A Beginner's Guide on Making the Switch to Plastic-Free
In today's day and age, is it possible to lead a life without plastics?
We live in a world where plastic continually finds its way into our homes and trash at alarming rates.
Despite understanding the issues, committing to reducing or eliminating plastic use, and even beginning to opt for plastic alternatives, going plastic-free can seem like an impossible task given the pervasiveness of plastic.
However, the key to living without plastic is making small, daily choices that gradually change your mindset.
Interested in getting started or at least knowing how to go about it? Planning makes the difference, so you're on the right track!
Here's a beginner's guide on how you can start to reduce your plastic usage and start your journey towards a plastic-free and maybe even waste-free future with EcoBlvd.
Before You Start: It's Not About Being Perfect, It's About Doing Your Best
Set a goal that feels achievable.
The key is to focus on the progress you are making bit by bit and to tackle one swap at a time. The journey doesn't start at plastic-free. It's a work in progress!
Being plastic-aware will take you a long way toward taking action.
Even by just noticing the amount of plastic you're using, you are already taking steps to make a difference.
You don't have to throw out all your plastic overnight, but when you are ready to move on, find a new purpose by upcycling it. Ultimately, the things you already own are the most sustainable, even if they're made of plastic.
It’s difficult to unsee how much plastic is in our lives once we start paying attention to it.
Step 1: Cut Out The Obvious... Single-Use Items
Effort: Easily swappable, tons of alternatives.
Most plastic bottles can be recycled, but many end up in landfills or incinerators because they are not recycled. It takes up to 500 years for plastic bottles that aren't recycled to biodegrade in landfills. Plastic bottles also accumulate litter in our oceans, clogging up our waterways and severely harming marine life.
It is also expensive to buy plastic water bottles, and you always need to replace them.
Using a reusable water bottle can save money and make life easier.
“Paper” Coffee Cups
The majority of disposable cups are manufactured with petroleum-based plastics, such as styrofoam, polypropylene, or polyethylene-coated paper. These materials retain heat and prevent leaks, but their production is energy-intensive, and recycling them is difficult.
Due to low oxygen levels, heat, and airflow in landfills, single-use coffee cups can decompose for up to 30 years.
Grocery or Shopping Bags
Every year, Americans use 30 million plastic bags manufactured from 12 million barrels of oil.
Even though we know it's easy to forget tote bags at home and in the car when going shopping, keeping them on hand will ensure you get the most out of them. Plus in states where plastic bags are banned, you'll save a few cents too!
The advantages of reusable bags include carrying much more than plastic bags, which means less hassle when hauling a large load of groceries.
Step #2: Plastic-Free Kitchenware & Food Storage
Effort: Easily swappable, tons of alternatives.
It's far easier to make changes in the kitchen than anywhere else if you're just starting your plastic-free, zero-waste journey.
As a bonus, plastic-free kitchen essentials are often multifunctional and budget-friendly since they combine old-school wisdom with innovation to create the perfect environment for growth.
Rather than plastic wraps or food storage bags, opt for tin foil, oilcloth, beeswax, or other alternatives! Their upfront cost is a bit higher, but their repeated use makes them well worth the price!
The same can be said of using glass containers over plastic Tupperware and cloth bowl covers.
Using sustainable alternatives, not only will you prevent harmful microplastics from seeping into your food, but you'll keep the equivalent of 2,000 plastic bags out of the ocean!
Step #3: Invest In Eco-Friendly & Plastic-Free Cleaners
It's like cleaning your home and the planet, making it more worthwhile.
Most cleaning products contain plastic, including all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents, and even dish soap. In most cases, cleaning products, even those that claim to be non-toxic and natural, refer to the ingredients they contain rather than how they are packaged.
Switching in this particular realm isn't tricky, but finding products that are 100% plastic-free takes some effort, as ingredients and materials, such as microbeads, can be a hidden source of plastic.
Using eco-friendly cleaning products can reduce plastic bottle clutter by simplifying your cleaning routine.
When you shop for soaps, brushes, and laundry supplies, look for those that come in glass bottles, and if possible, look for those that are compostable. Look for those certified as having ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients and materials in their products.
Step 4: Take Your Hygiene Plastic Free!
You may not realize it, but every bottle of shampoo, conditioner, body soap, lotion, and toothbrush you have ever used is still around today. Unfortunately, most of them are taking up space in landfills or even our oceans.
Annually, Americans waste enough shampoo bottles to fill 1,200 football fields. Just one person switching to refillable shampoo bottles instead of plastic will divert up to 500 plastic bottles from landfills.
