Go plastic-free in 30 steps with Clan Earth
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on having taken the superb decision to cut down on plastic. So, cheers! Is it possible to live without plastic? To a large extent, yes! And that is what we will aim for. You must not be disappointed with yourself if you end up using some plastic despite your best efforts. Our world is designed for convenience and plastic does just that, and thus, it is widely used. Your journey to go plastic-free may take time and effort, and even if you falter, don't be too harsh on yourself!
In the beginning, these changes may feel too difficult or overwhelming for you to achieve. But speaking from personal experience, taking it step-by-step is the best way to go. I started with the small changes of using my cloth bag and making my own soap in 2018, and I haven't looked back since. Over time, not only was I able to reduce my plastic use to almost zero, but I also reduce my waste to less than 200 grams in a year. What felt even more important for me was the fact that because I took this as a challenge, I enjoyed my journey and now I love to live more sustainably every single day. It doesn't feel like strenuous work to me. On this journey, I have learnt so much about fighting climate change and becoming more sustainable beyond going plastic-free, but I still believe that this is a great place to start.
Plastic is terrible for the environment at all levels. Not only does it pollute our land, water and soil, it is also sourced from non-renewable fossil fuels and requires a very controversial and destructive process known as fracking.
So, let's join our hands together in fighting this pollution and creating a sustainable living revolution. Start with one simple step, and once you get used to it, come back and try step 2. Don't worry, it might take you some time, but you will surely enjoy the process, and slowly all of us together will have a significant impact on the planet. The list below starts with some simple steps, and by the end, you will find ways to make substantial changes that are well worth your time and dedication.
If you would rather like to download an e-book, click here: Download E-book on Plastic-Free Living in 30 steps for Free
1. Quit the single-use bag: Adopt any bags at home and simply re-use
Single-use plastic is one of the worst kinds. It cannot be recycled easily. It's very lightweight and thus litters and ends up in drains, landfills and our water bodies. Animals and birds end up eating or getting trapped in these and can accidentally cause grave harm to themselves.
Instead, use any type of bag that can be used again and again. It can be a jute bag, a cotton tote bag or even a thick plastic bag. Any bag that you have with yourself that can be reused is better than single-use ones!
2. Always carry a reusable bottle: Avoid harmful plastic-based toxins
Not only are single-use plastic water bottles bad for your health because of the toxins they release, but they also tend to end up in landfills, and switching to reusable bottles is an easy way to make a world of difference to the environment and your own body. Instead, invest in cute glass bottles for your home or a handy stainless-steel one for when you're going out on hot days!
With the added bonus of this change being eco-friendly, it will also save you the bucks you're spending on highly-priced bottled water.
3. Choose glass or steel containers for food: Say bye to plastic containers
Though this kind of plastic is not single-use, it is still plastic. It causes issues from its production to its afterlife.
Steel or glass containers for your pantry staples and grocery supplies have been around for decades, and they are simply great alternatives that are super durable.
4. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes
Bamboo toothbrushes are all the rage right now. Think about how often you have to change your plastic toothbrushes. All of them are somewhere out there today, polluting our planet.
Made from biodegradable, BPA-free materials, bamboo toothbrushes (including our very own!) help cut down on your plastic use and their antimicrobial properties give your pearly whites an extra healthy shine!
5. Upgrade your toothpaste: Bye-bye, tube toothpaste
If you have already changed your toothbrush to a more eco-friendly alternative, you can take this as a next step.
Toothpaste invariably comes in tubes that are very difficult to recycle because they need a lot of cleaning and management before recycling.
Why not change the whole game and adopt toothpaste tablets that are coming into the market? You can also consider looking at powders. Check with your dentist before making this change.
6. Buy soaps without plastic packaging: Organic, chemical-free soaps will help your skin in the long run
A lot of our toiletry come in plastic, but one of the most commonly used ones are our soaps. Shift to handmade, organic soaps. The options are wide-ranging, and they're available at different price points.
Adopt something that works for you and skip the plastic packaging!
7. Try out shampoo bars or switch back to reetha water: Your hair will thank you!
If you quit your soap, you will not find it very difficult to make the shift for your shampoo, too.
You could either replace your plastic bottled shampoo with shampoo bars or even reetha water or ayurvedic shampoos available without the plastic packaging! You can find many videos explaining how reetha water can be made and stored for up to 1-2 weeks.
8. Choose skincare without plastic packaging: And without the chemicals
Our skincare products contain so many chemicals, sometimes even carcinogens.
In this particular case, what is good for the planet is also good for you! Shift to natural ingredient-based skincare products that come without plastic packaging. There are many brands out there who are doing this at the moment!
They can sometimes be a little more expensive than the regular ones in plastic packaging, but we typically get what we pay for. Don't pay for plastic with your health and that of the planet.
