Not using any plastic, or trying to use less of it is an admirable goal. You can reduce your usage of single-use plastic bags and it alone will be a great step towards a cleaner earth. If you want to reduce your plastic consumption or even move towards a zero-waste lifestyle, we have some tips for you!
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A few years ago we started using brown paper bags at the store. We started reusng them over and over again until they were completely broken. This was our first step towards reducing our plastic consumption.
After we realizzed what the cost of our shopping habits was, a real shift happened in our lives. One-use plastic bags are just anothet way how you contribute to plastic polution. We decided to make conscious purchases and go to the store with our reusable bags.
Choking on Plastic
Plastic bags are known to kill over a million birds and hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, seals, and other marine mammals every year. They are often mistakenly ingested by animals, clogging their intestines, which results in a very painful death by starvation. Other animals or birds become entangled in plastic bags and drown or can’t fly as a result.
Plastic bags are made of petroleum-based polyethylene – a nonrenewable resource that creates greenhouse gases and contributes to global warming.
Less than 1% of plastic shopping bags are recycled and they take a thousand years to decompose in a landfill. As polyethylene breaks down, toxic substances leach into the soil and enter the food chain.
So even by making small changes in your lifestyle, like ditching one-use plastic bags, you’re actually doing a huge favor to earth and it’s children.
Reducing your carbon footprint and becoming a conscious buyer is a lifestyle change. It requires a certain system to make sustainable living easy and eventually – effortless. Thus after months of learning from our own mistakes, we made the ultimate list of how to adopt this new habit.
Here are some tips to make it easier for you to use reusable bags:
- Keep the bags in the car, not in the house! There were many times when we forgot to take our bags to the store, that’s why we made the decision to keep half of them in the car. It helps with unplaned visits to the grocery store too.
- Find bags you love. If combine function and fashion of something so practical, you’re more likely to use it.
- Have bags that are for groceries and other bags for ‘clean’ items like clothes, etc. Different colors or designs on each bag helps with telling which bag is for what purpose. We have mesh and extra light bags for food stores and heavier ones to pack other items. It’s extra helpful if you go on a picnic or go to the beach and you want to keep all those small items in one place.
- Don’t forget to wash your bags. You should wash the bags regularly. Reusable bags can collect nasty bacteria in them after only a few trips to the store, so make sure to wash them with a mild detergent every other week. Some root veggies can get your bags muddy after one use, so it’s good to have a separate bag for them. Clean these bags more often.
- Designate bags for other uses as well. We collect herbs every summer and we use our bags reusable instead of plastic ones. It also handy to put your toiletries into mesh bags if you don’t have a special container for this purpose. Think of other alternatives where you could use it!
Make an effort to use your own reusable bags more and more. Plastic bags at the store are made from petroleum that takes centuries to degrade and the paper ones are made from trees that take decades to grow.
Another great thing we noticed when we made this change: carrying groceries to the car has never been easier because the bag isn’t going to break. And we don’t need to go back and forth since more can fit in a reusable bag than it can in a plastic one.
Get your reusable produce bag here!
Other Strategies to Avoid Plastic / Plastic Free Shopping
There are more clever tricks that will help you can avoid plastic when grocery shopping. Firstly, buy at local markets and farmers – it’s cheaper and way more eco-friendly
Secondly, we found places where can buy fruits and veggies from mass distributors. All products there are unpacked and you will definitely get it at a lower cost.
Thirdly, we started to buy goods in larger ‘family size’ containers, which require less packaging than small, ‘single serving’ packages. For this we have empty glass containers ready at home to fill it up and stack in our pantry.
More Ugly Facts
In case you’re not convinced yet that plastic bags are a disaster for our environment, here are more facts:
- Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide.
- About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute.
- Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
- One million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
- A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
- Plastic bags remain toxic even after they break down.
- Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface
- Every square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.
- Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one-liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.
These facts are disgusting and that’s not all of them! The good thing is we can change it: with the strategies above for living and shopping consciously in plastic-free ways.
You should also read our post ‘Sustainable Travel: How to Leave Less Waste guide’ where we explained what you need to take on a trip to use less plastic.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that all products we recommend are the ones we use ourselves and recommend them because they are helpful and useful.
All words by Eisve Treciakauskaite and all images by Justinas Lekavicius, unless otherwise noted.