New Year's Resolutions are something I truly look forward to. I love starting a fresh year with fresh goals and feeling a sense of possibility. Every year, for the last several years, instead of making a list of unattainable goals, I simply create a mantra for the year that sums up my focus for living and working and parenting.
My mantra for 2016 is Use Less. Very simply, I feel that I could use less of so many things. Some things material, and others not quite so much. Use less plastic is probably top on my list of things I would like to use less of and by saying Use Less I am not saying Eliminate, which would be nice but nearly impossible for our household and budget. So for now, Use Less seems to fit as a guide for my year.
REDUCING PLASTICWe have spent many years reducing our use of plastic. We have switched to fabric shopping bags, napkins, reusable lunch containers, and so many more changes that have been relatively easy and inexpensive. This year, we are focusing on two areas where plastic is prevalent. The first is single-use plastic. This is perhaps the hardest to avoid sometimes but also the most wasteful. Imagine all of the manufacturing and transporting only for it to be used once! Plastic wrap, packaged food including many fruits and veggies, and food storage (such as resealable plastic bags) are all intended as one-time use products. Now, if you are thrifty you may think that washing and reusing is a good option. It may be for some, but not all plastic holds up to washing and reuse. The better option is to simply stop using it.
3 SIMPLE ALTERNATIVESPlastic wrap and resealable bags- they are so convenient, but truth be told, our food doesn't need to be sealed in plastic most of the time. I find that most of the time, food is kept fresh in the fridge with little to no packaging at all. Newer fridges are much more efficient and "food friendly" and simply do a better job a keeping food fresh longer. So I challenged myself to see how I would do with no plastic in the house for food storage. It was easier than I thought. By replacing the plastics in my kitchen with alternatives I simply had to find a way, and while the above products seemed pricey at first, they ended up saving me a lot of money.
ABEEGO WAX COTTON FOOD WRAP-
I love using the wax cotton food wraps. I have a few different sizes in my kitchen and often use them to simply cover food. I have had mine for several years and they wash and dry effortlessly and last a long time.
FORMATICUM CHEESE PAPER/BAGS-
We love cheese and often have several on the go in the fridge. Plastic wrap is so wasteful and hard cheese do not store very well in containers with air. I started using cheese paper and it is amazing. It doesn't last forever, but a box of cheese bags lasted me 2 years. The bags can be reused if clean, and they keep cheese fresher and longer than anything else that I have used. This not only saved us a lot of money but also saved us throwing out more plastic.
Jars are perhaps the perfect vessel for food storage. Glass is the safest way to store food, in my opinion, and they even stand up to freezing (providing you allow for room at the top). Also, the new lids are BPA free and wash a reuse nicely (do not reuse the lid once it has been sealed with a water bath or canner- these must be discarded. And discard the rings when they rust). I even use the small jelly (125 mL) jars for my kids' snacks and lunches. The portion size is perfect and so easy to clean.
Jars are also a great solution for the pantry. I purchase as much items in bulk as we can. This reduces the single-use plastic of the packaging considerably, but I don't like keeping our food in plastic for a long time. I transfer it to jars that are purchased or reused from other food. Also, it is so much more attractive to see jars in my pantry than plastic bags.
Jars are so popular for beverages. We purchased a bunch of Cuppow lids to transform jars into beverage containers- easy, portable, durable, and the lids are BPA free and made out of recycled plastic. We like this alternative to water bottles with straws and spouts that are difficult to clean.
PLASTIC IN THE KITCHENI mentioned that I was trying to reduce plastic in two categories. Well, the second category is more work and really a project over time. I am hoping to reduce plastic in the kitchen. By this I mean, utensils, tools, appliances, gadgets, whatever. We started this 3 years ago by eliminating our microwave. I have now rid my kitchen of plastic dishes, mixing bowls and baking tools, cooking utensils, and storage containers. However, what is interesting is that I didn't need to spend money to replace them. I found that I have been able to get along just fine without all of that extra plastic kitchen stuff. I cook and bake a lot and I have found that a few really good ceramic, glass, metal, bamboo or wood kitchen items is easier and better. The next challenge will be the bathroom! (but we will wait until 2017 to tackle that).
I am sure you have great solutions for reducing plastic in your home. Be sure to share in the comments. All of the products I have mentioned are simply ones I love, I was not compensated for this post. The products mentioned are available online in Canada and the US but I try as much as possible to purchase from a locally-owned business when I can to help other small business owners. Sometimes there may be a slight increase in price but it is often better than shipping rates.
Up next- Body Care Detox! I have been gradually switching to pure products for body care and I will share some of what I have learned and experienced.