10 Tips to Start Your Plastic Free Life

Plastic Free

As we enter 2021, many of us have become much more aware of the climate issues and the environmental impact we humans can cause. One of the issues is plastic waste. Plastic waste is a serious problem, from mountain tall plastic waste landfills to plastic bags or straws floating in the ocean and destroying the ecosystem and affecting the animals. The world has become more conscious of plastic usage, the problems with excessive amounts of plastic waste there are. With all the awareness, one solution that came to mind is the idea of a plastic-free lifestyle. Plastic free means people are using plastic as little as possible, especially single use plastic, and finding plastic alternatives and properly disposing or recycling plastic whenever possible. But if you look around you, you will realize that going plastic free can be quite difficult, as we are most likely to be surrounded by plastic products. So here are 10 tips for you to become plastic free!

What does Plastic Free Mean?

Before we jump the wagon on this new plastic free lifestyle, it is important that we understand what plastic free really means. As the word suggests, plastic free living means there is minimal use of plastic in their everyday lives. Everyday we use a lot of single use plastic, such as plastic wrappers for snacks, plastic bags containing groceries, invisible microplastic in your shampoo and toothpaste or microplastic that comes off after washing your polyester shirts. Plastic free living or lifestyle is not just about removing all the plastic items, it is also about knowing what kind of plastic we are daily consuming and how to reduce single used plastic and preventing plastic waste from ending up in landfills or the ocean. It is very difficult to entirely remove plastic from one person’s life, and even harder to do it at one go. However, by the small steps and choices we make each and every day, we can make a difference. As more and more people choose to be plastic free, companies and brands will also follow the trend and plastic free lifestyle will become even easier. This is a movement that everyone can easily participate in, and if you are worried, there are many blogs and books out there all about plastic free lifestyle.

A popular book where the two authors share their journey of becoming plastic free is called, Plastic Free Living – A Small Revolution You can Make Now by Jay Shinha and Chantal Plamondon.

PLastic free every day!

You can easily start your plastic free lifestyle with small and minimal changes that you do every day. These small changes can equal up to a big one and make a huge difference for the world and the earth. However, remember that you don’t need to do them all at once, take them one by one and slowly. Take your time and adapt and every time you do it, you are becoming more conscious and you are on your plastic free journey!

10 Plastic Free Tips:

Plastic Free items
Here is a list of 10 great ideas for you to start your plastic free journey today!

Your Personalize Shopping Bag

It is always nice to have a tote bag or a cloth bag on hand, where you can put all your groceries in or any kind of shopping. Also it can save you a few bucks here and there because many places are now charging for plastic bags. There are many kinds of shopping bags available and there will definitely be one for you! This is a great first step for a plastic free lifestyle。

Plastic Free Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Toothbrushes and toothpaste are daily necessities. Since all toothbrushes and toothpaste are either in plastic packaging or made of plastic, they can accumulate quite a lot of plastic waste. In addition toothbrushes and toothpaste are usually not recyclable, so finding plastic free toothbrushes and toothpaste are a great way to replace your current toothbrush and toothpaste. Nowadays there are bamboo toothbrushes on the market, which use boar hairs as bristles for an eco friendly choice. As for toothpaste, many brands have come out with toothpaste tablets, or toothpaste powder in tin cans. Which is definitely better than the regular toothpaste with non-recyclable plastic. Now you can be plastic free and have shiny clean teeth too!

Plastic Free Drinks: Water Bottle & Tumbler

I am sure many of you are already bringing your own water bottle, tumbler, or cups to cafes or when you are going outside, which is great!! For those of you that haven’t started, why not start now? Nowadays there are many different kinds of cups available, if you are worried about the size or heaviness, there are lightweight collapsible cups. If you are afraid of spilling, get a new tumbler that is great for hot or cold drinks. There will definitely be a water bottle or tumbler that is going to make your plastic free lifestyle easier and fun.

Your Own Chopsticks, Utensils, and Straws

Similar to your water bottle, you can also bring your own utensils. Instead of all those single-used plastic spoons and forks by bringing your own utensils, you are cutting down a lot of plastic waste. You can easily find sets of chopsticks, forks, knives, spoons and straws that are reusable, washable and easy to carry around. There are stainless steel and bamboo made options available. Become plastic free by cutting down on these single use plastic utensils that are sturdy and easy to use.

Cloth Mask

With the COVID-19 wearing a mask is not only go yourself but for others. . For your next grocery shopping or quick errands outside, why not try a cloth mask instead of those single-use plastic wrapped face masks. Although the masks themselves might not be made of plastic, the packaging is and we want to overall reduce the amount of single use plastic in a plastic free lifestyle. So by switching to a cloth mask, you are reducing the amount of waste in total and save money in the long run. You can easily wash them and reuse them as many times as you need. Bonus point, you can find beautiful and trending reusable masks online now, find that matches your style.

