Nine Ways to Cut Down on Plastic in the Home

Nine Ways to Cut Down on Plastic in the Home

If you’re concerned about green issues in your household, you’ve probably heard just how bad plastics can be for your health and for the environment. If you want to live cleaner and greener, here are some ways to cut down on plastic in your home.

1. Be Clear about Your Local Recycling Program

At present, there are seven different categories of recyclable plastic. If plastic is recyclable, you should see the recycle symbol stamped on it, and a number inside the symbol. The number will tell you the type of plastic it is. Not every recycling plant can handle all seven types of waste, so be vigilant about what you are putting out so it does not end up in the landfill. If it can’t be recycled, see if you can use it for other purposes around the home.

2. Say No to Straws

More than half a billion straws are ending up in the trash every day in the US alone. Reusable options you can buy and carry with you include paper, bamboo, stainless steel, and glass.

3. Invest in Your Own Coffee-Making Equipment

Vast mountains of plastic-coated coffee cups and lids end up in landfills every day. Skip the expensive habit and make it yourself at home using a traditional coffee machine and a reusable stainless steel filter. Buy a travel mug to take your hot drinks with you anywhere. Compost the coffee grounds and use them in your garden or potted plants.

4. Invest in a Water Filter and Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Mountains of small plastic water bottles now litter the planet and as the quality of our water gets worse, the number of bottles continues to grow. Consider investing in a Brita pitcher to filter your water, or a filter that attaches to the tap in your kitchen. Carry fresh water everywhere you go in a durable stainless steel water bottle.

5. Say No to Plastic Wrap

One of the main issues with plastic wrap and plastic bottles, in addition to what they do to the environment, is the problem of harmful chemicals from the plastic leaching into your food and drink. This is even more likely if you heat your food in a plastic container.

You can keep food fresh and protect yourself from plastic by wrapping your food in waxed paper first, not plastic wrap. If you then want to preserve it further, put it in a plastic container. Or consider investing in glass food storage container sets with lids.

6. Bring Reusable Containers to Your Takeaway

If you are treating yourself to a takeaway, consider bringing reusable glass containers with lids to carry your food home. Most places will use Styrofoam otherwise, which is not commonly recycled.

7. Buy Cleaning Product Refills

Many cleaning products now offer a small vial of their active cleaning solution which you can then place in your reusable spray bottle and dilute in order to use it safely. This will save on bottles and on gas being used to lug heavy bottles back and forth.

8. Invest in a SodaStream

If your family can’t live without soda, just think how many bottles and cans you could avoid putting in the trash if you were to make it yourself with a SodaStream reusable bottle system.

9. Use a Razor with Replaceable Blades Instead of a Disposable Razor

Or use an electric one – either way you will reduce plastic waste.

Follow these simple tips to cut down on plastic use in your home. Your health and the environment will both benefit.

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How to Avoid Plastic Leaching into Your Food

How to Avoid Plastic Leaching into Your Food

A growing body of research has uncovered the dangers of the various chemicals in plastic leaching into our food and drink. There is now a range of BPA-free plastic water bottles as a result, but that is the tip of the iceberg when we are surrounded by so much plastic, and the food and takeaway industries seem driven by plastics.

Here are some suggestions as to how you and your family can avoid the toxins in plastics.

1. Skip the Bottled Water

Get a filter for your tap and use a stainless steel water bottle.

2. Buy Your Eggs in Cardboard Boxes

Stay away from the polystyrene.

3. Adopt a Clean Eating Lifestyle

Frozen foods such as TV dinners are usually packaged in plastic trays. Never heat the food in a plastic tray because it can break down into the food. Instead, cook from scratch and use glass food storage containers with covers to make the most of your meals and even create your own TV dinners at home.

4. Skip the Tetra Paks

Tetra Paks are coated with plastic to make them waterproof. Buy milk and juice in glass bottle.

