In preparation for Plastic Free July, I started reading “Life Without Plastic” from the website of the same name. The book goes in depth all about plastic (I’ll have a review ready once I finish the book), and one recommendation that has stuck with me is performing a plastic audit of your home. The basic steps, go through every room in your house and find ALL the plastic, document it, and brainstorm potential alternatives and whether you want to keep, give away, or toss said plastic. I performed a bit of a modified audit because I glanced at collections of things rather than going over everything (for example I made a note that I have DVDs but didn’t count every DVD). I’ll leave a link for the first part of my plastic audit (every room except my bedroom) here, but below are some lessons learned from the audit. (Note: I live in a 2 bedroom apartment with one roommate, we share some things but not everything. My list reflects items that are mine or shared).
The “I forgot about it” cabinets: I’m not one for broad generalizations, but who doesn’t have a drawer (or closet, or room) in your house where you put stuff and promptly forget about it. Since going zero waste I thought I had decluttered most of these areas in my place, but then I found a Curl-a-Dog and bag that lets you microwave a potato that were gifts at a white elephant party I hosted two years ago. I’m hoping people in my Buy Nothing group will appreciate these more than I did. I also found random hardware from IKEA furniture that seriously makes me doubt the sturdiness of some of my furniture…regardless, my goal for when I buy furniture in the future is to buy second-hand pieces that won’t leave me with boxes, styrofoam, and extra hardware.
Board Games: If you visit my apartment, my roommate and I will probably try to convince you to play Betrayal at House on the Hill with us. We’ve gotten a little board game crazy over the past two years, and while there are some board games that have gotten plenty of use, there are others that we just didn’t enjoy enough to play a second time. If I feel the need to buy a board game in the future, I plan on doing my research first so I know it’s worth owning, and I’ll look at second-hand shops or Buy Nothing pages before buying the game brand new.
First aid kit/medicine: This is one area where I feel very strongly that personal care needs to take priority over zero waste goals (and why I am a little skeptical of trash jars…). I’m fortunate enough to not be on any prescription medicine, but I get horrible seasonal allergies, and I’m allergic to cats/dogs and happen to be dating a cat owner — so allergy medicine is a non-negotiable for me. That being said, I don’t see a need to buy a bunch of supplements and vitamins, but I refuse to feel guilty for taking care of my well-being.
Success in the bathroom and kitchen: While I still have a lot of work to do (and haven’t even tackled the chaos that is my bedroom), my kitchen and bathroom were great reminders of how far I’ve come. I am still working through hair care and skin care products from my Sephora addict days, but my regular rotation now includes solid products or liquids I buy in bulk. I no longer buy paper napkins or paper towels for the kitchen and buy most of my pantry essentials in bulk. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the waste in the world; this activity was a great reminder that after less than a year of living zero waste I have made significant changes to my home and lifestyle.
Have you done a plastic audit? Where are some areas in your life where you could ditch plastic and what is nonnegotiable?