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Celebrate Earth Day 2024: Planet vs. Plastics With 10 Ways to Reduce Plastic in the Kitchen

ocean plastic clean up

Celebrate Earth Day 2024: Planet vs. Plastics

Happy Earth Day! Every year, develops a theme around the one-day celebration, on April 22, in hopes of inspiring and sparking eco-friendly habits that'll stick throughout the year.

This year's theme is Planet vs. Plastics, with a goal of reducing production of plastic by 60% by the year 2040. Their plan for making this goal a success includes encouraging consumers to use less, reducing single use plastic production, pushing a United Nations Treaty on Plastic Pollution (that link is your queue to sign), and ending fast fashion. (Read more about Fast Fashion here.)

Phew, that's a lot to make happen before 2040! It may seem like a futile effort, however, we can individually support their cause by taking action through our purchasing decisions. And, if we all take individual action, collectively, we can make a big impact. After all, we vote with our dollar and if we are not purchasing plastic products then there is less plastic demand and, with less demand, there is no need to manufacture plastic ... see where I'm going with this? #RIPPlastic

Plastic's Harm to Human Health

plastic bottle on the beach

From manufacturing to incineration, plastic is detrimental to human, animal, and planetary health. It leads to chemical waste in our ecosystems, from the waterways to the air to the soil that grows our food. It's a serious threat to all life on earth with recent research revealing that plastics are able to enter into the human bloodstream, permanently residing in our bodies until the day we die. That's pretty scary.

Not to be extra doom and gloom (sorry!), but we essentially eat, breathe, and drink plastic daily.

It is estimated that there are between 1 million and 1.7 million tons of plastic in the ocean. When plastic is released into the ocean, it's broken down by the sunlight and friction of the waves. The tiny plastic particles that are released get into our waterways and soil. We can ingest them in every way possible, by breathing, eating, and drinking. Fish? Yep, there are microplastics in the fish we eat.

When plastic is incinerated, it releases harmful chemicals in the air that we breathe.

When plastic is manufactured, chemicals that contribute to greenhouse gasses are released.

From start to finish, plastic is in our everyday environments.

Research shows that microplastics significantly damage cells in the human body, and may lead to serious health effects, including cancer, lung disease, birth defects, cognitive function, and hormone disruption, altering reproduction and growth.

The two groups of people that plastic affects the most are children and infants as they are most vulnerable during growth and development. Exposure to plastics has been found to increase the risk of birth complications, lung maturity, and childhood cancer.

Ready to take a stand against plastic? Sign the Global Plastics Treaty and explore the many other ways you can take action today.

10 Ways to Reduce Plastic in the Kitchen

eco-friendly kitchen

This isn't about perfection. I get it, sometimes it can feel overwhelming taking action when we consider how much plastic we use every day. It's not our fault. It's the system. Plastic is inexpensive and versatile, therefore it's in almost everything. This is about being aware and taking steps to minimize our plastic use as much as we can. We may not be able to avoid it completely, but the very act of minimizing it can benefit our health, our family's health, and the health of the planet. Below are 10 Ways to Reduce Plastic in the Kitchen.

Use glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic. 

Glass and stainless steel are without harmful plastic chemicals like bisphenols (BPA) or phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive dysfunction, asthma, and neurological issues. Earth Hero has some great options!

pickling in mason jars

Reuse old glass consumers to store dressings and sauces.

One thing I personally love to do to minimize plastic, save money, and reduce waste is reuse old condiment jars. Once they're empty, I pop them into the dishwasher and they become reusable storage containers for everything from overnight oats to dressings and sauces.

quinoa bowls in mason jars

Use silicone, wood, or stainless steel kitchen utensils.

Plastic emits more harmful chemicals when heated so if you're using plastic spatulas and spoons in hot foods, chemicals are likely leaching into your food. Opt for kitchen utensils that don't leach detrimental chemicals into your food and environment by using silicone, wood, or stainless steel.

eco-friendly kitchen

Drink out of glass or reusable bottles. 

Think about the water sitting in plastic water bottles during transportation. They may be transported on hot trucks (again, heat activates the plastic to release more chemicals), then they sit on store shelves for a period of time, allowing the plastic chemicals to fill your water with more than hydration. Instead, consider investing in a home water filter system. For to-go coffee and tea, use stainless steel or ceramic tumblers and mugs.

stainless steel water bottle

Use stainless steel reusable straws.

Care to slurp up some plastic with each sip? If not, then consider keeping stainless steel straws on hand. (At the time of writing this blog, they're only $2.15 each!)

reusable straw

BYOB at the grocery store (both produce bags and shopping bags).

Keeping reusable grocery and produce bags in the car ensures that they get used when you make that last minute stop at the grocery store! (I'm guilty of NOT doing this and trying to juggle 15 items in my arms walking out to the car, leaving a trail of oranges and avocados behind me.😂)

reusable bags

Use compostable trash bags.

I use Bio Bags and they work well! But there are lots of good-quality compostable trash bags available now. I say 'now' because there was a time when they were a bit, umm, a bit too flimsy. (Picture pulling up the trash bag with all of the trash left in the bin. I promise that they're now in tip-top shape for holding your trash!)

P.S. To get tips on minimizing waste and trash in the kitchen visit this article.

compostable trash bag

Replace plastic wrap with reusable lids and cloths. 

Rather than plastic wrap that gets ditched (and then you need to go out and purchase more), invest in some reusable silicone lids or cotton cloths.

DIY mason jars

Use Swedish compostable cloths in place of sponges and other cleaning items made with plastic.

This is where you get to have some fun! If Swedish clothes are new to you, these functional wash cloths for your countertops, dishes, and other kitchen needs, typically last up to 50 wash cycles before they can be composted. The fun part is that there are many cool-themed options from which to choose, like animal-themed, earth-themed, and flower-themed, just to name a few!

swedish dish cloth
photo credit and product:

Add bamboo or other wood in place of plastic kitchen tools and utensils.

Whether it's cutting boards or a scrub brush, bamboo, or other type of wood, is a better alternative for you and the planet. If you're having a friend and family gathering, consider bamboo utensils and paper plates!

bamboo utensils and paper plates

Celebrating Earth Day Sustainably

In conclusion, as we celebrate Earth Day 2024 under the banner of "Planet vs. Plastics," it's evident that the battle against plastic pollution is urgent and multifaceted. From advocating for global treaties to implementing simple changes in our daily lives, every action counts towards the collective goal of reducing plastic production by 60% by the year 2040. The harmful impact of plastics on human health, ecosystems, and wildlife underscores the necessity for immediate action. By embracing alternatives like reusable containers, stainless steel straws, and compostable products, we can significantly curb our reliance on plastic and pave the way for a healthier, more sustainable future. Together, let's turn the tide against plastic pollution and safeguard the planet for generations to come. #RIPPlastic



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