Going Green: Plastic-Free Swaps

Plastic is everywhere! While some may say that its presence makes life more convenient, I'm here to tell you that there are some really simple swaps you can make. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I think it's a really great starting point.

Some of these are easier to swap out than others. Reusable grocery bags are pretty common as well as reusable water bottles. The trick is remembering to bring these things when you leave the house. I've gotten into the habit of taking a water bottle with me absolutely EVERYWHERE, so if you love water as much as me, that one shouldn't be too hard for you. If you like to stop at Starbucks every morning before work, simply set your reusable cup out to take in the morning. If you stop for coffee often, you may want to have a few cups on hand. Asking your barista to put your coffee in your personal cup is no big deal. I used to work at Starbucks and it really is no problem at all to use the customer's cup instead. You can also get your water bottle filled up at the same time! 

Stash a few grocery and produce bags in your car so you don't forget them when you go to the store! After you unload your groceries, you could put the bags back in the car right away or you could set them by the door to grab when you leave next. 

A few things on this list are a little more complicated. Using a menstrual cup scares a lot of women (though it shouldn't) and it comes with a tiny learning curve, but you get the hang of it pretty quick! You'll save a lot of money and a lot of waste in the long run.

Another tricky one for me has been bamboo toothbrushes. We have switched back and forth between plastic and bamboo over the past few years. Some of the bamboo brushes haven't had hard enough bristles. Sometimes they get gross. I think we've finally found a brand we like with hard enough bristles. Proper storage is important with bamboo toothbrushes. You can't set them upright or they'll just hold moisture. It's best if you lay them horizontally over a cup with the bristles down. All the excess moisture will seep out properly and won't allow extra germs/bacteria to grow on the toothbrush. 

For many folks, it seems like it's hard to let go of Ziploc bags. I know they're very convenient. We simply store and transport food in reusable containers. If you like bags because they can lay flat and come in many sizes, silicone bags are a great alternate option. 

As with all sustainable products, your upfront cost will be more, but in the long run, you'll save money. You could buy one menstrual cup for $15 (to use forever) or you could buy tampons at $10 a box, needing about 6 boxes a year...the math is clear. Sustainable alternatives are better in more ways than one! 

Which of these swaps are you already doing? Which one are you going to do next?