We know that most of the products we buy in stores are packaged in plastic. Plastic is regularly present in the packages we order from the internet. It is difficult to completely eliminate plastic from everyday use but it is not impossible. For a start, it is enough to reduce the use of plastic from everyday use. It is important to understand why we generally need to reduce / eliminate the use of plastics.
Most people in homes separate the plastic in a special trash can. We then throw it in selective waste containers from which the plastic goes for recycling. The fact is that only a third of plastic waste is recycled. Plastic is often hidden in the most unexpected places (some tea bags that you thought were completely paper or filters of individual cigarettes and the like). There are a number of such items that cannot be recycled so end up in landfills in nature.
Lots of plastic ends up in the oceans, sea, lake or river. There are 150 million tons of plastic in the oceans that fish and other animals often eat, exposing themselves to plastic chemicals. Fish habitats are declining. People can be exposed to the same chemicals through the food chain. These should be sufficient reasons for people to throw out plastic in everyday life.
For starters, you can introduce at least some constant practices into your life (carrying a canvas bag to the store, using a canvas bag for fruits and vegetables, buying bulk teas, plastic clothes (polyester and similar synthetic materials) do not use / buy.There are many enthusiasts you can found on Google search engine (and other web search engines) under the headings “zero waste” or “plastic free” enthusiasts / individuals / companies.
Tips from “zerowaste” (plastic free) users:
1. Start by observing your own waste – what you buy, why you buy, do you need what you buy, where does the product come from, what is the packaging of the product, then consider whether there are alternatives in some natural form, can you do it at home, can you buy locally and thus support the domestic economy or look in the store to see if there is an option without packaging or in recycled paper / glass. In addition, 50-70% of the waste was waste that could be composted and become fertile humus.
2. Most waste is generated in the kitchen and bathroom. At the beginning of the so-called “plastic-free” life (life without waste) it is necessary to invest a little more money in products that are long-lasting. It should be emphasized that zero waste is akin to minimalism. We don’t need to blindly follow everything social networks serve us; in other words – don’t buy what you really don’t need. Examples for women would be zero waste favorites would be a menstrual cup and canvas pads, a metal ear cleaner, a metal razor, a glass coffee cup for the outside, canvas bulk bags, loofah and dish soap, a solid hair shampoo, compo-stable hemp sneakers.
3. When it comes to everyday items that are most often packaged in plastic, for example, all plant foods can be prepared at home: milk, yogurt, tofu, tempeh, cheese. Markets offer a multitude of options. Alternatives for the bathroom can be found through social networks because many hobbyists sew canvas pads, pillows, diapers for children, medical face masks, bulk bags, etc. Most of it for an easier life without waste can be found through web shops, hairdressing stores , drugstores (e.g. Muller, dm), loofahs in Slovenia (Dante smile), soaps and shampoos locally, cereals, legumes, dried fruits at the market in bulk, fruits and vegetables locally. Find clothes in second hand stores, flea markets, vintage shops or for free through social networks and Facebook groups in your country.
4. The first step towards a plastic free life is to create an awareness of how much plastic (especially disposable) has become a part of everyday life. We no longer perceive plastic as a problem but as an everyday occurrence. Most of the products we use on a daily basis are packaged in plastic packaging (food, meat, personal care products and cosmetics, clothing, etc.).
After becoming aware of the problem, the second step is the gradual elimination of plastic from everyday life. A good start is to throw out items that we often use (plastic bags, straws, disposable cutlery, single use coffee cup, toothbrush, etc.). Choose the pace that suits you best so that your environmental efforts do not become counterproductive (hard for you and the environment). The basic idea of adopting a plastic free lifestyle is to make the environment in which we live a better, healthier and more beautiful place to live.
5. An important item is planning and organization. Plastic free lifestyle involves both activities but nothing impossible. If you go shopping for food, bring a canvas bag (level up – small bulk bags, milk bottle, cheese bowls and cream) or bring your own cutlery and a glass if you plan to visit a food festival (in the future). If you’ve already planned your day, week or weekend you’ll find it easier to avoid ‘plastic traps’.
