Plastic is everywhere, and while it may be nearly impossible to avoid, it is possible to cut back on how much you use. After all, why wouldn’t you want to do something nice for the planet, especially when it’s likely to save you money, too? Using less plastic day-to-day is win-win, so here are a few ways to do it.
1. Get a refillable water cooler rather than buying bottles of water. If you usually bring bottles of water up to the cottage with you, consider investing in a refillable water cooler. You’ll save money over the long run. Plus, you won’t have to keep hauling piles of bottles to the dump.
2. Use glass containers and Mason jars instead of plastic food containers. Glass doesn’t stain, doesn’t get smelly, and doesn’t warp in the microwave. And Mason jars are just cooler.
3. Buy non-perishables in bulk. Single-use packaging is wasteful. You’ll use less plastic if you buy staples in bulk, and put them into nice glass jars when you get home.
4. Use a refillable water bottle, rather than reaching for a throwaway plastic bottle. If you must buy bottled water, buy bigger containers and pour single servings from those.
5. Fill up a reusable coffee mug. Those plastic lids on paper coffee cups really add up, so use a refillable mug the next time you cruise through the drive-through. Plus, a lot of places will give you a discount for using your own mug.
6. Carry reusable bags. Cloth bags and large baskets are perfect for picking up produce at the grocery store or farmer’s market—no plastic required.
7. Pack reusable, washable sandwich bags. Instead of plastic bags, pack your sandwiches in these great reusable bags—they’re made of recycled materials.
8. Carry your own silverware. No, don’t break our Granny’s sterling, but a simple camping cutlery set will help you avoid having to use plastic cutlery.
9. Indulge in homemade treats. Bake your own bread, make your own granola and cook your own soup—you’ll cut down on packaging significantly (and eat a lot healthier at the same time).
10. Make your own cleaners. Why pay money for a plastic bottle of cleaner when household items can do the same job for pennies? Check out these great homemade recipes from the David Suzuki Foundation.
11. Compost and recycle as much as possible. By doing so, you’ll cut down on plastic garbage bags and help keep trash out of landfills and dumps.
12. Don’t be tempted by travel-sized items. Not only are they significantly more expensive per unit than their full-sized counterparts, they’re wasteful. Buy reusable travel containers and decant your shampoo and soap into those.
13. Refuse straws. Straws create a surprising amount of waste, and are one of the top ten types of garbage found on beaches. Sip your soda instead.
14. Wear clothing made of natural materials. Fibres that rub off polyester clothes during washing are clogging oceans with plastic. Choose cotton or wool for a more eco-friendly wardrobe.
15. Don’t throw out your electronics. If you can’t upcycle or reuse them, take them to a proper recycler. Many electronics are not only plastic, they contain harmful mercury and other compounds as well.