Our journey to cutting out single-use plastics

June 07, 2019

Our journey to cutting out single-use plastics

The road to reduce single-use plastics is not a quick one, and for us, it's a continuous work in progress to make intentional and conscious decisions. We have made a number of changes in the process on how we think, buy, consume, and value all of the things that we bring into or out of our home.

Update June 11: Yesterday, the Prime Minister of Canada announced plans for banning single-use plastics as early as 2021. A big step in the right direction!

We began our journey by taking small steps, so we wanted to share some of the things that we've done with our family that could also be insightful to you, if you haven't already started the elimination of single-use plastics.

1. Bring your own cup

Many of us bring travel mugs filled with homemade coffee along on our commute, but have you ever thought of bringing an empty mug or cup along so that you can get it filled somewhere? Whenever we go out and have a large bag or stroller with us, you can bet that we have our empty cups, too. You’d be surprised to see how many food/beverage establishments will gladly pour their drinks into your cup. We’ve had everything from coffee to lemonade to bubble tea served in our provided cups on trips out. Of course there are places that don’t have this policy (McDonald’s, we’re looking at you) so always ask before you place your order.

2. Avoid packaged snacks and take out containers

 

As parents of little ones, you have to have food readily available ALL the time. We do our very best to pack all snacks and meals in reusable containers. We like to bring fruits and homemade granola and cookies (though we are real parents, so purchased snacks play a role as well!). And of course, packing meals isn’t only for kids; adults can do litterless lunches, too. There are some great bento box and stainless steel container options that nest, separate food, come in many different sizes and cool configurations, and plastic-free. You will never have to sink your teeth into another soggy sandwich again.

3. Use your own straws

Eliminating single-use plastic straws by investing in a set of stainless steel straws that our entire family could use was another step we took. Part of that investment is to clean them after each use, to remember to bring the straws with us each time we go out, and to make sure that our servers know in advance that we do not want any straws with our drinks! The last part is harder than you realize; there have been countless surprise plastic cups with plastic straws that appeared after we’ve barely sat down at a restaurant! Remember, this is a big change to a convenient lifestyle for everyone, so don't beat yourself up over it if you forget or get served a plastic straw somewhere. It happens to us more than we care to count.

4. Bring a travel utensil set

We incorporated portable utensil sets into our daily routine to help eliminate taking plastic forks, spoons, knives from restaurants and fast food joints. We use bamboo sets that have worked out great for us: it's lightweight, size fits the hand nicely, and most importantly, bamboo is sustainable. (Fun facts: did you know that some species of bamboo can grow 3 feet in a 24-hour period? That it is grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals? And that is 100% biodegradable? Amazing!) Again, very easy to forget, but what a great feeling it is when you know you've consumed one less fork or spoon, and one less piece of plastic goes to landfill or our oceans.

5. Save food with beeswax wraps

Plastic cling is (was?) an amazing invention, but what’s not amazing is the amount of plastic waste it produces. It’s simply too convenient and very guilty of being a popular single-use plastic item. We started saving our food using beeswax wraps, and they are honestly a much, much better option than old cling wrap. Avocados stay green beyond what any plastic cling could do, and a half cut lemon doesn’t dry out even a week after it’s been cut. Abeego’s wraps are made with ingredients chosen for their natural preserving qualities and mimic nature’s own peel, rind, and skin. Unlike plastic, beeswax wraps can protect but breathe at the same time.

6. Say no to plastic produce bags

Grocery shopping - bell peppersDoes your onion or bell pepper really need a plastic bag for the short duration of your grocery trip? Sometimes we do things out of habit, and putting produce into the bags the store provides could very well be one of them. When we buy large or single items (like a banana bunch, a squash) we just throw it into our shopping cart. They need to get washed before eating anyway! And for anything not as convenient (like beans or a pound of potatoes), try reusable produce bags. Some store employees may not be knowledgeable on how to tare the bags (finding out the weight of the bag so that it’s not included with the weight of the produce) so it will require a bit of education on your part. Our bags actually have their tare weight imprinted on the inside of the bag for convenience.   

Sure, these choices require commitment and may not be as convenient or as cost effective as conventional choices, and we may have to stop to think about what we need or don't need, but in the end it’s about creating new habits and change. It takes one person, one family, one step in the right direction to make a difference.


Thanks for reading,
Jon


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