It’s become clear that our planet is suffering from the overuse of single-use plastics. If you want to do better to save sea turtles and the rest of the animal kingdom, here are several ways to practice sustainable living by ditching plastic — beyond metal straws and reusable shopping bags.

5 Sustainable Living Practices to Eliminate Plastic

Plastic has infiltrated nearly every part of our lives — from the food we buy, to the furniture in our homes, to the clothes we wear. To ditch plastic for good will require you to change the way you buy and consume products by thinking about what you already have, using items as much as possible before discarding them, and carefully considering the impact of your purchases.

Let’s take a look at five sustainable living practices that can help you reduce your plastic consumption.

#1 Buy in Bulk

One way to immediately reduce your use of plastic is to refuse to buy it. Try to only buy items without plastic packaging, or purchase in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging used. More and more grocery stores have bulk options which may or may not use plastic for packaging. Many stores even have bulk sections which allow you to bring in your own containers to refill things like rice, dry beans, nuts, and spices.

If you must purchase packaged goods, choosing items in reusable or recyclable packaging is better than plastic. For example, glass jars for sauces or jams can be reused as food storage containers. Even paper bags around chips or produce are biodegradable or recyclable and preferable to single-use plastic produce bags. 

#2 Reuse Responsibly

Using and reusing containers made from renewable sources is another great way to ditch plastic and practice sustainable living. Instead of buying plastic tupperware, opt for something made sustainably which will not only last longer than plastic, but offer better protection for your food. 

Although the goal when making the swap to reusable containers is to use renewable materials like stainless steel or glass tupperware or metal straws, don’t just dump your plastic items in the trash. An important tenet of sustainable living is to use what you already have as long as you can, rather than going out to buy new. Then, when it’s reached the end of its life, recycle what you can before disposing.

#3 Support Anti-Plastic Companies

A great way to use the power of sustainable living for good is to support anti-plastic organizations and companies that make eco-friendly, plastic-free products. These can include: furniture that uses renewable sources over plastic, sustainable building materials, and even simple home goods like clothespins and toothbrushes. 

Keep in mind that marketing for many products can be confusing. Sometimes products that are advertised as “green” or “vegan” may not be better for the environment because they’re made using synthetic, plastic materials, rather than renewable, long-lasting ones.

#4 Choose Products Carefully

Another common place to find plastics is the cosmetics industry. Toothpastes, face washes, and makeup products all can contain microplastics which can’t be filtered out from the water supply, and end up in our natural environment where they pollute oceans and harm wildlife. 

If you use a face wash that has “exfoliating beads” or any of your favorite cosmetic products contain polyethylene or polypropylene as ingredients, that means they’re made with plastic. By switching to an alternative, plastic-free product, you can practice sustainable living and prevent microplastics from polluting the environment.

#5 Practice Slow Fashion

A huge, overlooked offender to plastic pollution is the fashion industry. Clothes made with synthetic fabrics are cheap and ubiquitous. Fabrics made with plastic contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and don’t biodegrade (at least not within 500 years). Worse still, they’re not made to last, so you end up needing to replace them after a few wears when they no longer fit the same as when they were purchased. 

We can do better. A great way to eliminate plastics you consume through clothing is to support slow fashion — a movement that seeks to slow down the cycle of purchasing and discarding clothing by investing in durable, sustainable materials.

Shopping for second-hand items at thrift stores or hosting a clothing swap party with friends are great ways to get more life out of used clothes — and it doesn’t have to feel drab. There are plenty of high-end clothes that get discarded after a few uses. 

If you do shop, look for well-made items that will last a long time, can be easily washed, re-worn, and repaired if necessary. It’s far better to spend a little more on a piece you can wear forever than constantly purchase cheap plastic clothing that won’t last. Clothing made of natural fabrics will be more durable, so choose cotton, wool, and linen over polyester, nylon, or acrylic.

Sustainable living takes work, and taking the time to examine where you use and can eliminate plastic in your life is a huge part of that work. Start small and start today, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a healthier, more sustainable life.

If sustainable living is important to you, you’d feel right at home at Couch Mountain. Here, our homes are built using environmentally conscious practices. Our community celebrates a shared appreciation for the planet and each other. Reach out to our team to learn more about our sustainable mountain community.

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