This guide on how to reduce plastic waste gives easy ways to cut down on our waste which will not only help the environment but will also help you to save money. By using just a few of these methods you can save a considerable amount over the course of the year.
There will be an initial outlay in purchasing items to replace one use plastic however these items are reusable so you will get that money back in no time.
Purchasing Reusable Containers
When looking for freezer safe containers always look for containers which can be used in the microwave as well as the freezer for ease of use. Make sure the lids are airtight and easy to clean. This set of 24 commercial grade freezer containers are great value and highly rated. (Paid link)
You may notice some containers are BPA free. This is a chemical which is used to line containers to protect food from contamination and increase freshness. Some studies have raised concerns about its safety however most of the major studies have found there is no danger at the level’s humans are exposed to so you will need to use your own discretion.
At the Grocery Store
Replacing Plastic Bags
Take reusable shopping bags with you. If you don’t want to buy any you can make your own with this guide to making a Simple Tote Bag.
Sometimes it is difficult to remember to take bags with you. Try folding up a few lightweight bags then keep in your handbag so they are handy when needed.
Instead of using the plastic bags provided for keeping loose fruit and vegetables together take your own bags. Lightweight reusable produce bags are readily available. These Earthwise reusable mesh produce bags come in a value set of 9 and are top rated. (Paid link)
Buying in Bulk
Always buy in bulk packs where possible. This will reduce the amount of packaging needed for the item you are purchasing. Meat can be divided into 1-pound (500g) portions then frozen in freezer safe containers for up six months.
Spices can be bought in bulk packs then placed in glass spice jars for ease of use. Once the jars re empty; wash out then completely dry the jars before refilling.
Sauces bought in bulk packs can be poured into either reusable squeeze bottles or recycled glass jars. Always wash out the squeeze bottle or jar before refilling to prevent contamination.
Dry ingredients such as rice, flour, sugar, pasta and other grains have a long storage life making them perfect for buying in bulk packs. Large coffee jars or other airtight jars and containers are great for keeping out pests and maintaining the freshness of the product. See this guide to Reusing Glass Jars to Store Food.
Grow Your Own Food
Consider growing as much of your own food at home as possible. When you are picking fresh produce at your back door, you don’t need a storage bag. Anything you can’t use straight away can be placed in a reusable airtight container.
Save money and energy by cooking enough food for two nights. Instead of covering the plates of food for the second night with plastic wrap, use a reusable microwave safe cover then store in the fridge. The plate can then be placed directly in the microwave the next night as the cover will help to steam the food.
These 10 inch plate covers from Nordic Ware are highly rated and made in the USA. (Paid link)
Buy reusable bowl covers for storing leftover food or use reusable plastic containers.
Quality non-stick bakeware can be expensive however they do make cleaning easy without needing to use foil or parchment (Baking) paper.
After taking these steps to reduce waste you will find the amount of garbage you have will be greatly reduced. It can be reduced even more by starting a compost pile.
Simply put decomposable food scraps into an old ice-cream container then take out to your pile when full. In six months, you will have compost for the garden which will improve your soil and help your plants grow. See this guide to Making a Compost Bin or this guide to What You Can and Can’t Compost.
Always use a reusable water bottle instead of buying water bottles. Tap water in most places is safe to drink and in many cases is the same quality as what you buy. If in doubt, check with your local supplier.
Do you love tea or coffee? Fill an insulated coffee mug (paid link) at home then take it with you. When travelling many cafes will be happy to fill it for you.
Sometimes you can’t avoid plastic however many places will now give you money for your plastic bottles so always make sure that what you do buy can be recycled. See your local council or authority website for information about recycling in your area.
Reducing plastic waste can seem daunting at first but by changing habits a little at a time we can improve our impact on the environment and save money in the process.
Did you like this guide on how to reduce plastic waste and are looking for more ways to live sustainably? See this Homesteading guide for more information.
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