Living with Less Plastic

 

 

Living with Less Plastic: 

Single-use plastics are a huge problem causing irreversible damage to our environment. I’ve always made the effort to recycle as much as I can, but I know that just using less period is the best way to cut down on plastic. 

Here are some ways I’ve been trying to curb my own plastic use: 

BYOB always.

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Baggu makes great reusable shopping bags

I keep reusable shopping bags in my purse, in my car, in Rob’s car— I always have them on hand. And if I still forget a bag I just hand carry my items. It can be a tough habit to get into, but now I am really used to it. Reusable bags are also sturdier than their plastic counterpart. It’s much easier to carrying groceries when the bag has a shoulder strap.   

 

 

 

 

No more single-use coffee cups. 

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12 oz Hydroflask

I try to make my coffee at home and bring it in a 12-oz Hydroflask. Honestly I think 12 oz is enough. If I go to a coffee shop and don’t have a reusable cup, I just order for here and savor the drink and the moment I get to myself, instead of just taking the coffee and rushing to the next task in my day.  

 

 

 

 

 

Reusable water bottle 

This is a no-brainer, right? I have a few reusable water bottles and I always keep them filled up and in the fridge. I always take water with me so I’m never tempted to buy single use plastic bottles. If i do need to buy a water on the go I’ll buy a Pellegrino in glass, and then reuse the glass bottle for regular water. 

Bring your own container spices 

I just reuse old jars and fill up at the co-op. It’s honestly way cheaper, too.  I like customizing the sizes of container I use for each spice so I can buy a large quantity of what I use frequently and just a small bit of something I might only need for one recipe. 

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Save every glass jar 

Any good glass container with a nice lid I will save and reuse. I have a whole arsenal of old Bonne Maman jars that I use for packing lunches, storing spices, etc. 

Waste free lunches 

I try to pack my lunches from home with as little to no waste. I bring my own utensils, a cloth napkin, and pack my food in reusable containers.  

Refuse 

I refuse plastic utensils and straws as often as I can. 

Buy bulk and decant around the house: 

In addition to buying in bulk and decanting my spice cabinet, I also do this for cleaning supplies and personal care products. I also try to opt for things packaged without plastic. I opt for wooden cleaning tools and toothbrushes. 

Make food from scratch  

Something I’m working on is making more food from scratch and buying less pre-made food and take out. I’m hoping to try and make my own granola bars and yogurt this year.  

Just Buy Less

It’s so hard to buy things without any plastic.  A t-shirt bought online might be wrapped in a plastic bag, a plastic tag, things in plastic boxes, plastic zip-ties that fix products to a piece of cardboard, plastic used in packaging, shipping, transport before it gets to a consumer, etc.  I ask, do I really need this?  I’ve been living without it for how long?  Can I get by with what I have? 

I’m not perfect but I do the best I can. Every little bit helps. It takes more effort to reuse things and make granola bars from scratch than it does to just buy single-use, but I know it’s worth it for me to try. I have a lot of work to do and still buy and use plastic a lot more than I want to, but I’m not ready to make my own toothpaste and cleaning products. 

Granola Bars

 

Granola Bars

I’m trying to cut back on individually packaged foods, and the two last hold outs for me are yogurt and granola bars.  While I don’t think these are perfect, I do think I’m off to a pretty good start with the granola bars.  I did some research and I think it culminated in something that is definitely a granola bar.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups quick oats (not instant oats)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon flakey sea salt
Zest of 1 medium orange
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup

 

Method: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 8 x 8” baking dish with parchment and spray with cooking spray.  I used a 6.5 X 8.5” pyrex refrigerator dish because that was the closest thing I had, just do your best.

Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.  Add the honey and maple syrup and stir until mixture is all coated.  Transfer into the prepared baking dish and press firmly into the pan until it is well packed.


Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Let it rest at room temperature for at least an hour before cutting into bars.  If you don’t wait, it will all crumble apart.  If it does all crumble apart, don’t worry, now it’s just regular granola, which is pretty great.

This recipe can be easily adapted to suit different tastes / to use up what you have in the cabinet.  I already had most of the ingredients on hand which is why I went for cranberry-orange.  The nuts, dried fruit, and other flavorings are totally flexible.

If anyone has any great granola bar tips or recipes please send them my way!