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Using Less Plastic – 2013 Recap and Plans

This year we made progress towards our using less plastics goal. I am going to share all of the links and ideas from previous posts, our continued progress on those ideas, and then outline my plans for continuing to use less plastic in 2014.
We started off in January making sure we use our reusable water containers more to cut back on our plastic bottle consumption. We are still using far fewer disposable water bottles but we could do even more in 2014.
We also made sure we had enough reusable grocery bags to use with our shopping. I have to admit that in the last few months I have forgotten my cloth bags quite a few times. I need to be much more diligent about getting the bags back into the car and remembering to take them into the store.

I have been better at not taking a bag if I can just carry the item from the store. This is something that is now second nature to me. It always surprises me when the clerk wants to put a single small item into a big plastic bag. I usually just take the item and hand back the bag.
I love my stuff bags and I have two of them now! I just need to really, really remember to pull them out and use them. I keep them in my glove box of the car so they are always with me when I am out shopping.
This has been the most consistent thing we have stuck with all year…using better compostable garbage bags. I am happy to say this is something that we have incorporated into our lifestyle. We also use less of them!
We use these all the time for lunches. My husband packs a salad every day and this container is the best ever. We loved it so much we bought two more so we all can make use of them when we are out and about.
We also purchased the soup container by Sistema and my husband is using that to take along hot foods in his lunch box.
We started off using the stainless steel containers quite a bit but I found that they are very heavy if I am carrying them in my backpack. If we are packing an ice chest to take in the car they work much better.

I have to say that we use very few plastic cups anymore. I don’t think I have purchased any at all since writing this post. We just reuse the ones we have or use alternative reusable cups.

Plans for 2014

I am hoping to switch over any of remaining plastic food containers to some like these glass ones. I think they will be better for storing and reheating leftovers. Of course these would only be for using in the home and not for taking out and about.

I have yet to start consistently using my reusable produce bags. I love them but it is awkward to pull them out at the grocery store for some reason. I need to get over it and just do it in 2014!

I know that I am still purchasing lots of plastic packaging for foods and consumer goods. It really takes some forethought and pick things with less packaging. Places I have cut back drastically are in convenience foods, juice, and cheese. I have lots of room for improvement and when I figure out ways to do so, I will pass on the tips.

How did your family do this year? Did you cut back on your plastic consumption?

I’m an Amazon Affiliate and only recommend products that I personally own (or wish I owned) and think my readers will love as well! This post may contain some links that will take you to these products on Amazon where I receive a small referral fee. I greatly appreciate your support!

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Using Less Plastics Update #5 Using Fewer Disposable Plastic Cups

Using Fewer Disposable Cups

I have two tips for you that have saved me from wasting too many plastic cups.

#1 Ask for Recyclable Cups
When you eat out, make sure your take-away cup is not plastic.Ask beforehand because sometimes you have a choice between a plastic or paper cup. Our McDonalds has a $1 for any size drink policy. If you order a large, you get a plastic cup. If you order a medium or small, you get a paper cup. We make sure to order a medium on the rare trip to McDonalds. Wouldn’t it be nice if McDonalds had a recycling bin for all those large drink cups that get thrown in the trash can?

Sidenote: If you drink coffee or tea at Starbucks and are enjoying it in the restaurant, ask for a mug instead of a paper cup. You can also bring your own  personal cup and they will refill it for you (for a 10 cent discount). If you are purchasing a cold drink this will eliminate the need for a disposable plastic cup.

#2 Write Names on Disposable Cups
We recently had a graduation party and I realized if I put a Sharpie pen by the drink cups…people would write their names on them and then reuse the cup. This was a great savings in disposable plastic.

These are both really small ideas but I decided over time they would make an impact on our disposable plastic usage.We are keeping at this project and feel good about the progress we have made in using less as the months go by.

Any summertime tips for using less plastic?

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Using Less Plastics: Stanless Steel Lunch Containers

We are continuing to try new ways of cutting back our plastic consumption and this month we started to use stainless steel lunch box containers. I purchased two different kinds and we tested them out thoroughly on our last trip to Yosemite. Mr. A and I both packed our lunch and snacks in the stainless containers. The first thing we decided is that stainless steel is heavier than the plastic containers or baggies we have been using. It takes a bit of commitment to carry them in your day pack.

