7 (Less Obvious) Benefits to Living Plastic-Free.

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Erin Rhoads

I have been proudly living plastic-free for over one year. As a conscious consumer, I no longer buy items in plastic, preferring items that can biodegrade naturally rather than those that will sit around for hundreds of years.

That is not to say my life is devoid of plastic. There are still many moments when my hands come into contact with the material (for example, on public transport, or at work), but, as a whole, I try my best to avoid products made of plastic and items that cannot be recycled.

Though I took the plunge to live plastic-free for environmental reasons, I was shocked and pleased to see how my diet improved.

A glance at any supermarket aisle or corner store and your vision will be graced with never-ending food packaged in plastic. I can still remember my food cupboard littered with the material. Everything seemed to have some form of plastic associated with it, but it was not necessary. After all, human beings survived for thousands of years devoid of packaged bread and ready-made meals.

There is research suggesting that the chemicals in plastic packaging are contributing to weight gain.(1) The chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has been found to mimic hormones in the body, tricking your body into thinking it is eating more than what’s going into your mouth.

By avoiding plastic, I am exposing my body to fewer chemicals and reducing my risk of deadly diseases.

Due to hidden plastic linings in some soda cans and take-away coffee cups, I have given up both of these foods (and money wasters). I carry a water bottle that can be refilled, which is better than any soda and cheaper than a takeaway coffee.

Here are some of the other ways living plastic-free improved my diet and my life:

1. Less Junk Food.

An absurd amount of junk food is wrapped in plastic or packaging that cannot be recycled. Giving up plastic took away the ability for me to prop myself up with a prepackaged, sugary snack from the local convenience store during the usual afternoon slump.

Packaging is not the only plastic I avoid. Think about all the fast food joints that carry single use items like plates, cups, and straws. Unless I have my own plate, cup or straw, I don’t have a choice to eat fast food. Most big fast food companies ban B.Y.O. cutlery and plates. Food courts have also become a no-go zone. It’s a ceramic plate and metal straw, or nothing.

2. Less Takeaway, More Eating In.

Getting food to go or takeaway without plastic is not easy. If I have a craving for green curry but can’t be bothered to cook it, then I have to go to the restaurant and enjoy it with a regular plate and metal cutlery. The chances of that happening are usually slim and my wallet is definitely happier. Instead, I just use up what I have in my fridge, which is healthier, and less food is wasted.

3. Less Rushing.

Many of the food and beverages that are available exist because we feel that we do not have time, or we can’t take the time, to sit down and enjoy them. Who is to say I am not worth the time? If I need it, then I make time to sit-in and enjoy my meal. Who is to say it is not worth taking five minutes in a cute coffee shop? Taking time out is much better for stress levels than grabbing a drink to go. Less stress, better health!

4. Less Sugar.

Besides the sugar that we know is in junk food, there is also the hidden sugar in packaged goods like pasta, bread, sauces and pre-packaged meals. Many of these foods I have taught myself to make, or, I support locals in my community who sell healthier options that I can buy in reusable glass bottles or reusable bags.

I have also found that a lot of the pre-packaged food items I thought I needed could be done without.

I really don’t need a chocolate bar. The world will keep turning without it.

Seeing results in my skin and waist line; not to mention, my energy, keeps me just as motivated to stick to the real, un-packaged food, and skip the overly processed, sugar-laden food.

5. More Vegetables and Fruit.

When I first went plastic-free I was limited (that’s how it felt) to the vegetable and fruit section of the supermarket. Once I began cooking, I realized that I was not limited at all! Instead, my culinary world was opened up as I trespassed through the un-packaged fresh food. I ate less meat and more vegetables, and discovered that vegetables are just as fun and tasty as fried chicken.

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is important for our health, and good for the planet’s health, too.

6. Learning New Skills.

My cooking skills grew in leaps and bounds. I was inspired to make some of the food that I would normally buy at the supermarket, such as: bread, tomato sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, pasta, pie crusts, jams, chutneys, etc. The power of making your own food allows you to make food to your own taste. Plus,  your friends will be impressed with your new skills.