9. Switch to menstrual cups, cloth pads, or period panties: If you can, ditch the regular sanitary napkins
Sanitary pads are convenient and they changed the way we have historically had to deal with menstruation. But one major issue with them remains - the use of plastic layers, because of which they don't biodegrade easily.
The most sustainable alternative is a menstrual cup, which probably looks scary but is a win-win in both comfort and sustainability, and cloth pads or period panties are worth looking at, too. Take it slow, research, reach out to those friends who have shifted, get to know more from them and then, if it's the right fit for you, make the shift!
10. Say hi to old-school steel razors: Say bye to plastic body razors
This one simply needs going back to basics. Plastic quickly changed this space by being light-weight, but again, with convenience came problems which do not have easy solutions.
So, simply shift back to the tried and tested steel razors that do the job just as well, and also last a lifetime!
11. Carry a handkerchief and don't roll out the tissues
While using paper tissues might feel very handy, the negative impact it has on our environment should make you reconsider your choices. Nearly all the tissue we buy are made by cutting down trees and often cause air and water pollution during their production.
Carrying a handkerchief on you reduces mindless use of paper tissues and is significantly helpful in minimizing your water footprint and waste output.
12. Buy plastic-free backpacks and other carry accessories: Skip the polyester and so-called vegan leather (PU) options
This, of course, is close to our hearts! In India, 99% of backpacks, wallets and pouches are made with either polyester, which is a kind of plastic, or leather, which after the tanning process doesn't remain a biodegradable material and also comes at the cost of hurting animals. It is an industry which is quite harmful for the workers, too, due to being heavily dependent on chemicals.
Choose backpacks, wallets, pouches, purses, made with natural fabric or recycled/upcycled fabric. Don't forget to check out the plastic-free, thoughtfully handcrafted bags that we have designed to be sustainable and functional!
13. Carry a steel straw and straw cleaner: They're stylish and reduce your plastic use
Metal straws are easy to carry, safe, and very durable, making them a great addition to your daily life. Carry it around in your bag and sip on your mid-day coffee, and it only takes a minute and almost no effort to clean as they usually come with a handy cleaning brush.
They're superbly sustainable and cost effective, and even make your drinks look more Instagram-worthy! Get yours here.
14. Carry a tiffin box with you: Eat healthier and more sustainably
Carrying your own tiffin boxes, be it to work, school or college, can help you eat healthier while also preventing the use of plastic boxes that inevitably come with ordering in meals or snacks, which can also be unhealthy and exorbitant in the long term.
15. Love ice cream? Have them in cones instead of cups
Who doesn't love ice cream? Our favorite summer snack is a delicious way to keep cool against the summer heat, but guess what? The heat that you're beating is partially caused by the plastic waste that your cups become when they're dumped as waste without being recycled.
There's a mouth-watering solution to this. Eat your ice creams in crunchy wafer cones that are delectable and create no waste!
16. Make your own bio-cleaners: This is one of the most impactful changes
The chemicals in the cleaners that we typically use are hazardous to not just marine life but also ourselves. These chemicals have been polluting our water-bodies for decades, and it is up to us to change that.
We must do better. Use bio-cleaners. We can even make these simply at home with as little as lemons and jaggery! Don't believe us? Check out some DIY bio-cleaners!
17. Adopt cast iron utensils: Avoid non-stick cookware for your health and the planet
Non-stick utensils generally have a coating which is plastic based, and that leaching into your food over time can be quite dangerous for your health, and can even cause serious diseases like cancer.
Adopting cast iron utensils can be such a great start whenever you want to buy new utensils. They aren't just good for the planet, but your health too!
18. Choose coconut coir instead of plastic ones: Those wired plastic utensil cleaners add to microplastics
Coconut coir is a widely available, tough and versatile material that has a great number of uses in our households, from your bedding to gardening. You can even trade out your plastic kitchenware such as wired utensil scrubbers for ones made out of coconut coir, or make fun DIY pots for your houseplants!
19. Make a zero waste kit and keep it handy: Be ready for outings or travel
Your zero waste kit will be your biggest weapon in the war against plastic. This is what you will need to keep with yourself all the time to avoid using plastic when you go out!
- Tiffin Box
- Straw Set
- Cutlery Set
- Tote Bag
Here's a great starter kit for you.
20. Segregate your waste & recycle plastic: Food waste and plastic waste shouldn't be mixed
A lot of your plastic waste can be recycled and your food waste can also be composted. Mixing these two destroys both these opportunities, adding to waste, pollution and greenhouse gases.
Keeping two separate waste-bins at your place is the easiest way to avoid this - one for your food waste and the other for all things plastic. This will help you treat them differently.
21. Sign up with a recycling unit: Stop putting the plastic that can be recycled in waste bins
A lot of our daily essentials come in plastic packaging, including things such as flour, oil, etc. It might not be possible for all of us to always buy from package-free places or in bulk, but a lot of these plastics can be recycled.