Mr. A used the ECO Lunchbox 3-in-1 container. He really liked the way it all fit together and he could keep his sandwich and chips from getting crushed in his day pack. He noted that they are not air tight so you don’t want to put anything in here that will leak. He also noted that his sandwich was a little dried out when he went to eat it.

I used the Kids Konserve Nesting Trio for my lunch. (One on top is the small container from Mr. A’s 3-in-1 Container.) I truly love these containers and have used them many times this month for on the go snacks and lunches. On this hike I packed two hard boiled eggs and some granola/dried fruit mix in the two containers. I found that my reusable hemp-cotton produce bag from Chico is the perfect way to carry the individual containers in my day pack (on my lap). This trio of containers comes with plastic lids and is leak proof.

Little by little we are finding new and acceptable ways to reduce our plastic consumption. I am always on the lookout for more ideas to implement, sort of a personal challenge.

We are going to be camping this month – Any camping related “using less plastic” tips? Leave me a comment.

I’m an Amazon Affiliate and only recommend products that I personally own (or wish I owned) and think my readers will love as well! This post may contain some links that will take you to these products on Amazon where I receive a small referral fee. I greatly appreciate your support!

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Using Less Plastic Update: Kozy Wraps and Salad to Go

For the month of April we continued to work on our goal to be less wasteful with plastic. My husband packs a lunch everyday for work and he can be gone for 12+ hours a day so he takes a man-sized lunch with snacks. In the past this meant that we used lots of disposable sandwich sized Ziploc bags but once we made our pledge to use less plastic, we have switched to more reusable containers.

I am pleased that we have not used a single disposable baggie since we started the year.

Reusable Plastic Lunch Products
Here are a few products that we have used to reduce our plastic consumption.

Kids Conserve Kozy Wraps
This was really hard to get used to at first. It is basically a plastic circle that you fold and velcro shut. It will even fit a man-sized sandwich or bagel if needed. They are easy to wipe clean and are a great alternative to a plastic sandwich baggie.

Sistema – Salad to Go
My husband takes a green salad everyday in his lunch. I LOVE using the Salad to Go container because I can fit his salad in the bottom section and then in the top there is a small container for his dressing and two sections to put any other items he likes in his salad. It also has snap in fork and knife slots on the bottom of the top section. This is super easy to use and clean. My husband likes that his salad stays fresh.

I have also used this for yogurt and toppings and it stays neatly inside until you are ready to eat.

There are a couple of products that I have been waiting to order that I would like to try in his lunchbox as well. We are looking for something to replace his yogurt cups and these stainless steel containers look interesting. I have been trying to decide if it is less plastic to buy the big tubs of yogurt and dish it out into the stainless steel containers for his lunch. I think these little containers would be perfect for taking in my day pack with snacks. I will keep you posted on how we like these as alternatives to plastic baggies.

I am still working on finding an alternative to the plastic produce bags. I ordered some reusable ones from but there are highly unsatisfactory. Still on the hunt….

Please note these are affiliate links to I purchased all the products in this entry and have not been compensated for this entry.


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Using Less Plastics – Better Trash Bags

This month we tackled another of our big plastic uses…..trash bags. I love my convenient lovely trash bags with their nice easy to use handles. But, after taking a really good look at our consumption of these regular plastic trash bags…we felt that this was an area we could reduce the number of bags or to use a more environment-friendly alternative.

Enter the Google Search!

Normal plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to naturally breakdown.

Trash bags for our household trash –  
Pride Green Life Cycle Bags
Who knew there were such easy to find alternatives? We had always purchased our trash bags from Costco in bulk but a quick Google Search and we had some options to look for on We found an alternative to our regular plastic trash bag that is a biodegradable plastic that says it will breakdown in 18-36 months which sounds a whole lot better than 1000 years! We went with these bags from Pride Green because they had the best reviews online. We have used them for a little over a month now and I honestly have seen no change in durability and ease of use. They have quickly replaced our normal plastic trash bags.

