You may find yourself saying “this woman keeps starting projects, does she ever finish them?” Ahh, no. It’s not because I am wishy washy but because life is hard. It’s hard to feed my family well under budget without harming the environment. It’s hard to plan for emergencies while dealing with the day to day stuff. It’s hard to live a homestead life in an apartment while being a working mom.
It really feels like everyone else has their stuff together and I just can’t figure it out. I know I am not alone. I can’t be alone. I know that my friends feel like they don’t have it together so it can’t be just a PNW thing (even though we have plenty who like to make it feel like they have it together). When you get your information from people who have spent years figuring it out and then present their lives as if it was always easy, you get a false understanding of how hard it is.
So, I am all about transparency. I am about showing how I fail because I always learn something. I have to figure things out and why not share how I did it. Not just what I figured out.
I mentioned that my husband and I took a class on plastic free living. I really wanted to go in there, get all the information and walk away knowing exactly how I was going to live plastic free. Truth is – there was little information I didn’t already know. My husband said I could have taught the class but we don’t live plastic free. I wanted the answers and I still keep coming up with questions.
I spent this morning looking at plastic free living websites. There’s even a challenge for the month of July. While they had some interesting information, nothing gave me that big lightbulb that made me understand the secret to it all. And some of it, I disagree with in some way.
What I was looking for was a good starting point. I do think I have it. I will warn you if you are anything like me – don’t jump in with both feet. I’m really holding myself back because I know that this is how a lifestyle change fails. I, also, know that this is not the first time we’ve worked to reduce our plastic/waste consumption. I need to build on what I already have.
I want to caution you against just getting rid of the plastic you already use. You are already using it, don’t just dump it. And don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can pass it onto a thrift store. I’m not sure I am wording this right but working in the thrift industry, I’ve learned a lot. What I learned most was that thrift stores throw an enormous amount of perfectly good things in the trash. If they have too many or it doesn’t fit in their sales plan, it goes in the trash. This is especially true for very small independent thrift stores. Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army have better resources for not turning donations into trash. They are able to shuffle items around their stores so that one store doesn’t have to decide what to do with the thousand plates they have while another store is wondering if they will ever have any to sell.
Here is my first course of action – throw nothing away that I can currently use. Instead, as I go shopping, I will make decisions to reduce the amount of plastic I bring into my house. For example, instead of buying a half pound plastic container (wrapped in plastic) of sliced mushrooms, I will pick up a half pound of bulk mushrooms in a paper bag. Turns out, it’s a cheaper choice. I can’t believe I don’t buy bulk mushrooms anyway.
We’ve been working on not bringing home plastic bags – that is one of the worst issues for plastic waste. Plastic bags are light and difficult to recycle. They are plugging up our environment and not something we have to bring into our home. I have a ton of reusable bags. We go to lots of festivals and community events. At almost every one, we can find someone giving away a reusable bag. My favorite are ones that fold up into little pouches and have clips. I have several attached to my purse. I have seen those same bags for sale at the counter at the store.
If you don’t have reusable bags but want to build a habit while you acquire some – reuse the plastic bags you have already brought home. Some stores will even give you a few cents for not using their bags.
From there, tackle the next big plastic use in your house. In my house, it’s drinks. We like having bottled water. A few years back, we started refilling our plastic bottles so we didn’t have to buy new ones. That only worked for water – we still have a bit of a soda problem. Well this weekend, we were at a fast food restaurant that sold a reusable plastic cup. Bring it to the restaurants owned by that company (local company that owns several chain restaurants) and you can get it refilled for 89 cents. Then we used that same cup at McDonalds. My husband and I often share soda drinks because I don’t drink that much.
Later, I realized that most of the grocery stores we go to have a soda dispenser in their deli. One even carries my husband’s favorite soda. So instead of buying a bottle of soda, we could refill our cup in the stores.
We have, in the trunk of our car, a picnic basket with plates, silverware, glasses, and reusable plastic coffee cups. We work really hard to remember to bring the coffee cups with us when we get some coffee but we could have been bringing those cups into the store for a soda. As long as you know what size the cup is (for McDonalds it doesn’t matter), you can use your own cup.
One other thing we bought this weekend was 4 glass bottles. The idea is to slowly replace the plastic bottles in our refrigerator that we use for water. The bottles are in need of replacing anyway. For these glass bottles, they were $1.59 which is probably cheaper than the juice that came in our original water bottles. We, also, hope to use these bottles for kombucha.
This is the start of our plastic free life. I know in my heart that we will never be 100% plastic free. Our first goal is to be disposable plastic free and work from there. We will make mistakes. We will have challenges that we struggle with – like how the heck does one line their trash cans without plastic bags and not have the outside garbage can be super gross (we have a dumpster so it’s always gross but someday we may have a home of our own). We will have tough choices such as to go for budget friendly or plastic free.
If you are plastic free or working to be plastic free, I would love to hear what tips you have. See you tomorrow.