Believe it or not, we are in the last four months of 2015 and my resolution to reduce my plastic usage is still going strong. Well, stronger than if it had been another diet resolution, anyway. There have been a couple of times that I forgot my reusable shopping bags (whoops) and I'm still trying to find my way around the gargantuan plastic bags from Costco. However, there are some tips and even brands that I have come to use and depend upon on a daily basis. They are listed below in the three main categories of my life: Cleaning, Food and Beauty. (For how to reduce plastic in the kitchen with kids, read here.)
Making your own cleaning products is of course a great way to reduce plastic bottle usage. The link here will get you started on a whole bunch of effective and easy to make cleaners. After we moved, I found that my homemade laundry and dishwasher detergent was not compatible with hard water but I was lucky enough to come across these two brands that have zero plastic in their packaging.
If You Care Automatic Dishwasher Tablets work even in my hard water. Placing a 4 oz glass filled with vinegar in the top rack before starting the dishwasher will help the dishes rinse clean as well. The box is also 100% post consumer recycled paperboard that is processed with no chlorine. The tablets are wrapped in a polyvinyl alcohol that is biodegradable. You can find it here.
Eco Nuts Organic Laundry Soap are just berries from the Sapindus Mukorossi (soap berry) tree in Asia that acts as a natural detergent. They are nut allergy safe and also act as a fabric softener. To clean clothes, just throw 4-5 soap berries into the included mini linen bag and then into the washer. They can be left in even during the rinse cycle. The same soap berries can be used up to ten times or until they start to disintegrate. They can be found here.
If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know there are quite a few recipes to make food stuffs from scratch that can be found here. In lieu of making items from scratch, you can vote with your dollars by choosing to purchase items like condiments in glass jars over their plastic counterparts. Everything from olive oil, applesauce, local honey, mustard and mayo can be bought in glass jars. If you have the option, always choose glass. (Here's why you especially don't want your food stuff being stored in plastic.)
While this lovely local popcorn is initially housed in a plastic bag, it does get transferred to a glass jar once I get it home. By buying this popcorn local, I am assured that it hasn't been sitting on a store shelf in plastic for months at a time and that it wasn't wrapped in yards of plastic on a crate going across the country. It also cuts back on the individual plastic wrapping of microwave popcorn as well.
I realize that I blog about Yogi Tea. All. The. Time. But, oh, it is sooo good. Not to mention that the entire package and its contents are either recyclable or compostable. Like I mentioned in another post, the insides of the box also make unique and pretty names tags for gifts.
Just like the cleaners and food recipes above, these DIY beauty recipes will have you kicking the plastic bottle habit and looking fabulous!
Ladies, when that time of the month comes, not only do we have to deal with lovely mood swings, cramps and hormonal breakouts but we also leave the garbage dumps filled with plastic wrappers, inserts and other accouterments of that fun week. A few years ago, I switched to a Diva Cup and haven't looked back. The Diva Cup is a silicone cup that is inserted just like a tampon but only has to be changed twice a day no matter what your flow is at the time. There was a learning curve the first month but now I can never go back to tampons... and those organic tampons were expensive anyway. The Diva Cup costs $30 but it has more than paid for itself in the three years that I have had it. You can find it here.
Natracare is a natural line of women sanitary products that are organic, chlorine, fragrance and plastic-free (even the packaging). Even the paper strip on the back of the pads can be recycled or composted. You can find them here.
Even brushing teeth can produce plastic waste in the form of flossing. Countless plastic floss containers get thrown out everyday all across America. Most of them are not even recyclable. Eco-Dent packaging is recyclable and biodegradable. The floss itself is infused with essential oils to help keep the gums clean and healthy. You can find it here.
I grew up using bars of soap for hand washing and in the shower. It wasn't until about twenty years ago that liquid soap took off with all their alluring smells and plastic bottle waste. Today's bar soap can smell just as alluring as the bottled stuff without all of the plastic. My favorite is from Farmer's Market. The bar has a rich lather and rinses clean and leaves behind a yummy subtle natural fragrance. You can find them here.
Even if you don't have the time to make everything from scratch, there are many great products out there that will help lessen your eco-footprint. The power of choice is in your hands when it comes to buying products not packaged in plastic. Once you start becoming more aware of your choices, you'll find it is actually easier than you thought to reduce your plastic use.