We have all heard about the dangers of plastic to our world. We all know that there is a need to reduce waste if we want things to get better. But how many of us try? I mean REALLY try to reduce plastic waste in our lives. Sure, I used to throw my water bottle into the recycling bin if one was handy and convenient. But before last year, I would never go out of my way to reduce plastic in our lives. It wasn’t convenient. I’m a busy mom and I have a lot on my plate. Any effort on my part wasn’t going to make a difference for anyone else.
That was until my children and I read a book titled Not For Me, Please! I Choose To Act Green by Maria Godsey. I had no idea of the dangers plastic straws had to ocean life or that plastic could take longer than ANY OTHER waste to decompose. Bottles can take up to 450 years to decompose. The damage done and chemicals released during that decompensation process is crazy to think about. Seriously, I’m really not here to educate you on all of the dangers of plastic, but I do want to let you know that I was shocked after reading all the facts and statistics.
The book my children and I read together put a passion into my children’s hearts that I can’t ignore. After that book, my seven-year-old and four-year-old vowed that they would reduce our family’s use of plastic. I couldn’t ignore that passion. I had to encourage it.
So we sat down as a family and made a plan.
Attempting to reduce our plastic waste is incredibly overwhelming. It is not just a few changes here and there, but a lifestyle change. Sure, just one or two changes can make a big difference, but we wanted to do as much as we could. I’m not perfect. You will find me at the grocery store more often than not empty handed because I forgot to bring my reusable bags. But I’m trying. I’m constantly trying to put all my reusable bags in a spot that will help me remember them for the next grocery trip. So please don’t think I am perfect in my attempt to lower my use of plastic. Sometimes, I feel like a complete hypocrite because I still make choices that encourage plastic use, but I know that sooner than later it will become more and more of a habit until it is like second nature to me.
Here are a few things that my family has done to lower the use of plastic in our lives:
- Buy reusable straws. We have silicone straws in our home and in our car, that way, if we order a drink for the road, we can say “no” to the straw because we already have some in our car.
- Buy canvas bags for the grocery store. This also means that you are going to have to actually GO IN THE GROCERY STORE. Yes, I know! Shock! No curbside pickup or delivery to your home! UGH, the inconvenience! That is at least how I felt when I realized I had to bring my own bags. I try to make my mundane errands as easy as possible since we have so much going on, but if you stop and think about how many plastic bags are used in each grocery store each day and how many grocery stores there are just in Knoxville alone, well…you get the drift.
- Buy reusable bags for your produce. The first time I went to the grocery store with the mindset of limiting plastic I was so overwhelmed because everything is in plastic, and the bags you use for your produce are…plastic. However, you can easily find reusable produce bags for your produce.
- Grow your own garden. We have a brand new and not very successful garden in our back yard. The goal is to use the produce from the garden when we can instead of buying anything that may be wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.
- Buy reusable sandwich and snack bags. You can find these almost anywhere.
- Start a compost pile. By limiting ALL waste, you lower the amount of plastic trash bags used in your home.
- Use bamboo toothbrushes.
- Give up plastic water bottles and buy reusable water bottles.
- Give up the obvious plastic goods that are not necessary and replace them with environment friendly alternatives.
- REUSE. If you are like me, you will notice that you have oh so much plastic in your home once you decide to commit to limiting plastic. Don’t just toss it all out because that kind of defeats the purpose. Instead, find new uses for it. We’ve reused plastic containers for several different projects. You can find some fun projects on Pinterest. We have reused a plastic milk jug as a watering can for our plants and we have turned a tide pod container into an underwater pond viewer for our nature walks. I have also cut up the plastic straws and had my son string them onto pipe cleaners to work on his fine motor skills.
Notice how I have said we are working on REDUCING our use of plastic in our life not ELIMINATING it. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible in 2019 when convenience and money is a priority over eliminating plastic. Hopefully someday, if all of us continue to do what we can to limit our use of plastic, the demand for plastic free goods will increase and big businesses will see the profit in providing environmentally friendly goods. Disney is already working on it!
This is not an exhaustive list and I’m always looking for ideas on how we can continue to limit plastic. What does your family do to limit plastic?