Bathroom swaps may be a little more challenging because we all tend to be more specific with our cleaning regimens.
Here are some simple swaps you can add to your daily personal care routine:
- Plastic-Free Soap Bars
- Bamboo Toothbrushes
- Toothpaste Tablets
- Deodorant Cream & Zero-Waste Deodorant Sticks
- Bamboo Toilet Paper
- Reusable Menstrual Cup
Step 5: Out-Dressing Plastic In Your Wardrobe
When it comes to clothing, it can be challenging to find companies that aren't adding new plastic to the environment.
Many people are unaware that their clothes are often made using fossil fuels and secretly shed harmful plastic microfibers as they wash and dispose of them. In many cases, this is caused by the use of synthetic materials instead of naturally sourced textiles such as cotton. It’s important to educate yourself on synthetic materials and their names from the likes of polyester, nylon, acrylic, and even polyvinyl and spandex.
It is a good thing that most sustainable businesses are mindful of their impact on the environment by using plastic-free fabrics, repurposing clothing, and even reducing the amount of plastics in the environment.
Brands are also making use of new types of biodegradable materials, like bamboo, rayon, modal, canvas, hemp, and linen.
Additionally, wash bags catch the microfibers your clothes shed, which would otherwise go down the drain and into our waterways.
Donate or recycle your clothes at the end of their useful and wearable lives, rather than dumping them into landfills so that they and their microplastics don't end up in landfills.
Step 6: Plastic-Free Dining & Groceries
Ever unpacked your takeout or put away groceries and realized how much plastic packaging there was?
Single-use disposable plastics have become almost unavoidable in grocery stores and take-out restaurants.
To avoid pre-packaged goods when shopping for groceries and avoid extraneous plastic when dining out, we must get creative to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Buy in bulk — If your current grocery doesn't offer bulk, consider finding one that does so you can replace pre-packaged snacks and beans with your bags. Normally, these are found at co-ops and natural/health food stores.
Shop at a Farmer's Market — The local farmer's markets can provide you with low-waste alternatives and better ways to package the goods you're purchasing. You will likely not find plastic containers at your farmer's market since all products sold at the market are coming directly from the source, and you’d be supporting the farmers and more ethical growers!
Bring your own reusable cutlery or containers — This is the easiest way to avoid unnecessary plastic usage when out and about. Cooking at home is a surefire way to avoid acquiring plastic for transport. The plastic that does make its way into to-go bags is often thrown out without being used, so be mindful! In any case, you can ask the restaurant to hold off on the utensils and any non-essential extras that you have or can reuse at home, and if you have condiments in your fridge, don't take any more.
Step 7: Plastic-Free Essentials
Effort: Depends on your preferences!
Continuing with these practices will enable you to be vigilant about plastic threats as they arise in your everyday life. Committing to purchasing more sustainable products, perhaps ones that can be composted or repurposed is a great way to help the environment.
Some of the essentials you use daily, along with your waste, can help the planet! Even though phone cases have become almost a necessity for phones as they help us style and accessorize our favorite handheld, most of these cases are made of plastic, and over 1 billion plastic phone cases are discarded yearly.
Our goal at EcoBlvd is to turn the tide on plastic by developing eco-friendly iPhone cases that combine style and sustainability and can be disposed of in your own home composter or compost bin after use.
Our Laguna, Sequoia, and Halloween Collection compostable iPhone cases are constructed with InnoMaize™, an a-maize-ing compostable alternative to conventional plastic derived from cornstarch, sugar, and plant-based materials.
In our opinion, the most beautiful packaging is made with natural materials, which is why EcoBlvd packages don't contain any plastic.
In an effort to reduce our environmental impact, we offer every customer a free pre-paid shipping label with each purchase as part of our Roundabout Recycling Program. Just send your old plastic phone case back to us, and we'll recycle it or ensure it's disposed of properly.
Next time you get an upgrade, switch to an eco-friendly, compostable phone case to help prevent extraneous plastic from entering the waste stream.
There is no denying the fact that achieving a plastic-free lifestyle takes effort.
Yet, the only thing we can do is to remind ourselves to do our best at the moment. Our goal is steady progress, not perfection. As long as you keep a steady pace, the journey is worth it.
Ditching plastic altogether is a feat, but it’s possible with dedication, passion, and planning!
If you're swapping out your household items or changing your clothing, EcoBlvd is here for you, so together, let's take the #Root2Renew.