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This post on how to reduce plastic waste is a follow-up to another – Stop using plastic! Here’s the most effective way.
The first post discussed the importance of mindset and awareness when it comes to reducing your plastic waste, and I offered steps on how to develop the right mindset. Without it, you won’t get anywhere, I can guarantee it.
I’ve written this as a follow-up, in case you’re feeling uninspired. I’ve listed 14 practical things you can do to stop using plastic. Or at the very least, reduce your plastic waste.
Some are harder than others. Your living arrangement or your own needs might mean that you can’t do all of them. But everyone should be able to manage at least a thing or two from this list.
1. Become a plastic snob – Yep. You heard it. You’re too good for plastic now. No straw, thank you. No plastic bag, thanks. Oh, I don’t need a lid, thanks anyway.
Of course, I don’t mean for you to look down on people who use plastic. That doesn’t help anyone. But if you start viewing plastic as not “good enough,” it can be helpful. And it sort of leads to the next thing you can do.
2. Seek out natural alternatives to items you’re looking to buy – They’re much better than the ugly plastic versions of things you need. Your home will look nicer and your things will break less. Not to mention, if you do need to dispose of it, you’ve got a lot more options than landfill.
My go-to shop for alternatives is Biome. They have a large range and are Australian! But also make good use of local markets and even second hand shops.
3. Buy less stuff in general, and ask yourself if you really need it – Do you really need that? Can you do without it? Have you thought about how to dispose of the packaging?
Giving in to consumerism is half of what got us into this mess in the first place. You will find by embracing minimalism that you have less plastic to deal with in your day-to-day life.
4. Leave it on the shelf – I like this one. Buy your produce plastic free, or if it’s something like grapes, transfer them to your own reusable bag and leave the plastic bag on the shelf.
The supermarket will have to deal with it and if enough people make this statement, they will start to reduce the plastic they provide.
5. Something you might not think of – Giveaways and freebies. How many times have you been given something promotional or received a freebie? How often was it made of plastic? And how often do you use the things you’ve received in the past?
Learn to recognise when free doesn’t equal good, and say no. You’re allowed to, and if you let them know that you’re trying to reduce your impact, they’ll understand. If they don’t, well, maybe try not to associate with them.
6. Make reusables second nature – Phone? check. Sunnies? check. KeepCup? check.
7. Make, don’t buy – Some things in life you will never be able to find in shops without plastic. Be prepared to make these things.
You can even share making duties with another family or friends that you’re close with. One of you makes the tortillas, the other makes rice noodles, and you arrange to swap these foods between you (just an example!).
8. Educate yourself – Do some research, or just watch some documentaries, so that you know what you’re up against, then influence yourself and your family away from plastic (nicely), if you can.
Try to make learning about the environment a family activity so that you all understand the changes you’re making at home. I recommend a good couple of documentaries in my free email course for beginners – check it out here.
9. Vote with your dollars – Every single thing you buy is a vote for that type of product and that company. Learn to vote for natural materials, local businesses, and ethical and sustainably sourced products.
10. Write – Write to local councils, all levels of government, companies who you want to change their products or packaging; let them know what you want.
You’d be surprised the amount of people who do actually do this, and the effect it can have if done right. Many companies HAVE changed their practices to align with what customers want. You just need to let them know what you want.
And… you don’t need to actually use a pen and paper, unless you want to. Make use of email, social media, feedback boxes, whatever you can access to let them know what you’re thinking.
11. When you buy online, request “no unnecessary packaging please”. You’d be surprised how much less packaging you’ll have to dispose of.
12. Support causes that resonate with you – either by raising awareness, donating time or money, or something else.
13. Actually pick up litter that you see, rather than walking past it.
14. Make it fun and do challenges with friends or family – See who can go the longest without buying or using plastic, plan community events, participate in the #trashtag challenge.
That’s certainly not everything you can do, but it’s a pretty solid list and I challenge you to tell me you can’t find something on there that you can do.
Let me know in the comments where you’re at with your plastic awareness and what you’re doing to reduce your plastic waste! Even if it’s something you think is little 🙂
Image credit: Karina Tess on Unsplash