Episode 20: Getting Rid of Plastic. Is it Possible?

By JM Davis



5 ways to get rid of plastics – plus a bonus.

Hello I’m Janet Davis and welcome to Food Plus Freedom Podcast. Today is February 13, 2024 Episode 20, Getting Rid of Plastic from your home and homestead. Is it even possible? That’s what we are going to explore.

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Now on with the show

Episode 20, Getting Rid of Plastic from your home and homestead. I do wonder this a lot and if it’s even possible.  I wonder quite often as I’m working around the homestead and the home thinking, How can I get rid of more of the plastic? I’ve tried many times not to bring more plastic onto the homestead, reuse the plastic as many times as possible, and dispose of it responsibly.

I suppose the easiest way to get rid of plastic in your world is to never bring plastic into your world in the first place. But sometimes that’s easier said than one. 

I guess the first question is why you don’t want plastic in your environment. Let’s start with the toxicity of plastic. It’s all chemical and chemical compounds. It’s completely manmade, and it doesn’t ever disappear. If you throw it away it ends up in a landfill or the ocean. If you burn it the chemicals go into our air. We breathe it. And who knows if the chemicals every go away? Anything you put into plastic is supposed to leach the plastic into it and then you consume the chemicals. Some people say as long as it’s not hot, then it won’t leach into what you’re drinking or storing. If you’re using essential oil, the essential oil leaches into the plastic and the plastic leaches back into your water or whatever you’re drinking. 

So many questions about plastic and safety. And not very many answers. I’ve read and heard so many different things about plastic, safety and how to use it. It’s not funny. How much information is real, political, about convenience, and just unknown. It use to be, that plastic would be recycled or go to a recycle center.

Some states have outlawed plastic bags at the grocery stores and added a deposit on most plastic soda and water bottles. Does this help with the plastic issue? I have no idea. Do you?

How do you feel about using plastic? Is it something you want to eliminate from your life? Is it something you use, because you feel you have no choice? Or do you just use plastic because it’s convenient?

If you are using plastic but don’t really want to, are you doing everything you can to reuse the plastic over and over again?

The get rid of plastic from my world has been a revisited situation year after year. Some years I’ve been much better than others about not bringing more plastic into the homestead. There are some plastics I’ve gotten rid of completely and others that seem to keep creep back in.

How do you get rid of plastic? 
The first thing you need to do is look at your environment and what you use plastics for. The second thing you need to do is evaluate what you can get rid of and never bring back.I think that is a key , not bring things back. But if you haven’t replaced what you’re using plastic for with a viable option, it’s really hard not to ring it back in. And is the alternative any better than using plastic? Look around and evaluate.

Lets look at some examples. For instance, livestock feeders. Let’s talk cows. You can get a huge 55 gallons or larger metal feeder for several hundred dollars. They go up to more than 700 dollars and I’ve seen one up to $2200. Kind of makes you cringe. But they are metal and they hold a lot of water. You can get a molded plastic 55 gallon waterer for about half the cost. You have to decide which is going to last the longest and which one you can afford. But if you have cows, you have to a water to feed them or rather water them. 

Let’s talk chickens. Everything, well almost, everything made for chickens from feeders, to purchased brooders, to waterers are made of plastic.You’re going to have to hunt for sturdy metal feeders and waterers not made in China. We’ve personally gone to metal trays, metal bowels, and rubber bowels for watering and feeders. I am not sure the rubber bowels are any better than plastic, but they do not break in the cold weather. 

On a side note, I am seeing more homestead products being not made in China, so this is a very good thing. We are coming a long way. 

Anyhow, back to plastics.

There are many other places on the homestead where plastics make me cringe and I am working towards getting rid of. We reuse 5 gallon plastic buckets for lots of things. Our extra water goes into plastic containers. The greenhouse cover is plastic, and the list goes on and on.

I decided instead of becoming paralyzed about the plastic issue. I was going to become proactive. Our fodder system for the animals id metal trays, but the buckets are still plastic. I am looking to get this one part of the homestead with no plastic. Finding what I am looking for, in budget is taking time, but eventually it will happen.

What about your home? 
There is so much plastic or the availability to use plastic it’s incredible. Everything from plastic utensils for kids to plastic bags, containers, wrapping and much more. Thinks that use to come in glass now come in plastic containers. Like ketchup and mayo. We used to save our mayonnaise jars to can with for food storage. Now everything is plastic.

