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Marty & I watch a lot of documentaries. We’re kind of obsessed. I’ve always preferred non-fiction over fiction, and I love supporting independent film makers, especially when their mission is to promote awareness and ignite change. That being said, we’ve been inspired to make some changes in our lifestyle over the last year by two documentaries in particular.
“Without your permission, you are being polluted. Is that okay with you?” -Jeanne Rizzo, President/CEO of the Breast Cancer Research Fund from Plastic Paradise
Many of us are aware of the the harmful effects chemicals like BPA found in plastics can have on the body. We know this estrogen-like chemical has been linked to a variety of serious health problems which has caused more companies to use BPA free plastics. It’s hard to get away from entirely, because a lot of what we buy comes wrapped in BPA filled plastic and we’re now finding it in things you wouldn’t think contain BPA. For example, high amounts of BPA can be found in receipt paper and dental fillings. So even though many of us have switched to using BPA free plastics, and alternatives like glass and stainless steel, 93% of us still have BPA in our system. Not only is plastic toxic to our health, it’s killing our oceans and the animals that live there.
We are huge on recycling, so I’m ashamed that I did not know that most of the plastics we put in the recycling bin never actually get recycled. The idea that all of the plastic we use goes somewhere, (landfills, oceans, inside the bodies of sea creatures, etc.) was quite mind blowing for me. So rather than buying something that comes in a plastic container because you “can recycle it” later, it’s best to buy in bulk or try to make it at home instead.
Seeing dead birds, turtles, and fish with copious amounts of plastic inside their tiny bodies was absolutely shocking. I had no idea animals were eating plastic and dying from it. Watching footage of dead sea lions, sting rays, and sharks tangled in plastic nets at the bottom of the ocean was heart breaking.
I won’t spoil all the details of these films, because you really must see it to believe it, but I wanted to share with you some of the things that impacted us the most and inspired us to use less plastic in hopes to protect the ocean and preserve our overall health and well being. It’s imperative that each individual’s consumption of single use plastics decreases significantly in the coming years in order to save our own health and the health of our eco system.
“Wanting to influence others is such a can of worms, you know? At the end of the day, you can’t be telling anyone what to do. People have to discover things themselves.” -Dave Rastovich, Pro Surfer & Environmental Activist from Plastic Paradise
I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do. I know that doesn’t work. I’d just like to share how we cut down on our consumption of plastics in hopes that it will inspire you to try to do the same in your own way at home.
Cutting back on our use of plastic (especially single use plastics like grocery bags, bottled water, and take out containers) has actually been pretty easy. And once we got started, we were constantly thinking of new ways to cut back every day. The hardest part at first is remembering to grab your reusable bags, water bottles, and containers before you leave the house.
Now that we have a baby, we have an even harder time remembering to bring everything with us, so we have a bin in the back of the truck for reusables on the go. People still look at us like we’re crazy when we pull out our own container for left overs in a restaurant, but it works for us!
HERE’S WHAT WE KEEP IN THE CAR:
HERE’S WHAT WE DO TO REDUCE OUR USE OF PLASTIC AT HOME:
1.) Use glass, ceramic, and stainless steel for everything we can.
We’ve switched out our plastic storage containers for glass, use glass water bottles, glass baby bottles, and jam jars in place of plastic sippy cups. Rue eats off ceramic plates, wooden bowls, and uses stainless steel silverware.
2.) Make as many toiletries and household & beauty products we can.
We use homemade laundry detergent, toothpaste, body spray, makeup, stain remover, body wash, all purpose cleaner, disinfectant spray, mouth wash, hand soap, air freshener, linen spray, lotion, body scrub, deodorant, and lip balm. There are still so many things I want to make at home like dishwasher detergent and shampoo. We store as many homemade products we can in glass jars or recycled containers.
3.) Skip the plastic at the grocery store.
We just toss our produce in the cart sans produce bag, but these reusable produce bags are a great alternative to the single use plastic ones and work well for small items like green beans, garlic, jalapenos, etc. We ask for paper bags at the checkout counter if we run out of reusable grocery bags.
We stay away from processed foods and individually packaged goods at the store like cups of yogurt, mini packs of hummus, cheese sticks, single serve drinks, etc. and get as much in alternative packaging as possible (IE: paper egg cartons, glass milk jugs, glass jars of dried spices, etc.). We also try our best to not buy pre-packaged bags of produce and pick out our favorite fruits and vegetables from the bulk aisle.
4.) Shop at the local farmers’ market, or join a CSA or food co-op.
We use our own reusable grocery bags for big items at the farmers’ market, and glass or stainless steel containers for smaller items like cherry tomatoes, berries, and beans. No BPA lined receipt paper to handle here! We hope to join a CSA and/or a food co-op soon where paper egg cartons and milk jugs are reused every week.
5.) Reuse, recycle, and compost our waste.
This cuts down on the number of garbage bags we use a great deal. We try to reuse as many plastic containers as possible until they need to be recycled and compost a good majority of the rest of our waste.
6.) Cure common ailments using natural medicine at home.
We use probiotics, vitamins, raw honey, fresh garlic, homemade bone broth, and essential oils to boost immunity and cure common ailments at home to cut down on the use of blister packs and single use plastic bottles.
7.) Shop consignment sales and resale stores.
We try to buy whatever we can resale to cut down on plastic packaging and labels.
8.) Buy wooden and cloth toys for baby.
It’s hard to get away from plastic toys for baby, especially when most of what we have was given to us as gifts. The best we can do is try to buy wooden, bamboo, or cloth toys instead when we’re purchasing gifts for Rue.
9.) Recycle plastic wrappers.
Ziplock bags, clear plastic wrapping, bread bags, etc. can be recycled where you recycle plastic bags at your local grocery store. Just make sure the plastic is clean and dry before recycling.
10.) Produce as many food products you can at home.
This is something we’re continually working on. Grow a garden. Eat what you can and can what you can’t. Make your own bread, yogurt, granola, butter, sweet tea, lemonade, barista style coffee drinks, etc.
We bought a $40 espresso machine with milk frother and have been making amazing lattes at home. It works really well and there’s no tiny plastic cups of coffee grounds needed! If you can’t stop going to your favorite gourmet coffee shop, bring your own reusable ceramic/glass/stainless steel cup and/or forgo the plastic lid/straw next time you indulge.
We’re not perfect. We still have a ways to go. We’re always trying to do more, but sometimes we fail and need to buy a bottle of water. At the end of the day, we’re always conscious of our decisions and try our best to use less plastic overall and reuse and recycle what we can’t get away from using.
THINGS WE WILL GET IN THE NEAR FUTURE TO FURTHER LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCY ON PLASTIC:
Biodegradable tooth brushes
Glass water filter
Stainless steel straws
Dehydrator so we can make even more food products at home
Bottom line is, the less demand there is for consumer plastics, the less supply there will be. So we all can make a difference in the amount of plastic that ends up in our landfills, oceans, and sea animals by making a few small adjustments to our daily routine.
I hope these films inspire you to look at your consumption of plastic and cut back however you can.
Already on the bandwagon? What ways do you cut down on your use of plastic?
L, M, & R
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