Reducing the use of plastics is an important issue in the modern society. It can lead to better health because of minimizing exposure to the chemicals in plastics and it is also better for our Earth because plastic is not biodegradable. Barb from A Life in Balance breaks down what each type of plastic is and how her family is striving to reduce their use of plastics! We hope you enjoy it and will take on the challenge with your kids and family to reduce your impact by learning more about plastics!
For a suburban family of 7, despite our best efforts, we use a lot of plastic in our daily lives. Most of the plastic in our home comes in via the grocery store and the drug store. The next biggest category is toys; we are a Lego family. Our house is probably insulated by Legos!
For Earth Day, I’m challenging my family to reduce our use of plastic. We are fortunate to have a curbside recycling program in our township which accepts lots of plastic: # 1,#2,#4,#5,# 7 . The township doesn’t accept #3 (PVC – shampoo bottles and detergent bottles) or #6 (Polystyrene – take out food containers, etc.) They also don’t accept plastic grocery bags which we can recycle at local grocery stores and Target. Most Curbside Programs Accept: #1, #2, sometimes #5, sometimes #6.
How One Family Is Reducing Their Plastic Use
While we are one family reducing our plastic use, the effects can be long-term. When we reduce our physical contact with plastic, we limit the ability of some types of plastic to disrupt hormones. We protect the animals in our local environment by reducing the amount of plastic they come in contact with in our trash cans and at public facilities.
Plastics — Recycling Symbols Defined
Number 1 Plastics – PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)
Found in: Soft drink, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; ovenable food trays.
Number 2 Plastics – HDPE (high density polyethylene)
Found in: Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners
Number 3 Plastics – V (Vinyl) or PVC
Found in: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping
There is evidence of polystyrene can leach potential toxins into foods. It has always been difficult to recycle.
Number 7 Plastics – Miscellaneous
Found in: Three- and five-gallon water bottles, ‘bullet-proof’ materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon
Polycarbonate studies have shown it can leach potential hormone disruptors.
Ways to Reduce the Use of Plastics
- Read the recycling symbols on the plastic containers. Stick to the plastics that can be recycled by your town or municipality.
Lunch, On-the-go, & Leftovers
- Use glass and metal containers for packing lunch. Do the same with leftovers.
- When buying coffee at places like Starbucks and Wawa, bring your own refillable coffee cup, preferably aluminum or steel.
- Use refillable metal and steel water bottles.
At The Grocery Store
- Use cloth grocery bags instead of plastic bags.
- Buy foods packaged in paper rather than plastic.
- Buy dry goods in bulk and use your own containers to transport and store them.
- Save glass jars and reuse them at the grocery store. Stores like Whole Foods allow you to refill oil and maple syrup in glass containers in their bulk food section.
Around the Home & Cleaning
- Instead of using air fresheners, open the windows or light a candle.
- Buy detergent and cleaners in boxes rather than plastic bottles.
- Use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers. Cloth diapers will save you at least $1,000 over the time you use them; they’re easy to use, and kids are less likely to get diaper rash when wearing cloth diapers.
- Use bar soap for washing dishes and personal hygiene.
- Use rag towels for cleaning which reduces your trash (and use of trash bags).
In the Kitchen
- Compost kitchen scraps instead of putting them in the trash which reduces your trash (and use of trash bags).
- Use real glasses, plates, napkins, and silverware even for parties. You can find ceramic and glass serving items at thrift shops.
- Make your own foods and convenience items from scratch: bread, yogurt, ketchup, mayonnaise.
How Does Your Family Reduce Its Plastic Use?
Barb is a mom of 5 kids who spends her day keeping track of socks, stuffed animals, library books, and a 5 year old when she isn’t writing about all the frugality, gardening, cooking, and reading she manages to fit in between the chaotic moments. She can be found at A Life in Balance.
Other Posts by Barb on a Life in Balance
(How do your cleaners Rate, Edible Gardening &Landscaping, & Planting a Garden video.)
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