Plastic Free

Reducing plastic through Sustainable Fashion choices

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Fashion and clothing have always been a big interest in my life. My first real work experience was an internship DURING college doing Public relations for a luxury fashion house in NYC for brands like Alberta Ferretti and Moschino. I LOVE TO PLAN outfits for big events weeks, sometimes months, before the occasion, it is just something I really enjoy. Clothes are obviously a functional part of our lives, but they also serve as outlets to express ourselves and provide self-confidence. When it comes to making sustainable choices for our clothing, WE DON’T need to abandon fashion but instead start considering better options when it comes to how we purchase. FASHION IS AN AREA WHERE WE CAN MAKE A HUGE IMPACT, AND STILL LOOK AND FEEL GOOD DOING IT. Read more about THE HOW AND why...


I started this website with the hope to inspire others to reduce their plastic intake, and I want to begin addressing the number one contributor to ocean micro-plastic pollution: our clothing. Polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers, all of which are forms of plastic, are about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide (IUCN). Synthetic plastic fibers are cheap, extremely versatile, and in most of the clothes we buy. Each year, more than a half-million metric tons of microfibers—the equivalent of 50 billion plastic water bottles—enter the ocean from washing these synthetic textiles (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).

Another aspect of the problem that exacerbates the amount of micro-plastics going into the ocean from clothing is the rate at which we are buying clothes. Compared to 2000, we are buying 60% more clothing per year (McKinsey & Company). A lot of times we are wearing these items only seven or eight times before discarding them. This “fast fashion” style of making clothes typically requires using a lot of water and chemicals and emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Not only that but clothing-factory workers are often underpaid and exposed to unsafe workplace conditions. A lot of these clothes are also mostly made of cheap, synthetic-plastic fibers contributing to the rapid ocean-plastic pollution.

More than 22 million metric tons of microfibers are estimated to enter the ocean between 2015 and 2050 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). While it might seem hopeless, one thing is certain, we can demand changes of the industry by using our dollars to vote for change by considering other options when purchasing clothes.

Reselling Clothes

Nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made. Ensuring our clothes have a second life by giving them away to someone we know will use them, or by selling them online will make an impact (and make some money!). I have started using Poshmark, Facebook groups, and local children’s consignment shops to sell or purchase clothing for my kids since they grow out of them so quickly…hand-me-downs are great too (definitely not above my little girl wearing some blue shortalls sometimes!).

Pictured here with my husband, David at a luncheon in 2014. This dress was my great-grandmother’s and is one of my all-time favorite pieces.

Pictured here with my husband, David at a luncheon in 2014. This dress was my great-grandmother’s and is one of my all-time favorite pieces.

Shop Vintage & Consignment Stores

Vintage clothes are beautiful and unique. Find a great vintage store in town or online and shop there before buying new. Some of my favorite dresses have been vintages ones that I’ve either found myself or had passed down to me from my mother (see below), grandmother and even great-grandmother (see right). Since all trends are based upon styles from the past, we can really get any fashion we need from a great vintage or consignment boutique.

 
Bathroom selfie circa 2014! My mom wore this Oscar de la Renta dress to her rehearsal dinner and its now another one of my favorite dresses.

Bathroom selfie circa 2014! My mom wore this Oscar de la Renta dress to her rehearsal dinner and its now another one of my favorite dresses.

Buy less, buy quality

If we shop mostly high-quality clothes, we are more inclined to take great care of them and keep them for our kids and grandkids. I try to consider that now when I’m shopping and ask myself, “ Is this piece worth passing down to my daughter?” and if the answer is no, then I stop myself from the purchase! I’ve loved this dress of my mother’s and am so thankful she invested in some amazing pieces to pass down to me. I used to buy a good amount of new clothes each season, but now I try and save and just buy one really quality piece. It’s also very therapeutic to just HAVE LESS.

I wore this dress from Beaulah London to a wedding in May. Beulah strives to have a positive impact on society by providing an alternative, sustainable livelihood to victims of human trafficking and educating people of their plight. Their clothes are mostly made of high-quality, natural materials.

