With a growing amount of research revealing the dangers of certain plastics, it’s a great time to reduce plastics in your home. Thankfully, a reduction in plastic use tends to be a by-product of a natural lifestyle – whether your initial aim was to do so, or because you’re now so fond of canning jars you use them for everything.
If you can’t remove all of the plastics in your home just yet, try starting with ones containing Bisphenol A and Phthalates. Here’s why:
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is found in many drinking containers, the lining of most food and beverage cans (including soda cans), bottle caps, plastic cutlery, plastic food storage containers, toys, dental sealants, some dental composites, water pipes, eyeglass lenses, and more. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it disrupts normal hormone function, which can lead to a whole host of problems, including cancer. (source)
Like BPA, phthalates are endocrine disruptors, chemicals that can enter the body through food and personal care products and interfere with hormones the body produces. Phthalates inhibit androgens and affect males more than females. Manufacturers add the substances to a wide range of products, from toys to cosmetics to medical tubing. (source)
With clear research pointing to the dangers of prolonged uses of certain plastics, it’s important to find alternatives to as many plastic products as possible. Here are some of our favorite ways to do that.
21 Ways to Reduce Plastics in Your Home
1. Non-plastic dishes
Replace plastic dishes with glass, bamboo, metal or ceramic alternatives. If you have children, look for heavy-duty dishes that don’t break easily. Better yet, search out your new dishes at a local thrift shop so if they do get broken, it’s not a big deal.
2. Glass food storage
Rather than storing your leftovers in plastic containers, choose glass. There are a wide variety of glass containers with BPA-free lids available that are oven and microwave safe. (But if you’d like to also reduce how much you use your microwave, here are some great ways to heat food without one.)
3. Stainless steel water bottles
4. Cloth diapers
Diapers also contain harmful plastics. Try using cloth diapers as much as possible if you have little ones who aren’t yet using the toilet.
5. Glass baby bottles
Even if you exclusively breastfeed, there’s bound to be a time when your baby gets a bottle of breast milk or water. Many baby bottles are now BPA-free, but for a non-plastic alternative, try glass baby bottles.
6. Homemade deodorant
7. Reusable feminine care products
Did you know you don’t have to use pads and tampons? Really. Cloth pads and silicone menstrual cups (a very comfortable option) are hormone-disruptor-free options that are great for the environment and your budget.
8. Wooden children’s toys
Instead of a toy box full of plastic cars and blocks, aim for a few wooden toys instead. There are many options available, many of which are handmade. Even toy kitchens and their cute little accessories are available in wood. Also look for toys made with other materials like cloth and felt.
9. Homemade laundry detergent
10. Homemade dishwasher detergent
Homemade dishwasher detergent takes a few simple ingredients and can be stored in a canning jar under your sink.
11. Buying in bulk
12. Reusable grocery bags
Eliminate the plastic bags in your home by taking your own reusable grocery bags to the store. If forgetting to bring them with you is a problem, choose bags that fold into pouches to keep in your car or purse (like these).
13. Farmer’s market/CSAs
Buying direct from farmers is a great option for reducing food packaging. Don’t forget your reusable bags. Click here to read about other inexpensive ways to get local food.
14. Homemade insect repellent
Certain herbs and essential oils, like lavender and lemon are great at keeping bugs away. Here’s our recipe.
15. Homemade body wash
Commercial body washes can contain phthalates, so making your own is a great way to avoid exposure and reduce the amount of plastic containers coming into your home. Our homemade body wash is fast and easy to make. If you’re a fan of bar soap and want to give it a try, here’s a great homemade bar soap recipe.
16. Vegetarian capsules
The outer coating on many pills contains phthalates. If you take prescriptions or supplements, opt for a vegetarian capsule, or other form, if you can.
17. Reusable to-go containers
If you’re planning on going out to eat or know you’ll grab a drink somewhere on the way home, take some reusable to-go containers. Take a glass jar or storage container to the restaurant to put your leftovers in. Keep a jar or stainless steel bottle in your car to use at your favorite coffee shop. You might even get a discount for bringing your own cup.
18. Metal or wood cooking utensils
Many people use plastic utensils to avoid scratching Teflon-coated pans, which is harmful in itself. Instead, try metal or wooden utensils (and switching to stainless steel or cast iron cookware if necessary).
19. Metal straws
My kids LOVE straws and would quickly breeze through a package of plastic straws when I still bought them. Now, each family member has his/her own reusable metal straw that will last forever.
20. Preserve foods in glass
BPA is commonly found in the lining of many canned foods, which can then leach into the food itself. Try canning your own vegetables, soups and even meats in glass canning jars. Click here for some great tips on food preservation.
21. Freshen air with essential oils
According to the National Resources Defense Council, 12 out of 14 common air fresheners contained phthalates, even though they were not listed on the ingredients label (source). Instead of using chemicals to freshen your air, open a window for at least a few minutes each day. If you want a nice smell, try diffusing essential oils or making your own room spray. Some great essential oils to use are orange, lemon, lavender, peppermint and wintergreen.
How have you reduced plastics in your home?