Living sustainably can seem overwhelming, especially with increasing amounts of often conflicting information available online and in the media regarding how to live sustainably and the statistics regarding the decline of our environment. One of the simplest ways to begin is by reducing single-single use items that are purchased by you and your family. Although reducing single-use can certainly be contributed to by plastic-free living, there are other single-use items that are filling up our landfills and littering our oceans whose use can be easily eliminated or drastically reduced in the home.
Plastic-free living and reducing single-use items can provide benefits for your own health as well as for the environment. Plastics and other single-use materials can come with harmful toxins like BPA, which have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers and other illness. Many single-use items can take years to break down in the environment, taking up valuable space in our landfills and polluting our oceans, killing entire species of ocean life. These aren't just plastic items, but items made from materials including styrofoam, paper, and cotton as well.
Plastic-free living can be a huge contributor to living sustainably, and perhaps even the largest contributor, however, simply reducing all single-use items can be a huge step in the right direction. Here are just a few single-use items that can be easy to reduce or eliminate from your home, and some tips on how to replace them with long-term use items.
Disposable menstrual pads and tampons are one of the highest volume items littering our oceans. The materials they contain can take many, many years to break down, and their pollution can cause extreme, irreparable damage to fish and other ocean creatures.
You can reduce your use of these single-use items by investing in re-useable menstrual pads, which are fabric pads with a sewn-in liner that can be machine-washed, or by investing in a menstrual cup, which is a small silicone cup that can be washed and re-used for up to several years.
Single serving coffee pods
The recent popularity of single-serve coffee makers has brought about a surge of single-serve coffee pods flavours, and in turn, a huge increase in litter. These single-serve pods are typically made from plastic and foil, neither of which break down in the environment particularly quickly.
Another very simple method of reducing single-use items is to eliminate your use of single-serve coffee pods by making your coffee with a pour-over style pot with a built-in washable filter.
Plastic bags may be one of the worst offenders when it comes to polluting our environment. Billions of plastic bags are used every day and despite the low cost of purchasing a reusable bag from the grocery store, most will continue to use plastic bags.
One of the simplest ways of reducing your use of single-use products, as well as moving towards plastic-free living, is to eliminate the use of plastic bags. Purchasing a good quality produce bag will contribute enormously to preventing pollution. A durable, well-made produce bag with double stitching can make it easier to carry your groceries and will last for years.