The answers to a plastic-free existence are closer than you think. Just ask those that lived before plastics dominated our lives!
Back To The Future Before Plastics
There are many tools in our eco toolkit to help us live a plastic-free life. Purchasing reusable containers made of stainless steel and silicone is a great first step. These types of plastic-free items are a testament to how a traditional material like steel, which has been used for centuries, can be combined with silicone to create innovative live-green solutions for modern consumers.
The answers to today's problems aren’t only to be found in high-tech gadgets, materials and softwares of the future.
Looking back to the past at the way our grandparents lived is a great way to figure out how to ditch a disposable mindset and make choices that will last well into your future.
A Plastic State of Mind
It’s hard to imagine a time before plastic. Just walking down the aisles at the grocery store is a plastic assault to the senses. But this harmful and needless way of packaging food is less than a 100 years old!
Those pesky plastic bags we’re working so hard to ditch only came into use about 50 years ago. Saranwrap came into our lives in 1933 and Tupperware and Tupperware parties were a hit starting in 1946.
Considering all this plasticy stuff is so new it seems a lot easier to imagine the possibility of a life before plastic. You can just ask your grandparents or older friends how they did it!
Let’s check in with things we already do. Most of us have introduced reusable containers to our kitchens. We’ve started making a habit of bringing them with us to the grocery store, even to use for take out! Cloth bags are pretty much a given in many places throughout the U.S. Other great options include beeswax paper instead of Saranwrap and metal or glass straws.
Built to Last
What other lessons can we learn from our elders? One of the biggest takeaways for us is that things built to last are always the better option. Look for things made out of higher quality ingredients like wood and metal. You may need to save a bit longer but you won’t need to buy two bookshelves for the price of one!
This mindset extends to clothes as well. Skip the polyester, a type of plastic, and buy things made of only one material. Your local seamstress can easily mend and hem any of your shirts and pants.
Our grandparents would clean their houses with baking soda and vinegar. That’s it. All those intense cleaners available at the grocery store not only come in large plastic containers they can also contain harmful ingredients for you and your family.
A cardboard box of baking soda and a glass bottle of vinegar will cost you almost nothing and the effects will dazzle you.
Hand wash your delicates, cashmere, and other high quality garments instead of using energy to wash and dry them. Hanging dry or laying flat generates zero waste so why not go for it!
Build up your pantry with staples purchased in bulk and housed in stainless steel or glass containers. This includes flour, sugar, dried beans, and grains. Learn how to pickle a variety of vegetables and you’ll always have something on hand to add a bit of umami to your cooking. Glass jars of pickled beets, kimchi, and anything also make great gifts!
Not only do these tips from our grandparents reduce our plastic use, they always increase our quality of life. Have you checked out the history of the metal lunchbox? And for more tips and tricks the best way is to ask the elders in your life. You never know what you may find out!