I wore this dress from Beaulah London to a wedding in May. Beulah strives to have a positive impact on society by providing an alternative, sustainable livelihood to victims of human trafficking and educating people of their plight. Their clothes are mostly made of high-quality, natural materials.

Shop Sustainable Brands

There are many great brands out there that put sustainability and fair labor practices at the forefront of their businesses. I have found a lot of new brands recently that I shop instead of the go-to fast fashion brands when I want something casual (or even fancy). Some sustainable brands focus on reusing recycled materials while others prioritize natural, non-synthetic materials. Many also support important causes.

I am excited to start highlighting sustainable, eco-conscious, and mission-inspired brands as well as vintage and consignment boutique finds on Sustain Local. There isn’t just one way to make a difference and refiguring how you shop is an easy, and fun way to vote for positive change.

x,

Amy


Other Ways to prevent Micro-Plastic Pollution

  • wash cold

  • use liquid instead of powder detergent

  • air dry if possible

  • use this washing bag to reduce fiber shedding.








7 Things

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Do you want to start helping reduce your environmental impact but don’t feel like spending any additional money? Seems impossible, right? Well, here are 7 things that are zero cost & zero waste.

Put a recycling bin in your bathroom

It can be hard to remember to bring the empty lotion or shampoo bottles downstairs to the recycling bin (most likely in the kitchen) and so those shampoo / conditioner and lotion bottles often just end up in the trash. I’ve been there, but those are actually good recyclable (#1 or #2) plastics so definitely worth the effort to recycle. Don’t forget to add the toilet paper rolls and tissue boxes to the bin. We just use a cardboard box for our bathroom recycling so we didn’t buy another plastic waste bin.

Skip or Reuse Produce Bags in the Grocery Store

I once used plastic bags for everything in the produce section but now simply put fruits and vegetables directly into my grocery cart. I mean, c’mon, they already have a natural wrapper on them and were outside laying in dirt before they were in the store! So avocados, bananas, oranges, lemons, limes, mangoes  etc. all go bagless until checkout. I use my own cloth produce bags for most everything else but if I don’t have those with me or run out, I will just throw food like apples or broccoli into the cart. I always give them a good rinse with a gentle organic soap before we eat anyways! If you want to keep them contained and don’t have your own produce or grocery bags with you just go ahead and grab a paper bag from checkout to use while shopping. Paper bags are way more recyclable than the plastic produce bags!

Buy What you Can in Jars or Plastic Containers Instead of Packets

Packets are one of the worst offenders in terms of their recyclability. Skip the applesauce, baby food or yogurt pouches and buy in a glass jar (first choice) or in a plastic container. I have yet to find yogurt in a glass jar but if you have a grocery store that carries it, lucky you for that eco win! There are also sotres that carry bulk yogurt, so you can fill your own jars up. You can pack the applesauce and yogurt in a small glass mason jar with a spoon for your child’s lunch or directly into a bento box. As a bonus, your child will get extra fine motor skill development from using a spoon versus a pouch.

Buy in Bulk

These mangos are in the plastic bag Whole Foods uses to fill their bulk bins.

These mangos are in the plastic bag Whole Foods uses to fill their bulk bins.

Whether that means going to the bulk section of a local store or to Costco, the more you can get within one plastic package the better. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a bulk store nearby. In reality, the items that get put into the bulk bins at stores like Whole Foods don’t come in that large of a plastic bag so sometimes Costco isn’t that much worse of an option depending on what you buy. If purchasing from Costco, I try to find the items that are in one large package versus a big package of lots of little packages.

Ditch Disposable Snack Bags and Make Your Own

Whether that means reusing glass or plastic packages you already have or buying Stasher bags or metal snack containers, try and avoid purchasing those big boxes of snack bags. The extra effort to go to your pantry and put food in a small package for you or your child for lunch matters.

