Our Youtube feed is full of people who have gone to crazy lengths to eliminate plastic from their lives. It takes fanatical devotion and extreme effort to get there in the modern world. This blog post is not about that. This is more about how to reduce things without any significant impact on a modern lifestyle that we are used to. Most of what I will talk about is just making small changes or choosing different products.
The first step in our green journey started just over 10 years ago when we built our house. We made all the possible green choices we could – better windows, insulated siding, precast concrete walls, modular construction, bamboo flooring, geothermal heat pump. The next thing we did was switch to electric cars and install more solar panels than economically viable to completely offset our usage and then some.
Now that our energy needs were covered, we have started moving onto other aspects of our life to eliminate chemicals and plastic. We have generally been very conscious of what we eat. I remember our son as a tiny toddler reading food labels to see the amount of sugar in all the food items we bought.
My most recent blog post about our current efforts was about our dishwasher detergent. The plan is to continue blogging about the choices we are making. Of course, as a society, we are never going to get anywhere until governments mandate corporate responsibility. Every time we try to eliminate something, we just get to the next level where one can’t without being extreme. For example:
- One example is from my dishwasher detergent post. We now no longer have a big hard plastic container for our dishwasher detergent. Instead we have a smaller amount of plastic in the form of a giant sticker or a bio-plastic bag we have no means to compost.
- Another example comes from us trying to eliminate plastic, reduce chemical consumption and save money by making our own bread in a bread machine instead of buying really expensive breads. Now we dont have a plastic bag that bread came in every week. Instead we have much less but still some plastic from yeast and vital wheat gluten packaging.
To eliminating bad things from our lives, we started with an analysis of things that we can handle with our extremely busy lives. Let’s start with single-use plastics. What are the sources? We’ve almost completely eliminated getting plastic bags from stores for many years now. Occasionally we do forget to take our bags into non-grocery stores but in general, we always have bags in the car and take them with us. In spite of this, every couple of months, we have enough plastic to go and deposit at the plastic bag recycling at grocery stores. We also have a lot of plastic that goes in the recycling bin. So where does this come from?
I’ve split this into five categories:
- Food – Eating out
- Takeout Containers
- Plastic Utensils
- Food – Groceries
- Other drinks
- Packaged Stuff
- Frozen Food
- Cleaning Supplies
- Laundry & Dishwashing
- Online order packaging
- Misc. purchase in-box packaging
- Personal Care
- Soaps, shampoos and other body products
- Lawn and Garden
- Bulk salt packaging
Soon, I’ll start posting how we reduced some of those and our plans to reduce more of the others. Ideas, comments, suggestions etc. are welcome.