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5 Key Strategies for a Plastic-Free Life

  • October 21, 2011
  • 6:01 pm
  • 2 of 4

Starting points:

• Focus on food.

Following the lead of Beth Terry’s blog MyPlasticFreeLife.com, we each surveyed a week’s worth of trash to see how we generated most of our plastic garbage. If you’re anything like us, you’ll find that food packaging is your number one source of plastic waste. Along with sheer volume, there are other reasons that food-related plastic is a good place to focus your efforts. Chemicals from plastic packaging and containers leach into the stuff we eat and drink, and therefore have the biggest potential impact on our immediate health.

In addition to avoiding over-packaged foods at the supermarket, swap out plastic food-storage containers and cooking utensils and replace them with glass, ceramic, wood, or other materials. And never heating up food in any kind of plastic is a pretty easy rule to follow. Read all about using plastic in the kitchen in Kitchen Plastic: Easy Greening.

• Ban those bags.

If you forget your reusable bags at the grocery store, carry your items out by hand. After doing that a few times, you’ll probably NEVER forget your bags again! If you do find yourself with more items than you can carry, why not use a cart to get them to the car without bags? At the very least, use as few shopping bags as possible (and don’t bag items that already come in bags, like those oranges or potatoes).

Bring the plastic bags to back to the supermarket for recycling (along with any other stray plastic bags that find their way into your hands). Make it easier on yourself to remember your reusable bags for your next trip by stashing them with your shopper’s club cards, or in your car’s trunk or glove compartment. Or knit a reusable shopping bag!

• Stop using stupid plastic.

Some plastic is just pointless. A straw? Would it kill you to let your lip touch the glass? A plastic bag just to hold the greeting card you bought? Carry it in your hand! Plastic fork? It’ll probably break! Wash your hands and eat with your fingers. Plastic Halloween decorations? Use real bones! (If you eat meat, that is. Otherwise, probably not!)

  • 2 of 4

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Rodale

Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice.

701 comments

+ add your own
1:46PM PST on Dec 12, 2012

Good article, thank you.
Also agree with Pepper H.

1:46PM PST on Dec 12, 2012

Good article, thank you.
Also agree with Pepper H.

4:44AM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

here in south Australia plastic bags are no longer given out.You can buy them at 10 or 20 cents each, and this is to encourage people to bring their own bags. Our plastic drink bottles have a deposit on them and so someone will take them back to get the refund. These two simple acts have reduced our waste by thousands of tonnes each year.Reusable takeaway coffee mugs are commonplace as well.Despite that it is still hard to get people to join in when they think its too hard or if it makes them and /or their lives uncomfortable.

6:16PM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

Thanks for this. I'm trying to be more mindful of the amounts of plastic we use in our house.

6:11AM PST on Dec 21, 2011

I've been practicng all noted for a while, and it helps life being less stressfull (reducing all the junk surrounding me). Thank You for the article!

6:26PM PST on Dec 10, 2011

To Pepper H.: You hit the nail right on the head! The REAL problem is that plastic is an unnatural compound – that is, man-made. All natural compounds have bacteria or a substance that will naturally recycle it but obviously plastic does not. Scientists have to create a bacteria or chemical compound of some sort that will decompose all or most plastics. That would solve the entire problem. The lesson for future chemists is: Don’t invent a new compound that cannot be naturally decomposed or if you do, create a bacteria or substance that can decompose it!

7:45PM PST on Nov 30, 2011

I read this a month ago and it's still bugging me. Trying to live plastic free is absurd. First, get your fingers off that keyboard,it's plastic! Second, wake up! Plastic is not the enemy! WASTE is the enemy! Items meant to be thrown away after one use, wasteful packaging (both plastic and paper), stupid "have to have it" plastic junk nobody needs, but advertising makes everybody want - These are the enemy. You want somebody to blame for the mountains of trash threatening to engulf our world, look to marketing and advertising.

5:58AM PST on Nov 13, 2011

Excellent article! Too much pre packaged crap everywhere! What happened to sitting down and eating rather than taking food to go. Hate those plastic bags too!!

7:49AM PST on Nov 11, 2011

I always try to remember reusable bags or to just not use the plastic bags from stores. Thanks!

5:33AM PST on Nov 9, 2011

Yes, just talk to the cashier you don't need a bag and take the carton by hand. I always do so when I go to a night market for vegetables I would do so to the vendor (food stand).

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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