Thursday, April 9, 2009

Parting with plastic painlessly

I've always been impressed with people like Beth Terry or the BBC's Chris Jeavans, who were so moved by the damage done to this world by our actions that they virtually gave up plastic.

As for me, change is a difficult thing. Whie I strive to make a dent in my consumption, the recycling bin and trash can tell a different story.

But you can reduce your plastic impact, one step at a time. In fact, you can start off relatively painlessly. Those baby steps to environmental friendliness often mean less waste from packaging.

Consider these ideas as you're getting started:
  • Choose environmentally friendly cleaners from your kitchen. Use baking soda and white vinegar for much of your cleaning. You'll have less hazardous chemicals in your cabinet - always a worry with little ones - and require less plastic waste. Can't live without lemon or orange scents? Just slice open a citrus fruit.
  • Choose cloth. Disposable paper towels, diapers and napkins may be convenient, but they're also swaddled in a layer of plastic.
  • Choose your pharmacy wisely. If you have a choice on where to fill your prescription, consider using one that packages your pills in recyclable containers. Locally, I choose Target, which uses #1 plastic containers, over Marsh or Walgreens, which use #5 plastic that I can't easily recycle. If you don't have options in pharmacies that have more easily recycled plastic containers, consider switching to a 90-day prescription instead of filling your bottles monthly.
  • Bring your bags. I've found too often that what would fit in five plastic bags can fit in one disposable.
  • Rework your snack habits. Drop the prepackaged snack packs and 20-ounce sodas. Instead, make your own "100-calorie" containers for lunches. Even better, turn to fresh fruits and vegetables, which we ought to be eating anyway! Swap your soda bottles for tea, coffee or lemonade. If you must drink soda, do so from alumninum cans or glass bottles.
  • Reuse what can't be recycled. It's not fun, but I wash and reuse plastic bags from breads, my husband's trips to the store or even the freezer bags that have been used. By extending the life of one plastic bag, you've created less waste overall.

Written for the Green Moms Carnival for April. Visit Fake Plastic Fish on April 14 to see others' inspirations on reducing our plastic consumption.

Edited April 14 to include Walgreen's use of #5 plastics. Guess I'm switching my script back next month!


Lisa said...

Beth is awesome!! And great ideas. :)

Anonymous said...

I love that you mentioned prescription bottles. They are one source of plastic I haven't been able to eliminate!

Robbie said...

Yep, for some reason, I don't see them just pouring the pills into my reusable shopping bag!! :-)