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How to use less plastic around your food and beverages

We’re hearing a lot these days about how plastic leeches chemicals into foods and beverages that may be bad for our health. There are other reasons to avoid buying plastic.

For example, even if every bottled water gets recycled, the amount of energy used in that recycling is huge, as is the energy used in manufacturing the bottles and transporting them.

Additionally, plastic is a petroleum product, and consumption of it helps drive up oil costs. Below are tips on how to use less plastic around your food and beverages.

This article is for people who have already decided for themselves they want to buy less plastic, but aren’t sure how they can live without it.

Because that’s where I was a few years ago, and these are the steps that got me off my plastic dependency. Remember: you don’t have to do it all. Just do what you can.

Long line of water bottles in trash

How to use less plastic

Water bottles

  • Stop buying bottled water. Get a reusable water bottle instead. There are plenty of glass and steel portable bottles to choose from. Or get a BPA-free plastic bottle – at least you’ll use it many, many times before it ends up in the landfill.
  • Start drinking filtered tap water instead of bottled. You may hate the idea of drinking your tap water, but a simple filtering pitcher will remove all sorts of unpleasant tastes, chemicals and minerals. And as for safety, bottled water is not safer than tap. Both have to meet similar regulations in the US. And some bottled water is just tap water. I’ve used my Pur Pitcher for at least 10 years and I love it. The filters are affordable and last anywhere from 3-8 months, depending how much chlorination or hard minerals are in your tap water. The water that comes out of your refrigerator is also filtered.

(And if you’re also struggling to drink more plain water and break the soda habit, try infused water to help you make the transition.)

Plastic food storage

  • Get rid of plastic food storage containers. At home, use glass storage dishes for leftovers and wax paper where you would normally use a Ziploc. You’ll find glass dishes are actually easier to clean than plastic. And they don’t retain the smells of certain foods the way plastic dishes can.
  • Use wax paper for sandwiches. You can make a “baggie” out of wax paper by stapling the edges together and folding the top over with a clip.
  • Stop buying single-serving yogurts. Buy large tubs of yogurt and carry single servings to work or school in a reusable cup. You can get a lightweight one made from food-grade plastic.

Food packaging

So much food today is wrapped or packaged in plastic, and there’s only so much you can do about that.

  • Avoid buying stuff packaged in plastic. Obviously, when you have the choice, go for food that isn’t packaged in plastic. But in a lot of cases, you just don’t have that choice.
  • Re-use food packaging. Plastic food tubs can often be reused, just like glass jars. I often make my tangy curry dip in an old sour cream container. I have several of these containers I’ve kept for years.

You can reduce the plastic in your life significantly by just following a few of these steps. Are you trying to reduce your plastic consumption? If you’ve got more tips, share them in the comments!

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