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      Easy Tips To Help You Go Plastic Free and Zero Waste

      Easy Tips To Help You Go Plastic Free and Zero Waste

      2017 is the year to begin your plastic free journey.  New Year resolutions can be tough, for me it helps if they are structured for success.  Small steps work best.  I don’t recommend giving up plastic “cold turkey”- that’s guaranteed to be frustrating.  Instead each month or so, give up one type of single use plastic and before you know it you’ll be a Zero Waste Warrior.

      Plastic free is all about limiting your use of plastic to essentials and eliminating single use plastic.  Single use plastic is plastic that is used once and then discarded- straws, coffee cups, drink lids, water bottles, grocery bags……….  Zero waste is a philosophy that focuses on rethinking how we live in order to produce as little waste as possible.

       Here are more than 12 steps that you can take to help you on your plastic free journey.  Mix them up, start with one that is easy for you and save the harder ones for later.  I guarantee by this time next year, you will be proud of your new habits and view purchases entirely differently.

      1. Educate yourself.  The more you know, the more motivated and committed you will be to keep your resolutions to be plastic free and zero waste.
      2. Give up plastic grocery bags.  Bring your own and if you forget only buy enough to carry easily in your hand.  I find it helpful to keep a lightweight bag in my purse.
      3. Reusable bags for ALL purchases.  Once you master reusable grocery bags make it a policy to not use any plastic bags for any purchase.  It's easy once you get started.
      4. Switch to reusable coffee cups.  When my life is routine this is easy, when it gets chaotic it's quite a challenge.  One tip is to buy more than one reusable cup , that way if one is dirty or lost in the car you can still enjoy a coffee.
      5. Stop buying plastic water bottles.  The first thing you have to do is buy a reusable water container and carry it where ever you go- including airports.
      6. Buy in bulk.  This is a critical step in moving towards zero waste.  Instead of buying 6 small yogurt containers for the week, buy one large.  Before you know it you'll be investigating local farms that sell yogurt in reusable jars.
      7. Plastic Free Produce.  Produce does not need to be wrapped in plastic and often produce is over packaged.  I found I needed to support a few stores in order to buy all my produce plastic free and to invest and make some reusable produce/bulk bags.  My habits have changed- and yes it does take a bit longer to make a salad than simply opening a plastic package.
      8. Replace paper napkins and towels with cloth.  Your one time purchase of napkins will last for years.  Using washable cloths for most clean up jobs and saving paper towels for big messes will help you cut down on waste.
      9. Rethink soap, shampoos and other personal care items.  The personal care aisle in a grocery store is loaded with plastic packaging.  Instead of a plastic bottle of liquid soap switch to a bar.  Try a shampoo bar instead of a plastic bottle of shampoo and conditioner.
      10. Invest in reusable food containers.  Pack lunches, picnics and when ordering take away bring your own container.  Sure you might wait a few minutes but it's a great chance to catch up on your social media while you wait.
      11. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes.  Remember plastic never biodegrades because it's not part of Mother Nature's food chain.
      12. Give up disposable razors.  Invest in a razor that will last a life time.
      13. Switch to glass or metal containers for food storage.  When your plastic food storage containers wear out switch to glass or metal.  But wait for them to wear out, it's wasteful to simply throw something away.  Use it up first and then take it to be recycled.
      14. Replace plastic wrap and aluminum foil with beeswax or cloth.  I often wrap a tea towel around my serving bowl before putting in the fridge.  You could also invest in a few glass containers with lids.  Glass really helps keep track of your food 'cause you can see what you're saving. 
      15. Compost.  Composting your food really helps cut down on unnecessary waste.
      16. Pick up trash.  There's nothing like picking up a bit of trash to firm your resolve to be plastic free and to embrace the zero waste philosophy.
      17. Finally, make purchasing decisions based on packaging.  Whenever possible purchase items with less packaging.  Support businesses that are working on reducing waste.  Shop local, shop small.

      Plastic Free Friday- BYO "P"B's-Bring Your Own Produce Bags

      Plastic Free Friday- BYO "P"B's-Bring Your Own Produce Bags

      The 3 R's- reduce, reuse, recycle have changed into the 5 R's.  Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Raise Awareness.  I'm feeling proud of my BYOB journey.  BYOB is "bring your own bag".  Lots and lots of folks BYOB for their big grocery trips.  That's the start of the BYOB journey.  

      Reduce your plastic consumption- bring your own produce bags.

      I realized that once I'm in the store there is a whole lot of plastic in packaging.  Even if you tend to buy fresh produce you have a bit of a quandary- do you put your veg right on the checkout counter?  Is that icky and full of germs?  Or do I use the plastic produce bags?  But I want to reduce my plastic.  Hmmmmmm

      EcoBags to the rescue.   I decided to purchase produce bags  because I noticed when I used my larger shopping bags for loose veggies, they added weight to the price per pound.  Or I held up the line as I rummaged through everything jumbled together in my basket.  It reminded me a bit of looking for my keys or phone in my purse.  It was getting to be awkward.  I'm completely satisfied with my EcoBags purchase.  It's recommended that you prewash before using- this is a good idea.  First, there's a whole bunch of sizing in the fabric and also they shrink a lot.  Even the largest bag seems a bit small after washing for a really big head of lettuce.

      When you start your plastic free journey you not only become aware of how prevalent plastic is but you have to make some economic decisions.  Plastic is so popular because it is cheap.  The price of plastic is hidden in environmental damage and loss of habitat.  Living on a budget means you need to take small steps.  Think of plastic free as a marathon not a sprint.  Each month you can go a bit further.  The good news is once you make a purchase you're done.  My produce bags are reusable for years and years.

      My cloth produce bags are reusable for years and years.


      Of course if you are handy and have some time you can make your own.  I've seen lots of creative reuses including those mesh bags fruits come in, old T-shirts- just remember the fabric needs to be light because what's inside gets weighed.  If you don't feel like making a casing at the top close it up with a wooden clothes pin. Homemade produce bags make nice gifts.

      If you don't have time to sew but still want a bit of personality, after all you will have these bags for years there are lots of ways to dress up your bags.  Fabric stamping, embroidery or applique are some quick and fun ways to add your unique personality.