5 WAYS TO USE LESS PLASTIC (AND SAVE MONEY)

This post explains five easy tips on how to avoid buying single-use plastic in everyday life.

Most of us spend around eight hours per day at work/at university/in school. Whether that's a couple of hours more or less, we all need to eat and drink during this period, and some of us also like to caffeinate ourselves. If we go out unprepared in the morning, we're bound to buy something. We'll buy water in plastic bottles, coffee and snacks from vending machines, coffee and tea from coffee shops. Fruit wrapped in plastic, smoothies and juices in plastic bottles, small portions of nuts in plastic bags. Shops offer pretty much everything these days, from hummus and carrots to pasta dishes that you can warm up in the office. If yours doesn't have a microwave, you can always opt for the salad. Not to mention all the take away places where you can get a warm meal.

There's a variety of interesting choices, and there's something for every taste when it comes to food and drinks during the working hours. The problem is that most of these items are packaged in single use plastic. Most of us have the mentality of saving time so that we can be more productive, and this includes avoiding meal prepping. While would you cook if you can simply buy a packaged meal pretty much anywhere? Well, because it's more expensive and in most cases less healthy, but most of all because the planet is drowning in plastic. By not buying more of it, we're doing the planet and its inhabitants, including ourselves, good. How to avoid it, then? Here are the top five tips!


1. Get yourself a reusable water bottle.

This is nothing new, you've heard it hundreds of times before, and you most probably already own a reusable water bottle. Do your best to take it with you anywhere you go. Always have it in your bag! You can even take it on board a plane if you empty it before you get through security. In case you don't have one yet, buy it. Plastic bottles and machines with plastic glasses are passé.

2.If you're a coffee/tea/milk/hot chocolate drinker, get yourself a reusable coffee cup.

You can get them in various shops and online, and they come in different sizes. Just as your water bottle, have this with you whenever you go. You never know when you'll feel like having a hot drink.

3.Don't buy snacks: bring snacks.

I know you can buy carrot sticks and hummus or apple slices and peanut butter in plastic containers pretty much anywhere. I also know both look lovely, taste amazing and are absolute winning combinations. But they're nothing you can't make at home. It literally takes a minute. What takes even less time is grabbing some fruit or some nuts and taking them with you. If you forget your snack at home, you can pop to the store or to the market and buy some fruit. Just make sure you always keep a reusable bag for fruit and veggies in your bag.

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4.Make breakfast in the morning or the night before.


Croissants and sandwiches aren't the only breakfast items you can purchase anymore. There are also healthy options such as oats with seeds, nuts and fruit available these days. The cheaper and more environmentally friendly option is to make overnight oats, though. They take very little time to prepare: around 2 minutes.

Banana bread overnight oats

1 cup oats

1 tbsp flax seeds

some cinnamon

a couple of drops of vanilla extract

1 tbsp pb2 (you can also use regular peanut or any other nut butter)

1 tsp maple syrup

1 mashed banana

Mix everything in a jar (for example one in which you bought pickles) and leave in the fridge overnight. I know they aren't the prettiest, but they literally taste like soft banana bread. You can also make them in the morning, of course.

5.Make lunch the day before

If you don't have time for that, bring a plastic container with you. This way you can avoid buying additional plastic when you stop at your favourite take away place. Another option is having lunch at a restaurant, of course. The cheapest is definitely cooking at home, plus you'll know what's in the dish.

Chickpeas with veggies

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

spices: salt, ginger, black pepper, sweet paprika, curry, turmeric

2 cups kale, chopped

1 cup anise, chopped

4 cups chickpeas

1 can tomatoes

2 cups water (approximately)


In a big pan, fry onion on olive oil until it turns slightly brown. Then add garlic and fry for 30 seconds more. Add all the spices and a splash of water. After a minute, add kale, anise and one cup of water, and fry for a minute more. Then finally add chickpeas, tomatoes and the remaining water and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with bread, rice or any other carb source that you like.


Notes

You can use other vegetables instead of the ones listed in the recipe (red pepper and spinach, for example).

If you don't want to use oil for any reason, you can fry the onion using water only.

This makes 3-5 servings, depending on how much you eat. You can freeze the rest in small portions.

Making your own food can be fun, and it doesn't have to be difficult at all. You can buy in bulk to produce less waste, but you can cook in bulk as well. Make a huge pot of your favourite dish and freeze it. This will make it easier for you to take it to work/uni because you'll have something ready. Fruit and nuts are something you can always have at hand, and oats are the most filling breakfast. If you're not into oats, you can always bring a smoothie. Just blend a banana or two, some berries, spinach, plant milk or water and a tablespoon of nut butter. I swear that eating food you prepared with your own hands is one of the best feelings and knowing that you haven't produced unnecessary waste feels pretty damn amazing too.

The key is in trying, not in being perfect. Just try to make swaps day by day, meal by meal. Get yourself a reusable bottle and/or coffee cup, cook a meal for tomorrow, take a banana to work. If you forgot to meal prep, or you haven't brought your plastic container, don't beat yourself up. Try to buy something that's not wrapped in three layers of plastic and move on. You'll do better tomorrow! If you want to make sure that you will, write yourself a note.


This post was contributed by Nika Grizila. Nika is a 25-year old Slovenian student, finishing her master's degree in Russian and English. She works part-time as a translator, she's in love with languages and travel, but most of all she loves to write. Nika has a blog called nikecream where she blogs about travel and veganism, posts recipes, and occasionally writes about "life" topics. She's also working on her first book (fiction), and writes short stories. Her dream is to spread love for all beings and the environment, to travel, and to live as a writer of different content. 

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Grace Bayley