In India, recycling centers are increasing. Research a bit and sign up for one which operates in your area. This will help minimize your waste to a large extent.
22. Start composting: Don't let you leftovers go to waste
Once you start segregating your waste, you will realize that the majority of waste at your home is food waste, often more than plastic waste. Food waste is a huge problem in itself and also adds to climate change because once thrown out, food waste generally ends up in landfills and doesn't biodegrade. In fact, it rots and consequently produces methane, which is a staggering 21 times more potent than carbon-dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
There's a beautiful process that keeps you from throwing this waste out and even reduce use of plastic such as garbage liners. Composting! Contrary to what you may have heard, it is not too difficult and you don't need tons of things to be able to do it. You could even simply start with a plastic bucket, your food waste and some biodegradable dry waste such as paper or dried leaves to make compost at home.
23. Say hi to cloth or recycled paper gift packaging: Say bye to glittery plastic packaging
Glittery wraps on gifts may give a moment of joy to the receiver but does nothing more than that, and then ends up polluting the planet for the next eight centuries!
There are many simple wraps such as wrapping your gifts in newspaper, or perhaps more premium recycled paper packaging. You could even try cloth packaging or simply go wrap free!
24. Say bye to balloons: Welcome twines and natural decoration
We know that a lot of us adults may also adore these colorful, dreamy things, and children, of course, absolutely love them. But balloons are not made with natural rubber and go back to nature, and because of their partially plastic composition, they don't biodegrade easily, exactly like other kinds of plastics.
Instead, you can use twines, leaves, leaf confetti and handcrafted or recycled paper for all your party decor needs! Just as pretty and so much more sustainable.
25. Gift a Tree: It's a decent, thoughtful and eco-friendly gift
Plants make for great gifts for people across all ages. They grow with time, keep people mindful and engaged, and even inspire you to care more for nature.
Even losing them can teach us valuable lessons on resilience and inspire us to adopt more plants and grow them! This is a personal recommendation from our side. We plant 5 trees for every product you buy, and together, we can make the world a greener place!
26. Avoid disposable pens: Stick to one signature fountain pen or invest in bamboo or steel pens
How many pens do you have at home? 10? 20? 50? Multiply this by billions of people, and that’s a lot of pens being used, and a lot of pens destined for the trash.
If you appreciate the sophistication of a fountain pen, there is no better time to try your hand at one! If you don't think a fountain pen is for you, opt for recycled paper pens or bamboo pens or better yet, steel pens. You could also check with your recycling center whether they accept pen refills.
27. Wear natural fabrics: Avoid polyester clothes because they add to microplastics
Polyester clothes release extremely tiny microplastics, which are taken to our rivers and oceans. These microplastics escape all our filtration systems and come back to our drinking water.
The WWF has said that we end up eating one credit card worth of plastic every week! Mind-blowing, right? It is a huge problem but the solution starts with you. Wear more natural fabrics: cotton, linen and hemp to the rescue.
28. Shop in bulk: If shopping package-free is not possible
Even if we can't buy package-free, buying in larger quantities and bigger packets reduces plastic waste. For example, choosing one large bottle of shampoo over sachets will dramatically reduce the waste, and generally these bigger bottles are made with better quality plastics that are also much more easy to recycle.
29. Do a waste audit: Make the changes you need
We have made many small and big changes so far. Now it's time to personalize this completely. Every individual is unique, and besides, there are common things in life that may necessitate plastic use. For instance, you may have pets and with them come a lot of essential products which may have plastic packaging, or you may love arts and crafts and a lot of the products you need could have plastic elements.
To minimize this, it is best to look at your dustbin and understand where your waste is coming from. With that information in hand, you could start reading and finding solutions, or even develop your very own solutions, which will help you to eliminate or, at the very least, minimize such waste.
30. Support companies, brands, organizations and governments which care about climate
First of all, a hearty congratulations! You have been fighting the invincible. Plastic was everywhere, making your life easy, but you still chose to live your life a little less conveniently, and made a strong commitment to yourself for a sustainable future.
The best way to maximize your individual impact is by supporting all the right organizations, companies, brands, start-ups, and political parties - ones which care about the environment and their carbon footprint, and make active efforts to innovate in order to solve such issues and raise awareness about sustainable living.
This is a long-drawn battle against irresponsible consumerism, corporates and governments who have not been very thoughtful about their products, services and policies.
Together with those organizations that care about people and the planet, you can have a huge impact! So, vote wisely, and vote even more wisely with your money.
One such brand is our beloved Clan Earth itself. As a small business with purpose and sustainability at its core, we need all your support. If you don't already follow us on Instagram, where we share all about sustainable living and everything that keeps you close to nature, check out our page here: Clan Earth on Instagram.
If you are looking for sustainable carry products or lifestyle products, don't forget to check out our website. You will find quite a few things that will help you in living sustainably: Clan Earth's Website