Plastic has become one of the most harmful materials to our environment.
From polluting oceans and harming wildlife, to filling up landfills for decades without decomposing, this material is having devastating short term and long term effects on our planet.
The main culprits are the companies producing these products. Plastic is cheap, economical, and easy to mold, so it’s no wonder its use is so rampant.
Our society has become increasingly dependent on plastic products, so making the shift to living with less plastic (and, eventually, living plastic-free) can be a challenge.
To help point those who want to make the shift to a plastic-free lifestyle in the right direction, we decided to put together this guide to reducing your plastic use. Think of it as a “cheat sheet” to living plastic-free.
This guide will give you information on what it’s like to live plastic-free, how to fit a plastic-free lifestyle into your budget, how to minimize plastic in the most important areas of your life, and much more.
The Hardest Parts About Living Plastic-Free
If living with less plastic was easy, everyone would be doing it. We all know on an intellectual level that plastic is harming the environment, but it’s so prolific in our lives that replacing it can be tough.
While we want everyone reading this to make the shift to living with less plastic, we also want to be as honest as possible about what living this lifestyle is like.
Living plastic-free can be a tough transition, but everyone who is doing it will tell you that it’s also extremely rewarding, both for yourself and for what you’re doing for our planet.
1. Finding alternative products
One of the hardest parts about living plastic-free is finding replacements for all of the products you buy that contain plastic. This includes products that are made out of plastic and products that come in plastic containers.
When you start digging into the products you buy, you will find that an alarming amount come in plastic containers or are either partially or fully made with plastic. Not only does this speak to just how big of a problem this is for our environment, but it also means that it will take some time for you to go fully plastic-free.
2. Making your own alternative products
Sometimes, you won’t be able to find ready-made alternatives to your plastic-containing products. This is where DIY (do-it-yourself) comes into play.
You may need to make your own lotions, grow your own fruits/veggies, and DIY other replacement products.
3. Building and maintaining the plastic-free habit
It’s easy to buy and use plastic products. It can be harder to find replacements for them.
So, naturally, it can be difficult to build and maintain the plastic-free habit, because falling back to your old ways seems easier.
But just like sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine, the benefits of living plastic-free are so profound that it makes sticking to the habit more than worth it.
4. Keeping it up despite pressure from friends, family, etc
Most people who start living with less plastic don’t anticipate this happening, but it is a very real result of making the lifestyle change.
There can be pressure from people in your social circle to use or buy plastic products when you’re out with them. They may not fully understand why you’re trying to live with less plastic, so they’re not taking it as seriously as you are.
Because these people are close to you, this pressure can become uncomfortable. But as long as you remember why you’re making the shift to living plastic-free, and you stick to it, they will respect you for it.
5. Not worrying about offending other people with your lifestyle change
When people see others living a different lifestyle, they automatically compare it to their own. If they feel like you are trying to be “better” than them in some way, they may feel offended when you maintain your boundaries and refuse plastic-containing products.
Don’t allow this to hinder you from living the lifestyle you want to live. You’re doing nothing to offend them, so it’s their issue. Continue living the way you feel is right for you.
The Best Parts About Living Plastic-Free
1. You’re making a positive impact on our planet
By living with less plastic, you’re making a positive impact on our planet right now and you’re simultaneously making it better for future generations.
As more people start making the change, this impact will grow exponentially, helping to clean up our oceans, reduce the amount of waste in our landfills, and lessen the effects of global warming.
2. You’re setting an example for the people around you and the people who look up to you
Living plastic-free is a righteous cause. No matter where you live or your stance in life, the health of our environment affects us all equally, and you’re helping to make it a better planet for everyone who lives here.
This sets a great example for the people around you, especially for the people who look up to you. You’re sacrificing your own convenience for the greater good of humanity and for future generations.
3. You can inspire others to make the change as well
One person living with less plastic isn’t going to make a big impact. But if that one person can inspire another person, and that person inspires two more people, and those people go on to inspire other people to make the change, then we’ve suddenly started a domino effect that snowballs into something very impactful.
By choosing to live this lifestyle and openly share it with others, you will inspire people to start being more aware of their own environmental impact and the global issues surrounding plastic consumption.
4. You join a global community of supportive people who care about our planet’s future
The plastic-free community spans across the globe. It crosses cultures, age, sex, and religion.
By living plastic-free, you join a growing community of supportive individuals with the same goals and philosophy driving them.
5. You’ve achieved something to be proud of
The plastic-free lifestyle can be challenging, so achieving it is something to be proud of. You’ve made a change that most people aren’t willing or capable of doing just yet, and you’re one of the front-runners helping to spearhead massive change in how we affect our planet going forward.
6. Increased health and vitality
Many people forget that one of the best “side effects” in our opinion about living plastic-free is an increased health and vitality in your body. This is often attributed to the fact that living life with less plastic means you often eat fresher and are not eating processed or “junk” food. It is not uncommen to experience even some weight loss if you are carrying a few extra pounds, after you make the switch to a plastic-free life.
3 Most Common Myths About Plastic-Free Living Debunked
As with any lifestyle, certain assumptions are made by those who haven’t tried it yet. These myths can sometimes hinder people from taking the leap.
Here are three myths about living plastic-free that have no grounds in reality:
Myth #1 – You have to throw out all of your old plastic
This is one of the biggest reasons why people who want to live with less plastic don’t end up making the change. They look at all of the plastic good they use every day and wonder how they will be able to replace them.
Here’s the thing:
You don’t have to replace all of them immediately!
Just don’t buy new plastic products.
First off, the plastic you throw out ends up in a landfill or harming the environment. So if it’s in your home and it’s being put to good use (and it’s a safe plastic product) then it’s better off staying there.
The key is to not purchase any new plastic products. These are the items you will need to find replacements for if they are absolutely necessary for you to use.
Myth #2 – You have to go 100% plastic-free immediately
Plastic has become an integral part of many people’s daily lives, so living plastic-free is a big change.
In order to make the change, you need to build a habit of living with less plastic. Habits allow you to continue a behavior for an extended period of time. They can become almost automatic (like your habit of living with plastic right now).
But as anyone who has ever had a New Years Resolution will tell you, if you dive in head first and can’t keep it up, that habit will never form and you will go back to your old behaviors.
So you don’t have to go 100% plastic-free immediately. The best thing for most people to do is to take it slowly, one step at a time.
Start with the easiest items to find substitutes for. Then build up from there.
This will help you build a plastic-free habit and mindset, and you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
Myth #3 – All plastic products are off-limits
Namely, if a plastic product is required for your health and well-being, you need to make the decision that’s best for your health. Don’t put your health in jeopardy because the medicine you need comes in a plastic bottle.
At this point, exceptions may need to be made.
But it’s up to you to decide what those exceptions are. Don’t worry about what other people might think of you. It’s your health and your life. You need to make the decisions that are best for you.