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Steamboat Magazine

5 Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Use in Your Daily Life

04/14/2021 01:16PM ● By Rachel Miller

Photo by Tanvi Sharma from Unplash

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – I didn’t think I used much plastic, until I looked around and single-use plastic was everywhere in my apartment. It’s shocking how much plastic finds its way into our everyday products – seriously, it’s everywhere. Our society uses way too much plastic because it’s cheap and convenient, but recycling is no longer a solution because unfortunately, not every place recycles and at the end of the day it all goes to the same place. So, what can we do about this problem?

In this article, you will find five simple changes you can make to reduce how much plastic you use daily. Once you become aware of the amount of plastic in certain products, it’s easy to make these small changes – and we must start somewhere.

1. Say No to Produce Bags

When you’re strolling through the produce section at the grocery store, refrain from grabbing that unnecessary plastic bag for your fruits and veggies. The produce has already been touched by hundreds of hands – think about all the apples you sift through trying to find the perfect one to take home – so ditch the plastic bag and wash your produce extra well (as you should be doing already).

Eliminate single-use plastic like produce bags. Photo by Anna Sheets from Pexels. 

2. Rethink How You Do Laundry

What do most laundry detergents have in common? They come in huge, plastic jugs that we throw out once empty – talk about massive plastic waste. A friend introduced me to these laundry detergent eco-sheets that are easy to use, cruelty-free, and smell great. Not only are these laundry sheets eco-friendly, but the packaging is also completely biodegradable, leaving no waste after use.

Switch to plastic-free products with biodegradable packaging like these Earth Breeze laundry sheets. 

 And hate to break it to you, but those nice-smelling dryer sheets that we love so much contain little, tiny microplastics that flood our oceans. Luckily, there are alternatives that are just as effective – get your hands on a set of eco-friendly, reusable wool dryer balls.

3. Swap Your Body Products

Think about the products you use every day – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, deodorant – and the single-use plastic containers they come in. There are several zero-waste product lines in which a simple switch can go a long way. I started by swapping out big, useless shampoo/conditioner bottles for HiBar shampoo and conditioner. Packaged in biodegradable paper boxes, these little bars are made of coconut oil and rice protein that hydrates and moisturizes hair – and my hair feels great! Their slogan says it all: “Goodbye plastic, hello HiBar.”

Upgrade your shampoos and conditioners to these waste-free bars. 

4. Reusable Silicone Bags or Lids

You know that plastic wrap or those Ziploc baggies that are so convenient but utterly wasteful? Time to stop buying them. Replace those single-use plastic items with reusable silicone bags or lids to store your leftover foods. The stretchy, silicone lids make storing food in any container simple, and reusable Ziploc bags are easy to wash for use the next day.

5. Modify How You Consume Coffee

So, I’m a big coffee drinker, and parting ways with my convenient Keurig was hard, but a huge plastic and money saver in the end. Those K-Cups consume a huge amount of plastic waste and they aren’t cheap! Making the switch to a French press made me feel much less wasteful, plus the coffee tastes way better.

Acknowledging the plastic problem in this world is one thing, but doing your part to reduce your own waste is another. Start small, and you will find that reducing single-use plastic in your everyday life is satisfying – and a lot simpler than we think.