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Ditching the Disposables, a Guide to Using Less this Holiday Season– and Every Day

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Reusable bags are a great way to use less plastic.

 

The holidays are right around the corner, which means lots of gift and grocery shopping. Find out how you can make small changes in your holiday habits to use fewer materials, be more sustainable, and spread the joy!

While most plastic is recyclable, the reality is that we currently recover only 6% percent of the plastics we produce. The vast majority of consumed plastics gets sent to landfills or contaminates ecosystems where it will last for thousands of years.

So what’s the alternative?

Not using that plastic fork in the first place.  It may be convenient to not wash dishes during the Thanksgiving feast, but that saved time just transfers an extra burden to our environment.  The solution? Use something more than once.

Disposable plastics goods such as plastic silverware, bags, one use bottles, caps, lids, straws and food containers are the most discarded items in our society. And for the most part– they’re not readily recyclable.

A big source of waste also comes from packaging. While much of this is also recyclable, it does create a cost on the environment during transportation and energy required to run recycling plants.  The solution?  Be aware of the packaging of products and seek out those with less.

A big surge in packaging during the holidays comes from online shopping. While purchasing items online can be convenient, consider the benefits of shopping locally (Small Business Saturday is coming up!). You’ll help minimize waste by skipping the extra packaging AND improve air quality– all those delivery trucks on the roads in December add an extra dose of pollution to our air right in the middle of inversion season.

December means lots of gift wrapping as well. Consider reusing blank sides of scrap paper and making your own stamps or illustrations (snowflakes are great!). You can also tie on pinecones for a decorative flourish instead of single-use bows.

A change in daily– and holiday– habits can go a long way.


Here is a list of simple tips to help you ditch the disposables this holiday season– and every day:

  • Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag!
  • Use a reusable bottle or mug for your hot and cold beverages, even at coffee shops– some might even give you a discount!
  • Avoid drinking bottled water. In Salt Lake City, we have some of the best drinking tap water in the nation so there is no need to buy bottled water. Use a durable metal, glass, or BPA free water bottle instead.  And if you like the taste of bottled water, consider a simple filter to use with your tap water.
  • Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box.
  • Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
  • Reuse containers for storing leftovers, this works for glass jars as well.
  • Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
  • Shop at a farmer’s market and bring your own reusable bag!
  • Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It’s healthier and better for the environment.
  • Use a razor with replaceable blades or an electric razor instead of a disposable razor.
  • Go digital!  No need for plastic CD’s, DVD’s and jewel cases when you can buy or stream your music and videos online.
  • Swear off single-use coffee pods. We know they are convenient, but if you care about the planet, an old-fashioned coffee machine with a reusable filter works just as well.
  • Support plastic bag bans and businesses that only use paper bags.
  • Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to reduce plastic in our lives and the nasty impacts of plastic pollution.

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