5. Use Concentrated Juices

In the freezer section, you can find frozen juice concentrate for apple, orange and more. Defrost and dilute the contents according to the package instructions and place in a glass bottle or jar. This will cut down on the number of plastic bottles you buy and the amount of gasoline and elbow grease you spend lugging heavy bottles from the store.

6. Invest in a SodaStream

If soda is a priority for your family, consider investing in the SodaStream system with its reusable stainless bottles. Drinks cans are actually coated with plastic, and of course, plastic soda bottles also up your risk of plastic leaching into your drinks. Coca-Cola can actually take the paint off cars, so think what it can do to a plastic bottle or can.

7. Bring Reusable Containers to the Deli Counter

This will skip all the wrapping and plastic bags.

8. Buy Beans in Bulk

Tin cans are lined with plastic as well. Buy dried beans in bulk, boil them up, and use them with all your healthy recipes and soups.

9. Skip the Saran Wrap

Don’t wrap your food in plastic. Try waxed paper instead.

10. Bring Your Glass Containers to the Takeaway

It’s a nice change to get a takeout, but many come in plastic containers or polystyrene. The restaurants also tend to give you a lot of plastic utensils. Ask them to put the meal in your container/s and say no to plastic cutlery.

11. Break Your Coffee Shop Habit

Disposable coffee cups are coated with plastic and the covers are plastic. The heat of the coffee makes it more likely the plastic will leach into your drink.

12. Watch Out with Baby Bottles, Nipples and Sippy Cups

Many of these contain plastic or are coated with plastic. Look for toxin-free baby products.

13. Beware Melamine and Plastic Plates for Children

Melamine is a form of plastic commonly uses for serving plates and bowls, but studies have shown they leach considerably if you add hot soup to them. Use a small, non-breakable glass plate or non-toxic serving ware instead.

14. Use Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

They are more durable and there is no risk of leaching.

Follow these tips to minimize the amount of plastic leaching into your food and drink. The environment will benefit too.

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Eight Surprising Items Containing Plastic – and Good Substitutes

Eight Surprising Items Containing Plastic – and Good Substitutes

If you’ve been trying to cut down on plastic use in order to become greener, you might be surprised to discover just how many items contain plastic. Then it is a case of finding plastic-free substitutes if you can, for a healthier, eco-friendly lifestyle. Here are some shockers, and sensible substitutes.

1. Tin Cans and Drinks Cans

These actually have a plastic coating to protect the metal. Use bottles and jars instead, or skip the convenience foods out of a can and cook yourself every day.

2. Glass Jar Lids

The lids are also coated with plastic to protect them from the ingredients in the jar. Healthier alternatives include Ball jars and Mason jars. Remove the food from the packaging as soon as you get it home so no plastic leaches into your food. Note that the rubber rings will usually disintegrate after a time and need to be replaced, but otherwise, any set you invest in will last for years to come.

3. Takeaway Coffee Cups

Some are made of Styrofoam, others of paper coated with plastic. The hot coffee can react with the plastic, producing harmful chemicals. And there are mountains of them in our landfills.

Save money by kicking the coffee shop habit and making it at home. Use a stainless steel travel mug. Use a traditional coffee maker with a stainless reusable filter to also cut down on waste. Never use a Keurig or other single-cup maker as the small plastic tubs will create a mountain of trash. There are reusable plastic pods but they are a mess to use, and the problem is the same — the danger of plastic leaching into your food and drink. Don’t forget to use the grounds as mulch in your garden.

4. Teabags

Teabags can have various coatings on them and other chemicals as well, some of which are used to bleach the teabag paper. The boxes they come in are responsible for cardboard and plastic waste. A better solution is to use loose tea in a caddy or an infuser, and a travel mug. Use the discarded leaves to give your garden a boost.

5. Disposable Diapers

Disposable diapers use lots of plastic and chemicals. The plastic prevents the skin from breathing and can cause diaper rash. The liquid-absorbing chemicals can burn or scratch baby’s skin. The diapers sit in a landfill for years, and the plastic and chemicals can leach into water supply due to rain and runoff.

