The Year of Living Minimally – Week Thirty-five

My mission to reduce plastic is continuing. It’s growing. And it’s frustrating as hell.


Yes, ditch the plastic straws. That should be easy. Refuse a straw in a restaurant. Don’t even let your server bring you a straw. I usually ask for a glass of water, no ice, no straw, please. Simple. But the problem is so much bigger than straws.

This article says that ocean garbage is now twice the size of Texas. There is so much crap plastic in our oceans that sea life is dying. Humans have produced 18.2 trillion pounds of plastic since the 1950s. That’s equal in size to 1 billion elephants.

Plastic is everywhere. Every one of us should be using a refillable water container and a refillable coffee/tea container. No more Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cups! No more Dasani water bottles! (Oh, and did you read the story about microscopic plastic particles actually in the water in the water bottles?) More bad news here.

It’s impossible to not get things in plastic. Buy organic chicken at the market. It’s not wrapped in paper. I tend to pick up easy-to-prepare meals from Trader Joe’s – usually from their frozen food aisle. Garlic naan. Kung Pao chicken. Frozen strawberries for the morning. All in plastic bags. And I’ve been putting them in the trash. I’m ashamed of myself.

So I am now trying (I really am) to separate what goes into my trash bag. We don’t compost (we probably should, my sisters both do), but maybe if I rinse out the plastic bags after I open them, I can find a place to bring them. Because I’m sick about the plastic. Our poor, poor planet.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Thirty

Living minimally leads to a better environment. Makes sense, right? Less waste.

Here are a few tips that you might already have incorporated into your lives, but if not, they’re easy fixes to clear clutter and help the planet.

No more plastic bags. Some communities have stopped using them – bravo! – and I’m sure you have a few of them in your car. But don’t just use your cloth or recycled-material shopping bags in the grocery store. Take them everywhere (CVS, Target, etc.). If you have plastic bags, there are places where you can recycle them.

Cloth napkins. They don’t have to be this fancy. I picked up a dozen cotton napkins online about two years ago. They’ve stood up well, and with just two of us, we have enough.

Ditch the plastic straw! Most of the time, I get them at restaurants, but I’ve started asking not to have a straw. I do have this lovely glass straw at home, and it’s easy enough to take with me. According to The Last Plastic Straw, 500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone. That’s 175 billion straws a year, filtering into landfills and littering our waterways and oceans.

And look! It comes with a teeny-tiny brush for cleaning, and its own little bag. Mine is from Glass Dharma – they make great gifts!

These are just three ideas. There are plenty of ways you can reduce the stuff in your house AND make a small difference around you. The landfills and oceans are full of plastic, so whatever positive changes you make today, you do for your children and grandchildren.