycled head to the lovely wooden handle when they’ve become worn out.
Pyrex and Glass Containers
One day, I pulled out all of my plastic Tupperware and filled up an entire trash bag with them. It was sickening to look at. I had learned that even if products say BPA-free, there are often still several other chemicals that have replaced the BPA that are just as bad for you! I felt sick that I had unknowingly put that into my body and into my child’s body. I made a contribution to the landfill and to the recycling bin and purged our house of these plastic leftover-containers. I replaced them with glass containers — namely Pyrex — with silicone lids.
Stainless Steel Bottles
That same day, I threw away all of our plastic sippy cups and plastic water bottles and thermoses. I ordered stainless steel to replace them all. For bottles and sippy cups, I found a brand called Pura Stainless, which makes baby bottles, sippies, and adult bottles all with the same size top, so that all of their lids are interchangeable. This has been so awesome! I can change out traditional water bottle lids with sippy cup lids and baby bottle nipples. And after my toddler chews up a lid, it’s simple to order a replacement.
It is such an easy habit to form to say “no” to plastic grocery bags. They are not recyclable in the traditional sense (the only way to recycle them is to bring them back to the store) and are very hurtful to wildlife and sea life. If you don’t already have a random collection of tote bags, then purchase a few from a store. Personally, I have repurposed a massive IKEA shopping bag into one of my grocery bags, simply because I can carry the bulk of my small groceries inside in just one trip. Vow to yourself to never use them again — even if you forget your cloth bags in the trunk. After about four times of forgetting them myself, and then having to carry every individual item inside, I never forgot them again and created a new, sustainable habit.
Tampons not only introduce a bevy of harmful chemicals into your body, but they often come with a plastic applicator that adds to the landfill. Not to mention that feminine hygiene products are absurdly expensive and have to be purchased monthly! I use a silicone cup now (mine is the Diva Cup brand) and am giddy that I never have to waste money on pads or tampons ever again! I had so many questions before I bought one, but simply reading blogs and watching YouTube tutorials answered all of them. In short, it is all very similar to using a tampon, except this one is reusable and washable.
For about $200, I bought all of the cloth diapers and accessories I would ever need for my first child and am currently using them again for my second child. When we’re done, I’ll pack them up for my third child’s arrival. This is a huge cost saving! But most importantly, it drastically reduces the amount of waste our family is adding to the landfill. It’s not any messier than handling a disposable diaper, and the only addition is about two loads of laundry a week.
I’m still new to this world, but I did purchase a starter kit of oils and glass bottles, and very soon I will be making my own home cleaners and even some beauty items for myself. A few drops go a very long way and I’m excited to begin making my own laundry detergent and using a glass jug instead of plastic (you have to use glass or amber glass for oils, as they break down plastics). Again, this will be another cost saver, which will mean less unknown chemicals on my family’s body, and less plastic going into the landfill.
You can skip the Saran Wrap if you purchase a few beeswax cloths. You can also stop purchasing sandwich bags and wrap sandwiches in beeswax cloth or purchase a specifically made sandwich bag with beeswax cloth. These are washable and reusable and last a lot longer than the single-use plastics. You can find these online and at your local farmers’ markets, and often with adorable designs printed on them!
Stainless Steel Straws
Plastic straws are another item that most people don’t even consider the amount of waste they produce and the amount of damage they do to sea life and wildlife. It only cost $7.99 for eight stainless steel straws that came with a nifty little cleaner brush for them. I keep one in my purse for when I visit a cafe or restaurant and use the others at home.
Take a look at the plastics in your life and decide where you’d like to cut first. Remember, I did all of these gradually, so it never hit me as one lump sum. Each one was an affordable single cost when I made the decision to swap out plastic for something more sustainable. Each one had time to become a new habit before I added another one. Consider doing a similar approach. Do you use K-Cups for your coffee? Consider brewing your own coffee old-school style. Do you visit coffee shops a lot? Consider bringing your own mug instead of using their disposable cups. Could you use cloths more, instead of paper towels? There is always room for improvement! You do not have to become a hippie, a crunchy granola mom, or an extreme zero-waster. But you can become a human who cares about the state of the planet our children will inherit and the kinds of chemicals we are subjecting them to. One step at a time, one day at a time.