Cloth diapers can be a better solution, as is potty training your child as soon as possible to avoid all of the expense and hassle of soiled diapers.

6. Glitter

Glitter is basically finely ground-up plastic. It is used on cards, wrapping paper, in makeup and more. If you can’t live without glitter, eco-friendly alternatives include biodegradable and even vegan glitters in an array of colors.

7. Biodegradable Corn-Based Packing Peanuts

You might think these are purely corn, but no – they contain plastic as well. Solutions for protecting the contents of packages when you ship them can include brown paper and inflatable plastic bags that can be reused.

8. Tetra Paks

These might seem green, but the cardboard is coated with plastic to keep it waterproof. This can react with your milk and so on. The plastic also makes it more difficult to recycle, so be sure to look at your local sanitation department rules. Some dairies still use glass bottles for their milk that you can return or recycle.

If you are concerned about all the plastic waste in our oceans and landfills, using these substitutes is a good start.

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11 Ways to Cut Down on Plastic When Food Shopping

11 Ways to Cut Down on Plastic When Food Shopping

Food shopping is one of the most common trouble spots when it comes to plastic waste piling up and ruining the environment. Here are some easy ways to cut down on plastic when food shopping.

1. Steer Clear of Plastic Shopping Bags

These are extremely dangerous to land and marine animals. Depending on what they are made of, they can take more than a thousand years to break down. Use reusable shopping bags for all your purchases.

2. Buy in Bulk

Buy staples in bulk such as cereal, pasta, and rice. The food is cheaper and you are cutting down on packaging.

3. Cook Your Own Beans and Soups from Scratch

Most tinned food items have a plastic coating inside and out, which can leach into your food. Many canned goods are also very high in salt (sodium), which is used as a cheap preservative but can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Buy your beans in bulk and boil them up for your various recipes. Add fresh fruits and vegetables to make your own soups.

4. Buy Concentrated Juice

You will find small tubes in the freezer aisle. Defrost, dilute, and pour into a glass bottle or jug rather than buy plastic containers of juice every week.

5. Steer Clear of Frozen Meals

These tend to have a lot of packaging. In particular, watch out for TV dinners. If you must use them, check the plastic tray for the recycle symbol and the number inside the symbol. Then check with you local sanitation to see which types of plastic, numbered 1 to 7, they are able to recycle. If they can’t accept them, think of ways you can reuse them yourself and make these TV dinners a rare treat only – not something you eat every day.

6. Buy from the Deli Counter, Not from the Refrigerator

If you love ham, bologna and so on, buy from the deli counter to avoid the plastic that pre-packaged cold cuts usually come in.

7. Bring Reusable Packaging to the Deli Counter

This will also help you cut down on the plastic package they usually use for cheese, cold cuts, and so on.

8. Buy Fresh Bread from a Bakery

Don’t buy your bread wrapped in plastic. Buy a fresh loaf and wrap it in a cloth bag.

9. Shop Locally

Online grocery shopping is very convenient, but it also results in a great deal of packaging. Where possible, shop at local farmer’s markets instead. This will cut down on gas, the produce will be fresher, and your money will help sustain the local economy.

10. Avoid Tetra Paks

They may seem green – a neat little cardboard container, but the truth is that Tetra Paks are treated with a plastic coating to make them waterproof. Buy your milk in glass bottles instead.

11. Avoid Teabags

Teabags are actually very resource heavy and can be unhealthy for you. The bags are sometimes treated with plastic, or bleached to make the paper very white. They usually come in large cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic. The bags also often come with string, paper tags and staples. All of these would have to be removed if you ever wanted to compost the tea leaves. Use loose tea with an infuser instead and use a travel mug to take your tea with you wherever you go.

With these tips and substitutions, you can do your bit for the environment every time you go food shopping.

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