There is an image making its way around Facebook with two jars– one with a jelly fish and one with a plastic bag floating in water. The caption usually reads, “Can you tell the difference? Neither can a sea turtle!”
Even if you aren’t a Save the Sea Turtles kind of person (but, seriously, who isn’t into the idea of protecting wildlife?), cutting plastic out of your lifestyle can make a HUGE impact on the environment and the overall health of your family. There are a lot of ways that plastic sneaks into our lives, but it’s better to start small. Below are four easy changes that you can make to your grocery shopping routine
1: Buy a reusable water bottle. Aside from the fact that having a reusable water bottle will save the Earth and save resources… it will save you money. There are a lot of options on the market these days, and you can probably pick up a reusable water bottle at your grocery store. To score points for the environment and personal health, choose a water bottle that is made of glass or stainless steel.
Not only can you cut out the need to purchase huge flats of bottled water, you can buy drink powders and mixes and whip them up in reusable drink dispensers at home as well. Removing water bottles, juice bottles, Gatorade bottles, lemonade, tea… see? All that plastic adds up!
“Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times. Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles every year. Only about 25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled. If we recycled the other 75% we could save 1 billion gallons of oil and 44 million cubic yards of landfill space annually.” from “How Much Do Americans Throw Away?”
2: Make use of the whole sale grains section. Not all grocery stores have this option– a wall of granolas, rices, flours, oats and grains. But if your grocery store does, try to make use of it! If you can, bring your own containers from home instead of using the baggies provided at the store. It will save you some plastic packaging, and if you use containers from home, then it will save you a step when it’s time to put groceries away.
3: Reuse spray bottles for cleaners. Another place that plastic can get abundant and expensive is in the household cleaner aisle. Instead of buying a bottle of your favorite all purpose cleaner in a spray bottle once a week, try to buy it in a concentrated form and mix it yourself. Better yet, use a DIY cleaner recipe and skip the extra plastic bottles altogether.
4: Buy some reusable bags, or ask for paper sacks. Reusable grocery bags are great not only because they are good for the environment, but also because they simply do the job better than their flimsy plastic grocery bag alternative. Reusable bags are less likely to break, are usually larger and can hold more items, and can be insulated to keep your cold items cold between the grocery store and your fridge. Not sold on having to remember your bags when you go to the store? Ask your bagger for paper sacks! Most stores still offer a paper option, and paper will biodegrade whereas plastic will not.
Of course, there are going to be times that you have to buy plastic. In those cases, just remember to RECYCLE!
Are you ready for ADVANCED removal of plastic from your life? Here are some other ways to cut out plastic use in your kitchen routines:
- Use your own mesh bags for produce in place of the plastic bags the grocery store provides
- Swap out the disposable baggies in your lunch boxes for a reusable option, like a tupperware or cloth zipper baggie made for snacks
- Switch to using bees wax paper in place of plastic wrap for keeping foods fresh