How To Ditch Single-Use Plastics - Sustainability Journal Ideas
To see part 1, check out my post on How to create a more eco-friendly wardrobe.
It’s commonly known that plastics are significant pollutants on our planet, and according to earthday.org humans use about 1.2 million plastic bottles per minute. That’s a disturbing fact to know.
Fortunately, with more and more efforts towards banning single-use plastics, it is becoming easier today to reduce our personal use. But just because something is becoming easier, doesn’t mean everyone is doing it. This is why, I invite you to take this challenge this month, by replacing single-use plastics from your household with more eco-friendly options.
You may already be reducing your single-use plastics, but I hope to provide more alternatives you may not have thought of in this blog post!
Analyse your single-use behaviours
Often, we don’t even realise we are using single-use plastics. Be it, the bottle of coca-cola we bought when we needed a sugar kick, the plastic-wrapped veggies, the bag we get from buying new clothes, or even just the candy wrapper.
I find that when we begin to think about single-use plastics in our everyday life, we begin to see just how much we use, and it’s only then that we can start to make a change.
So, for the first week of the challenge, I invite you to not change your behaviour but to instead take note of every time you handle single-use plastics in your own home.
This week’s challenge has an associated YouTube video, where I show you how I use my bullet journal to track the plastic I am touching and using for one whole week. But for an overview here's how I did it.
I personally use my Archer&Olive journal, but you could just as easily use a notepad!
You’ll need a few pens, and I also use a ruler. For this, I recommend using the Archer&Olive stencil from the everyday collection
Then I also use the Acrylographs from A&O!
Step 1: In your journal, and with one specific colour, brainstorm all the single-use plastic items you use and list them down in a column.
Step 2: During the week use another colour and tally the items you listed out. How many times have you used single-use?
Step 3: You will realise during this week, that you have forgotten items, and I want you to use another colour to list those below the existing list. Continue to tally it all off.
At the end of the week, you will have a comprehensive list of every time you have used single-use plastics.
Step 4: It’s wholly unrealistic to eliminate all of these plastics immediately, which is why our next step is to group the items by categories.
You can choose your categories by looking at the items and seeing which ones fit together.
Step 5: On the next side of the page, rewrite the categories and list the items under each category.
You’re going to be setting up a new colour code, as an example:
Red - most used single-use items
Orange - medium used single-use items
Green - least used single-use items
You determine this from your tallied list.
The goal is to turn red to orange, orange to green, and then ultimately eliminate everything.
If you don't wish to draw this in your journal, here's a free printable of it!
Now the fun part of the challenge begins.
Single-use Plastic Swaps
You’ve likely heard of these items to swap:
Plastic bottle > refillable water bottle
Plastic straw > no straw/paper straw/pasta straw/metal straw/glass straw
Plastic bag > reusable grocery bag
So let’s focus on things that are less spoken about by category!
Kitchen & Groceries
There are so many areas in your kitchen where you’ll find single-use plastics, from pasta packaging, to bread, to water, to dish washing soaps. So here are some of my tips for swaps:
- Buy your dry goods from a bulk foods store, where you bring your own container and pay for the goods by weight. This is typically for those with means, as these stores will be more expensive than your average grocery store
- If you can’t buy from bulk stores, try and buy items that aren’t packaged in plastic from the supermarket
- Ditch the plastic bags for fruits and veg, instead put them directly into your reusable shopping bag. Note: it can often be difficult to choose between plastic wrapped bio food, and no plastic non-bio food, and personally I don’t know which is better, so maybe try your hand at growing your own vegetables!
- Buy bread from a local bakery, and bring your own bags, or they’re typically in paper bags, which you can compost later
- In some countries tap water isn’t drinkable, so invest in a water filter, or buy the huge 20L containers that are refillable and can be given back to the company.
- Keep glass jars and use them as cups or storage
- Keep tins and use them as storage (I use mine as storage for my pens!)
- If you like sparkling drinks, invest in a Sodastream! Unlimited sparkling water, one of my personal favorite purchases
- Instead of buying a bag of smaller bags of chips, buy the large bag, and use zip-lock bags to get smaller portions.
- Use wax wraps instead of cling-film
- Buy bar soaps instead of liquid soaps for washing dishes
The bathroom is home to many single-use plastics, your shampoo and conditioner, the hand soap, the plastic your toilet paper arrives in, the cleaning products, your makeup, your razors, and more.
So here are some common swaps for all of them:
- Switch to bar shampoo and conditioner, or keep shampoo and conditioner bottles and refill them from bulk stores
- Make your own toothpaste (there are so many recipes online!)
- Keep one soap dispenser and refill it from bulk stores or from a larger refill, alternatively swap to bar soap
- Start making your own cleaning products and using your existing dispensers, white vinegar is almost always a sure fire way to clean odours and mess around the bathroom
- Switch to a reusable razor, they’re a bit hard to get the hang of at the beginning, as they require a specific grip, but no plastic is involved! An added benefit is that they’re pretty aesthetic.
- Try your hand at reusable sanitary napkins, or underwear. For the extra brave, have a try of the menstrual cup (fyi: personally life changing)
- For parents of infants, go for reusable diapers that can be thrown into the washing machine
- Find programs in your local makeup stores where you can return empty containers once you’ve finished using them! Some makeup stores create incentives by giving you discounts the more you return!
Some swaps don’t fall into any specific categories so here are some more that I have thought of
- Stop using disposable lighters or matchsticks, instead go for a rechargeable lighter
- Bring your own Tupperware when you go to a restaurant or out and about to store extra food you don’t want to eat. My pro-tip is to buy one of those silicone collapsible ones so they take minimal space
- Do some research on your local communities recycling initiatives, some people also collect specific items you might otherwise throw away.
- For your next phone case go for a recycled plastic one such as Pela case
- Microfiber cloths are your new best friends when it comes to cleaning surfaces
For your office space, you can check out my eco-friendly home office tour over here
I hope this article has been helpful, and don’t forget to leave your own tips for reducing single-use plastics in the comments.