How to Reduce Plastic Use Everyday & Keep Waste Out of Our Landfills
With Sisters, Lindsey McCoy & Alison Webster, of Plaine Products
As our friend Lindsey at Plaine Products told us, “We’re predisposed to disposability”. As a society, we rely on disposable plastic to cover our food, carry our groceries, decorate our homes, and even wash our hair. Seriously?!
There’s a lot of plastic that’s persisting in our environment (especially in the oceans). Recent data has even shown that recycling initiatives aren’t as successful as we thought, which means our recyclables often go straight to the landfill! But luckily, we have a solution.
We have the power to turn off the tap. As consumers, we’re playing a critical part in perpetuating the demand for plastic, which also means we have the ability to stop it.
The founders at Plaine Products returned to the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Podcast to discuss how their mission-driven company is diverting plastic bottles from landfills and encouraging more responsible consumption with a zero-waste line of personal care products.
By implementing a few key changes, we can each turn off our individual plastic taps and reduce the amount of plastic persisting on our planet.
Check out the video version of our interview with Lindsey and Alison where we dive deep into why the bathroom is the perfect place to start your zero waste journey.
The Plastic Problem and What to Do About It
Plastic pollution affects humans because it’s in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Larger plastics break down over time and turn into microplastics, which infiltrate nearly every aspect of our lives.
So what happens when we take the trash out? Our waste has three places to go: compost heaps, landfills/incinerators, and recycling centers. Composting is an effective way to keep a closed loop on organic and paper materials. There are many benefits to composting, and it’s a great way to get rid of used paper towels and toilet paper tubes. Landfills and incinerators are the worst place for our trash to go because they expel hazardous chemicals into local communities, which tend to be minority communities of color. Lastly, we can recycle our waste. Unfortunately, in 2017, landfills received 26.8 million tons of plastic because recycling isn’t as effective as we might think.
In our second chat with the founders of Plaine Products, they mentioned that most of the plastic we thought was being recycled, actually isn’t.
A 2019 investigation by The Guardian proved that a lot of America’s recyclables are still ending up in landfills or incinerated, which negatively impacts the planet and people.
Even if cities do have proper buyers for recyclable materials, they can only be used once or twice again before they end up in a landfill.
So what can we do? As consumers, we have the power to shift the needle on plastic pollution and make an immediate positive impact on the planet. Entrepreneurs are changing the game by sharing unique ways to reduce plastic consumption and other single-use items. By reimagining disposable culture, we can reduce plastic use and make a significant impact on both human and planet health!
Plastic-free on the Go
Takeout containers and other single-use food and beverage containers are a primary source for the 269,000 tons of plastic pollution that’s in the ocean right now. Staying sustainable on the move just involves a little planning ahead. Next time you head out to a restaurant, throw some Stasher bags, beeswax wrapping, or glass containers in your bag. If you have leftovers, slide ’em into your own containers to avoid disposable plastic. Make sure to bring your own stainless steel straws to avoid plastic straws!
If you’re getting takeout from a restaurant, there are a few options to avoid packaging waste. First, head to the restaurant’s website to see if they have information on how they package food for carry out. Often, they’ll disclose whether they use compostable containers or not. When you place the order, ask what type of containers they use. If it isn’t something that is compostable, ask if you can bring over your own clean containers for them to fill. Otherwise, you might end up with a mountain of disposable plastic. Pro tip: Pizza boxes are actually compostable, so that’s a great zero waste takeout option to avoid plastic containers!
If you frequent coffee shops, bring your own coffee cups. KeepCups are a great alternative to the often unrecyclable, non-compostable options. The same goes for your favorite cold beverages! Opt for a Klean Kanteen reusable water bottle and eliminate plastic water bottles from your life. Our friends at Plaine Products agree that this is a super easy first step to take in your plastic-free journey.
Plastic-free in the Kitchen
The grocery store is a great place to start reducing your plastic waste. In addition to bringing your own bags, look out for a bulk foods section next time you’re there. These allow you to use your own containers or cloth bags and simply weigh out what you need. This helps reduce plastic wrap from food packaging and allows you to purchase only what you need, which reduces food waste.