7. Saving Money.

When choice is taken away, there is less ability to waste money. There used to be many trips to the supermarket in the past that saw me buying items just because they looked good or because I thought I might do something with them later on. Now, my shopping is planned because I have to take my own bags and containers to collect my food. If I don’t have a bag or container, then I am not tempted to spend my money on an item because it happens to be on sale. My weekly shopping bill fell by $60.

You don’t have to give up plastic completely in one big shift. It is a slow process, but I can guarantee that the benefits are great for your health and for the health of the earth!

 

*

Notes: 

(1) “BPA linked to obesity risk in puberty-age girls.” Science Daily.

“Rapid Insulinotropic Action of Low Doses of Bisphenol-A on Mouse and Human Islets of Langerhans: Role of Estrogen Receptor β.” PLOS ONE.

 

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Author: Erin Rhoads

Assistant Editor: Leah K / Editor: Renee Picard 

Photo Credit: Author’s Own

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Erin Rhoads

Erin Rhoads is a Melbourne based lady that does not buy any plastic and aims to reduce waste. She writes about her plastic free and zero waste life on the award nominated blog, The Rogue Ginger, showing others that living plastic free and zero waste is easy and affordable. Erin’s website has plastic free alternatives to shopping, cooking, makeup, fashion, cleaning and travel with helpful tips about sustainable living alternatives that are good for you and the earth. Erin believes that if you are kind to the earth and other living beings, you will ultimately be kinder to yourself.

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anonymous Mar 2, 2015 11:54am

BPA is horrendous and the associated pollution from plastic too. I am very happy to minimize my exposure to it. Thanks for your well wishes Cynthia x

anonymous Jan 27, 2015 8:35pm

Congrats Erin! This is a spot on article, such an inspiring habit to have cultivated. BPA is horrendous. Great tips to implement – I'll definitely give them a go.x

    anonymous Feb 1, 2015 3:37pm

    BPA is horrendous and the associated pollution from plastic too. I am very happy to minimize my exposure to it. Thanks for your well wishes Cynthia x

anonymous Jan 27, 2015 5:53pm

I love this – so interesting and great to read. I try and do this myself, but perhaps not so diligent as you. But I love the health benefits from doing so & I'm going to really commit to doing this for the next 3 months. Thanks for the inspiration and insights. xx Katie

    anonymous Feb 1, 2015 3:34pm

    The health benefits are a definitely a plus. Maybe plastic free will be the next big diet trend 😉 Good luck with the next three months Katie.

anonymous Jan 27, 2015 4:33pm

Great article Erin, I admire your dedication to this cause. I was privileged to see first hand your dedication.

    anonymous Feb 1, 2015 3:32pm

    Thank you Lois. I appreciate your encouragement x

anonymous Jan 27, 2015 3:53pm

Great article Erin – I really admire your commitment to plastic-free living! I interviewed a couple here in NZ once who went completely rubbish-free for a year, and it was amazing how many alternative products and ways of doing things they discovered – as I'm sure you have. All these additional benefits go to show how a healthy earth = healthy humans.

    anonymous Jan 27, 2015 4:54pm

    Thanks Emma! One easy motivating reminder is that human beings lived and survived for a loooong time without plastic. And we have so many more tools available now to make it easy for us to continue. Indeed healthy living should incorporate the earths health too.

anonymous Jan 26, 2015 2:15am

I have been trying to live as plastic free as possible but it's some times creeps in. I am motivated by all the benefits above! x

    anonymous Jan 27, 2015 4:52pm

    Hi Rebecca, I am happy that you find the content motivating. Plastic Free is one of the ultimate ways to live a healthy life.

anonymous Jan 26, 2015 2:14am

A great way to live.. I try to live as plastic free as I can but haven’t fully been able to remove it from my shopping list yet.. Some great pro’s and motivation there x

    anonymous Jan 27, 2015 4:50pm

    It took me over a year to avoid plastic while I do my shopping. It is a big task but once you practice it it becomes second nature. Thanks for your comment Bec.