Refuse plastic, just say no
Refuse plastic, that is my best advice. Refusing to bring plastic into your life and home is the easiest and most effective method for cutting down plastic consumption.
Just refuse. Refusing costs nothing. Refusing is simple. Refusing is powerful.
- Refuse the straw at the restaurant.
- Refuse the plastic bag at the supermarket.
- Refuse the cheap, plastic toy.
- Refuse the individually wrapped snacks.
- Refuse the produce wrapped in cellophane.
- Refuse to pay for a plastic bottle, when what you want is water.
- Refuse the plastic to go container at the restaurant.
- Refuse plastic spoons and forks when eating out.
Refuse to allow convenience to dictate your every choice.
I realize that the very idea of carrying a spoon or fork in your purse or car, instead of picking up the one that is offered, can feel extreme. But when I paused for just a minute, I realized that using a fork, created out of a limited resource, that will never break down, just because it is convenient, is extreme. I realized that I would rather be the crazy person with a spoon in my purse, than the compulsive, convenience driven consumer.
Use up the plastic that you already have
Too often, when going plastic free, we focus on purchasing new, more sustainable products. Often these products are more expensive. A false narrative is created that going plastic free is expensive and beyond the grasp of those without disposable income. Again, we are encouraged to consume, consume consume. Pictures of lovely, curated, plastic free kitchens and bathrooms abound on the internet. We can’t escape our consumer culture even in the sustainability world.
But refusing plastic is free.
You don’t need to purchase anything, you don’t need to replace anything, to begin to make a difference. You likely already have an extra spoon at home, or boxes of plastic spoons and forks. Use them up! Wash them, and use them again. They will last years. Throwing them away just hastens their journey to the landfill. Instead, as they already exist, and you already have them, use them. Use all of the plastic already in your home, wash it and use it again.
Refuse the plastic, absolutely. But don’t throw away all of the plastic you already have. That misses the point. Focus on not bringing new plastics into your house, but make the most of all the plastic that is already there. When you’ve used up all the plastic toothbrushes in your bathroom drawer, (And then moved them on to your cleaning supplies) that is when you look into more sustainable options.
Embrace the imperfections
As you walk this journey plastic will make it’s way into your home. But with each change that you make, less plastic will be used. I used to fill my kitchen trash can with plastic bags and packaging after each trip to the grocery store. I’d estimate that my grocery store trips now bring home about 10% of the plastic waste that they used to. During covid, when the bulk bins were closed and I sometimes used instacart for my shopping, I once again found my counters covered with plastic. This was a reminder of how far I have come, and how I need to re-commit to this lifestyle.