Last week, to mark the end of the Rodale.com Plastic-Free Challenge, I shared some tips for reducing the amount of plastic in your life. I personally don’t think that anything is completely evil. But I do think we overuse a lot of things without thinking too much about it—and when challenged, we often invent much better solutions. So consider this a call for ideas or inspiration to you creative types, brainstorm some alternatives for the more pervasive, hard-to-eliminate plastic sources we’re all burdened with. I know it’s possible. There must be solutions. So put on your thinking caps, and see what you can come up with!
Here are 10 things that come with plastic that I really wish didn’t:
1. Shampoo and conditioner: I actually do have a “bar” of shampoo wrapped in paper that I’ve been meaning to try, but have been a bit afraid to. But this is the biggie. (Luckily, Rodale.com’s Leah Zerbe has come up with some ideas to help solve this problem.)
2. Toy and electronics packaging: Not only is it excessive, but the plastic on these things is usually so hard to open that without the proper tools, blood can spill.
3. Produce! And not just at the supermarket. Even the vendors at my local farmer’s market use a lot of plastic bags when selling their produce.
4. Condiments: Catsup, mayo, mustard…they USED to come in glass, so I know it’s possible.
5. Amazon.com packages: Oh, the box is fine, but the books are always shrink-wrapped, and the package is stuffed with plastic puffy things that are annoying and unnecessary. I mean, that book is not going to break! Actually, almost anything ordered by mail comes with too much plastic surrounding it.
6. Takeout containers: Yes, the answer is to avoid takeout. But seriously, there has got to be a better way to package food to go.
7. Garbage bags: There has to be a better way to package our trash, too. Until then, at least use recycled trash bags.
8. Pool toys: Can people please stop giving these to me as gifts? They smell bad, and the kids never put them away, and then the dog bites holes in them. Now, my goggles on the other hand… I would love a nonplastic replacement for them.
9. Almost anything at the supermarket—especially meat wrappers: Whether it encases toilet paper or pasta, it’s crazy how much plastic stuff has to be thrown away just so we can “protect” stuff before it gets used. Let’s get creative, people!
10. Pens: I love to write, and hate that my favorite tool is often made from disposable plastic. Oh, yeah…computers, too.
This is the challenge of our times, really: to constantly improve on and develop new ways to live our lives without harming our health and our planet. It’s a great creative opportunity! Just think of all the money people can make if they figure it out. Yay for capitalism!