Thursday, March 24, 2016

Reducing Plastic: What We're Doing

The past couple days I’ve been talking about my efforts over the last two months to become more aware of my buying choices involving plastic. Well, I did become more aware, but how did that affect what I did, practically?

In no particular order, here are ten things I’ve done in the past two months with the specific intention of cutting back on our plastic consumption.

1. Carrying silverware with me everywhere. With Zach’s and my on-the-go lifestyle, I’m never sure when we’re going to be eating out. I already carry a water bottle, but having silverware, wrapped up in a cloth napkin, comes in very handy too. For coffee drinkers, it wouldn’t hurt to always carry around a mug as well.

2. Letting cashiers know as soon as possible that I don’t want a bag. This one is tricky! Say a friendly, “Hi,” then immediately say, “Please don’t bag the groceries— I’ll bag them myself,” and hold up your reusable bags. That way, they don’t have to worry about how to pack your groceries, since regulations make them sort items by kind into bags (no meat with veggies, for instance). If they accidentally give you a plastic bag, though, don’t make a stink about it. You want the poor overworked employees to have a positive experience with reusable bag people.

3. Making food from scratch. I’ve had varied success with this one. I made some nice homemade tortillas one week, but I haven’t made them since because it’s a huge project. Lately I’ve been experimenting with various sourdough creations, but it’s more of a hobby than anything else. My main goal is to have more meals in the freezer so that we don’t resort to fast food when I’m sick of cooking.

4. Eating less stuff that is packaged in plastic. This is so hard, especially since chips are so tasty! It’s a work in progress.

We leave out the empty bottles
for the milkman to reuse
5. Buying in glass or paper whenever possible. There are a ton of things you can easily buy packaged in glass or paper instead of plastic— peanut butter, vinegar, oils, maple syrup, eggs, etc. The plastic options are usually cheaper and bigger, but I’ve decided to go ahead and spend the extra money to buy more sustainable packaging. Which leads to...

6. Buying milk in glass bottles. After racking the Internet in search of a local dairy farmer who would sell his milk straight to me (there was only one, and we’d have to drive to Ferguson to pick it up at a specific time every week— not a great option for us), we decided to start having Oberweis Dairy deliver to our doorstep. We now get two gallons of milk (four glass bottles) on a biweekly basis. It’s pretty expensive, but I feel good about the product, and homemade kefir with high-quality milk is still a lot cheaper than buying kefir at the store!

7. Using cloth bags for produce. I’ve stopped buying as much produce at Aldi (sniff, sniff) because it’s all packaged in plastic to make it easier to scan. We’ve been shopping for produce at Walmart (we get a discount), and I’ve been using reusable bags to hold loose carrots, kale, apples, etc. I’m hoping to shop more from the farmer’s market this summer, but that’s just not an option right now. (However, the locally-owned produce stand is opening soon!)

Shampoo: plastic version vs. no-plastic version
8. Using a shampoo bar. I already used apple cider vinegar (mixed with water) to condition my hair, but when we were in Oregon I picked up a shampoo bar by Sellwood Body Care. Zach started using the shampoo bar/ACV method, and his curly locks are more luscious and shiny than ever! Unfortunately, my fine, straight hair gets pretty greasy from the oils in the shampoo, but I don’t care quite enough to do anything about it. My hair always smells nice, and that’s the important part.

9. Researching bulk options. Where is a WinCo when you need one? St. Louis has no bulk-bin stores, and the bulk sections in those stores are pretty measly. I still need to give Dierberg’s a closer look, but so far all I’ve managed to locate is a local place called Nutrition Stop that sells stuff from bulk bins. Still, I’m going to continue to investigate this avenue. 

10. Planning a bigger garden. The more I read, the more I realize how valuable backyard gardening is! I’m hoping to eventually grow the majority of our own food, and this year should be a good start.

Do you have anything to add to the list? How do you avoid consuming disposable products?



  1. I also have superfine hair but find that this shampoo bar works great
    Most others do just leave my hair slightly greasy and flat...

    Have you looked into They provide bulk organic delivery options at wholesale prices. They have a pretty neat business model. They treat a drop point sort of as a grocery store, aggregate the orders from individuals, then bring the orders in a semi. They aren't available in my super rural area, but I've heard good things from the Seventh Advent community.

    Now that I'm commenting I feel like I should give you a nice link back to me so you can know who I am, but I don't really have a blog. In brief, 28 female, in Oklahoma, doing foster care and home repair, planning to travel around the west coast in the fall. Hi!

    1. Thanks for the links, Briel! I've bookmarked them and will look at them more later. It's awesome that you're doing foster care and looking into west coast travels. I love the Midwest but California/Oregon/Washington are pretty incredible! :)

  2. I got these bags that's mesh (like you would wash delicate laundry in) that I put my produce in when shopping. I always use cloth bags. I like in Vermont and it's very common to use cloth bags over paper or plastic. We ave mandatory recycling, and I have a compost pile for scraps.

    1. Good idea, Christa! I imagine that the whole "eco" thing is more accepted on the east coast than it is in the Midwest. We're still making small steps over here in Missouri! :)