Four Simple Ways to Use Less Plastic

Happy Earth Day! Being stuck at home has been a huge reminder for me of everything nature gives us. Even when there’s a global pandemic and I’m feeling anxious and scared, getting outside makes me feel better. Sunshine, feet in the soil, fresh air—I love it all. And since we’ve had extra free time with our thoughts lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to make the world a better place for my kids. 

Environmental activist Wendell Berry is known for saying, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” That quote really resonates with me. Ever since I became a mother, I’ve felt a greater responsibility to be more mindful of how I’m living my life and the world I’m leaving behind for my kids. I want to do my part to protect the environment and its natural resources for future generations.

One small way I’m putting the desire to be more green into practice is by using less plastic. Here are some sobering stats about plastic from National Geographic to consider:

  •     Only about 9 percent of all plastic ever made has likely been recycled
  •     40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, which is used only once and then discarded
  •     18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions

I’ve been trying not to use any plastic, but the reality is I have to use some. Still, I have figured out a few simple ways to use a lot less and thought I’d share them with you here. Keep scrolling for four simple changes we’ve made at home to use less plastic. 

Just Say No to Bottled Drinks

When you’re thirsty after a walk or workout, it can be so easy to grab a plastic bottle of water or soda and chug it right there. But people worldwide are paying dearly for that convenience. In fact, globally we buy one million plastic bottles per minute, according to Forbes. And here’s the kicker: 91 percent of those bottles are never recycled. If that’s not a reason to keep your own, refillable aluminum or stainless steel water bottle or travel cup glued to your side at all times, I don’t know what is. Some of my favorites are bkr and Swell

Switch to Glass for Food Storage

Take a seat, Tupperware. Glass is where it’s at for storing everything from meals you prep ahead of time to leftovers. Unlike plastic containers, the wonderful thing about glass is that it will last forever (as long as you don’t drop it, obviously) and won’t warp or get stained. I like to use Pyrex for stackable containers of all shapes and sizes, like these, and Mason jars for pre-made salads and soups.

Start Composting

I posted about this last year for Earth Day, but I seriously love composting. It’s an easy way to give back to your environment by making fertilizer for your garden while also reducing the use of garbage bags, which just sit forever in landfills. For a step-by-step guide to composting, and to watch a video I made with Randy from Resolution Gardens, click here

Make the Switch to Reusable Food Wraps

In the fall, we made some beeswax reusable food wraps, and we’ve been using them ever since. Composed of cotton fabric painted with beeswax, the versatile wraps can be used to cover bowls, pack snacks, or wrap up that leftover onion you hate to toss. To make your own, buy beeswax at a craft store like Michael’s and paint it onto cotton fabric. It’s an easy and fun project to do with your kids, too. Crafting not your thing? I get it. Luckily, you can find tons of pre-made reusable food wraps online.

What are some swaps you’ve made to use less plastic? Please share in the comments below!

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  • Teri

    Hi Gen! We are trying to up our ‘environmental preservation game’ too! We use washable/reusable sandwich baggies, we buy bar soap from our local soap shop (no plastic bottles!), we take our own reusable bags to stores and farmers markets, and we use reusable water bottles (my faves are from Ikea).


    Hey Gen. You gave me some great ideas. I always recycle but I’m going to start using Mason jars and more pyrex for storage. Be safe and stay well.

  • Viki

    Hello! We use soda machine, so there much less plastic at home. Here in Hungary at bigger supermarkets mushrooms are in plastic wrap, but at the farmer’s market sellers love to have this wrapping. So If i cant avoid to have it, I can give it to others who need this.

  • Erin

    It’s a bit more difficult for me to do environmental things if I don’t actually sit down and put the effort in. My apartment complex doesn’t offer recycling services, so I separate all of my recycling and take it to my dad’s or mom’s when I go to visit them. I burn a lot of papers that can’t be recycled. I’m planning to start a little herb garden using my plastic containers and jars, because hydroponics are awesome! I’ve started taking cloth bags of all sizes with me to the grocery store and putting any fresh produce in there.

  • Olivia

    These are all great! I’ve always tried my hardest to be environmentally conscious, but even more so recently. Thanks for the tips. Happy Earth Day! 🌎

  • Alice

    There are reusable silicone wraps available as well. The advantage is they can double as pan or pot cover of any geometry and can be used even when you need heat things in oven or microvave. Are very durable and dishwaher safe too. Plus function same way as food wrap, so for some reason amusing for the kids.

  • Sarah

    Some changes I’ve made are switching to cloth/ reusable pads, using a water bottle, and “unpaper towels”(reusable towels cut and rolled like paper towels). We also compost and recycle at work.

  • camilla

    I feel its sad that rest of the world dont do as we do in scandinavia. When you buy a plastic bottle you pay a little more but if you return the bottle ypu get some money back. Ex if you pay 2,50 dollar you would get ,50 back if you return the plastic bottle. we do the same with some glasbottles to. This do that not many bottles are thrown away. Most gets resycled.

  • Julie Rempel

    Hi Gen,
    Wondering if you’ve ever tried handmaking eco friendly natural soaps and bubble baths? Looking for a good recipe!

  • Kathleen L Haskin

    I have used all the ideas listed. In addition, when I was only 14 years old (now almost 63,) My neighbor taught me to take plastic bread bags and cut them into strips, then use them like yarn to crochet oval and round d rugs and even shopping bags, back then, we had paper shopping bags, but when they came out, I began to use those too. Now There is a group of us women who crochet plastic matts for the homeless. They are surprisingly Durable, and can be machine washed on Gentle. You can search Pinterest for more ideas on things to crochet with plastic bags! It definately helps to recycle the plastic bags.

  • Jaimie

    If you find time, another FOR-Earth thing you can do is DIYs:
    sugar wax (instead of razors),

    DIYs are great because they eliminate the tubes and packaging, etc. Plus, buying in bulk is cheaper, and you’re still supporting a company..
    See if anything else you’re buying regularly can be done DIY at home, through a quick Google/YouTube search.

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