I want to share with you all something that has been on my heart lately and always bubbling below the surface. How much packaging and plastic that enters and leaves my house each week. I know, I know, touchy subject, but this isn’t about climate change or global warming.
Just packaging and how darn much of it ends up in a landfill or our precious water. So much of it comes in the form of convenience – food – and then there’s the doll my daughter got for Christmas on lock down in the Fort Knox of packaging…you know what I’m talking about.
It is something we have always tried to limit in our house, but the volumes are unthinkable and the statistics just totally overwhelming at times. But I recently read something that gifted me some perspective: Change is not about a few people doing everything perfect (zero-waste household – squad goal here, but not totally realistic), but many people doing a few things. And so, I come to you with some simple and realistic ideas to cut down on plastic and other waste in your house.
First, let’s tackle lunches and other foods on the go. There are a ton of great reusable products out there that take the place of zip top bags. In our house, we love the Stasher brand and have both the snack and sandwich size bags, but they have a lot of options. They are water and leak proof so work really well to cover all your to go bases from fruits and veggies and sandwiches to snacks. What I love most is that they are top-rack dishwasher safe people. That’s right.
The other 2 lunch items we can’t live without here are thermoses and bento boxes. Again, there are a million options out there. To keep things hot we settled on the thermos brand for the kids lunches since they hold about 10oz, so perfect for last night’s leftovers. Our LunchBots bento boxes are going strong after 3 years. They are stainless steel (even the lids and dividers), making them indestructible and, more importantly, dishwasher safe (yes, you are sensing a theme here)! They have a lot of sizes and configurations depending on what you like to pack in your brown bag.
Oh, and let’s touch on water bottles for a sec. We love our insulated Hydroflask bottles because they are stainless steel, and well, insulated! They keep things super cold and super hot and have a lot of different lid options. They are spendy, but totally effective and leakproof. If they are not in your budget, I have seen a lot of look alikes at TJ Maxx and Homegoods. Costco often has some options that won’t break the bank, too.
Throw in that cloth napkin and you have a zero-waste lunch! And, in spite of the upfront investment in new containers, you will be spending less on throw away baggies and plastic containers that wear out over time.
Second, (and this has been SO hard for me because I just can’t seem to remember these beauties no matter how hard I try) bring your own shopping and produce bags! I was cleaning out the garage the other day and was shocked and embarrassed at the amount of plastic grocery store and shopping bags that had amassed over the course of all the times I have forgotten my bags. If you are like me, you have a load of some sort of reusable bags stashed somewhere in your house. Dust them off and put them in your car – no, like, now. See how easy that was? Then, remember to bring them in the store (this is where I can’t seem to get it together). And what about those produce bags? I have both cotton and mesh depending on what you need to bag up. Cotton is great if you buy in bulk (think nuts, oats, coffee, rice, and whatever other things your amazing local bulk aisle carries). Mesh works well for all the fruits and veggies.
I love that bringing my own bags means no piles of bags laying around my garage or extra trips to the grocery store to recycle them!
Finally, and we touched on shopping the bulk foods aisle above, but seriously there is some awesome stuff in there. Everything from grains to salt to nuts and other delightful snacks. But one thing that gets me excited are the spices! One, you bring your own container and two, you get the exact amount you need. Use a ton of chili, but not so much curry? Boom, customize how much you buy at a time. Once I get my bulk food home in my little bags, I shift to however I store those items in the cabinet. I use large glass canning jars for things like rice and beans and smaller for my spices (or just reuse original spice jars).
I hope I have given you guys some simple ideas to use less single use products and also save some money along the way. Even these little changes can have a huge impact. I’m sure many of you out there are doing your part and I would love to hear from you. What practical things have you implemented in your home to reduce the impact of packaging in our environment? Drop a comment below!