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50 steps to a plastic-free life

Tras este año de pandemia, restricciones y confinamiento, la vida nos demostró que a veces no necesitamos tanto, y que quietos en casa, la naturaleza se recuperaba poco a poco cada día de confinamiento.

Dejamos de ver los cielos grises, pudimos ver animales que hace tiempo no se veían en aguas cristalinas, las calles se vaciaron para dejar paso a la limpieza, y muchos empezamos a reducir los residuos, ya que no podíamos salir a todas horas a tirarlos, y tampoco nos apetecía ir a comprar a los supermercados llenos de gente, o manteniendo la distancia.

Esta situación nos dio la oportunidad de mejorar la huella que dejamos, al pensar en cómo no dejar rastro y dejarlo todo limpio, por miedo al contagio.


Do you think it’s possible to live life without plastic? Here’s a list of steps I took in my own life since beginning this project in 2007.
The list is simply to show what is possible. No one can do it all at once.
But we can all get started!
If you like what you see here, please forward this page on to the people you love. We can all make a difference.

  1. Carry reusable shopping bags
    Carry whatever works for you: reusable canvas totes or backpack. Don’t forget your reusable bags. If you have a car, keep your grocery bags in it. Reusable bags are not just for groceries!
    Carry them for all your purchases, from electronics to clothing.
  2. Give up bottled water
    Not only does it come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it. And many brands of bottled water are simply filtered tap water. Get a reusable stainless steel bottle or stainless steel travel mug, fill it up with tap water before leaving the house, and refill it wherever you happen to be.
  3. Carry your own containers for take-out food and leftovers
    Request takeout places use your container instead of their disposable one.
  4. Carry a stainless steel travel mug or water bottle for coffee and drinks
    Besides the plastic lid and plastic straw, paper cups are lined with a plastic coating. When I first began this project, I got in the habit of requesting “no lid and no straw”.
  5. Carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws
    I keep a To-Go-Ware bamboo utensil set and a couple of glass straws in my purse at all times.
  6. When ordering pizza, say no to the little plastic “table” in the box
    It’s called a package saver. Think about it. A single-use plastic device meant to save a single- use cardboard box. What about all the marine animals that swallow that type of disposable plastic? When ordering, say “Please don’t put that little white plastic thing .”
  7. Treat yourself to an ice cream cone
    Instead of keeping containers of ice cream in the freezer, I will enjoy the occasional ice cream cone while I’m out. That keeps my ice cream consumption down, which is better for my health.
  8. Cut out sodas, juices, and other plastic-bottled beverages
    I’ve made the decision to eat fresh fruit instead of buying juice. This eliminates the need for all disposable bottles — glass as well as plastic.
  9. Let go of frozen convenience foods
    This was a hard one. I agonized for a while over which brands of frozen meals used the best containers, but in the end, there was just no sound alternative. They all use plastic . The more we limit our consumption of frozen convenience foods, the less plastic waste we’ll generate and the healthier we’ll be!
  10. Say no to plastic produce bags
    What are we worried about? That our apples won’t get along with our broccoli during the trip home? Or is it that the produce will get dirty? Hey, it grew in the dirt. At the grocery store, I put most produce directly into my cart and then into my reusable bag.
    If you do feel you want a separate bag for produce, cloth options are available.
  11. Shop your local farmers market
    Farmers markets are a great way to buy fresh, local produce without plastic, as long as you remember to bring your own bags and containers.
  12. Bring your own container for meat and prepared foods
    I take my own containers with me to the butcher counter. The butcher can weigh the container and deduct the weight, just as is done with bulk foods.
  13. Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags
    At the bakery down the street, I can have my bread placed in my own cloth bag and avoid all packaging. Bread keeps fresh when stored in the cloth bag inside an airtight tin. Fresh bread is a bit more expensive than its plastic-packaged cousins, but to me, it’s worth it.
  14. Choose milk in returnable glass bottles
    Many areas have local dairies that provide milk in returnable glass bottles rather than plastic or plastic-coated cardboard (yes, all cardboard milk containers are coated inside and out with plastic, not wax.)
  15. Buy large wheels of unwrapped cheese
    I buy the whole thing. Going in on it with friends can make it more affordable.
  16. Choose wine bottled in glass with natural cork stoppers This is kind of a trial and error project since you can’t see the stopper until you open the bottle.
  1. Learn to love the bulk bins.

Look for stores in your area that sell foods from bulk bins and allow you to use your own bags or containers. These foods included rice and other grains, pasta, beans, seeds, nuts, all kinds of flour, cereal, herbs, tea & coffee

18. Choose plastic-free chewing gum.

Did you know almost all chewing gum is made of plastic? That’s right. When you’re chewing gum, you’re chewing on plastic. But plastic-free chewing gum options do exist.

  1. Clean with vinegar and water.

I use a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water as an all-purpose spray cleaner (storing it in a reused spray bottle) and produce wash.

  1. Use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.

Right now, I’ve got Ecover brand under my kitchen sink.

  1. Hand wash dishes without plastic.

Use baking soda or bar soap. Seriously, I’ve been using baking soda to hand wash dishes for several months now. It scours well and leaves dishes feeling squeaky clean.

  1. Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges.

Compressed natural cellulose sponges are often sold without any plastic packaging because they don’t need to be kept moist; they expand when wet.

And of course, good old rags made from old clothing and towels are free and probably the greenest option of all.