It is important to mention research, looking for alternatives to commercial supply and experimentation. Social networks are a good source of information because small producers most often use social networks to reach customers. Instead of going to the supermarket, go to the market (at ‘your’ salesperson) or a small shop that sells local and / or organic products. Many food manufacturers offer home delivery (usually without or with minimal plastic packaging). Instead of buying well-known brands of cosmetics, find local manufacturers (who use natural ingredients and pack products in glass or metal packaging). Instead of a few different household cleaners (each in a disposable plastic bottle), make a homemade cleaner that does not contain harmful chemicals.
6. It is not necessary to immediately remove all existing plastic from life and buy sustainable variants. It is advisable to make gradual changes (eg start using metal cans instead of plastic food transfer containers, but not to reheat food). Use what you already have (like a jar that can serve as a lunch dish). To make it easier for yourself, make a segmentation into four basic categories (which make sense) that you can focus on when it comes to eliminating plastic. These are everyday life, personal care, the whole household, i.e. the kitchen and the bathroom.
It may be easiest to start changes in everyday life because it involves a wide range of activities. Avoid thin plastic bags and use reusable bags (canvas or even plastic that are almost indestructible). Hydration is essential for our body, but buying bottled water is not. Invest in a metal bottle or use any glass bottle. Coffee to go is tastier from a reusable cup than from a disposable plastic cup.
7. The first slight changes in personal care may be to replace a classic plastic brush with a bamboo brush, solid face oil, and use a solid soap and shampoo instead of liquid soap and shampoo.
In the kitchen, you can easily replace a dish-washing sponge with a loofah, a coconut fiber brush or a wooden brush with natural fibers and heads that change after they are used up. It is best that they can be composted after use. They are excellent alternatives to aluminum and plastic foil – they are cotton cloths coated with wax that are easy to use and maintain. They have the same function.
Changes in the bathroom are simple. Buy detergent in as large packages as possible (although it is not always environmentally friendly). You can make a natural detergent and cleaner for all surfaces in the household (for a long period and with little money invested).
8. There are already non-plastic alternatives for many products. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to buy these alternatives in large stores. They are not so unavailable (it is possible to get them in Muller, dm, Douglas, Tschibo, etc.). Everything that is not available in stores, you can order in online stores that offer almost all plastic substitutes.
9. The so-called “plastic free lifestyle” lifestyle will teach you to research, look for alternatives and discover products that are not so prevalent in mass production. We need to balance (what to choose – eco or without plastic?) And use what we already have in the home. There are, for example, homemade yogurt in a jar (which is much tastier than the purchased one), milk dispensers, small producers who are generally much more flexible and willing to adapt to the needs and wishes of customers, or eco-friendly detergents. Sanitary pads contain a lot of plastic. There are reusable washable cotton options (like baby diapers), organic cotton swabs or silicone cups that can be used for as long as 10 years.
10. In general, the rules you can follow when buying are to try to buy products that are packed in cardboard, glass or metal packaging because such packaging can be recycled and / or reused. Plastics (whose quality is reduced by recycling) can be recycled only a few times. The last option should be your purchase in plastic packaging. If you have no choice or better alternative – buy the largest packaging to create as little waste as possible.
There are more and more stores in western countries and all over the world that listen to the needs of customers. Thus, they offer plastic free options, i.e. products in recyclable packaging or “nude” products (naked or without packaging) become available. As for personal care, you can try to buy as many products from local manufacturers (who use natural ingredients and find an alternative to plastic packaging. To purchase household products, I mostly use Muller, dm and online shopping where you can find brushes and sponges for washing dishes or reusable bottles, foil made of cotton and wax, metal and other straws, etc. Look for an online shop that offers a large amount of products for all segments of life, and which are made of sustainable materials (metal, glass, bamboo, bio plastic).
People forget that they have power because their daily shopping choices give signals to producers what they want or don’t want to buy. Don’t spend your money on products that don’t meet your criteria. Customers should have the right to ‘demand’ the manufacturer to change something that does not fit. Truly speaking it is always easier with small producers.
Also, to start a plastic free lifestyle, it is definitely easiest to say no to the single use products offered to us (often as promotional materials and other free things we can live without), reduce purchases and think about those products that we really need in our daily life.