Plastic bag in a Tree

In a plastic-dominated world, it’s hard to imagine doing everyday tasks completely plastic-bag free. But you can do it! And the environment will thank you for it.

Plastic bags are incredibly harmful to the environment: One plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade and remains toxic even after it breaks down, according to reuseit.com, a company that sells reusable bags and educates consumers on how to live plastic-free.

Why contribute to harming the earth? Follow these simple tips on how to live without plastic bags and you’ll wonder why you ever thought you needed them anyway.

Step 1: Think and consider.

Think about all of the ways you use plastic bags. Do you use sandwich bags to store leftover food in the refrigerator or to store a to-go lunch? Do you use trash bags to line trashcans throughout the home? Do you use single-use plastic bags to carry your groceries home from the store? You can easily eliminate all of these plastic bag uses.

Step 2: Take action.

Recycle the plastic bags you already have and start from scratch.

Replace single-use plastic bags with reusable bags.

Store reusable bags in the trunk of your car, so they will always be on hand for a grocery store run or a spontaneous shopping trip.

I’m always amazed how few people use reusable bags at the grocery store. From a practicality standpoint, canvas bags are sturdier and can hold more items than flimsy plastic bags. While other shoppers waste time struggling to load their multitudes of plastic bags into their carts, I sling my canvas bag over my shoulder and walk out the door. Fast. Simple. And no need to even deal with a cart.

You can have fun with reusable bags too. If you already own a few large purses or tote bags that you wouldn’t mind repurposing, why not use those instead of purchasing new reusable bags?

Use other storage containers in place of Ziploc-type bags.

Instead of storing dinner leftovers in plastic bags or using them to transport lunch to school or work, use other containers. If you already own Tupperware, use them to store food items. But don’t buy new plastic Tupperware. Reuse containers already in your home for safe and eco-friendly food storage. For example, save glass pickle jars and plastic tubs that sour cream and other foods go in. These containers are just as easy to store food in and will also save you money on buying plastic bags.

Use other methods to contain trash or don’t bag trashcans at all.

Instead of buying trash bags, use paper bags or other bags you already bring into your home to hold trash. For example, the large bags that dog food comes in work great as trash bags. You’re going to throw them away any way, may as well reuse them.

Is it really that big of a deal to just throw trash straight into the trashcan? If you’re worried about a mess, as a trashcan, it’s bound to get dirty anyway. If something leaks and some gunk gets on the bottom of the can, just hose it off. Cleaning out the trashcan is a small annoyance to deal with for creating a healthier planet.

Step 3: Stick with it.

Adjusting to plastic-bag free living may take time, but you can do it. Reward yourself for good plastic bag behavior with a treat or a bunch of fresh flowers. And feel good about yourself for reducing your carbon footprint.

image: Topsy at Waygood