My 2021 Resolution: Cut Plastic Waste by 50%

Did I seek out the most White Vegan Mason Jar photo I could find? Yes. Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash (no offense intended, Ella, I am making fun of me, not you).

I’m a fairly eco-friendly person.

I have a cupboard full of Pyrex that I use for food storage. I buy cleaning supplies from sustainable brands and make my own (baking soda can do just about anything). I bought in bulk instead of plastic in the pre-pandemic days. I use cloth menstrual pads.

I could be doing better.

This fall, I’ve been working for an environmental nonprofit, and I learned so much about the toll that plastic waste has on the planet. I want to reduce my impact on the planet, starting with my plastic consumption.

I wrote before about the ways my ethical eating habits have changed in recovery from an eating disorder. To be transparent, plastic guilt may present a challenge for me to make sure I am keeping my mental health top of mind while also making a change to my eating habits that involves rules and morality. We are going on an adventure, my friends.

Hopefully, I can find easy and accessible ways to reduce plastic and waste that I can share with readers while keeping things honest and authentic. (Because honestly, I think it’s near impossible to actually go plastic-FREE in our world).

My Plastic Free-Ish Plan

  1. Thirty Day Plastic Journal: Much like a food journal many of us had to keep in high school health class to learn about food groups, I plan on keeping a journal of my plastic use for the next thirty days to see how much plastic I’m using in my everyday life.
  2. Easy Swaps: For the easy swaps, I’m going to research alternatives and make the switch to a plastic-free option. I’ll include some of the obvious ones below.
  3. Harder Swaps: For the more challenging swaps and habits, I’ll do a bit more research and get back to you on those results! Hopefully the easy ones make a big dent.
  4. Homemade Foods: This one scares me, because I don’t always have the energy or stamina to cook from scratch due to chronic illness, and convenience foods and takeout are life savers for me. But I read an article today about a tofu factory that burns plastic for fuel, and I realized that trying to make my own tofu is worth the effort even if I can only do it once in a while. (Scroll down past the homemade tofu recipe in this blog for the plastic story).
  5. Plan to Re-Use/Recycle: My city is not currently recycling, and even when we are recycling, most recyclables end up in a landfill anyway due to contamination from improper contents. I’m driving my aluminum cans and paper to respective recycling spots locally, but there’s no solution for plastic. I’d like to research solutions for non-avoidable plastic like this donation program for medicine bottles.
  6. Implement Operation 50% Less Plastic 2021: Complete avoidance of plastic in my life is impossible, but I would like to reduce my personal single use plastic usage by half in 2021. I’m giving myself the month of December to prepare and take notes on my average use, so I have something to compare against. And then it’s onward to a more eco-friendly 2021 and beyond!

Easy Swaps to Reduce Plastic

In the kitchen:

  • Glass jars instead of using plastic baggies for chopped veggie storage and easy snack portions
  • Dishwasher powder in a paper box instead of plastic containers of pods
  • Beeswax wrap instead of plastic wrap
  • Reusable water bottles instead of single-use bottles
  • Sticks of margarine instead of plastic tubs
  • Hard Mode: Homemade foods instead of pre-packaged

In the bathroom:

  • Bar soap instead of body wash and bottled hand soap
  • Bar shampoo and conditioner instead of bottled
  • Homemade face scrub instead of bottled
  • Zero-waste toothpaste bits and bamboo/compostable toothbrush instead of plastic tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes

In the laundry room:

  • Zero-waste laundry detergent strips instead of plastic containers
  • Wash in cold water to reduce the amount of microplastics that escape from polyester (yeah, I didn’t know that was a thing either).

At the grocery store

  • Reusable produce bags
  • Reusable grocery bags
  • Bring-your-own container instead of plastic for bulk bins
  • Fresh produce instead of bagged produce (if able)

I am actually excited to start this little adventure and I hope to inspire some of you to learn and change your daily habits along with me!

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