The average American throws away about 5 pounds of trash a day. We all know the impact this is having on the environment, but did you know moving away from single-use to throw-away-free saves you money?
We’re all in this together. While UPSTREAM is working to create and spark reuse systems, model venues and businesses, there’s a lot of steps each of us can take in our own lives to create a throw-away-free future. Detox your disposables diet, save money, and upgrade your world to Throw-Away-Free Living!
CONSIDER THE CONTAINER
REAL materials like ceramics, glass, stainless steel and cloth don’t leach chemicals into your food and drinks. Opt for these options when you’re on the go, shopping, and in your home.
Keep skipping the straw – and the plastic lids, stirrers, and disposable cups too!
Ditch the flavored drinks in plastic bottles. Even the organic “green” ones. When these drinks are produced, the liquid is brought to boiling when poured into the plastic bottle to prevent contamination, increasing the amount of toxic chemicals leaching into your drink. Don’t buy them.
Keep your jam and honey jars for limitless use! Bring back to the store for bulk goods or use for snacks on the go.
Leave your BYOs in your car. We all forget sometimes, but if you make a habit of leaving your reusable bags and mugs in your car, you will soon find you can BYO all day long. You can also find super convenient variations that will fold up and fit in your pocket or purse.
Reusable to-go boxes are popping up all over the states, but you can still be prepared to take your food home even if your community hasn’t adopted a system like this yet. Bring your own to-go boxes.
CLEAN UP YOUR KITCHEN
Trade out single-use plastic wrap for reusable, compostable beeswax, silicon, and/or hemp covers instead.
Disposables aren’t always plastic. Consider the paper towels you use. You can buy reusable towel rolls instead of paper towels, or upcycle t-shirts or cloth diapers. Buy them once and wash over and over, saving money, trees and plastic packaging.
Don’t forget about cloth napkins.
How about packing up school lunches? Your kids can feel special and sustainable with fun patterned, reusable sandwich bags that are handmade organic.
Forget throw-away bleached coffee filters – reusable wins for your health, wallet, and sustainability game every time!
Washable, reusable sponges are vital to a Throw-Away-Free kitchen. Wash your wares without throwing anything away afterward.
Shop bulk, bulk, bulk! You can refill anything from bottles of olive oil to vinegar to jars of salt or peanut butter to canisters of flour or pasta. Find your best bulk options and optimize your unwrapped kitchen! If bulk isn’t an option, always buy in the largest quantities you can to reduce single-use packaging.
Make your own disinfectant spray with vinegar and lemon rinds, or mix water with tea lavender, lemon, and/or thieves essential oils. Add a teaspoon of vodka or rubbing alcohol, and consider adding glycerin as an option to create a barrier.
BEAUTIFY YOUR BATHROOM
Go for a toothbrush sourced from biodegradable materials like bamboo rather than plastic that will last in some form forever.
Check out stellar DIY toothpaste recipes all over the internet and have fun experimenting with your family!
How about skipping the paste and the tube all together? Check out toothpaste tablets with all natural ingredients, no preservatives, and completely compostable packaging. You can find mouthwash tablets as well!
Wouldn’t you rather floss with something natural and not extracted from petroleum? Now you can buy compostable silk floss that is difficult to break and free of harmful chemicals.
Buy glass vinegar shakers and fill them with bulk hand-soap so you can ditch single-use (and easy to break) plastic hand-soap bottles and pumps. It’s super easy and inexpensive.
You can find many unpackaged soaps and shampoo bars online or at LUSH cosmetics.
Make your own face-wash pads out of old cotton or hemp t-shirts.
Look into plastic-free periods with the various cups, undies, and reusable pads available.
Make your own shower cleaner out of vinegar, water, and essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, or peppermint.
Safety razors and ear picks for a double win!
Check out our business partner Plaine Prodcuts for refillable vegan shampoos, conditioners, face-wash & more! Don't forget to use coupon code UPSTREAM for 20% off!
Make your own food - fun, fresh, and you know exactly what is in it (research what is best for your breed).
Seek out bulk food and treats where it may be available to you, or request the option from your supply store.
Buy recycled packaged pet food - especially with Terracycle, who will take it back and ensure it is actually recycled.
Make your own treats - peanut butter, pumpkin, eggs, flour - bingo! You can also look up vegan buckwheat recipes for your best friend.
Skip toxic plastic chew toys and go for real bones or antlers. Go to your local farmer or butcher or ask about the source at your pet supply store. (Most antlers and bones are harvested from animals that have already died.)
Get second-hand products like dog beds, leases, and bowls wherever possible from friends, the thrift store, a garage sale etc.
Donate unneeded materials to a shelter.
Whatever zone of your home you give a throw-away-free makeover first, know you are not only helping the planet and your wallet, but the health and wellbeing of yourself and family as well. It should feel good to do good for your mind, body, and environment - so don’t be hard on yourself! Every hiccup and stumble helps us learn to do better from there on out. So have fun, stay curious and excited, and SHARE your throw-away-free wins by tagging @upstreamsolutions and #throwawayfree on Instagram!
About the Author
A writer, editor, and activist, Lauren directs our flow of magic, management, social media, and special projects. As a leader of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic U.S. movement, Lauren connects change-makers working toward the same plastic-free future from fossil fuel extraction to ocean dumping.