Say No to the Straw

It’s not an actual drinking necessity! If you think it is though, you can purchase your own. I’m a straw chewer (if you know, you know) so the ones with silicone on the end are game changers.

BYO On the Go

Remember to pack your own to-go cup, bag and cutlery. You can get a fancy to go cup or are just bring an old mason jar or coffee cup you already own. The same goes for cutlery. You can purchase a sleek bag with bamboo cutlery inside or simply throw silverware that you already own wrapped in a napkin into your bag. And I know you already own at least one canvas grocery bag that you can pack, but if you don’t sign up for ours here!


What are some zero cost, zero waste switches you have made?






Imperfectly Plastic Free

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You can make plastic free changes to your life that have little effect on your daily routine or you can try and do a complete single-use plastic ban. Every effort is important

In transition. I will never be perfectly plastic free, but I feel all efforts are meaningful.

In transition. I will never be perfectly plastic free, but I feel all efforts are meaningful.

so find what works for you. You might even be excited to try a semi plastic-free transition. I decided that I wanted to start as strict as possible at the beginning to see how much we could adapt to plastic-free living before adapting it to our family household. It was a slow start because I already had so many pantry items in plastic, so it has taken a while to phase it out completely. I didn’t want to throw away plastic items just to re-buy them in a non-plastic material. In fact, you will see a lot of plastic items in our house because of that.

While I still had a lot of plastic in my pantry, learning to buy plastic free is something I was able to implement immediately. The transition has gone well, though there is always one ingredient that I can’t find in anything but plastic when preparing meals. I recycle those non-recyclable soft plastics with my TerraCycle plastic packaging box. Generally I am buying more of whats available plastic-free in the produce section and have bought new fruits and vegetables that I hadn’t before to diversify our selection.

Wil, my four-year-old boy, is a pretty picky, limited eater. He likes corn dogs, chicken nuggets, cereal, french fries and carby snacks...you know the type. When going plastic free, I initially worried about him getting enough to eat. When possible, I make and freeze chicken nuggets, french fries, granola bars and other foods I used to only buy in plastic. Wil is getting used to the different options and lack of his old favorites and Joseph, my adventurous eater, is loving all of the new food around the house.

Joseph eating homemade chicken nuggets. I wouldn’t buy the plastic plate and cup now, but I definitely won’t be throwing them away to add to a landfill.

Joseph eating homemade chicken nuggets. I wouldn’t buy the plastic plate and cup now, but I definitely won’t be throwing them away to add to a landfill.

Personally, I’ve learned that I feel more of a sense of wholeness when I’m interacting with (washing, chopping, cooking) the food I’m about to eat or serve my children. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never cut a mango in my life although it has been a staple in my kids’ diets for years. We always bought it prepackaged from Whole Foods! I have really loved making these simple kid staples and cutting and preparing our fruits and vegetables rather than buying them precut in plastic bags. That being said, we are busy parents and there are still times when I buy frozen, but now I can add the packaging to the TerraCycle soft plastic bin! TerraCycle allows us to be human and still live our values.

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Another meaningful outcome of this with the kids (mostly Wil our oldest of three) is the awareness he has of our impact on the environment. Wil loves to sort our trash by what goes in the compost, what goes in recycling and what goes in landfill/trash. It is very rewarding to listen to him talk about caring for the Earth. I know that preserving our environment will be an increasingly relevant conversation in his lifetime. Plastic production and the use of single-use plastic is increasing substantially year to year and projections indicate plastic use will quadruple by 2050 if we continue with business as usual (Greenpeace). We feel it is important that our children learn to always do their best to take care of our home on Earth and to be part of the solution.

Wil is my trash sorter. He knows what goes in the compost vs. recycling vs. trash.

Wil is my trash sorter. He knows what goes in the compost vs. recycling vs. trash.

Plastic Free Hacks (not everything has to be made)

  • Pizza Delivery (the boxes are even compostable!)

  • Pick up your tortillas / tortilla chips to-go from a Mexican restaurant

  • Prepared foods section at the grocery store, or anywhere!

  • TerraCycle