1) Do you already have it?
If there is a plastic-free item you’ve been eyeballing, but you already own a perfectly good plastic version of it, DON’T throw it out and go buy a new one. For example, you may own a plastic hairbrush that is in perfectly good condition. Going out and buying a new wooden/bamboo one is completely unnecessary and in the long run, is actually very wasteful. Another good example of this is kitchen storage containers. Many of us have tons of plastic containers that are just fine. Please don’t throw them out and replace with glass. My suggestion would be to not BUY any more plastic, use what you have, and slowly replace with glass in the long term. In short, it is more eco-friendly to USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE.
2) Can you find it second hand?
There are plenty of plastic-free items to choose from at the thrift stores; or even used plastic items that can be reused, since they’re already produced. Buying second hand kitchen items, dishes, or furniture helps to reuse items that have been “thrown out”, and extends their life and usage. Also, get creative with ideas about how things can be used; a kitchen utensil bin can be used to hold your hairdryer or curling iron on the bathroom counter, cups and jars can be used to organize or hold soaps. So instead of buying it new from Amazon, take yourself on a ‘thrifting’ day and see if you can find what you’re looking for second hand.
3) Do you really NEED it?
As much as I love seeing options for eco-friendly products online, one thing I noticed is that some of the things that are available for purchase are completely unnecessary. Travel utensils for example. Bamboo utensils are great and all, but if you have the ability to just take along some silverware from home, or pick some up from the thrift store, do that! There are also little items like to-go stainless steel bento boxes, which are awesome, but its much better to start with what you have a home. It is much more eco-friendly to reuse already produced items, than it is to create a demand for a new product. A great idea would be to make yourself a little “out-to-eat-kit”. Maybe a lunchbox with your containers and eating utensils. You can use them for take home food, or even ask the restaurant to pack your to-go order in them!
Something else to consider:
Switching to a plastic-free lifestyle is a slow process. You may have just purchased some toothpaste, or shampoo that is in a plastic container, and need to finish that product before buying new products without the packaging. Please remember to use what you have fIrst and then slowly integrate plastic-free options that you find as an alternative. And be sure to be patient with yourself and others as you begin to become more aware.
Please also keep in mind that your bathroom, or kitchen doesn’t need to look like that Instagram post you just saw; With all its beautiful, simple, glass storage and bamboo. Really, I think that most of us who are learning to lead a plastic-free life have quite the hodge-poge of homes. Especially those of us who realize the value of second hand or using what we already have.
Please don’t go throwing away all your plastic things in an effort to lead a plastic-free life. Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle. All-in-all, enjoy the fun it can be to become more and more aware of your personal consumption!
What are a few things you considered before going plastic-free?