  1. Wash clothes with homemade laundry soap and stain removers.

Borax and Washing Soda come in cardboard boxes.
You can also make laundry liquid from soap.

24. Use natural rubber gloves.

When I needed a pair of rubber gloves (for some disgusting task — I can’t remember what) I opted for 100% latex gloves lined with 100% cotton flocking.

  1. Check labels of personal care products!

Did you know some facial scrubs and other personal care products contain tiny plastic beads?

  1. Switch to bar soap instead of liquid soap.

They also last longer and are cheaper. You can find solid shampoo bars too.

  1. Try hair salves and pomades in metal tins or glass jars.

My favorite product used to be one called Product, which only contains a handful of ingredients and came in a glass jar, albeit with a plastic cap. And then I discovered Made-On Second Life Hair Butter, and my life changed completely.

  1. Baking soda is the best deodorant EVER.

Instead of deodorant in a plastic container, I use baking soda mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil applied to dry underarms with a reusable cotton round. It works better than any commercial deodorant I have ever used.

  1. Try solid shave soap instead of canned shave cream.

There are shave soaps made for that purpose but I’ve found that any rich soap bar will do.

  1. Choose lotions and lip balms in plastic-free containers.

There are also lotion bars and lip balms and glosses that come in glass or metal containers. And I’ve also made my own homemade lotion.

  1. Reconsider how you clean your teeth.

Try tooth paste in crystal jars and plastic-free, zero waste dental floss.

  1. Choose toilet paper that’s not wrapped in plastic.

Some brands comes in a cardboard box with paper-wrapped rolls. No plastic. They offer a choice of recycled paper or bamboo. You can order through Amazon.com. It comes in a cardboard box without any plastic wrapping.

  1. Use plastic-free feminine hygiene products.

Some of the options include washable cloth liners and pads. Some women prefer the Menstrual Cup, which can be washed and reinserted.

  1. Look into plastic-free sunscreen options.

I’ve found two great plastic-free sunscreens: Balm! Baby and Avasol.

  1. Keep your own reusable foodware at the office.

I brought a plate, bowl, glass, and utensils to keep at my desk.

  1. Carry lunches in reusable stainless containers or cloth bags.

These individual containers are perfect to carry your prepared food.

  1. Choose reusable cloth sandwich/snack bags over plastic baggies.

Different options here, like bee wax clothes or the ‘Bock’and’roll.

  1. Choose glass or stainless steel storage containers.

We save nearly all glass jars and bottles for purchasing bulk foods and for storing leftovers in the refrigerator or even the freezer. When we run out of jars, we store leftovers in bowls with saucers on top instead of plastic wrap. Bowls with saucers are great for stacking. The key to freezing foods in glass is not to fill the jar too full since the food will expand inside the container. Let foods thaw at room temperature to avoid glass breakage.

  1. Choose stainless steel ice cube trays and Popsicle molds.

If your old plastic ice trays have worn out, consider replacing them with stainless steel.

If you and your children enjoy popsicles in the summertime, consider investing in a stainless steel popsicle mold instead of buying packaged frozen.

  1. Make your own homemade yogurt without a yogurt maker!

It’s easier than you might think, using only a Thermos, a pot, a thermometer, some milk, and some yogurt from a previous batch.

  1. Make your own soy or nut milk.

You can learn to make your own. All prepared soy milk cartons contain plastic.

  1. Make your own snacks and energy bars.

You don’t have to give up crackers, energy bars, and other snacks that come packaged in plastic if you learn to make them yourself.

  1. Avoid disposable plastic pens.

I use pencils as much as possible and for times when a pen is necessary, I have switched to a refillable fountain pen with a cartridge converter that allows me to refill the pen from a bottle.

  1. Choose pet toys and furniture made from natural materials instead of plastic.

Some companies make beautiful all-natural toys made from wool and catnip.
I’ve also found all natural wool, leather, coconut, and feather cat toys.

  1. Bring your own personal care products.

Skip the free travel size shampoos, soaps, and lotions offered by hotels. Instead, fill up your own reusable travel- size containers at home.

  1. Avoid buying new plastic clothing.

So much new clothing these days is made from synthetic materials with names like: polyester, acrylic, lycra, spandex, nylon. In other words, plastic fabric. And all synthetic fabrics create microfiber pollution when laundered. When buying new clothes, I look for organic cotton, hemp, ethically-raised wool, and other natural fibers. Also for the shoes, they can be made of natural rubber.

  1. Shop thrift stores.

Buying gently-used secondhand clothing and shoes is a good way to get the styles you want without buying new plastic. It’s also a lot less expensive than buying new.

  1. Make your own clothes or modify old into new.

Um… as someone who is afraid of the sewing machine, I can’t really elaborate on this one. But I know a lot of you crafty crafters are up for it. Choose natural fabrics.

If you have old clothes and shoes in the closet that you never wear because they don’t fit or are out of style, take them to a tailor. During my Buy Nothing New year in 2016, I had a pair of shoes modified to fit my feet better. It’s like having a new pair of shoes!

  1. Find ways to wrap gifts without plastic tape.

Reusing gift bags, reusing wrapping paper, and wrapping presents in reusable cloth bags or furoshiki are the best options.

  1. Request zero plastic packaging when ordering online.

I’m trying to buy fewer things in general, but when buying, I include a message to the seller requesting zero plastic.

(blog myplasticfreelife.com)

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