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Sustainable Swapping: Ditch Disposables for Reusables

March 3, 2024
Sustainable Swapping: Ditch Disposables for Reusables

Introduction

The amount of single-use plastic waste produced each year is staggering. As consumers, we have gotten into the habit of grabbing disposable water bottles, plastic utensils, and to-go containers for convenience. However, these disposables are causing immense harm to the environment. Marine wildlife is ingesting plastics, and microplastics are accumulating up the food chain. Landfills are overflowing with non-biodegradable trash that will persist for centuries. We need to break our reliance on disposables and transition to reusables. With some simple swaps in my daily routine, I have successfully ditched many single-use plastics. Read on to learn how you too can choose reusables over disposables for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Break the Bottled Water Habit

Single-use plastic water bottles are one of the most ubiquitous forms of waste. In fact, up to 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute around the world! As a bottled water drinker, I was contributing to this staggering amount of waste. Here are the steps I took to kick the bottled water habit:

  • Invested in a reusable water bottle – A good water bottle is the foundation of staying hydrated without waste. I chose a durable stainless steel bottle that keeps water cold for hours.

  • Drink tap water – I live in an area with safe tap water, so I fill my bottle from the sink each morning. Tap water is free, while bottled water has a huge environmental footprint.

  • Install a water filter – For better taste, I installed an affordable water filter on my tap. The small investment pays for itself quickly compared to buying cases of water.

  • Carry my bottle everywhere – Leaving home without my bottle puts me in a situation where I might buy a disposable bottle. So I keep my reusable bottle with me at all times.

With these simple habits, I stay hydrated plastic-free, saving money while doing my part for the environment.

Choose Reusable Foodware

From forks to coffee cups, so much of our take-out food and drink comes in disposable containers. On a daily basis, I was using and tossing many single-use items like coffee cups, utensils, and clamshell containers. Here is how I made the switch to reusable foodware:

  • Invest in a reusable mug – I bought a reusable stainless steel mug with a tight lid that allows me to take coffee on the go without spills or waste.

  • Ask for no utensils – Most of the time I don’t actually need disposable utensils for take-out or delivery food. I simply ask for no plasticware to be included.

  • Bring my own containers – When getting take-out, I make sure to bring my own reusable food containers from home so I don’t have to accept disposable ones.

  • Use reusable sandwich and snack bags – For lunches and snacks on the go, I use washable reusable baggies instead of disposable plastic ones.

With a little planning ahead, I’ve made the switch to plastic-free reusable foodware. It’s better for the environment and gives me peace of mind knowing I’m reducing waste.

Use Reusable Shopping Bags

Shopping used to mean coming home with piles of plastic bags, which would often end up in the trash after a single use. But reusable shopping bags have made it easy to skip the plastic bag habit. Here are my tips for making reusable bags an easy habit:

  • Stash bags in my car – I keep a stash of reusable bags in my car so I never show up without them at the store.

  • Get bags with shoulder straps – Bags that are comfortable to carry make me more likely to use them. I love my over-the-shoulder fabric bags.

  • Use small bags for produce – Plastic produce bags are easy to avoid by using reusable cotton bags. They allow produce to breath while containing any drips.

  • Say no to plastic bags – When the cashier offers a plastic bag, I politely decline. This simple habit has drastically reduced my plastic bag usage over time.

Remembering my reusable bags has nearly eliminated my use of wasteful plastic shopping bags. With some forethought, adopting reusables can become second nature.

Conclusion

By swapping out a few daily disposables for reusable alternatives, I’ve made significant progress in reducing my plastic waste. While the habit changes took some adjustment at first, they quickly became automatic. I feel good knowing I’m doing my small part to address the plastic pollution crisis. With corporations, governments, and individuals all contributing, we can move closer to a sustainable future. I encourage you to start ditching disposables for reusables today!

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