Your Earth Day Resolution: Decrease Plastic Usage and Output in 4 Simple Steps

At the Store, do the 'Plastic Two-Step'
    The bad news: Single use plastic is everywhere and hard to resist.
     The good news: Learning the 'plastic two-step' is even easier than learning the two-step dance!
     In the grocery you have choices with almost every item you buy: milk in a paper carton or plastic jug, eggs in a paper or plastic container, tampons with or without (OB brand) a plastic applicator, yogurt in a 32 oz. or a multi-pack option.
    So, whatever you're buying, do a quick two-step: The plastic-packaged or alternatively-packaged item... when possible, choose the alternatively-packaged item. Paper packaging is biodegradable.  Plastic isn't. 
   For a comprehensive explanation as to why plastic doesn't biodegrade, refer to this link:

    Hints: Organic products are typically made by more environmentally-friendly companies, hence, their packaging is typically the better choice.
              Vegans, by nature of what they're buying, create far less plastic waste.
  For your convenience I created this short video of an example store experience:

Turning Single-Use Plastics into Multi-Use Plastics
    Consider these quick plastic facts, per 
-Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth 4 times
-More than 1 million plastic bags are used every minute
-Plastic constitutes approximately 90% of all trash floating on the ocean's surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile

    So, there's some motivation to get you started on your less-plastic-journey!
Our silverware drawer is stocked with re-usable
    Let's begin with straws (don't freak out, I'm not going to suggest you quit using them):
   500 MILLION straws are used and discarded in the U.S. ALONE, every single day! source:
    In our home we have a 1/2 dozen straws in our silverware drawer (my son enjoys using straws sometimes).
   I also keep 3-4 straws in the glove box of my car, as does my husband.
  To clean the straws I use a pipe cleaner! It's easy, efficient and the pipe cleaners can be washed and re-used several times! 

    Moving on to plastic baggies (best not to use them at all but I know most people, including myself, still do so...): 
    Re-use them. 
    Oftentimes we use plastic baggies for dry goods such as chips or crackers. When that's the case, the bags are very easy to wipe out and re-use. 
    For frozen burritos or sandwiches for example, simply wrap your item in a paper towel (good to prevent your food from touching harmful chemicals in the plastic anyhow) for easy wipe-and-re-use later. 
    And, when I use a plastic baggie for something non-food-related, like makeup or creams when traveling on a plane, I keep that baggie separate, in the hall closet for future use in the 'same category.' That way, whenever I travel, I don't use new baggies.           Easy enough, right? 
   Plastic bread bags and tortilla bags can be re-used for a variety of purposes as well. I use these to line a little 'sink garbage can' in our kitchen.
   Lastly, in this category, cleaning supplies:
   I've used the same all-purpose-cleaning spray bottle for 5+ years. I either make my own cleaning solution, per a recipe, or buy a large bottle of concentrated cleaning product that's diluted with water and... I don't buy spray bottles. 
My 5 yr. old spray bottle... who sees your
spray bottles anyhow?!

When Out and About
    -Always keep at least one re-usable shopping bag in your car for those unplanned stops (Walgreens, etc).
    -As mentioned, keep straws in your glove box. When going in a restaurant, put one in your purse or pocket.
    -Avoid drive-thrus: you can't easily tell the person at the window, "no lid please," but when you go in McDonald's and get your own cup it's easy to not take a lid or straw.
    -Take an insulated, re-usable coffee mug with you to the coffee shop or keep one in your car. Coffee shops appreciate and embrace individuals that bring their own mugs! 

Take your own mug and you may find a heart in your latte ;)
This latte was made at Sunergos coffee shop.

    While this category is short and sweet, it's so important because, every time you pull out your re-usable bag or decline a lid or straw, you're setting an example. You're educating someone by your actions. Do these things with pride! 

Lastly, Online...
    Many places we shop have surveys on the bottom of their receipts. 
     Completing these surveys is a great way to 1.) Be entered to win a prize and 2.) Express your valuable customer input about reducing plastic waste, via one sentence.
    For example, when completing a Kroger or Walgreen's customer survey I use that 'any other comments' space to say: I look forward to seeing your store implement a re-usable bag incentive or Thank you for encouraging your suppliers to use as little plastic packaging as possible.  
    Politely sending a tweet to retailers you frequent is also a great idea. 
    Becoming part of a plastic-waste-reduction-movement is a great idea. 

    Here you'll find some helpful links relative to this topic:

Thank you for reading and/or sharing this blog.
Happy Earth Day!