3 simple changes to get you started

Of course, this is not a comprehensive approach, as living plastic-free can go to extremes; But here are the top three changes that I found most effective. This is how I recommend everyone to get started.

grocery store

If you buy groceries as our society expects, you will definitely return home with a lot of plastic.
This whole model is based on the assumption that people go to the store empty-handed, assuming they will receive all the packaging they need to take their purchases home, but that’s crazy! If you change that mindset and view shopping as a task that requires essential tools and enough time to do it right, you can significantly reduce the amount of trash you bring home (and inadvertently pay for).

Bring your own tools when shopping

These “tools” include reusable bags, containers, and boxes to store everything. I use a combination of cotton and mesh drawstring bags, varying size jars, rectangular food storage containers, and round metal containers.

Another valuable tool is knowing which local stores sell reusable items. You’ll be surprised at how many businesses you support; As awareness of the problem of plastic pollution grows, local retailers are eager to get involved. This changed my life because it meant I could buy everything from pasta, dried beans, nuts, seeds, baking supplies, dried fruits and spices to granola, peanut butter, coconut oil, rice and even candy wrappers.

Try to avoid vegetables and fruits packaged in plastic; In addition to the plastic wrap, there is usually a small polypropylene tray underneath.

The milk

If you consume dairy products, you may find an option that comes in a reusable jar. You pay a deposit and then return it to the seller. I find jars of yogurt at my local grocery store, but sometimes I make my own.

Buy bread from the bakery

Buy a loaf of plain bread from your local bakery. If you buy a lot of bread, you can take a pillowcase to the store and fill it with fresh baguettes; You can also use large drawstring canvas bags.

When I’m at the grocery store and need bread, I go to the muffin or bagel baskets and put them in my bag.
At home, it is best to store them in a sealed container. If I have time, I will bake it myself.

And your meat should come from the butcher

If you eat meat, it’s easy to buy plastic-free meat. Some local butchers use reusable containers. This is a much easier and less complicated process because you can throw the meat into the freezer or refrigerator right at home.

You can also purchase a whole animal wrapped in paper to store in the freezer. Butcher paper has no coating, but freezer paper has a thin layer of plastic that acts as a moisture barrier. I still think this is a much better solution than the amount of plastic and polyurethane foam found in packaged meat at the supermarket.

There are many others that I haven’t mentioned here, such as spices, oils, frozen foods, cheese and snacks, but I would argue that they are less important in the general fight against plastic packaging. It’s best to focus on alkaline foods first.

Plastic-free bathroom products

The second largest source of plastic waste is the bathroom. Personal hygiene habits are difficult to break but provide important health benefits.

Many products commonly found in bathrooms contain dangerous chemicals that can cause cancer, hormonal imbalance and respiratory problems. You’re better off without them.

Buy soap

Use a solid bar of soap, you can choose one that comes in a cardboard container. Because some are packaged in plastic. You can use it on everything (hands and body), eliminating the need for shower gels and liquid soaps since they all come in plastic containers.

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Alternatives to shampoo

It is now possible to get solid shampoo in almost all supermarkets and pharmacies. This is the best option as it will certainly also be presented in a cardboard container. But you can also try making your own shampoo bar.

If you want liquid shampoo, purchase a metal storage bottle. Consider switching to baking soda and apple cider vinegar, a method I’ve used with great success for several years.

Flavors and creams

I like the fair trade coconut oil sold in some stores and at fairs. It comes in a glass jar with a metal lid. Ideal for moisturizing, as an aftershave, drying chapped hands and removing makeup.

I also really like the hard massage sticks (they’re expensive but luxurious and don’t come packaged if you buy them in the store).

Some companies make beautiful paper-packaged lotions. However, the great thing about moisturizers is that the fewer products you put on your skin, the less moisturizer you need, such as: B. Make-up and cleaning products that contain detergents.

Dental care, makeup, shaving accessories, toilet paper packaging, etc.

These are all other things that can be addressed when trying to reduce the amount of plastic in the bathroom, but in my opinion they are less important than the ones mentioned above.

Bring away

How often have you been away from home and been very hungry? These are times when the desire to avoid plastic backfires. It is almost impossible to find packaged food on the street that is not made of plastic.

Food packaging

There are several solutions to this problem. When you leave the house, first take all the food you need with you.
Whether it’s a daily commute or a trip lasting several hours, make sure you have the necessary snacks and drinks along the way.

Invest in high-quality reusable metal or glass containers and washable cloth bags. Having them on hand eliminates the need for sandwich bags, aluminum foil and single-use plastic containers that age quickly and leach harmful chemicals into food.

Invest in a good water bottle for each family member.

Instead of aluminum foil, purchase a set of general beeswax wraps.

If you normally travel far. Keep the kit in your car.

If you have trouble packing your groceries on time, always keep a zero-waste food container in your car. This means you always have your containers, reusable straws, coffee cups, water bottles, napkins and everything else you need with you no matter where you are.

Eat on site instead of taking away

Finally, if you’re hungry and don’t have a reusable plate or cup, take some time to sit down. Order a ceramic coffee mug and spend 10 minutes sitting at the coffee table and enjoying it.

Eat indoors and avoid plastic take-out containers and disposable cutlery. Ask not to add straws to your drinks. For an on-the-go society, this can be a difficult mental adjustment, but it can provide valuable moments of calm in the midst of hectic days.

There’s so much more I could say, but in my opinion it’s the easy-to-implement changes that will make the biggest difference in your life when it comes to reducing your plastic consumption.

Develop these new habits and you will find it easier to reach the next level of change.

Based on Katarzyna Martinko’s article “A Beginner’s Guide to Plastic-Free Living”.

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