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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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15 thoughts on “Using Less Plastics Update – Cutting Back

  1. We have been trying to use less plastic in our home, too. One of the first things I did was to get rid of all of our plastic food storage containers and replace them with pyrex glass containers (some circle, some rectangle). I’ve been putting all of our fruits and veggies in the containers in the fridge, so a great side effect is that my kids are eating more fruits & veggies!

  2. This might sound odd or like hard work but it really isn’t–making our own yogurt has cut down our plastic use massively. It is very hard to find yogurt in glass containers–making my own has allowed me to keep reusing the same containers I have over and over again.

  3. On plastic bags — I was very good at remembering my reusable bags (which stay in the bag of the van) at grocery stores, but had trouble remembering to bring them in for all stores — so I got 5 “chico” bags through Amazon at a discount (they are like parachute material and fold into themselves into a little packet with a clippy hook) — I think they were $20. I keep one in my purse at all times, and one in the front of the car (and gave the others to spouse and kids). Just having the chico bag in my purse helps keep me from bringing excess plastic bags home!

  4. We purchased glass containers with sealable lids at Costco. The lids are plastic but not disposable. We use these to store leftovers instead of using plastic wrap over a bowl or disposable plastic containers.
    I haven’t done this yet but want to make bags out of netting material to use when purchasing fruit and veggies instead of using the plastic produce bags.

  5. I hear you! we have gone thru the anti-plastic phase and cleaned out our entire kitchen.
    Some of the most helpful items for me now are glass mason jars. they are great for food storage, affordable and handy even as cups if you need them to be.
    Also, we no longer bring lunches in tupperware. I got a stainless steel kit ( for each of us and that is all we use. With the kits, wooden sporks fabric napkins and chico bags there is no waste at all when you are on the go. everything is washable and reusable. Good luck with your goal!

  6. We have been conscious of this for a long time. One tip – if we go to a store and forget our reusable bags, we simply put the items back into the cart and carry our receipt in hand. Though this makes it a little more time consuming, we learn our lesson very quickly and seldom forget our bags now. 🙂

  7. These are all such great ideas. I am really looking forward to future posts.

    Like others, I have gotten used to bringing bags to the grocery store now, but I don’t always remember for the other stores. Mesh bags for produce – brilliant!


  8. We keep jelly jars, drill a hole in the top, and use them for sippy cups. The straws are still plastic, but at least the cups aren’t.

  9. This is one of our goals this year too. We’ve cut down a lot cuz we use SS water bottles too, and reuseable grocery bags. Now my main concern is the plastic in which our food is packaged when we buy it: our bread, tortillas, yogurt, etc. So we are learning as a family to make those on our own. Plus, it cheaper, healthier, fresher, and tastes better. Less convenient, but as a homeschooling family, what we have is time, so we cook as a family.

  10. This is great! My family did a big “get the plastic out” effort a couple of years ago. I found the hardest part was the kitchen (so much food comes in plastic), but I got into the habit of buying more food in bulk (from a food-buying co-op), bringing my own plastic bags for loose produce at the grocery store, and carrying one of those nylon bags that scrunches up really small with me wherever I go so that even at a clothing or department store, I have my own bag to use. Also, I choose products that are packaged in glass or paper, if possible, and cut way back on snacks and juice ant things, in general, to avoid packaging altogether. Finally, my husband switched from shampoo to “no-poo” (baking soda and vinegar–it didn’t work for my hair so I went back to shampoo) and I make my own deodorant (from the Angry Chicken recipe–it didn’t work for my husband, so he went back to deodorant).

  11. love these ideas! we organize our reusable water bottles by hanging them on our basement door on a shoe rack…now I realize that’s got plastic too…how do you ever get completely away from consuming plastic somewhere? we do use the reusable bags when shopping. some great ideas here. as another homeschooling family, I do like the idea of making our own sandwich bread & tortillas. Does anyone have a recipe to share?

  12. The only plastics used here are the ones I need for freezing my harvest. I’m trying to have enough reusable ones so that I do not have to purchase freezer bags for future harvests.

  13. So are you trying to get rid of all for a specific reason (other than cutting down on waste like using ziplock bags and tossing them)? I missed if you said why you are doing this.

    We have not gotten rid of plastic but we have found ways to cut down. For example we have a few sets of Easy Lunchboxes (still plastic, but reuseable – ours are still going strong after over a year)so we don’t use ziplock bags.

  14. Tristan,

    Like the post title says…just cutting back on our wasteful uses of plastic. I admit that elimination is impossible. 🙂

  15. We rarely use plastic wrap to cover foods. We could have the same roll for 6months! We rarely use plastic zip top baggies.When I shop for fruits and veggies at the grocery store or market, I make an effort to bring paper bags from home, or use a smaller ‘tote’ bag for items like oranges or apples. Always use my own non-plastic bags for all shopping, even when I go to the mall and buy clothes! I don’t like being a walking billboard for stores, so I use bags that are plain or home made. I use glass mason jars too (someone wrote that on their comment!

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