Sustainable Living

What to do when plastic shows up in your life

For most of us, living a completely zero waste life isn’t going to be possible—and that’s okay. I’ve always been of the mindset that this sustainable living journey is about progress, not perfection. When things like plastic show up in my life, it’s more about what I do in that situation, how I act and react that is what matters to me. So what can we do when plastic shows up in our life? I’m going to share a few thoughts to consider.

Plastic Food Packaging

The Inevitability of Plastic

Plastic feels like one of those big, inevitable evils that will work it’s way into our lives no matter how hard we try. From plastic packaging on food to packing materials to those convenience items we need in a hurry or that freebie we’re forced to take at an event–however it shows up, plastic sure finds a way!

What to do when plastic shows up in your life

If you’re working to reduce the plastic in your life and you find plastic has worked its way into your home, here are some thoughts on how to approach the situation.

1. Reflect

I don’t believe there’s any shame in not being 100% zero waste. I don’t know if that is outrageous to say, but for me reducing waste will always be a process and a journey. I also believe that approaching a journey with compassion will garner much better results than shame will. There’s really no reason to berate ourselves if we end up creating waste. It’s all about doing the best we can with what we have in the moment.

So if plastic (or other wasteful items) show up in our lives, it’s a good time to stop and reflect. I totally get that sometimes we’re too tired to care about doing a completely zero waste thing. Sometimes we are too busy or don’t have the energy. Sometimes we didn’t know about a better choice or alternative. And sometimes there simply wasn’t a better choice available.

Stopping to think these things through can help us with our choices the next time we need to make a purchase and will naturally reduce the plastic that shows up in our lives.

A couple of posts worth checking out to help with reflecting:

2. Reuse

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to reuse an item before sending it to the landfill. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find a permanent use for something and it can avoid the landfill all together! Granted, not everything can be reused, but I love to get creative with items and try my hardest to give things a second chance at life.

If you can’t personally reuse something, perhaps someone else can? I often see requests or offers of various containers in my Buy Nothing Group for crafting or other purposes. The longer something stays out of the landfill and is given a purpose, the better! Reusing items also helps reduce our need to buy items, which is also a bonus for our pocketbook and our planet.

A couple of posts worth checking out for ideas on how to reuse items:

Recycle bins helping navigate what to do when plastic shows up in your life

3. Recycle

Sometimes a bit of plastic can’t be reused or it’s been reused and has reached the end of it’s life, so the next step is to try and recycle it. There are a LOT of types of plastic and various ways to go about disposing of plastic, so it’s important to pay close attention to where you are sending your waste. The first step is to identify the type of plastic you need to recycle. The second step is finding the correct place to recycle the item. The overall goal is to try and keep the plastic from going directly to the landfill.

Some places you can recycle plastic:

1. Your curbside recycle bin, but be sure to check your city’s waste wizard to see if the specific plastic can go in the bin.
2. A local Recycle Depot.
3. Soft plastics can be recycled at some recycling centers and also at London Drugs locations.

A couple of posts worth checking out for recycling and waste reduction info:

Ways to Deal with Plastic

Plastic might be showing up in our lives despite our best intentions, but there are always things we can do when it does. How do you approach plastic and other waste that shows up in your life?

Cork Yoga Mat

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  • Karalee

    I’m not 100% zero waste either, and I completely agree it is about the journey and taking the steps to do what you can. I do try to the resuse plastics, but otherwise, I recycle. Denmark has expanded their recycling program to including plastics and food and drink containers, which I think is great. Also, many plastic soda bottles and other drink bottles can be returned at grocery stores for money, which does encourage people to return them instead of throwing them out. Last year, the return rate was 92%, which isn’t perfect, but it is pretty good.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      92% sounds like a great rate of return. There will always be some that doesn’t make it, but that is pretty high. My province has the deposit system for beverage containers as well and I think it’s a great program to encourage returns. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and what works for you on this journey! 🙂

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!