How To Reduce Plastic Waste At Home: 9 Easy Changes You Can Make

Wondering How To Reduce Plastic Waste At Home? Here Are Our Tips!

Admittedly, going zero waste right away can be quite difficult and it is something that we haven’t achieved yet. In this day and age we rely so much on plastic products and packaging that it can be difficult to become zero waste overnight. However, there are some easy steps we can all take to cut down the plastic waste we create at home.

You might be asking yourself “But why should we reduce the use of plastic?” and the answer is simple: We want our children to have a decently clean world when they grow up… and right now, we’re not handing that to them!

From looking for ways to reduce the use of plastic bags to reducing plastic consumption at school or work, reducing plastic pollution should be an environmental priority. All of us can play a (small) role in that and it doesn’t have to be complicated. A good first step is to start in your own home – so here are some changes that you can implement easily!

Use Your Own Reusable Grocery Bags

Fresh produce in beige bags and zero waste cleaning supplies
Think about investing in reusable bags!

One of the easiest things you can do to avoid bringing unnecessary plastic into your home is to bring your own reusable bags when you go grocery shopping.

Not only are they often more sturdy than the thin plastic bags that you would otherwise get, but this might also save you some money. At some discount grocery stores such as ALDI or TESCO you don’t get free bags – so by bringing your own, you don’t have to buy any.

We have two big reusable bags with sturdy handles that we take with us whenever we go grocery shopping. They are big enough to hold all the food we need for approximately a week and save us at least four plastic bags every time we go grocery shopping. That’s a lot of bags in a single year.

At the same time, we also bring small bags for produce when we go grocery shopping. This way, we can avoid using these plastic bags in the produce section. You might think you’re not saving much plastic by doing that, but believe us – it does at up over time!

Compare Packaging At The Grocery Store

Hands holding shopping cart
Keep your eyes open when grocery shopping!

Related to the first point on this list, there is another way you can reduce plastic waste in your home when it comes to groceries. Walk around your grocery store with open eyes and you’ll most likely come across very similar products but in a different packaging.

For example, we don’t usually buy our produce at the grocery store. However, if we have to (because we couldn’t make it to the farmer’s market etc.), we try to buy the carrots that are either without any packaging at all or those that come pre-packaged in a simple thin plastic bag. We usually try to avoid those that come in plastic wrapping AND a plastic box.

This is just one example of a way you can save on (some) plastic packaging when grocery shopping. It also works really well when it comes to buying pre-packaged snacks or treats. We know it’s not always possible to completely avoid plastic at the store, but try to make at least small changes in the right direction. After you’ve made the first step, it’ll become easier for you to make more and more changes towards a life with less waste.

Another tip we have is to get reusable produce bags if you usually buy unpackaged produce. This way, you can avoid using the very thin plastic produce bags that you can find at grocery stores. We got reusable produce bags about a year ago and have been using them ever since.

Substitute Plastic Straws

Bamboo toothbrushes mason jar and reusable straws in front of reusable bag less waste
There are great alternatives to plastic straws!

You’ve probably read about how we should all get rid of plastic straws over the last months. One of the reasons for this is probably that they are quite easy to get rid off – or at least replace.

Now, we are not saying that you should never use a straw again. We are just saying that it’s so easy to substitute your plastic straws for straws made out of other materials. So, there’s really no reason not to do it.

Popular choices are straws made out of stainless steel or glass (which we would only recommend if you don’t have children). In recent months, we’ve also heard and read more about straws made out of other materials such as pasta straws. That does sound quite interesting but we haven’t tried them yet… we will keep you posted if we do!

Cook From Scratch

Person holding pan with vegetables and wooden spoon cooking
By cooking from scratch you can avoid some unnecessary plastic packaging.

Most of the frozen or ready-made meals come with a lot of unnecesary plastic packaging (in addition to often “not so great ingredients”) that you can avoid by cooking from scratch. Same goes for take-out containers.

So instead of buying those meals or getting take out a lot, we try to always have the ingredients for a few of our favorite quick recipes at home. This is also a great way to eat semi-healthy when we don’t feel like cooking and/or don’t have a lot of time to cook.

You can still buy frozen vegetables or other ingredients with simple plastic packaging if you have to – but try to avoid buying those plastic trays or big plastic containers that food comes in.

Get A Refillable Coffee Mug & Reusable/Biodegradable Coffee Pods

Person holding reusable coffee mug
It’s time to get a reusable coffee mug!

Do you get a “to-go” coffee regularly? While you might think “Oh that little plastic top doesn’t matter” it actually does add up. And it is such a simple thing you can change to reduce your plastic waste.

