On the first day of my life in America (in NYC), I decided to buy a simple lunch at the deli. I got a yoghurt in a plastic bag. The bag was free. After I ate the yoghurt, I saved the cup and the bag.

Next day, I came back to the same deli to eat a small salad. The man at the cash register told me to put it in a (big) plastic container when I asked for a plate. He gave me a small package with a plastic fork, knife and a spoon (although I didn’t need a spoon to eat my salad) – all wrapped in a plastic bag. He rang me up, took my salad and put it in a plastic bag. I sat down at the table only few feet away from him, and after I got through all of the plastic packaging, enjoyed my small, very small salad. I asked him what to do with the heap of packaging on my table. He came over pretty grumpily , took it all and shoved it into a big trash can that was filled to the top with more plastic containers.

Growing up in my small Croatia, we had to pay for plastic bags at grocery stores so we’d bring our own. My mother had baskets and bags that she took to the farmers market – and would come home with strawberries in a paper bag – or cones made out of newspaper, and loose apples, lettuce heads and bunches of carrots. None of it needed bags. She bought meat at the butcher shop wrapped in waxed paper, and she carried a special, clean ‘bread’ bag in which she brought unwrapped fresh crusty bread from the bakery. Our trash can was tiny – for a family of five, and only had to be emptied once or twice a week! My grandmother kept plastic yoghurt cups and found all kinds of uses for them. We never threw out packaging.

The problem with the plastics taking over our world, shouldn’t exist. The changes we all can make, are so small… and once you make them, you’ll realize that the “convenience” of using a new plastic bag every time we shop really is not necessary.

These 5 things are super easy to do… and won’t make your life more complicated, I promise.

5 Simple Things Everyone Can Do Today

1. Use Your Own Bags

Keep some in the trunk of your car. Keep them convenient. Place one behind the front passenger seat in your car so you can easily grab it when you stop for that one thing you forgot to buy. I use my own bags when I go shop for clothes as well – you know like a nice big tote.

2. Fill Your Glass Water Bottle Instead of Buying Water in Plastic Bottles

It will taste better, and you won’t be consuming the BPA – which is not very healthy… I’m sure you know this stuff. Sheryl Crow talked a lot about this in relation to her breast cancer.

3. Use Real Silverware

Buy real silverware. Buy a lot of it. It doesn’t have to match… it doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s for everyday use and once you buy it, you won’t have to buy more for a very long time… maybe never. Have so many that you can throw a big party and give everyone a real fork. And washing them is not as hard as you might think. You can put them in a dishwasher (duh!). And if you don’t have one… put your favorite podcast on and listen while you wash. It’s therapeutic!

4. Paper Bags or No Bags for Produce

Several of my shopping bags are made of cloth – perfect for loose veggies… Even for the dripping wet lettuce heads. I wash them very rarely, mostly when they get stained or sticky from summer peaches. If the cashier gets mad at you for having to handle each apple separately, smile and be kind. She’s probably tired from ringing groceries all day…

5. Drink from a Glass

I don’t like plastic cups. I buy glasses at Ikea – they are cheap and don’t chip easily. Storage is a bit of a problem, but where there is a will, there is a way – you can put the extras (for the party) in a box and store it in your garage or basement 🙂

I hope this will inspire you and encourage you to make some changes in consuming plastics.

And developing these habits is a great exercise in building other habits that might be a bit harder (like exercising every day or changing your diet).. See? This can be beneficial on several different levels!

Happy living on Earth!