For years we have already been doing things that are good for the environment like;
- recycling as many items as possible
- reusing items, fixing items, or passing them on if no longer needed
- reducing our waste footprint
The reduction of waste is a huge one to tackle in our culture of consumption. Everything is packaged and wrapped at the stores, when given as gifts, even to be shipped. Where did we start?
I credit the origins of going green to my mom. She got started on cloth diapers back in the 1980's (we have come a long way since plastic pants), she made cloth christmas sacks before they were cool (try explaining to your friends that your presents really were only in a bag so you were just trusted not to peek, and we didn't), she didn't buy paper towels all that much (just did more laundry for hand towels), had dad build a garden compost bin out back for all of our food waste, had us drinking tap water in reusable containers (*gasp* the humanity of clean drinking water from a tap!) and I know I'm missing more. When we bought our house I was already living green with cloth christmas bags, cloth hand towels, reusable water bottles, and a city green bin. When kids arrived I had a heyday with the selection of cloth diapers available.
This year I have a friend who challenged herself to go plastic free and has inspired me to do more. She started with phase 1: reduce her single use plastics. These are one time use items like packaging, fast food utensils, grocery bags and things like cling wrap we generally would use once and toss. So here we go diving into our first phase of plastic consumption reduction.
Bring the bags - make a habit of not forgetting the massive pile of reusable bags we have acquired (note: reusable wine bags are great for carrying glass jars and bottles from grocery shopping)
Ban the straw - bring your own if you enjoy using them (there are silicone, glass, or stainless steel options) or simply don't use one and drink from the can, bottle, or cup itself (note: this last one works best if the lid comes off)
Buy less plastic packaged goods - this is a tricky one once you notice how many things have plastic wraps, lining (think milk cartons), and fasteners (6 pack of pop anyone?). Start where you feel comfortable and of course where budget allows. But please if you start somewhere then stop buying bottled water! This is my biggest pet peeve in a nation that prides itself in clean accessible drinking water. Will we be laughing if beverage companies like Nestle drain our water table and sell it back to us in plastic bottles at a price per litre higher than gas? Ok I've probably got your attention now.
Here are some areas we started reducing plastic in our house this month;
- organic milk in returnable glass bottles
- Rivera petit pot yogurts in glass jars (Ella calls these 'princess yogurts')
- stainless steel straws (kids gotta have their straws)
- stainless steel and silicone lunch containers (there are sooo many different kinds on the market but we like ecolunchbox best as they are easy for small hands and the silicone lids let me overfill containers)
- face towels for kitchen spills (bulk purchase from costco) and baby bath wipe towels for sticky hands (seriously those baby bath wipe towels are the perfect size!)
- our cloth christmas bags in fun prints (because some fancy wrapping papers can't be recycled)
- bamboo fibre outdoor plates and juice jug (all amazingly dishwasher safe which we use for picnics so no more paper plates even)
- reusable grocery bags (even clothing store cloth bags are used for groceries now) and we have so many I'm thinking I should be using some for produce so I can stop grabbing the plastic produce bags
- reusable plastic bags and sandwhich bags (we use lunchskins for sandwhich and chip bags for lunch and have other dishwasher safe plastic ones I'm going to start using to freeze small things instead of disposable zipper bags)
- beeswax cloth (this is a summer project for me to make to replace all of the cling wrap we use in the fridge but you can also find them in stores and online now)
Next up is finding a meat share or butcher that can give us meat in bulk to freeze without so much excess packaging and wrapping. I'm also going to ask our bakery if they will let me use a flour sack bag for bread instead of their plastic bags after it is sliced. I think this is a good start for the summer and I know I'll see and hear about more options and ideas as we go. Will you take this challenge with us?
Follow us on Instagram under #plasticchallenge and share your reduction accomplishments with us.