I’ve been on a zero-waste journey for a little over a year now.
And while I’ve significantly reduced my waste by making my own products and buying from sustainable brands, I still use plastic.
Here are a few things in my apartment that I consistently buy in plastic.
My husband Mike and I eat chips and salsa almost every night. It’s a staple in our house.
We often buy salsa that comes in a glass jar with a metal lid that we can reuse over and over again. But for tortilla chips, I haven’t found a good swap yet.
I’ve been given a few recommendations:
- Make my own tortilla chips.
Eventually I want to get to the point in my cooking skills where something as daunting as making my own tortilla chips doesn’t sound paralyzing torturous. I’m just not there yet. But I will be one day — I hope.
- Ask a local restaurant for chips.
This is something I haven’t tried doing, but have considered many times. At some point, I hope to try this out, too. Seems like a great way to support a local business, make some connections and eat some delicious, homemade chips.
But, for right now, we still buy our tortilla chips at the grocery store. Every bag available at my grocery stories has at least some plastic on its packaging. So, sadly, we throw out a decent amount of non-recyclable plastic, just from eating our weight in tortilla chips. We’re not perfect, folks!
There is an incredible company called Who Gives A Crap that sells plastic-free toilet paper. I’ve wanted to buy their TP for over a year now.
Unfortunately, every time we run out of toilet paper, we need more ASAP and don’t have the time to wait for TP to come in the mail.
But! I hope to try that brand out next time we need a few rolls.
And, yes, the toilet paper I’m currently using is not sustainable, though the package says so. That’s a classic case of green washing — AKA a company marketing an item as sustainable, but it actually isn’t. While the TP is made from recycled paper — which is cool — it’s still wrapped in plastic, and I’m almost certain that Great Value brand — a Walmart off-brand — isn’t exactly prioritizing the planet.
Zero-waste mascara is a tough one. There are currently a few brands that offer zero-waste (AKA refillable) mascara, but I haven’t found a brand that I really like yet. I’m hoping to do a zero waste mascara haul soon, to go over some of the best zero waste and green beauty mascaras.
Currently, I’m using Pacifica and Young Living’s mascara. Neither are recyclable, but Pacifica does a recycling program, where you send in your empty Pacific containers and they’ll recycle them properly. Pretty cool!
CONTACT LENS TRASH
Mike and I have pretty poor eye sight and we both wear contacts. Both of our optometrists recommended daily contact lenses.
I have significant dry eye and I’m prone to eye infections, so dailies just make more sense for my eye health. But, wearing contacts produces a LOT of waste.
I’ve shared this before, so for the full details, check out my past article here.
Mike and I send our contact lenses, blister packs and blister pack foil to a program through TerraCycle. Several eye doctors in our area collect contact waste and will ship it off to TerraCycle for free! TerraCycle recycles the plastic properly — so, although it may look like we have a lot of plastic waste on our bathroom shelf, it all ends up being recycled through TerraCycle.
BILLS AND RANDOM MAIL
Most companies will allow you to set up an automatic withdrawal from your back account to pay for your bills. Or, other companies have options where you can receive all your mail digitally through your email.
Unfortunately, Mike and I haven’t contacted all of our bill companies and mail subscriptions yet. But that’s been on our list of things to do for some time now! Remember, lots of mail is recyclable, but if an envelope comes in the mail with a plastic window that displays your name, that plastic window isn’t recyclable. Be sure to cut that out before placing your paper in a recycling bin — or compost bin!
Note: Currently, I don’t have any plastic packaging at my home, which is why I have a picture of plastic-free packaging from Elate Cosmetics in the photo above.
I do my best to order items through companies that only ship plastic free — like Elate, Ethique, RMS, Fat and the Moon, Zao, PackageFreeShop, Plaine Products, etc. But, some companies — like Amazon and Young Living — still use plastic in their shipping.
When I do make a purchase from Amazon or Young Living, I try to get multiple items at one time, so that I only have one package coming, which lessens the amount of separate plastic packages.
OTHER PLASTIC ITEMS IN MY APARTMENT
I still buy some food products in plastic, too. Yogurt is a big one for us, and sometimes bread. Occasionally I’ll buy some RX or Lara granola/meal replacement bars, and those come in non-recyclable plastic. Or, sometimes I have to buy more products that come in plastic, depending on our budget for the week and if a cheaper option is available.
If I need an item from the store and it only comes in plastic, I’ll try to find an option that has recyclable plastic, or I’ll opt for the largest option that will last me the longest amount of time.
Zero waste is a journey and process. No one is perfect! And, of course there are times where I forget my reusable take-out containers and go out to a restaurant and have to use the restaurant’s Styrofoam containers to bring my food home. (Gasp! Yes, I know, I use Styrofoam occasionally when I don’t have another option…. it happens.)
Zero waste isn’t about perfection, it’s about participation. Zero waste is a mindset and the goal is for people to do the best they can with the resources that are available to them.
Mike and I are far from perfect when it comes to zero waste living, but we do the best we can. Make small sustainable changes and give yourself grace!