My Journey to Become Crystal Clear & Plastic Free!
I’ve always had a deep respect for the environment. Deforestation, pollution, and global warming have always been heavy on my mind. I tried, about 8 years ago, to eat healthy and use chemical free products. I was cooking vegan meals, scrubbing my tub with half a grapefruit jammed with course kosher salt, and dying my own hair at home with henna.
The problem is, I was not completely ready for the plastic free lifestyle. I had young children at the time, plus we had limited financial resources and I simply felt overwhelmed.
Then in 2019, I was offered a job on the East Coast. I loaded up a moving truck with the kids, dog, and tarantula and we drove over 2,000 miles from Utah to Connecticut. We arrived on September 1st, 2019 and once we got settled into our new routines, I was finally ready to pursue my dream of a waste free lifestyle.
I have always been an avid recycler, but about four months ago I watched a documentary that detailed how much of our plastic waste is actually being recycled in the U.S. Not much! The rest is being shipped to other countries in the hopes that they can recycle it. They can’t! They just don’t have the infrastructure to handle the amount of plastic that’s entering their countries. China even placed a ban on the importation of recyclables because they are overwhelmed with the plastic that is being consumed by their own residents. As a result, plastic waste is being burned, causing toxic chemicals to flood the atmosphere, or pushed into the oceans where it is harming everything that lives in the sea. I was devastated! I really thought I was doing the right thing by recycling. I realized that my choice to purchase plastic in the first place is the real problem. I called my friend and emphatically announced, “I am going plastic free!”
He was excited for me, but posed an important question, “How are you going to do it?”
Have a Plan
I had no idea how to go plastic free. All I knew was I was going to stop using plastic. My thoughts were all over the place. I bought an ebook about reducing plastic waste. I started using castile soap instead of shampoo. I only bought produce that wasn’t packaged in plastic and refused to use the plastic produce bags.
Then the pandemic hit. Bulk food was no longer an option. I couldn’t take my grocery bags into the store, and nearly everything in the grocery store is packaged in some form of plastic. To top things off, I was struggling financially due to reduced hours and was forced to buy less expensive items, which almost guarantees it’s packaged in plastic. I was discouraged by my inability to quit plastic cold turkey. So, to make myself feel better I indulged in a large Dunkin’ Donuts iced caramel coffee, in a plastic cup with a plastic lid and a plastic straw. Fail!
That experience made me realize that I desperately needed a plan. This would require research, not just about the products, but about each company's practices and ethics. Then, I would need to test their products to discover what works best for our family lifestyle. Suddenly my plan became Crystal Clear! I will spend a year focusing on changing things in the house, a little at a time, until I am completely waste free. Each month I will focus on one area of the house and start making changes a week at a time. I came up with an exceptionally long list of items (more on that later) from each area of the house that I want to replace with something more eco-friendly. My hope is that, by following me through this journey, you’ll discover some simple ways to make your household more Crystal Clear and Plastic Free.
Take Things Slow!
Most important, Take things slow! Going all in at once could lead to some very costly decisions. For example, when I glanced around my kitchen my first impulse was to go to Target and buy a bunch of cute food containers. Then I realized, I had some mason jars in the basement from previous canning adventures. I cleaned up the jars and put my beans, rice, oatmeal, and other dry goods in them. The best part is they look really pretty on the shelf in the pantry and it didn’t cost me a dime.
Look for Simple Solutions
I found that going plastic free is like being on a diet. Once you eat that doughnut it seems like the whole diet is a failure. You might think, "Well, I guess my diet is over, might as well eat the chocolate cake too." Wrong! You are going to make mistakes. Let’s say you are driving with your kids and you forgot to pack water. Suddenly, someone announces, "I'm thirsty!"
You might be forced to buy some bottled water along the way. Don't beat yourself up. Instead, realize you are doing your best and look for simple solutions to avoid this of situation in the future. What do you already have around your house that could help you reduce your plastic waste right now?
Go Room By Room
I found all kinds of plastic bottles, tubes, containers, toiletries, and hair accessories in the bathroom that I wanted to find plastic free options for. Therefore, I will begin my plastic free challenge in October with a focus on making the bathroom a plastic free zone. Why October, you ask? Because I want to start this project right away and the usual month to start a resolution, January, is just too far away. Besides, October is one of my favorite months. The weather is nice and cool but not yet freezing, we have Halloween, and the holiday season, and all the stress that comes with it, hasn’t started yet.
I would love to hear from you and incorporate your feedback into my journey to become Crystal Clear and Plastic Free!
· What plastic items are in your house that you would like to see an eco-friendly replacement for?
· What simple solutions have you found to reduce plastic waste?
· Why is a waste free lifestyle important to you, what is your inspiration?