Produce bags

Instead of using the flimsy plastic bag that you put your produces and vegetables in from the supermarket, you can try these nice and dainty net bags that are perfect for your produces. Not only will these produce bags help you reduce a significant amount of plastic waste, they can also be quite cute.

Soap and Shampoo Bars

Plastic free shampoo bar
Similar to toothpaste, shampoo and soap have plastic packaging and some of shampoo or soap contain microplastic in their formulas. So for those of you looking for a plastic free option, check out bar soap or shampoo bar. In fact many cosmetic brands are coming out with their own shampoo bar that doesn’t contain plastic or require plastic wrapping. A great place where you can get both a soap bar and shampoo bar is Lush. Not only do they provide plastic free soap, shampoo, and other great hygiene products, their products are made with good ingredients that are ethically sourced, fair trade, and so on. So not only are you being plastic free, but you are also ethically responsible about the product you are using.

Laundry net

You must be wonder how does laundry have to do with plastic free. Well, You will be surprised by the amount of microplastic that ends up in the ocean because of your laundry. Nowadays a lot of clothing is made with materials that are plastic. With every wash, tiny microplastic from the fabric breaks apart and is flushed down the drain. These tiny microplastic can end up in the ocean and destroy the ecosystem. One way to prevent these microplastic from being flushed down the drain is to use a laundry net. These laundry nets can capture the tiny microplastic and prevent it from being drained down. If you are interested, there are few great options such as Patagonia’s GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag, or google plastic free washing bag.

Know What You are Wearing

Many of the clothes we wear are made of plastic, such as nylon, polyester, acrylic, polypropylene and other synthetic fabric. These materials are very common and can be found in many different brands. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, tiny microplastics are being drained down without us noticing much. By looking at your clothes and the fabric can help us back down microplastic floating into the ocean water and thus, make your plastic free life more meaningful.

Understand Your Plastic

Once we start thinking about a plastic free lifestyle, we realize that there are many types of plastic that we use. Some types of plastic are ok to be used multiple times and are heat resistant. While there are single used plastics that can’t be recycled or multiple use. It is important that we know which type of plastic is better to use than the single used plastic that often ends up in the ocean or landfills. It is almost impossible to wipe out plastic from your life, but you can still be plastic free with most of the products you use. Whenever you have to use plastic, make sure it is plastic that you can recycle and dispose of properly so that it won’t end up in the ocean.

Plastic Waste is Bigger Issue than We Realize

Turtle with plastic bag around its neck
By going plastic free, we come to the realization of how much plastic we use on a daily basis and how easy it is to accumulate plastic waste, we can truly understand the issue of plastic waste. Plastic waste is more than just an environmental issue, it is also about other people’s livelihood, oftentimes developed countries would ship their waste to 3rd world countries, but those plastic waste and landfill are causing issues for the local community and local environment too. You may think that you are not personally throwing trash in the ocean doesn’t mean you are not part of this earth and this society. But in reality, you might be doing it one way or another, it is just you don’t know like the microplastic from our clothes, not properly recycling plastic and causing them to end up in a landfill and there forever. These might not mean much, but if you think about all the microplastic that is being eaten up by marine creatures, destroying their habitat and causing a decrease in their population, it is definitely something serious. Can you imagine you eating your favorite fish to only cut up to see it is filled with piles of microplastic, won’t that be absolutely horrible? So it is important to start with baby steps toward a plastic free lifestyle. You don’t have to throw away all your polyester shirts or nylon pants, just get a laundry net/washing bag to prevent the microplastic from continuing to flush into the ocean. Once you start with these small plastic free steps, it will be much easier to do more and before you know it, you will be doing so much more in your plastic free journey.

Let Us Start Our Plastic Free Life Together!

Plastic Free Tips Drawing
As mentioned before, it is not easy to go 100% plastic free. In fact, there is an article that interviews plastic free activists and even they understand the difficulty, but they are trying their best! Start with one of the 10 tips that are mentioned above, and then once you are used to it, go to the next. Take your time and make small changes, bring a tote, shop for soap bars, bring your own bottle. Just remember every tiny step you take is a step that is worth it and it is making a difference. If we all take on step toward plastic free, it is a big step coming from all of us.
I hope this article has inspired you or motivated you to take one plastic free advice and try it. Let us be plastic free together!!
If you are interested in knowing more about plastic free products or plastic free living, be sure the check out the articles linked!



Resources:
Kurutz, Steven. Life Without Plastic Is Possible. It’s Just Very Hard. 16 Feb. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/02/16/style/plastic-free-living.html.
               
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!