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5 Tips For Leading A Plastic-Free Life

5 Tips For Leading A Plastic-Free Life

You’ve probably heard plenty of speeches and slogans about how important it is to take better care of our planet, like: It’s the only one we get. The problem with a lot of these speeches is, no one seems to remember that you’re just one busy person who would love to “save the Earth,” if you knew how.

There are a lot of little things you can do to help, including cutting back on the amount of plastic waste you produce daily. Never thought about it before? Well, now you are. Thinking about it is only the beginning, though: If we don’t change our habits, the amount of plastic we throw away won’t change, either.

Luckily, there are ways you can move toward living a plastic-free life without making huge changes or monetary donations.

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1. Take a garment bag when you pick up your dry cleaning

You probably don’t think about what you carry your clothes home in after they’ve been dry cleaned. Your clothes usually come back wrapped in plastic, which you’re only going to peel off the next time you plan on wearing your favorite outfit. Of course, you can ask that your clothes not be covered. But to make sure they’re protected on your way home, there’s another, environmentally friendly option.

Instead of taking your clothes home from the cleaners covered in plastic you’ll only throw away later, put them in a garment bag and carry them out that way. If you have a habit of picking up your dry cleaning on the way home from work or while running other errands, keep an extra garment bag in the backseat or in the trunk of your car so you won’t forget it before leaving the house.

2. Buy a razor with removable blades

Let’s be real: Shaving is a necessity, regardless of your age or gender. It’s easy to pick up a pack of disposable razors at Target on a whim, but that’s a lot of plastic for just one person.

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You don’t need to stop shaving just because you want to start living a plastic-free life (or as close to it as possible). Instead of cheap, disposable plastic razors, invest in a reusable razor that lets you replace the blade when it gets too dull to use.

Bonus: You’ll end up saving money in the long run, too.

3. Skip the straws

You know the drill: Order your iced mocha latte. Then, wait. Grasp your caffeinated prize and snag a straw on the way out so you can enjoy it while you drive. There are a few things wrong here, but one that stands out: You picked up a straw. A plastic, disposable straw. What were you thinking?

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You were thinking you just needed coffee, obviously. You can still enjoy that coffee and help out the planet by skipping the final step in the process: Leave out the straw. You don’t need it, and neither does the nearest landfill.

4. Bring your own containers to restaurants

Do you cringe when you’re out to dinner with friends and ask for a box to take your leftovers home in? No? Many takeout boxes are not recyclable, and while it’s a good thing you’re taking your food home instead of throwing it away, you’re up scaling your waste production. This is easily avoidable.

Just bring your own storage containers to the restaurant with you. It’s the exact same thing you might do at home when you want to save part of your dinner for tomorrow. When you’re done with them, instead of throwing them away, you can just slide them into your dishwasher and save them for next time.

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5. Shop at your local farmer’s market

There are plenty of reasons why environmental enthusiasts will tell you to shop local. Cutting back on plastic waste just so happens to be one of them.

Not only do local markets often give you reusable bags to carry as you shop (or let you bring your own), but you’re also much less likely to take home fruits and vegetables in plastic containers (as you might at your regular grocery store). If the market is within walking distance, even better!

Remember

Plastic has conveniently found its way into most of the products we use in our normal routines. But with a little practice, you can start to replace it with better, more environmentally friendly habits. You may not be able to make all these changes at once. But with time, you’ll find it’s easier to adapt than you think.

Featured photo credit: NatalieMaynor via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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