Compost Bucket Bags-
BioBag Food Waste Bags 

We use a small under-the-counter compost bucket for collecting our kitchen wastes. We have switched to using BioBag Food Waste Bags which are completely compostable. They are made from starches and will be consumed by micro-organisms in our soil. No fussing with these bags…we can just remove the full bag and throw the whole thing in our compost bin! No one complains about taking the compost bucket to the composter anymore.

Just in case you want to know about our under the counter kitchen composter looks like. We have used this for many years and are very happy with the convenience of having it right there for kitchen clean-up and food preparation time.

Any tips or suggestions for reusable produce bags? 

Next month I will be sharing our experience with our reusable sandwich and snack bags. 🙂

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Using Less Plastic Update #2

Another month of using less plastic and I can already see a huge difference in our attitudes and lifestyle. But, there are still some areas we could improve in. Our family is not seeking to totally eliminate all plastic but to greatly reduce the wasteful practices we were falling into without thinking.

This is the key…think about what you are purchasing and then how you are going to reduce your plastic consumption before you bring it home.

We have not cleansed the kitchen of all plastic. We decided that since we already owned all those reusable plastic containers, we would use them for now. They will be replaced with non-plastic alternatives when the time comes. For our family, this is a gradual process that will probably take a year to totally figure out how to make it work.

Thanks for all the suggestions from last month in your comments. I appreciate every one and hope you will keep the suggestions coming this month.

#3 Bringing less plastic home from the grocery.
Last month I shared how we are attempting to use all reusable bags for shopping….well, I still forget sometimes. But, I found an answer that is simple and easy…a reusable stuff bag. This bag from Chico Bag unfolds into a full size bag with shoulder straps (Diana’s suggestion from last month’s comments). You can purchase one on Amazon: ChicoBag Reusable Shopping Tote/Grocery Bag.I can attach it to my purse or keys using the clip provided and this way I always have at least one reusable bag to use at all times.

The other brilliant idea that my husband had was to ask at the meat counter and the deli counter if they could wrap our meats in paper rather than a ziplock bag. No problem! The meats come home and we put them in reusable containers at home instead which is one extra step but we don’t end up with plastic bags that we can’t reuse.

If all else fails, take the item without a bag if possible. We have done this at Home Depot a number of times this month and now it seems silly when they want to use a plastic bag to carry out one small item. It is just a bad habit.  (Makita spoke about doing this in her comment from last month.)

It only makes sense to bring less plastic home if we are trying to reduce our wasteful plastic usage.

Have you found a product you like for packaging sandwiches for lunches? Leave me a comment!

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Using Less Plastics Update – Cutting Back

Using less plastic is one of my long term goals this year and we started off January with a great gusto! If nothing else, focusing on where we use plastic and how it comes into our house everyday has made us aware that we need to make a conscious effort to eliminate the lazy ways we have developed in our family.

I decided I will keep a running list of all the ways we have either cutback or eliminated the use of plastic as we go through each month, sharing a few ideas each month. At the end of the year it will fun to see our improvement in this area of using less and reusing more.

#1 Organize our collection of reusable water containers.
By far the most wasteful use of plastic we have in our family is the use of plastic water bottles. The convenience of grabbing a plastic bottle as we go about our day was just too tempting. Of course we have reusable water containers and Mr. A pretty much always uses them for his water needs, the rest of us did not. That changed this month. I organized our collection of reusable water containers and put them in a convenient location in the kitchen instead of in the pantry. Now, we can grab a container at the beginning of each day and use it whether we are around the house, out hiking, or going to school or work. I decided I actually like the taste of the water from the stainless steel container better than from the plastic bottle and it keeps the water colder for a longer period of time.

#2 Use consistently our reusable shopping bags. 
We have a nice collection of reusable shopping bags that go back and forth between the store, the house, and then back into the car. We have used these for a long time now but we not always as consistent as we could have been. I kept track this month and I only had to use six plastic bags this month – two from Target, two from the grocery, and two from Home Depot. I need to remember to bring in my bags to ALL stores. But, those six bags were recycled in various ways during the month so they were not wasted.

This month has been pretty exciting as our whole family has worked together to come up with ways to decrease our use of plastics. I know that we will never totally eliminate the plastic from our lives but that is not our aim. We are striving to be better at not being wasteful when there are alternatives that fit our lifestyle. 

What is your best tip for our family in achieving our goal of using less plastic? Leave me a comment!

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