single use culture

image source: @the.eco.warrior

Single-use culture is expansive.

There’s a massive amount that goes into this idea.

I wasn’t sure where to begin, because there’s just so much to share.

But, here’s what I landed on, enjoy.

It’s daunting to face the truth that every piece of plastic we consume will outlive us.

Knowing this how can I just continue to mindlessly use the plastic placed before me?

I could go on about the plastic problem, but I think it’s best to just share ways I have found to change my mindset and lifestyle.

Habits I have found and items I have collected that allow me to live in a way that both myself and mama earth can feel good about.

If you want to know more about the plastic problem.

Just look up “plastic problem” and you’ll find heartbreaking images of beaches littered with trash. 

It’s devastating and just plain disgusting.

Gaia does so much for us and then we just continue to pollute her.

I am not saying I am perfect or zero waste.

I am far from that.

But I am conscious and that is where this all begins.

This may seem overwhelming, but just remember we all are in different places in our journey.

By just being mindful of your role in this single-use culture you are taking the first step.

Areas of Your Life to Consider Your Consumption

A good place to begin would be realizing that there are four overarching areas of our life where plastic has taken over. These areas all hit on different patterns of consumption. You could choose one of these areas and really explore your habits or maybe even just choose one aspect within one of the areas. Any step is a step in the right direction. Moving away from single-use culture has made my life so much better. I know that I, everyone on this earth and who will be on this earth, and the earth herself deserve better.

A note before we begin, you don’t need to go out and buy anything. I am going to share with you some products I love that have helped me, but they aren’t necessary. It’s best to use what you already have instead of consuming more. That being said there are some items that are nice to have around. And I want to share them with you, in case you’re looking for a gift for yourself or others.

Traveling

The first area is traveling, but traveling in a more broad sense. While this does include traveling across the world I am also including trips out of the house.

Water Bottle

A reusable water container is a necessity. There is just no need for plastic water bottles. They are just such a waste. It doesn’t have to be a fancy bottle; use a peanut butter jar, use a random free bottle, or go out and get one you love and know you’ll feel good using. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but just please do it if you can. This is one of the most simple changes you can make if you haven’t already.

Containers or Jars

If you’re going out to eat and you know you might have leftovers, bring a container from home to use. I promise it’s not as weird as it seems. I have even had people at restaurants thank me for this small action. Bringing your own container is better for the earth and it’s such a simple thing to do.

Containers and jars are also good for traveling. I’ll bring nuts or dates or something in my own containers on flights and use them throughout my trip. They can be repurposed for leftovers when eating out, or at some places, they can fill your jars with drinks, or whatever else you can think of. Also, a much better option than plastic bags.

Lastly, you can bring your own reusable cups to pick up tea or coffee. Many places will give you a discount for having your own cup. It doesn’t hurt to keep a cup in your car or bag.

Cutlery 

Single-use forks and knives and spoons also add up dauntingly fast. To avoid this keep your own reusable set in a bag or purse or car. Or if you’re going to get food it’s as simple as grabbing a fork on your way out the door, the hard part is remembering. But like I said it’s all about mindfulness this truly is a lifestyle and the more you do it the more it’ll begin to become natural. Sometimes you make unexpected stops so it’s good to keep some options in your car or in the bag you use.

I have a nice little To Go set of bamboo utensils I keep in my backpack that I use all the time and love. But, if I’m grabbing for a friend I just grab them a metal fork from my house. You could make your own set using an old pouch and silverware you already have. Bumi Box also has a lovely cutlery set. Bumi Box is a box with all the “sustainable essentials” in it so it could be a good place to start if these ideas are new to you. They also make great gifts.

Material Consumption

This is where a lot of our consuming habits lie. The best thing you can do about your material consumption is to think before you buy. Think about if you could spend a little more now for something that will last you longer. Think about buying second hand, not new. There are so many beautiful pre-loved items out there that you can obtain with little to no plastic involved. It’s also better to support environmentally conscious and local rather than large corporate companies. The idea here is just to spend some time questioning your consumption habits. If you want ideas on how to transition away from fast fashion to slow fashion; I wrote this piece.

Kitchen

(I’m writing a free ebook that discusses how to reduce plastic consumption in the kitchen and then goes beyond that to talk about other ways to keep a conscious kitchen, which will be on here soon)

We consume a lot of food, which is not a bad thing. But, unfortunately, a lot of what we eat is no longer grown by us. Obtaining food involves going to the store, where so many items are unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. Here are some ways to avoid that.

Reusable Bags

Here’s another simple one that anyone could do. Bring your own reusable bags to the store and refuse plastic bags. Leave the bags in your car, or have them in an easy place to grab. If you’re just stopping in for a few items consider saying you’re good with no bag and carrying the items to the car, or if you have a backpack on you just use that. Plastic bags are pretty avoidable. 

Buying in Bulk

You probably have bulk food options in your area that you are unaware of. I found a place in my hometown close to my house that I had no idea about. Bulk options are available in some grocery stores and some stand-alone stores. They allow you to bring in old jars and containers to fill with what you want. No plastic or packaging involved. All you do is weigh the containers at the counter before shopping. It’s pretty simple and the first time I went, the people at the store were so nice and helpful and there were signs everywhere explaining the process. Buying in bulk can also save you some money too.

