10 Easy Plastic-Free Swaps To Make Right Now

    It can be hard to stop and realize it during your day to day schedule, but are you aware of how much plastic you use and throw way every day? It’s crucial to be conscious of your trash because most of it doesn’t just disappear once you put it in the garbage; it eventually travels into our oceans and can sit there for hundreds of years. The worst part about this rapidly growing problem it that animals in our oceans mistake pieces of plastic for food and either get caught in them or consume them only for the plastic to rip their stomachs apart and kill them. Why would we care about an ecosystem that has no direct contact with us? Well, we are all apart of a food web, and if one part of the food web is destroyed, our part of the food web may crumble as well. For example, if a vast majority of fish die from plastic, we can’t breed as many as we can now, and when we do catch fish that end up on our dinner plates, I’d imagine it’d be pretty horrifying to find a bottle cap or even a part of a grocery bag on your fork. Because I was so passionate about slowing down this epidemic as much as possible, I decided the beginning of this summer that I wanted to try living with less plastic in my life. Living a low waste lifestyle can seem intimidating, and many people have their own views and ways they like to go about the lifestyle. In my opinion, what’s most important is reducing the effect you’re making on the planet as much as you can, which is different for everybody. With so much information about this movement, I’d like to share ten of my tips that will help you live a more low waste lifestyle, even in college! 

 

  1. One of the first things I did when transitioning to a lower waste way of living was using soap bars instead of dispensable soaps. Now, before you dispose of anything, MAKE SURE YOU’VE USED IT UP FIRST. It’s easy to throw away products we don’t plan on using anymore when we decided that they don’t match up with our new lifestyle. The first rule of living low waste is reduce, meaning that we shouldn’t add onto the pile of waste we’re already creating for ourselves. So if you want to swap out anything, like your bathroom sink soap, use all of it up before making that swap. Now that empty soap bottle you got? You can reuse it!
  2. Instead of buying various cleaners for all the nooks and crannies in your dorm or living area,  its better to use an all-purpose cleaner for all your cleaning needs.  Don’t have all purpose cleaner? That’s okay, because you can totally DIY your own with products you most likely have in your cabinets! This way, you’re not wasting money buying excess products and because the ingredients you’ll need are all natural, there’s no threat of toxic chemicals entering your lungs! All you need is cooled boiled water (it sounded really complex but you boil it to get that good bacteria going), white vinegar (acidic so it’ll break down mold and works on any surface), and essential oils (because the smell of white vinegar isn’t very appealing to the nose). I also personally like adding lime peels to it as my family always has them at home and they add a nice citrus smell. 
  3. Along with your new handy-dandy cleaner, you’ll need something to clean your surfaces with. Paper towels can be useful at times, but no often than not we waste them as quick as we do with tissues. An easy way to reduce the amount of paper towels in your trash can it to make your own rags. It’s optional to sew, but you can literally just cut up old blankets or shirts into squares or rectangles. When you’re done using them, just throw them up the laundry and keep reusing them!
  4. Whenever I go shopping I always make sure I have at least one reusable bag the trunk of my car. We use so many plastic grocery bags whenever my family goes to the store, and with using a reusable bag, we store a lot more of our groceries. Stores will most likely keep reusable bags for sale near the cash registers, but you can always make your own bag as well with fabrics or old clothes. Don’t feel discouraged if you forget to bring a reusable bag with you the next time you go shopping; If I ever forget to bring my bags, I like to reuse plastic grocery bags by using them as small trash bags or to put my laundry in whenever I travel. Another tip for whenever you go shopping is to buy as much in bulk as possible, and the less packaging the better!
  5. If you want to cut back on plastic wrap and aluminum foil for wrapping up fruits and other food items, another worthwhile DIY to consider is beeswax wrap. If you have any old, thin fabrics, cut it up into whatever size your heart desires. You will need to buy (or if you have it already, go you) damar or pine tree resin (helps the beeswax stick), jojoba oil (makes the wax flexible), and beeswax. 
  6. It’s recommended we drink four bottles of water a day. Can you imagine how many of those bottles end up in trash cans every day? That’s why I bought a Brita filter so I can save money and stay hydrated on campus. It’s expensive I know, but it’ll save you money in the long run since you won’t be buying as much or any plastic water bottles. Another recommendation would be to use a water bottle. Water is the healthiest drink out there, and if you’re running around everywhere on the daily like me, a portable water bottle is gonna be real handy. Of course there’s many different types out there, but whatever helps you stay away from the plastic, use it!
  7. If you’re a Starbucks addict like me, you’re probably buying at least two to three drinks per day. Even if you buy one a day, thats more plastic going into our oceans. To be as low waste as you can when going into Starbucks or any coffee shop, invest in a reusable coffee cup. Some places you go to, like the Starbucks on my campus, give you a discount, so you’re saving money too!
  8. Dryer sheets are made with chemicals that can be toxic to our fish friends when they enter our oceans. Instead of throwing away tons and tons of dryer sheet boxes. Save money and invest in some dryer balls. I got mine on amazon for less than twenty bucks, but I promise it’s way better than spending more money on multiple boxes of sheets. Of course, the cute cactus and hedgehogs ones are cute, but they’re plastic. Instead, I’d opt for wool dryer balls. That way, you can also add your favorite essential oil to them and make your clothes smell however you like!
  9. I’ve personally never tried these products, but they’re next on my list to try. Getting a biodegradable bamboo brush will save you from throwing away one more piece of plastic. Also, by making your own DIY toothpaste will keep you from throwing away even more plastic, as I personally go through toothpaste tubes like crazy. For this recipe you’ll need a mix of coconut oil, baking soda, and peppermint oil. Because this only requires all natural products, you’ll be saving your teeth from harmful chemicals as well! 
  10. At the end of the day, I always take my makeup off and use a generous amount of toner on my face. Before going low waste, I waste tons of tissues that weren’t so smooth on my face. You can invest in cotton pads on amazon (I got mine on Aliexpress), or you can cut small squares or circles of old clothes and use those. I also recommend either buying or making a small bag for your pads so when they get dirty, you can wash your cotton pads without playing I Spy in your laundry. 

 

P.S: For many of these DIY projects and recipes, I looked up various Pinterest posts. I strongly recommend you look up different links and tutorials to find what best suits you! Also, I wouldn’t try and incorporate all of these tip at once, as it may get too complex and you’ll be more likely to quit (from personal experience). Gradually make small changes into your daily routine and soon enough your low waste aspirations will become a reality.