SUSTAINABILITY

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Single Use Plastic on the Road or at Home

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Living environmentally friendly can be a challenge to get started.  The concept is very easy and once you know where to start it is very easy.  However, sometimes it’s that knowing where to start part that keeps people from starting at all.  No one can be perfect 100% of the time.  If you mess up, don’t get discouraged.  The fact that you’re trying is better than nothing at all.  I know that starting that journey to more zero waste is overwhelming and so I’ve put together 10 easy ways you can start living a plastic free life or enjoy plastic free travel.  These are all things that apply to both areas and maybe even more so to on the road because you’re likely to be eating out more and what not.

Say No to Plastic Straws Forever

I’m about to throw a statistic out that is going to blow your mind.  Are you ready?  Americans use 500 MILLION plastic straws EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  No one thinks of these straws though, right?  We’ve been using them our whole lives to the point that you probably wouldn’t even think about the fact you’re using a straw until it isn’t there.

It also takes 200 years for plastic straws to decompose.  So, 500 million each day take 200 years to decompose.  Do the math.  Will we ever catch up?  I don’t think so.  And, in those 200 years – the straws wreak havoc on marine and other animal life.

So, the best option is to either go straw free completely or buy a reusable straw.  You can purchase a pack of 4 stainless straws (with a brush for cleaning) here for less than $10.  And, you never have to use another plastic straw again!

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Use a Refillable Water Bottle

Bottled water has pretty much the same concerns as plastic straws or any other form of plastic.  It’s harmful to the environment, it is a HUGE waste of money and it’s been proven that the quality (the main reason most people buy it) is not any better.  If you’re traveling to a country where the tap water is not safe to drink, don’t think that means you must buy bottled water.  I’ve regularly seen water filling stations at the hotels I’ve stayed at as well as convenience stores.  Additionally, you can use a lifestraw or water purification tablets.  These are great for using for water and even hot drinks as well.

Take Your Own Coffee Cup to Cafes

How many cups of coffee do you drink?  How many of those are in disposable cups?  Even if you’re not paying for that cup of coffee.  You go to the doctor office and they have free coffee.  You pour a cup, you may not even drink it because it’s usually nasty and then the cup goes in the trash.  How many times do you do that?  That’s why having a reusable coffee cup is great and don’t be embarrassed to ask cafes to use it!  Most of them even sell reusable cups so it’s not a big deal at all.  This one is great – however it is not leak proof so I’m still looking for the perfect travel one.

Carry a Utensil Set with You

This is probably my favorite and easiest change aside from plastic straws.  It’s super small so easy to carry everywhere and you can even stick your straw down in this pouch too!  Keep from using all those terrible disposable plasticware sets that break every time you use them anyway!  This is the one I have and they came in all sorts of colors!

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Use a Diva Cup

This one is for the ladies, but it’s super important!  Pads and tampons are both typically bleached with chlorine and cotton is typically sprayed with tons of chemicals and all of this is getting absorbed directly into your bloodstream or your skin.  Even if you buy organic tampons or pads, you’re still contributing to a ton of plastic waste and honestly, spending a ridiculous amount of money.  I started using a Diva Cup before I even knew about the harmful affects of tampons and pads because of the convenience and I highly recommend it.  It is also nice for traveling because you don’t have to carry a ton of feminine hygiene products with you and/or search them out when traveling (which often proves to be way more difficult than you’d might imagine).

Use Reusable Bags

I’m the worst at buying reusable bags but always forgetting them when I go to the store.  The key is to keep them in your car.  If I go but forget them, I just carry out my items.  I love getting fun reusable bags because why not?  Here are a few I like.  Plastic bags are terrible for the environment – for the same reasons highlighted above – and also for wildlife (specifically marine wildlife).  Animals, such as sea turtles, often mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish (which they eat) and instead of consistently consuming plastic bags.

Use Reusable Produce Bags

Produce bags are often overlooked.  Everyone seems to have at least started thinking about plastic grocery bags but don’t forget the produce bags!  Often, I just let my produce go naked and don’t use a bag at all because I’m going to wash it no matter what but if that freaks you out a little, these are great.  They can be used for more than just produce too.

Switch to Bamboo Toothbrush

Toothbrushes are not biodegradable and will never go away.  It is estimated that Americans send at least 850 million toothbrushes to the landfill every single year.  The easiest way to fix this is switching over to a bamboo toothbrush.  Inexpensive and environmentally friendly!  Plus isn’t is so much cooler to say you’re toothbrush is made from bamboo instead of crude oil?  Gross.

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Say No to Disposable Razors

Talk about a money waster.  Disposable razors are a freaking joke.  I seriously don’t even want to think how many I’ve gone through in my life but I bet it’s sickening.  Switch over to a safety razor.  It’s a minor $25 investment that will last you forever if you take care of it.  It also makes for a better shave.

Change to Bar Soap & Solid Shampoo

Shampoo, conditioner, soap and many other hygiene and beauty items use a lot of plastic, water (most of these items are predominately water) and then there is the microbead factor.  Microbeads are basically tiny balls of plastic in many, if not most, beauty products.  These are inevitably flushed into water systems which make their way to marine life.  A great way to fix this problem is start using bar soap and solid shampoo.  Lush has great solid shampoos that I use and they last forever!  The bar route is also nice for traveling because you aren’t worried about your stuff breaking and leaking onto everything else!

Check out my entire ‘plastic free’ shop here to find all my favorite ways to live more consciously. Check out more about information a plastic free lifestyle.

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Ashley Hubbard is a blogger and freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. She shares these experiences on her website, wild-hearted.com.

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