Living Sustainably: A Guide to Ditching Plastic Bags
When my partner, Dakota, and I started on our journey towards sustainability, we set one eco-friendly goal for ourselves during 2016; say goodbye to plastic bags. Over the course of the year, we slowly reduced our plastic bag dependency by breaking it down into small, manageable steps. Check out our easy guide below on how to ditch all types of plastic bags… for good.
Plastic Grocery Bags
Our first month of using reusable grocery bags was a disaster. We could never remember them. Dakota and I knew we needed to figure out a way to get us in the habit faster. We settled on a simple idea. Whenever we forgot our bags, we would simply ask the cashier to skip the bagging and simply put the products back in the cart. This forced us to carry our items without any bags which was always either hilarious or SUPER annoying. Needless to say, we only forgot our reusable bags a few times after that 🙂
- Reusable Grocery Bags— Many grocery stores sell reusable bags in checkout lines but if you need to purchase online, ECOBAGS are a great option.
- Reusable Produce Bags— These can be a little more difficult to find in stores. I currently use the Flip & Tumble bags from Mighty Fix and, for larger produce, a set of ChicoBags from Reuse It.
- Tip and Tricks— Store reusable grocery bags in the trunk of a car to keep them close. If I am too busy to put them away immediately, I’ll place the bags by the front door and take them out to the car next time I leave the house.
Ziplocs & Plastic Food Storage
This one was had me worried at first. Dakota and I both have full schedules, which often means eating on-the-go. Ziploc plastic bags were a convenient and easy way for us to store snacks, sandwiches, and leftovers. However, once we started trying alternatives, the Ziploc was the easiest plastic bag to ditch.
- Paper Sandwich Bags— Paper sandwich bags are a convenient and simple alternative to plastic sandwich bags. Buy at your local grocery store or use the link above to purchase online.
- Glass Containers/Jars— Another easy way to store portion-controlled meals or snacks is with mason jars or re-purposed glass containers. Dakota and I didn’t want to go buy mason jars so we just reused glass jars from salsa, peanut butter and other food.
- Reusable Wax Cloth— Perhaps my favorite alternative. Squares of organic cotton are coated in tree resin and bees wax to create a reusable alternative to food storage. Simply wrap veggies, sandwiches or cover leftover dishes for a reusable solution that is as simple as it is versatile! My favorite brand is Bee’s Wrap.
- Compostable Plastic Bags— If you simply cannot give up on plastic food storage bags, Reuse It has an entire collection of compostable resealable bags. Dakota and I keep a box of these in the kitchen for emergencies.
Plastic Garbage Bags
This was by far our toughest challenge and the most frequently asked question… How did we replace plastic garbage bags?
- Start composting
- If you are serious about ditching plastic garbage bags, this is the first step. Food waste is often wet, messy and unnecessary. Composting will lower the amount of trash you make and keep your trash can cleaner, making it much easier to replace plastic garbage bags. From farms to tiny apartments, find the best compost option for you HERE. Once you pick your compost type, learn how to compost HERE.
- Learn more about where and how to recycle in my previous post, 5 Simple Steps to Going Green
- Find the Right Alternative
- Compostable Plastic Bags— The best plastic bags aren’t made out of plastic at all. Instead, these bags are made out of cellulose like vegetable or cotton fibers and soy inks. Although more expensive than their plastic cousins, compostable trash bags will break down naturally, eliminating the environmental damage caused by plastic trash bags. These 13 gallon If You Care trash bags are made of 100% potato starch and are a personal favorite of mine.
- Paper Bags— Although not the most eco-conscious, paper bags can be a great alternative to traditional garbage bags. For a smaller size, pick up a few paper bags at your local grocery store for free or purchase larger bags at your local hardware store, like these 30 gallon bags from Home Depot.
- Skip the Liner— If you begin to compost and recycle regularly, skipping a trash can liner entirely may be an option. Simply dump your waste directly into the city trash receptacle. If you opt for this, wash out your trashcan on a semi-regular basis to keep it clean and odor free.
What are your tricks to having a sustainable, plastic-free home?