Bulk saves a massive amount of single-use items.

When Bulk Isn’t an Option

If you can’t shop in bulk, don’t beat yourself up. Bulk is ideal, but it’s not available everywhere. The next best thing you can do is be conscious of your food packaging. Is there a glass jar you can choose over plastic? Or paper packaging over plastic? A lot of produce comes free of packaging. So, maybe try adding in some more produce over packaged food. 

Produce Bags

Another big unnecessary use of plastic is produce bags. You can bring your own reusable ones or just go without them. If you’re going to buy reusable bags try and buy from deserving shops. I have two lovely produce bags that were hand crocheted by @soulshinedes, a lovely mama from Hawaii. I found her through Instagram, but Etsy is also a good place to check out as well as local markets. You could also just put the produce in the cart, they’re already dirty and full of germs and need to be washed anyway (I get right now is a totally different circumstance, but this is good future knowledge). This is something so simple, that is often not thought about. It’s the simple mindful moments that matter.

Do you really need that?

A lot of single-use kitchen items like parchment paper, paper towels, and paper napkins can be simply avoided.

Instead of paper, use cloth napkins or rags in your kitchen.

Instead of parchment paper, you can get inexpensive reusable silicone mats that will save you money in the long run.

Instead of covering food with tinfoil, put in a container or get some beeswax reusable wraps.

Ending Note: I dream of a plastic-free kitchen, however that is not my current situation at all. I am consciously working towards this idea and I do believe one day I could do it.  However, right now it’s just not realistic for me and probably you too.  All you can do is your best.

Bathroom

Our personal care products are the last big contributor to our plastic consumption. I am also creating a free ebook on my experience and what I personally use. The ebook will expand on all the ideas mentioned here. In the ebook, I will be sharing recipes for homemade care items and brands I like and just explaining more in-depth why I choose to use the things I use and how I got to where I am now.

Here I’m going to share all the plastic items you may be using and offer some alternatives.

As mentioned, the ebook that I’m working on will expand on these, but for now, I just want to put these thoughts out there, if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.

Shower

A metal razor over single-use or limited use plastic ones.

Bar soaps instead of bottled body and face washes.

Make your own scrubs instead of buying them.

Hair

Shampoo and conditioner bars instead of plastic bottles.

Coconut oil instead of chemical hair masks.

Face

Tea tree oil instead of chemical acne treatments.

Oils for moisturizing your eyelashes or skin, also good for makeup removal.

On the subject of makeup and dirt removal, consider ditching cotton swabs and pads. I just use a rag, but there are also reusable swabs and pads you can get. These reusable items will also save you money. Single-use cotton swabs and balls no longer have a place in my life and invite you to join.

Makeup is a whole other topic that a whole page could be written about. I personally am a more natural kind of girl, but if you do wear makeup, try not to over-consume and make sure your products have good ingredients and are cruelty-free.

Teeth

Choose a toothpaste that comes in a glass jar instead of a plastic tube. This is what I do however, I have tried toothpaste tablets and making my own, didn’t love those options, but they might be for you.

Wooden toothbrushes over plastic ones.

Floss made of fibers or bamboo instead of plastic.

I also enjoy using a metal tongue scraper and oil pulling. 

For Those Who Bleed

Period Products cause a lot of waste.

Consider trying a menstrual cup; Mahina Cup, Saalt Cup, and Organi Cup are some you could check out.

I decided to use one purely for environmental reasons. I thought it was going to be hard to use, but I truly ended up loving it. I know the idea can be weird and scary, but there are so many benefits besides the sustainability aspect

And if a menstrual cup isn’t for you, there’s also period underwear and reusable pads out there. Thinx is a brand you could check out; @shethinx on Instagram.

So there’s a lot here. I wanted to share all my thoughts and ideas with you. 

There’s probably some things I forgot or could have explained better.

This is a pretty long post and I tried to get the information out the best I could, there are some ideas I could have said more about, so if you have any questions, or if you’re looking for some ideas on certain aspects of your life, or if you have a suggestion for me, please reach out. I’d love to learn and grow with you.

Single-use culture is huge and it affects so much of our everyday life.

Maybe in reading this, you realized you already do these things. Or maybe this made you question your consumption habits. 

My intention here was not to shame or discourage anyone.

Trust me my life is far from plastic-free, but I am making a conscious effort.

We all hold the power to make a difference. 

No matter where you are, accept it and love yourself.

Choose to continue to show love to yourself and our magical world and begin the journey away from single-use culture.

This journey can be fun, it’s all about how you look it at.

You can look at it from a perspective of this is too big and hard and give up, or you could celebrate the little things like discovering a new bulk store or finding a chocolate bar that comes in paper.

This lifestyle should feel good.

I can’t promise you that it’s always easy. 

But, I can promise you that you will feel so much more fulfilled straying from single-use culture.

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