3 simple ways to reduce plastic usage

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Here are three easy switches that are great for the environment and will help you reduce plastic usage.

Plastic. It’s unavoidable but it can also be terrible for the environment. Many plastics take longer than our lifetime to decompose, so anything we can do to reduce plastic usage is a big benefit. Making small changes with big long-term results is as easy as 1 – 2 – 3. Small changes are easier to make, and if you keep it up, they add up to make a huge impact. 

Here are three SUPER SIMPLE swaps that you can make to reduce your family’s plastic usage.

One – bamboo toothbrushes

According to foreo.com, 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the US. That’s enough to stretch around the Earth FOUR TIMES. 50 million pounds of toothbrushes are added to landfills in the US annually. Many toothbrushes find their way into waterways and oceans where marine creates can mistake them for food. Recently a female albatross on Hawaii was observed trying to regurgitate a plastic toothbrush for a chick.

bamboo toothbrushes in box

So what can you do? We have to brush our teeth, right? It’s actually an insanely easy and inexpensive swap. Bamboo toothbrushes are a 100% natural and biodegradable alternative. Bamboo is one of the fastest grown plants on the planet making it an easily renewable resource. They are designed to be just as effective as cleaning your teeth with a plastic brush. Many bamboo toothbrushes have charcoal infused bristles. Charcoal is amazing at removing plaque, stains and build up on the teeth, helping to lift coffee, tea and wine stains. While the brushes largely have nylon bristles, the amount of plastic in the brush is hugely less than a plastic brush.

I picked up this 10 pack from Amazon for under $10, much less than I would have spent on a plastic toothbrush. Don’t want confusion over who’s toothbrush is whose? Each one is numbered to avoid confusion among family members.

Two – Silicone ziplock bags

The average American uses 500 Ziploc bags every year.  Five Hundred Bags – for something created to hold food for just a small amount of time. Often after the stored item is removed, the bag is discarded in the trash. Even if you reuse them a few times, they eventually end up in the landfill, oceans, or other areas of the planet  where they are detrimental to our health and the environment,

silicone ziplock bags on wooden counter. one with bread

But are silicone bags any better? For one, they can be reused MANY MANY more times than a standard zip bag. Silicone is durable, and more ocean-friendly than plastic. It lasts longer, and stands up better against heat and cold than plastics. It’s safer for your family, too, with no estrogen-mimicking toxins like BPA to worry about. It is odorless, stain-resistant, hypoallergenic, and has no open pores to harbor harmful bacteria. And, yes, it’s recyclable, though you may need to do a little research on where. It can be incinerated safety without toxic off-gassing. When burned, silicone reverts back into its harmless ingredients: amorphous silica, carbon dioxide, and water vapor (unlike plastic which releases toxins when burned).

We picked up a couple small bags last Fall in a local store and paid quite a bit for them. But if you do a little shopping at your “local Amazon”, you’ll find an assortment of bags that are much more affordable.  I just ordered this set and got 12 assorted sizes for only $14.95

Three – Water bottles

This is a big one. More than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators EVERY DAY. Let me say that again…..EVERY DAY. That’s about 22 billion a year.  And that’s not counting the ton of plastic that end up in our oceans. It’s mind boggling.

The other thing…..how many times do you end up pouring half a bottle out because no one knows who it actually belongs too. I can’t stand being wasteful, and you can only fill the dog bowl up so many times.

The cool thing? It’s really a simple fix.

metal water bottle with stickers to help reduce plastic use

Get a reusable bottle. I prefer metal or glass because I really hate drinking out of plastic, but there are BPA free plastic bottles out there that are pretty safe.

Next step, get a water filtration system. It can be as simple as a pitcher in the fridge, or as amazing as a Berkey filtration system. I’ve had a Berkey on my wishlist for quite a while now. My eldest has one and it’s absolutely the best water I’ve ever had. It’s an initial investment, but in the long run it will save you a lot of dollars along with reducing the amount of waste you produce. Berkey’s remove/reduce chlorine, fluoride, pathogens, VOC’s, heavy metals, and more for pennies per gallon. So not only will you be reducing waste, but you’ll be improving the quality of the water you drink. 

Berkley water filter

The Travel Berkey Purification System purifies water for about 1-3 people each day and, while it’s bigger than a pitcher, it’s not so big that you’ll have trouble finding a place for it. 

Check our Reduce Waste list on Amazon for many of our recommendations all in one place.

What are some things you are doing to reduce plastic usage?

If you’re looking for a fun project to reduce waste in other areas, try our un-paper towel DIY or if you need a little help figuring out how to start living a more natural lifestyle, we’ve got you covered!

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