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Reducing Plastic Use in the Time of COVID-19

Three steps you can take to reduce plastic waste in your home while also following safety guidelines set in place during a global pandemic.

Using less single-use plastics in our daily lives can be a difficult task, even without a global pandemic making things a bit tougher. Commonly mentioned ways to cut back plastic use, like bringing your own bags to the grocery stores, buying in the bulk section, using a reusable water bottle, or bringing your own coffee mug, might not be possible at the moment! For safety reasons, a lot of these efforts currently aren’t allowed at many grocery stores, coffee shops, or restaurants. Flattening the curve should be our number one priority, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t do our best to be eco-friendly!

So what else can we do to reduce our plastic consumption? The best place to start is in our homes! Here are 3 steps you can take to reduce your plastic use at home.

1. Take a look at what is in your kitchen

For most homes, the kitchen is the biggest hide-out for single use plastics. Food wrappers, Ziploc bags, plastic cling wrap, the list is endless. It is the reason our main trash can is usually in our kitchen!

While we can’t always control how the food we buy is packaged, we can control how we decide to store leftovers and loose produce. Instead of using plastic cling wrap to wrap your sandwiches or open containers, try sustainable options like beeswax wraps! Beeswax wraps are reusable cotton cloths coated in beeswax that will stick to themselves to cover bowls, food, and more – just like your cling wrap.

Other great ways to store food include silicone bags or glass containers. Silicone bags are the best alternative to single-use Ziploc bags as they are non-toxic, reusable, and sustainable! Lucky for you smoothie lovers – the 2050 smoothie powder comes in its own sustainable bag that can be reused after you have finished it! It can be great for storing snacks, sandwiches, leftovers, and more.

2. Opt for sustainable alternatives

When we think of simple sustainable alternatives to plastic, we often think of metal straws, reusable mugs, and tote bags. But the list of eco-friendly swaps goes way beyond this short list, and they don’t have to break the bank either! Next time you need to replace something in your home, take a second to think about a more sustainable swap (or take a minute to google options).

- Need a new dish brush? Try a wooden dish brush! - Out of dryer sheets (yes, they are plastic!)? Try wool dryer balls!

- How about a new toothbrush? Try one made from bamboo!

If you are not able to make the switch to a sustainable product, you can still be picky when it comes to the packaging your product comes in. You can use your money as a vote for the kinds of products and packaging you want to see in your local stores!

3. Try out some DIY recipes

For a lot of us stuck at home, we may finally be finding time to work on those DIY projects we have had on our Pinterest boards. Sustainable DIY project ideas can include creating your own cleaning spray, deodorant, toothpaste, cleaning wipes, and air fresheners! By making products ourselves, we can control the ingredients and the storage containers, all while using less plastic along the way.

In most cases, ingredients for DIY products can be bought in bulk online and will have less packaging than buying smaller amounts of the same product repeatedly. The end result will almost always be significantly cheaper than buying the store-bought counterpart! Working on DIY projects can also be a fun craft to work on with kids.

Why should we care about using less plastic?

Using less plastic in your home may seem like a small contribution to a much larger problem (like just a small drop into a plastic-filled ocean). But the reason there is plastic pollution is because we, as consumers, are using plastic! Evidence supports that individual change and education done on a mass scale can make a difference. While we may not be able to maintain some of our normal eco-friendly habits during this pandemic, we can still do our part at home to reduce our impact.

Kelsey Lockard is a recent graduate of the Foster School of Business, receiving her Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship. After growing up on a sailboat, Kelsey has always been passionate about the ocean and finding ways to live more sustainably. She is also the founder of Finding Eco, an e-commerce business that aims to provide alternatives to single use plastics while also educating customers about ways to live plastic-free.

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