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By now, most of us know of several simple ways to cull disposable plastic from our lives and homes. We know about reusable water bottles and shopping bags. We’ve probably been clued in on bamboo toothbrushes and “compostable” disposable plates (perhaps a bit of smoke there). To make a long list short, we are going to try to skip some of the more recognized methods of getting plastic out of our lives.
That said, we can realize the second step we could be taking with some of the items above. For example, a reusable metal or glass water bottle might be a better choice than a plastic one. A canvas or burlap shopping bag would be better than the cheap-o plastic ones. Not using disposable plates and cutlery is better than using them, period. It is in this vein that we’ll look at some plastic household items we should think about replacing with alternatives next time the need rolls around.
1. Cooking Utensils
Source: Andy Melton/Flickr
Plastic cooking utensils, be them spatulas, spoons, or ladles, have become the standard in most kitchens. However, that has not always been the case, nor does the practice need to continue. Completely metal utensils are long-lasting, sturdy, and highly functional, though they can get hot if left in pots or pans. If that’s a concern, wooden versions of these items have been around for centuries, too, and with them, there is no worry about melting (as with plastic) and heat conduction (as with metal).
2. Cutting Boards
Another common kitchen item that has gone the way of plastic over its sturdier, more beautiful wooden incarnation is the cutting board. Plastic cutting boards are worrisome on multiple levels. Obviously, the simple fact that they are plastic is troubling, but when we realize little chips of that plastic end up in our food, that adds to the concern. Plus, they aren’t nearly as stately and fine as wooden cutting boards.
3. Food Storage
The days of Tupperware have more or less passed. Unfortunately, those substantial storage containers have largely been replaced with a flimsier Ziploc version. A better option for both of these is to get back to glass food storage containers. Aside from the environmental argument, glass eliminates the fear of chemicals leaching into our leftovers, which are often put into storage containers while still hot. There are glass containers will rubber-sealed tops, and shapely jars make great storage containers as well.
Like many things in our everyday lives, razors at some point converted into being something almost ubiquitously disposable and plastic. And, for some reason, they keep adding extra blades—the only metal component—to them! While plastic reusable razors with replaceable heads have become a thing, we also have the option of buying a stainless steel or chrome razor and replacing only the metal razor blades, which can be recycled.
5. Soaps, Sprays, Liquids & Pastes
This list essentially includes all of those cleaning products, both for our bodies and homes, that we purchase in separate plastic bottles. We needn’t do it. It’s very easy to make our own, natural kitchen cleaners, disinfectants, shampoos, toothpastes, dishwashing soaps, and so on with natural ingredients we can buy in powder form or bulk. We can store all of this stuff in glass or metal containers and abolish a large source of waste, chemicals, and plastic in our household.
One of those plastic products that seem difficult to replace with a less offensive version is tape. However, we’ve had gummed paper tape—masking tape—for decades, and it can accomplish most of the taping needs we have. Furthermore, it’s biodegradable and compostable. Plus, it’s easy to find the end of paper tape, as well as tear off a piece of it, so there isn’t even a need for a plastic tape dispenser.
7. Trash Bags
For all the effort supermarkets and cities are making to ban plastic shopping bags, it is staggering the amount of plastic trash bags still in circulation. While there are undoubtedly times when the plastic keeps stuff from leaking through, we often don’t need that quality in a trash bag. For that matter, we often don’t need trash bags at all. If we can’t completely do away with plastic trash bags (and we definitely can), we can certainly make the effort to minimize the number we use.
This, of course, is only getting the ball rolling. We can steer clear of plastic furniture (inside and outside the house), polyester materials (go for natural stuff like hemp and organic cotton), and countless other plastic knickknacks (picture frames, scrubbing brushes, shower curtains) that sneak into our world. It’s only a matter of getting into the plastic-free mindset, and a whole other world opens up.
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