If you want to take steps to make your everyday life more sustainable, but don’t know how to start, here are some great simple changes you can make for your first steps!
1. Change from plastic wrap to beeswax wrap
Single use plastics such as plastic wrap is wasteful and end up sitting in the landfill for centuries. However, beeswax wraps can be used over and over again. If they get dirty, they can easily be washed with warm water, let out to dry, and good as new. Buying a set of beeswax wrap will cost more than buying a roll of plastic wrap at your local grocery store, but in the long run you will be able to save money as you won’t have to keep buying plastic wrap whenever you run out. There are also beeswax cotton wraps which are a mixture of wax and cotton. To have the wax mold around the bowl, just use the heat of your hand to mold it to the container or food item. Beeswax is a simple but effective way to reduce single use plastics.
Here are some places to purchase beeswax wraps:
2. Switch to reusable straws
There is a movement of using reusable straws instead of the disposable single use plastic straws. Using reusable straws cuts back on our use of plastics that either end up sitting in landfills for hundreds of years or polluting our environment on land and in the sea where it can be harmful to wildlife. There are tons of different kinds of reusable straws that are relatively inexpensive, so pretty much everyone can find one that’ll work for them. If you are worried about where to store it or how to carry it, there are some straws that fold up, come with carrying cases, or both, making it easy to take with you.
Here is a link to an article talking about the best straw to get:
3. Switch to reusable water bottles
Ditch those one times use plastic water bottles for your daily routine. Having a reusable water bottle keeps you from using plastic one-time use water bottles that are consistently ending up in landfills and our oceans where they collect and interfere with marine ecosystems. If your tap water is not an option, I recommend using some type of filter over the nozzle of your kitchen sink faucet, so you end up getting filtered water that won’t contain any chemicals or other contaminants (there are cases where this isn’t enough, so make sure to stay updated on local tap water quality info). That way you can still fill up your water bottle at home and take it with you wherever you go. You don’t have to purchase an expensive water bottle; any reusable water bottle will do. Just make sure that the package or the bottom of the bottle mention that it is BPA free.
4. Use reusable containers in bulk bin
If you have a bulk bin section in your grocery store, that is a great way to reduce the plastic and other packaging your food comes in. Use mason jars, any other jar, or fabric bulk bags to put your items in instead of the plastic bags provided. This reduces more single use plastics from your life, and you are also reusing jars for another purpose which can be easily cleaned out when needed. Mason jars are inexpensive and the best place to look for any jars are thrift stores like Goodwill. Be sure to weigh your jars beforehand and write down the tare weight somewhere on the jar so when you check out the cashier can take off the tare weight. This ensures you are only paying for the weight of the product inside the jar.
5. Use reusable produce bags
A new thing coming around is reusable produce bags. This allows you to put any produce you want in a washable bag and not reach for the plastic bags they have around the store. Most reusable produce bags have the tare weight on a small tag, so just remember to tell the cashier to take it off, so you don’t pay more than the product itself. One of the best places to buy reusable produce bags is Amazon. You can get a variety of sizes and most don’t cost very much.
6. Bring your own reusable shopping bags in when grocery shopping
Lots of cities are now starting to adopt a fee for using one time use bags, regardless if they are paper or plastic. Having your own reusable bags will save you from paying the fee and you are not using single use plastic bags that end up floating in the ocean or compacted with other plastic bags in a landfill. Plastic bags can get caught around the heads of marine life and suffocate them or endangered sea turtles and other species mistake them for jelly fish and eat them, thinking they are eating food. The plastic bags often block their digestive tract to the point where they starve to death, especially if they have consumed multiple bags. You can recycle plastic bags at grocery stores (like Safeway) if you forget your reusable bags, but the best thing to do is not use the plastic bags in the first place. Some bags are only a $1.99 and these bags carry more weight than single use plastic bags, so buying enough for your grocery trips will not cost much, and it will help save a ton of plastic from being sent out into the environment.
7. Bring your own silverware instead of using plastic ones
Plastic is everywhere we look. Plastic silverware is almost everywhere around us. Want to get some food? I guarantee there is plastic silverware waiting for you. The best way to reduce more of these single use plastics is to bring your own silverware. You can make your own reusable and sustainable silverware kits from our blog post here:
If you don’t have time, then head over to Amazon or Etsy (or another shopping website) where you can find hundreds of different silverware sets with everything you need. Then keep the set in your backpack so whenever you’re out and about and need to grab a bite to eat you can have your silverware set ready to go if only plastic utensils are offered to customers.
There are almost endless changes everyone can make to live more sustainably and reduce their plastic use and waste production. These are only the tip of the iceberg, and hopefully will help you start on a more sustainable path.
Any and all brands and specific products named or pictured in the above article are discussed purely for environmentally friendly product ideas. They do not reflect opinions, preferences, or endorsements of WSU’s Environmental Science Club and do not have any affiliation with WSU’s Environmental Science Club, or any entity related to Washington State University.
~Written by Meagann Russell~