Instead of getting a “to-go” cup at the coffee shop, just bring your refillable keep-cup from home. At some coffee shops you even get a discount for bringing your own reusable cup!

If you don’t usually get your coffee from a coffee shop but use your own coffee machine at home, look at the cups or pods that the machine is using. A long time ago, we had a Keurig coffee maker but we really disliked throwing out the plastic K-cups after every use. So we looked into getting a reusable K-cup that you can just fill with new coffee after every use. That created A LOT less waste!

If that is not an option for the kind of coffee maker you have, then look for biodegradable coffee pods instead. They are getting more and more popular as people become conscious of the amount of waste they are creating. We don’t really like them that much since many people just throw them in the garbage anyway – but it’s an option nonetheless.

Alternatively, you can also do what we did and ditch your coffee maker completely. We now like to either use a French press or make our coffee the Turkish style. We love not having a big coffee machine taking up valuable space on our counter top and the french press is so easy to clean as well!

Shop At Your Local Farmer’s Market

Fresh vegetables without plastic in boxes
At Farmer’s markets, produce is usually not wrapped in as much plastic as in supermarkets.

Have you noticed just how much plastic the produce at regular grocery stores is packaged in? Most of the time there is a whole lot of unnecessary plastic being used.

Going to your local farmer’s market can help you avoid this in most cases. We are very lucky that we have a local farmer’s market that happens weekly close to where we live. Buying (most of) our produce there not only saves us plastic waste but also ends up being cheaper than if we were to buy the items at the grocery store.

We know that not everyone has a good farmer’s market close to them – but have a look online and/or ask around. There might be a great one close by that you haven’t even heard of yet. It’s always worth giving it a try!

Use Reusable Water Bottles

Wooden utensils reusable water bottle coffee mug and grocery bag how to reduce plastic waste at home reviving simple
Please don’t use plastic water bottles!

Another way you can easily reduce the amount of plastic waste you create at home is by stopping to buy one-time-use plastic bottles. There are some create alternatives out there! At the same time, we know how difficult it can be to break a habit that you’ve been used to for years. It’s worth it though!

Instead of having to buy bottled water and carrying it from the store to the car and then inside your home, there are a couple of other options that you can look into. If the water in the area where you live is a high quality and safe to drink, then you can just get used to drinking your tap water.

If you don’t like the taste of the water or you want to filter it before drinking, then you can either get a water filter for your tap, a filter jug or another kind of filter that can help make your tap water better.

In case you prefer carbonated water over still water, you can always invest in a soda stream or something similar. This way, you can stop buying plastic bottles and can still enjoy the water you prefer.

Buy In Bulk

nuts and raisins in bulk boxes reduce plastic waste
Buying in bulk can decrease your plastic waste.

Buying in bulk can be a great way to save on plastic waste and also save some money. Buying staples such as rice, beans, lentils, and other grains in bulk usually ends up being cheaper than if you were to buy them at your local grocery store. And you have less packaging – double win!

In most bulk stores you can bring your own containers or reusable bags and stock up on products this way. In case you can’t, buying large amount at once can often still save you some plastic packaging.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a bulk store close to where we live. However, we have a nice “non-packaging” store close to us and we have been going there a couple times a months for while now. Not only are we saving on plastic packaging by bringing our own containers, it’s also a great way to try new things since it’s so easy to just get a small amount of a new grain/granola etc. Maybe you have a store like that close by as well since they seem to become more and more popular.

Make Your Own Beauty Products (Or Avoid Plastic Packaging)

Homemade beauty products in glass bowls with lavender next to them
Have you tried making your own beauty products?

We don’t really use a lot of beauty products to begin with since we use the no poo method when it comes to washing our hair – and Lisa doesn’t really use that much make-up. However, when we do buy face or body products we try to buy ones that contain no or very little plastic packaging.

For example, Lisa uses coconut oil as a make-up remover as well as moisturizer and always make it a point to buy it in a glass container that we can either recycle afterwards or use as a storage container. (Btw, we’re planning on writing a whole post about how we use coconut oil in our beauty routine soon).

Similarly, we have stopped buying body wash in plastic bottles and instead now use soap bars that contain oils that keep our skin soft and moisturized. We have found that these bars generally last a lot longer than body wash as well which is great since it can save a bit of money in the long run.

And there you have it – a few ways you can reduce your plastic consumption in the home. These are things that you can do on a daily basis. We know that change doesn’t happen overnight, but change can – and does – happen! Let us know how you reduce your plastic waste – we’d love to hear more tips!

As always, Keep It Simple,
-E&L

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Tips for reducing plastic waste at home