7 Amazing People Who Prove That Living Plastic-Free is Possible
Take a minute to peruse the contents of the trash cans throughout your home. While this might not be the most pleasant (or pleasant-smelling!) activity, doing so can provide you with the information you need to begin living healthier, leaner and lighter on the planet. And it might even help you save money over the long haul.
If you’re like most of us, you produce an astounding 4.38 pounds of landfill-bound trash every single day, according to the EPA. For a family of four, that’s a daily output of more than 17 pounds of trash, officially called Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)—resulting in an annual total of more than 6,200 pounds.
Zero-waste living means aiming to reduce landfill-bound trash to the bare minimum—a worthy goal considering that a plastic bag could take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. When you look through your trash, you’ll probably find discards that could be recycled, reused or repurposed. As you get excited about zero-waste living, you’ll re-prioritize your shopping habits and reduce the amount of clutter and excessive packaging or goods you bring into your home in the first place. Whether you’re an experienced zero-waster or a beginner, there’s always something to learn or ways to improve. Here’s an easy guide to streamlining the whole process.
The extent of the damage wrought by plastic on our environment is increasingly well known. Yet, this harmful material permeates the majority of the consumer items we buy and use. Mounds of trash, garbage islands in the ocean and the suffering and death of countless fish, birds and other animals are just some of the negative consequences of our collective plastic waste on the planet.
Recent reports have revealed that biodegradable plastics don’t degrade in most scenarios and that a mere nine percent of recyclable plastic actually finds its way to a recycling plant. No matter how briefly we use it for, a plastic item never fully goes away. It seems the only solution to the plasticalypse now upon us is to stop buying and using the material entirely — or at least, to reduce our plastic usage as far as we can.
Giving up plastic doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, in giving up something harmful, you can gain a wealth of advantages you never considered — better health, a cheaper and simpler life – plus an increased knowledge of how the products we use and consume are manufactured and marketed.
Here are seven people who have mastered the art of plastic-free living and are sharing their experiences, impressions and tips to make the task a little easier for the rest of us.
1. Erin Rhoads, aka The Rogue Ginger
Plastic-free for over two years, Erin Rhoads details her journey to a zero-waste lifestyle on her blog, the Rogue Ginger, which contains useful tips and advice on “quitting” plastic and producing as little trash as possible. She outlines her reasons for going plastic-free — including the impact on wildlife and the environment and local communities — and recommends a number of helpful books and movies on the topic.
Her tips for switching out plastic from personal care include buying soap bars, using essential oils such as almond and rosehip in lieu of various toiletries — body and face moisturizer, perfume… — and making your own. Where groceries are concerned she has gone back to practices our grandparents relied on: from cloth bags and baskets for shopping at the market to stainless steel containers for storing food and for bringing it home from the bulk store.
Erin has been delivering talks, workshops and cooking demonstrations in different locations around Victoria, Australia recently and is currently working on a children’s book to introduce kids to the concept of a zero-waste lifestyle. Though she hasn’t calculated exactly how much money her new lifestyle has saved her, she estimates that living plastic-free is considerably cheaper than our modern waste-happy ways. She also writes about it having improved her health, with processed foods having vanished completely from her diet and her house. Click here for more from Ern Rhoads.
2. Lindsay Miles, author of That’s a Wrap
Lindsay Miles decided to become plastic-free after watching the documentary Bag It! as part of a Plastic Free July event. She describes the revelation she experienced as “a lightbulb moment. A realization that plastic was a problem” on several levels yet that it was a problem she “could do something about.” Her blog Treading My Own Path is full of anecdotes and advice on living a zero-waste plastic-free and minimalist lifestyle.
As she explains, minimalism is not about owning nothing, but about knowing how much stuff is enough. Her advice on a minimalist lifestyle centers around committing to reusables, learning to make food staples and essential toiletries from scratch, avoiding the supermarket and making use of the sharing economy: i.e: by visiting the library and buying items and clothing second hand.
Last year, Lindsay published an ebook titled “That’s a Wrap: Practical Tips, Tricks and Inspiration for Living Plastic-Free.” A guide to reducing plastic usage, it contains inspiration and guidance on removing plastic from daily life, changing consumption habits and making sure they stick. Click here to read more from Lindsay Miles.