In our house, we try to be as kind to our planet and to ourselves as possible. Now, we don’t have a ten-thousand page book of rules that we follow or anything, but we do always try to make conscious decisions about the things we do. I’m not going to give up baking just because I know that sugar is bad for me, but I do choose to create recipes using less sugar, and I always buy “kind” sugars. See? Just little things like that. We try to keep our trash down to one bag a week and compost everything we possibly can. When possible, we try to re-use our trash bag if it hasn’t torn or anything, but we don’t guilt and torture ourselves if it isn’t possible. I’m not going to live a life of restriction and rules to fit into some standard, and I want people to know that being vegan doesn’t mean you have to do so! Those small steps you take can make huge impacts!
Plastic waste that has gathered in our oceans...so sad.
One of the easiest things that we have done to lighten our footprint is to try and rid the household of plastic. Now, you’re probably wondering what on earth is so bad about plastic. Well, there’s a LOT bad about plastic, and reducing the amount that you use is something that is so simple that you can do that will not only benefit you, but benefit generations and generations to come.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American creates half a pound of plastic waste a DAY. That’s 182.5 pounds of plastic waste each year from one single person, which equals about 5 BILLION pounds a year in the US alone! Now, most plastics cannot be recycled, so the majority of this is filling up landfills, filling our oceans, wreaking havoc on our ecosystem and killing thousands of plants and animals each DAY. Not to mention, storing and microwaving foods using plastic releases dangerous chemicals and carcinogens directly into our food…now really…why on earth would we want that?!
But HOW do you get rid of all the plastic?! You really don’t realize how much you use until you try and cut it out of each part of your life. I suggest starting small and working your way up to the bigger things. As far as our house, these are some of the steps we have taken to remove plastics:
Shopping: This is the easiest and cheapest thing you can do…buy re-useable bags!! We got a bunch of them for fifty cents apiece at our local grocery store. They also hold a lot more than a plastic shopping bag, and you can fold one up and keep it in your purse just in case you have to run somewhere and pick up a few things.
Trash: If you don’t compost, or don’t have room to do so, don’t worry. There are brands of trashbags out there that are not made of plastic, and even more that are made out of recycled plastic. The brand we use are made of biodegradable bio-resin by Nature Friendly. You can find them at any grocery store, and they are only about a dollar more than regular trash bags. We buy the large box of 50 and it lasts us about a year!
Food Storage: Most people have a cupboard dedicated to “tupperware” or like products. Storing your food in plastic totally defeats the purpose of trying to eat right in the first place, because you are allowing your good foods to soak up toxic chemicals into them. The best things that I have found, and they are super cheap, too, are Ball canning jars! Not only do they look cool, but you can see exactly what is in them, how much you have, and you can get them in all sorts of sizes! We keep our dry storage (grains, beans, etc.) in the largest size, homemade condiments (vegan ranch and other salad dressings, etc.) in smaller ones in the fridge, and they are a great way to transport leftovers if you take them to work and such! Not to mention, they are easy to replace, and really inexpensive (I bought a new box of 16 of the large ones a few months ago for $6). Plus, when I go grocery shopping, I can look in the pantry and easily see what I need to stock up on.
Now, there is a LOT of other things you can do to reduce your plastic waste, but these three are small ones that have a truly ENORMOUS impact on our world and our health. If anything, start with these three, and educate yourselves on how to further eradicate plastic from your life when you’re comfortable with these. Best of luck!!!