10 Goals for Decreased Plastic Use & Waste

If I buy organic cream-top milk in plastic at Trader Joe's, 
I generate 4 half-gallon plastic containers of waste 
(double what is pictured above, recyclable).  If I buy my milk 
in glass jars instead, my waste (also recyclable) is 4 plastic lids.

Last week I posted my Round-up of my Plastic-Free February posts.  This week I'd like to share 10 goals I have for decreasing my plastic use and waste in the future:

1. Buy milk in glass bottles. I'm already doing this (working through the logistical challenges), but it's always nice to have at least one thing on the list that you think you will accomplish.  This change was inspired by my observations about plastic use with dairy and meat products.

2. Start to buy more things in bulk (using reusable bags/containers). This one is kind of a pain, because it involves shopping at Whole Foods, which is expensive and far away.  But the bulk food section is not so expensive, so I think I'll try to go once every month or two and stock up on bulk food stuffs.

3. Stop using single-use plastic shopping bags.  In this post, I wrote about my new durable fabric grocery bags.  But just the other day I ended up with a purchase in a single-use plastic bag because I didn't bring my own bag and I forgot to stop the worker from bagging my stuff.  I can reuse the plastic bag to line a trash bag, but really I'd like to stop receiving and using these bags all together. If I forget my bag, I should return to my car to get one, or carry my purchases in my arms (both pretty tough with 2 children in tow).

4. Stop using single-use plastic produce bags.  I'm doing much better with using my own bags while grocery shopping.  But I still sometimes use those plastic produce bags.  I have purchased a variety of reusable produce bags, but they seem to keep my food as fresh and crisp in the fridge, so I'm experimenting with different solutions currently.  Hope to find a good one soon!

Battat Take Apart CranePlanToys 30 Construction Set
I thought about buying the plastic construction toy on the left, but couldn't figure out what kind of plastic it was made of.  Then I found the wood construction toy on the right, and purchased that instead!

5. Do not buy any plastic toys (toys with a very small percentage plastic are OK).  Seriously, my kids don't need any more toys at all.  So let's hope I can at least control myself from acquiring more plastic toys.  When I really want to buy a plastic toy for my kids, I should look for an alternative made of natural materials.  I did this successfully recently.  I wanted to get a construction toy like these ones (see photo above left) by Battat, but ended up buying this awesome wood set (see photo above right) by Plan Toys instead. I actually tried calling Battat to find out what kinds of plastic were used in their  Take Apart vehicle toys.  After spending a while in a phone tree and on hold, I reached a voice mail box.  After listening to the lengthy message, I was told the voice mail box was full and not accepting messages.

6. Figure out a viable alternative for disposable gallon Ziploc baggiesI've been using reusable sandwich bags, snack bags, and wraps for a few months.  But I still have some gallon-size Ziploc bags in use.  I'd like to find a viable alternative.  Maybe I'll have one of these Etsy shops make some for me in a custom order.

7. Make my own yogurt (I have my eye on this yogurt maker, which my friend owns -- glass cups!).  There are seemingly thousands of posts about how to make your own yogurt, but I just can't seem to get around to trying any of them.  I think a yogurt maker might be the way to go for me.  It is another appliance, but a very useful one.  The dishwasher-safe glass cups are genius.

8. When one of my store-bought cleaners runs out, use a homemade DIY cleaning recipe in a reusable container instead of purchasing a new cleaner.  Already, I'm expanding the things I clean with vinegar, which I've been using to clean the kitchen table, kitchen counters, and spills on the floor for a long time.  Now I'm using it to clean bathroom surfaces too.

9. Eat oatmeal for breakfast once a week.  I already make pancakes, french toast and scrambled eggs each at least once a week, but we still seem to go through an astonishing amount of cereal each week.  And I feel kind of bad about the cardboard and plastic waste that fills up my garbage can and recycling bin.  I'm not sure I can get my kids to eat oatmeal once a week, but I can at least curb my and my husband's cereal consumption.  I buy rolled oats in 25 pound bags made of paper.  I could also try buying cereal in bulk, although we are somewhat addicted to the Trader Joe varieties.

10. Expand our repertoire of meatless recipes (especially beans, which I can buy in bulk).  Meat almost always involves plastic packaging (often styrofoam), in addition to other undesirable environmental impacts.  We already eat beans about once per week, but I'd like to expand our repertoire of bean recipes.

What could you do to curb your plastic consumption?

This post is part of
Top Ten Tuesday
Works for Me Wednesday
P.S. Don't forget to enter the 
wood toy giveaways.

9 comments:

  1. When you find a substitute for those blasted large ziploc bags, please share with the class! Also, you really don't need a yogurt maker! I recently tried Amanda Blake Soule's technique on the Soulemama.com blog which only requires a heating pad and some towels to keep everything warm -- it kept the yogurt at the right temperature perfectly! (Plus I got to make as much as I wanted, without worrying about a yogurt maker's quantity restrictions.)

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  2. Oh, and regarding the cereal comment -- I felt the same way and started making granola. I bought huge Ball jars at ACE and if I put some of the bigger seeds (i.e. pumpkin) in the food processor first, the kids are none the wiser. Extra cinnamon and honey help. ;)

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  3. Great suggestions, Heather! I will be sharing with the class (hopefully) very soon on the gallon bags. I will check out the Soulemama yogurt post ASAP. I also make granola (my recipe is somewhere on this blog), but we like to put it on top of cereal and yogurt, not eat it plain with milk, although maybe we should work on that...

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  4. I use Pyrex and glass jars in place of large ziploc bags. I also save bread bags and the liners from cereal to use in place of the bags.

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  5. I don't have a good replacement for big plastic ziploc bags (especially in the freezer, where they hold homemade bread and vegetable scraps), so I just keep washing them out and reusing. I know I will probably have to buy a new box in the next few years, but it's better than nothing.

    My biggest tip for cutting down plastic is one you're already doing: make more things yourself. It does take time, but cooking from scratch saves so much packaging waste. I shop mostly from the bulk bins now because I've weaned myself off most packaged foods. Good luck! It sounds like you're doing great!

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  6. Depending on how you use the big plastic bags, you may be able to re-use the plastic liner bags from the cereal instead. I really like them for freezing food--just fold over the end and put a rubber band around to hold it closed. (Our mail has a rubber band around it every day, so we have tons of those!)

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  7. A couple of questions about the milk containers--do you not consider the glass bottles waste because you return or reuse them? Are paper cartons of milk better than plastic? Our Trader Joe's doesn't carry milk in plastic bottles (except for whole gallons); we usually get the half-gallon cartons.

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  8. Larisa, Yes I don't consider the glass milk bottles waste because they are rinsed out and reused by the same company over and over again (WAY less energy than recycling). Paper cartons are also lined with plastic. I don't know what kind. I'm not sure which plastic is preferred -- gallon plastic bottles, or lining of paper cartons.

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  9. A friend of mine just made a batch of yogurt using her crock pot. She said it turned out great!

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