Make the Switch to Sustainable Packaging

Going completely waste-free is something that we are trying to figure out each and every day, both as a household and as a business. 

Over the years, we’ve learned some different ways to reduce our waste as much as possible: we no longer buy any disposable water bottles, we have a compost bin which has reduced the amount of garbage we create and therefore how many garbage bags we use. 

We have replaced all of the disposable paper goods out of our kitchen like paper towels and napkins and replaced them with cloth. We no longer buy plastic wrap and we are incredibly conscious of carrying our reusable bags with us wherever we go so we never have to use plastic bags.

And yet, we still manage to fill our garbage can at least once a week. There are still things we mistakenly purchase that we think we’ll be able to reuse, repurpose, or recycle and then we can’t for one reason or another.

plastic garbage by the ocean

The Problem with Buying Recyclable or Biodegradable Plastic Products

Across the United States alone, there are 19,492 municipalities with their own recycling rules and systems (or lack of systems) in place. 

On one side of a big city, someone may be able to recycle plastic #7 while where you live in a different part of the city won’t even be able to recycle plastic #1 or #2. 

And there’s nothing that you can do about it. You can’t go bringing your plastic over to someone else’s neighborhood and leaving it in their containers to be collected (although that does sound like a somewhat good idea, it’s probably frowned upon).

As for those garbage bags or grocery store produce bags that claim to be biodegradable, think again. While technically they are biodegradable, they aren’t going to break down in your compost and they’re not even going to break down in the local landfill.

These biodegradable bags are usually made of bioplastics and they only break down in commercial composting facilities. Do you know where your local commercial composting facility is? Me neither.

Best Alternatives to Plastic

The best way to reduce plastic in your home and therefore in our environment is to stop buying it altogether. 

When you are out shopping, you can ensure that you are purchasing better alternatives by knowing what to keep an eye out for. Try to find products that are packaged in these sorts of containers so that you can reuse them and they’ll last for multiple uses.

1. Glass

While glass isn’t biodegradable, it is reusable. You can rinse out jars and use them for pretty much anything. We have plants in some of our jars. I use others to store dried goods like rice or uncooked beans that I buy from our local bulk market. I especially love keeping glass jars for when I make my homemade sauerkraut!

Some of our favorite products that are packaged in glass:

deodorant in a glass jar

2. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel has become one of the biggest alternatives to plastic when it comes to water bottles, straws, and lunch storage boxes. Not only are they more durable and easier to clean, but most of them allow you to keep your food and drink at the exact temperature that you want it to consume it at.

Some of our favorite products made of stainless steel:

beeswax cloth wrap

3. Beeswax-coated cloth

One of our personal favorite alternatives is the beeswax cloth. They are best used as replacements for cling film, but they can also be used to seal-off sandwiches and loose vegetables. I’ve also found them a great alternative to plastic bags to keep my herbs fresher than they are in cloth produce bags.

Our favorite beeswax-coated cloth product:

4. Silicone

Silicone is one of the best alternatives to plastic because it’s flexible like plastic can be. You’ll find tons of great silicone products these days including silicone straws, silicone lid covers, and silicone food storage bags. The great thing about high-quality silicone is that it is both heat and cold tolerant, so you can bake them, microwave them, cook in them, and freeze them.

Some of our favorite products made with silicone:

silicone stretch lids

5. Natural Fiber Cloth 

Natural fiber cloths have been one of our easiest transitions away from plastic because they’re so easy to just pop into the washing machine and reuse over and over again. We have cloth bags for all of our produce. I use hemp makeup remove wipes for my face and we use cloth towels instead of paper towels as well.

Some of our favorite natural fiber cloth products:

bamboo toothbrush set

6. Bamboo

The huge benefit of bamboo is that it is the fastest growing renewable resource that we have at the moment. It’s also lightweight, incredibly durable, and completely biodegradable. Most bamboo products are even compostable in your own home compost. You’ll find everything from bamboo toothbrushes to straws.

Some of our favorite bamboo products: