If you’re like me, you want to reduce your plastic consumption for your health and for the future of the planet. But where to start? It’s overwhelming, it’s guilt-ridden, it’s expensive and it’s time consuming. Or so you think! In this post, we look at manageable strategies to reduce plastic, specifically in your kitchen.
Five Ways to Reduce Plastic in Your Kitchen
Before we dive in, what’s the issue with plastic anyway? The reality is, plastics and micro-plastics are changing our oceans and our bodies. Animals are ingesting plastic and dying while humans are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals through plastic that can disrupt our hormones. Luckily, there are easy ways to cut back on the plastic in your life—for yourself and the environment. Here are five tips to reducing plastic in your kitchen:
1. Store Your Food in Jars
Just about any food can be stored in a glass jar, from tea bags and spices to baking supplies, nuts—really, all your dried goods. As jars can be reused, there is no waste, there are no chemicals leaching into your food, you can heat food in jars and even freeze in them too (make sure your food is cooled first and don’t fill to the top as contents will expand when frozen). Glass jars also have the benefit of being clear so you can see what’s inside. And, they look pretty! Reuse jars from jam and pasta sauce or find used jars online.
2. Use Reusable Food Wrapping
If storing in a jar doesn’t work for you or a specific food, try a reusable food wrap instead of plastic food wrap. Beeswax wraps like Abeego are popular, all natural, reusable, and keep your bowl or plate covered or your cheese/fruit/veggie wrapped. Got time? You can even make it yourself.
3. Use Reusable Straws
For those drinks that just need a straw, or for those among us who need a straw for medical reasons or because they are under the age of, say, three, a reusable version is a good idea. I have both bamboo and stainless-steel straws. The former are natural and biodegradable. The latter have the benefit of being dishwasher safe. I keep a few at home and a few in a pouch in my purse, just in case. They even come with a cleaner brush.
4. Use Reusable Mugs and Water Bottles
We’ve all gotten used to the concept of reusable mugs and water bottles, right? Now, the key is to remember to bring them with you! After you clean them, put them right back into your bag, purse or car. Or, adopt a natural consequences rule—if you forget your mug, no coffee. Hardcore, but effective!
5. Buy Package-Free
Perhaps you live in our delivery zone and purchase package-free foods from Jarr or are lucky enough to live near a zero waste store, but even if you don’t, there are still ways to reduce your plastic by buying package-free. Avoid pre-cut fruit and veggies—not only is there unnecessary packaging, you’ll also typically get less bang for your buck. As for avoiding those clear plastic produce bags, you might already have some washable and reusable bags you can take with you. If not, you don’t need any! Truth be told, I simply put my produce into the cart without a bag at all. Another way to stop plastic from coming into your home is to take a second look at the bulk food aisle. Bring your own jars or bags to stores that let you weigh your container first. While many larger chain stores still won’t allow you to bring your own container, this is starting to become more common and is worth asking about.
Thank you for wanting to do your part for your health and the health of our planet. Small actions matter! We want to help you make sustainable choices and support your journey to package-free living.
Norma Hogan is passionate about sustainability and healthy living. She enjoys engaging people on these complex issues at all levels—be it through writing online or in person at the community and committee level. She is also the owner of Ahimsa Green Products, a line of all natural products for your home and body.