Easy ways to reduce plastic at home

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By Andrea Tomkins

We are big fans of the plastic-free movement (obv). Have you heard about Plastic Free July? This international movement encourages people to be more aware of the plastic in their daily lives and the impact that single-use plastics have on the environment.

Of course, there’s an added benefit of swapping single use items for reusable ones: a savings of cost, time, and energy. If you’d like to reduce plastic at home, we have some ideas for you!

 

Grocery bags

Many shoppers are already using reusable grocery bags every day. I also like bins for larger shops. They’re available at Loblaws/Great Canadian Superstore and at now Farm Boy as well. Every grocery shop is a game of Tetris (heavy stuff on the bottom, soft bread and tender fruit on the top) and everything fits well.

Already using reusable grocery bags? Consider stepping it up during Plastic Free July and adding reusable produce bags to your grocery routine. Lightweight and washable, these produce bags are made in Canada and made to last.  

I always keep one or two LOQI foldable tote bags stashed in my purse for all of my shopping needs. These stylish bags are not just for groceries! You can find them in-store at both terra20 locations in Ottawa.

 

Plastic food wrap

Plastic snack and sandwich bags can easily be swapped out with their reusable counterparts. Zippered Colibri reusable baggies are great for dry snacks (think crackers and cookies), but they can also be used for school supplies, travel, and makeup.(Check out this adorable fox print pattern!)

The next time I’m buying a baguette at my local bakery I might just ask them to slide it into this pretty cotton Bakeshop Baguette Bag. It’ll even look nice on the counter (which might only be 10 minutes considering how long fresh bread lasts in our house). This baguette wrap is another great way of keeping bread fresh without using plastic wrap.

Other ways to easily reduce the amount of plastic we use in the kitchen:

1)  Choose lidded glass or stainless steel containers for leftovers, such as this stainless steel container from Onyx. Bonus: Storing it this way makes it easy to grab your work lunch the next day.

2)   You can also store leftovers in a bowl with a plate over top if you don’t have a lid.

3)   … or use a reusable silicone lid, like terra 20’s Bali Silicone Suction Lids. They provide airtight seals and eliminate the need for plastic wrap.

4)  Wrap cheese or vegetables in old linen tea towels.

5)  … or use a reusable food wrap like Abeego, which can also be used many times over. It’s an all-natural hemp and cotton linen fabric that is coated with a mixture of beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil and can be wrapped around virtually any solid food or container.

 

Straws

The plastic straws have been in the news at lot lately. Some of you may remember a video of a sea turtle with a drinking straw stuck up its nose. Mashable described the episode as an “8-minute cringe-inducing clip [that] shows a group of researchers on a boat in Costa Rica removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nostril using a Swiss Army knife.”

They’re not wrong about that.

Straws suck, and some companies are taking action. According to the National Post, Recipe Unlimited Corporation (formerly known as Cara Operations), and its 19 brands will be ditching plastic straws in August in favour of compostable and biodegradable paper straws by the end of March 2019.

“The company, which owns brands such as Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet, Kelsey’s and New York Fries, joins a growing group of Canadian restaurants and international food corporations that are phasing out the plastic drinking implements. In early June, quick-serve brand A&W Canada said it would soon switch to paper straws, while Ikea Canada promised to phase out plastic straws by 2020.”  

It’s hard to imagine the sheer volume of straws that we are talking about, but according that article Canadians use about 57 million straws a day, and less than 20 per cent of them are recycled. That’s a lot of plastic that ends up in landfills, in rivers, and washed up on beaches.

Paper, silicone, and metal straws are popular alternatives to plastic straws.

Silicone straws are fun for young kids and we love the bright colours. I love the novelty of paper straws for a special occasion, like a family BBQ or a birthday party. These Red Stripe Paper Straws by Kirkland adds cheer to any picnic table and are totally biodegradable. Stainless steel drink straws are ideal for everyday use. They are long-lasting and won’t get dented in the bottom of a bag. They’re dishwasher safe, but it’s recommended you pick up a straw brush to go with it.

 

Anything that’s single use, really, deserves an extra moment of consideration. Totally eliminating plastic can be tough, especially given its prevalence in our society, but reducing it is within our grasp. The next time you are about to grab a straw for your drink or stick a bunch of bananas in a plastic produce bag, ask yourself if it’s really necessary… and think about that poor turtle.  :(

Take a look at some of our other top plastic-reducing picks right here.

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