Did you know that some cities and states charge you for plastic bags? Alternatively, stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Target incentivize bringing your own shopping bags by taking 5 cents per bag (or more!) off your total. Take it one step further by bringing your own reusable produce bags. These keep loose produce contained and eliminate the need for disposable plastic produce bags. If you’re in a pinch and need a bag, opt for a paper bag that can be put in the recycling bin or composted.
For a totally plastic-free shopping experience, grab a reusable bag and hit up your local farmers’ market. The farmers’ market is a great reminder that some of the best produce is grown right in your own state and never needs plastic packaging.
There are plastic-free alternatives to everyday items like laundry detergent, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. If you switch to an eco-friendly toothbrush today, you’ll prevent at least 150 plastic toothbrushes from entering the landfill! If you’re ready to take the plunge on a zero waste bathroom, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is!
For any home cleaning product, Grove Collaborative has you covered. In addition to a commitment to being plastic-free by 2025, they’re currently plastic-neutral.
The key to eliminating plastic in the home is by making mindful purchasing decisions. Ask yourself, is there a better way to buy this product? Is there a less wasteful alternative or even just an alternative with less plastic? Just by starting to notice all the plastic around you, you’re taking a step in the right direction!
Plaine Products: 200,000 Plastic Bottles Diverted and Counting!
As an eco-friendly brand, Plaine Products was created solely to help end the use of single-use plastic. In addition to creating completely plastic-free and reusable containers for personal care products, the founders spent over a year testing natural ingredients to ensure optimal quality for customers without using harmful additives or questionable chemicals. Now, Plaine Products is Carbon Neutral, a Certified B Corp, Certified Cruelty Free, Made in the USA, and a member of 1% For the Planet.
Plaine Products makes it easy for consumers to ditch single-use plastic bottles for everyday products like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and even facial care products by only using refillable containers.
Make sure not to miss our full Plaine Products review!
This circular loop is what makes Plaine Products a truly innovative company. This model is keeping unnecessary waste out of landfills and has already diverted over 200,000 plastic bottles. And, maybe most notable, they don’t even view other similar companies as competitors, because they’re all working towards the same goal.
Lindsey McCoy and Alison Webster, CEO, COO and Owners
Sisters Alison and Lindsey became hyper-aware of the global plastic issue while Lindsey lived and worked in the Bahamas for 10 years. After seeing the ramifications of our disposable culture in the form of plastic pollution, Lindsey decided to start a business that makes it easier for consumers to buy everyday items with the planet in mind.
As a bit of a reluctant entrepreneur, Lindsey enlisted Alison who had experience in small businesses and branding.
Since 2017, Plaine Products has formed partnerships with retail stores, started selling bulk items, and continues to work on product development to meet the needs of consumers. As it continues to grow, Plaine Products proves to be one of the many companies fighting climate change who is igniting a plastic-free revolution and making a significant impact.
“This is one [problem] that we have the capability to have a real impact on and consumer purchases make a huge difference.”
Want more from Plaine Products? Listen to our episode with CEO Lindsey where we first learned about Plaine Products and their mission to eliminate single-use plastics:
Building the Momentum: How to Reduce Your Plastic Use
Tips to stick to your new routine, from our friends at Plaine Products!
- Celebrate Small Wins: Lindsey told us during our first chat, that even if people don’t buy their products and instead start carrying a reusable water bottle, that’s a win. If you start doing just one thing differently today, you’re well on your way to a sustainable lifestyle.
- Take a Step: As Lindsey reminded us, nobody is asking you to change your life overnight. Just one step is a step in the right direction!
- Slow Down: Just pausing to think twice before purchasing can have a huge impact. By stepping out of our typical routine, we can make room for alternatives that are better for the planet.
- Remember progress, not perfection. No matter what, there will always be situations where we find ourselves needing a plastic bottle or bag for some reason or another. Try to find the most responsible reuse or recycling of the product and remember that progress is where actual change is made, not perfection.
- Stay Curious: If you move to a new city, learn what their policies are for recycling and compost. Are there better alternatives? Try sharing your plastic-free tips with your friends and family. When you have people to hold you accountable and bring more ideas into the group, your collective impact doubles.
Closing: The Power of Saying No to Plastic
As companies continue to prioritize environmental change and encourage sustainable behaviors, individuals have the opportunity to become conscious consumers and turn off their own plastic taps and reduce plastic use.
By questioning the status quo and saying “no” to disposable plastic, you’ll have an immediate and long-lasting impact on the planet.
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