It’s enough to drive one crazy or at least be frustrated. During one of my “I hate plastic” modes a few years back, I went online to see what others were doing. I found a lady in NYC who had no plastic. None. She didn’t even have plastic wrapping from anything at a store. I thought, wow how cool is that and how the heck did she do it? On another side note, she went one step further and didn’t have trash either. No cans, very little paper, etc.

This is what she did. First, she only bought fresh food. Every few days she’d go to the store and buy everything from bulk containers, from her pasta to loose carrots. She would bring her own bags and glass jars to eliminate any trash. I thought how cool is that, but wait – this meant she had no food in case something happened. Plus, she definitely didn’t have animals to care for or a means to store food for a future date. Something to think about.

Today there are plenty of places online where you can buy no plastic items.

In my strive to get rid of some plastic items for good, I found five simple ways to dump some of the plastic I use.

Here they are.

Number 1) Get rid of plastic grocery bags. This is a biggie. This has been a very popular topic, but I want you to look at the reusable bags you’re buying. Many of them are made out of plastic as well. It’s been a big push at my grocery store. They’re sitting at the end of the checkout and can buy these bags for about $2. But they are still made out of plastic. And if you use the plastic bags they give you, well worth anything at all. They just break apart and you can’t reuse them. 

Yes, you can use them over and over again, but we are trying to get rid of ringing more plastic into our world. You can ask for paper bags. Yes, paper bags are still available from your grocery stores. Some may charge you 5 or 10 cents, but they are available.

You can use canvas tote bags. Before you go spending money on good canvas bags, look around your house at bags you already have that can be used easily for grocery bags. Check your kids room too, they have stuff. Maybe you have other totes from the beach or backpacks or book bags. Look to see what you have in your own environment before you go and purchase something else because, in reality, you’re recycling and you’re not adding to more stuff later.

If you’re a sewer, you can make simple yet sturdy bags from left over material or older clothes.

If you don’t sew, you can make grocery bags from old long sleeve shirts, just tie the bottom (or if you sew, sew it shut), then knot the sleeves together to make a handle.

Number 2: Buy fresh fruits and vegetables individually or from the farmer’s market.
When you buy your fruits and vegetables in bulk, you don’t get the plastic. A lot of times your produce is in plastic bags. The big bags of plastic apples, the big bags of plastic carrots, etc. Even if they’re organic, one of the stores I like to go to, they’ve decided everything needs to be in plastic. 

Now if you liked the idea of recycling, flip those bags over. A lot of them are recyclable now and you have to take them back to your store, but again, it’s still plastic and if the goal is to have less plastic, you don’t want to buy them.

Use non plastic reusable bags to put your bulk items into. Just remember to weigh your produce without the bag or you’ll be paying the grocery store for the weight of your bag.

Number 3: Depending on your area, number three may not be viable due to plandemic rules that were changed for bulk food. Anyhow, buy from bulk bins and put them into your own glass jars. Some stores near me still have the bulk bins, others have gotten rid of them due to regulations.  Those bins are really nice because there is no plastic involved. Again, you’re putting them into your own reusable bags and containers. You may think, well, the bags weigh a little bit. Find out if the store allows you to zero the scale with an empty container on it. Then fill it up, weigh it, and label it. The other area for bulk is items like toilet paper. Instead of buying a four pack and you have all that plastic, buy a really large 16 pack. They’re still plastic, but there’s less plastic. Again, it’s about choices.

Number 4: dump your plastic storage bags and containers.
This was a big one in our house. I never realized how many bags and plastic containers we actually used until I started taking everything plastic and getting rid of it. The other side of the coin is that if you’re looking to use glass, you’ll notice a lot of the glass containers have plastic or rubber tops. You don’t have an option on the tops, but it is better than all plastic.  We still have plastic bags and plastic freezer bags and we are using them up and when they are gone, they are gone. By doing this, you’re going to save money by not buying more plastic bags and space because you don’t have to store them anymore either. 
I also like to use canning jars and the screw-on lids. I can reuse the lids and ring forever, because I’m not actually canning with them. Sometimes I use used lids and rings as well.You can get canning jars from 2 ounces all the way up to a half a gallon. Plus, you can get other jars that are like the old fashion jars with the clip down lids up to a gallon size. 

Number 5. Replace plastic wrap with wax paper or something else non-plastic. What do you use plastic wrap for anyhow? When I saw the container of plastic wrap, I thought, when was the last time I used this? To wrap something up and throw it in the refrigerator. You can use butcher wrap, wax paper, something else non-plastic and you’ve gotten rid of another plastic. 

I wouldn’t use aluminum foil, because that’s another issue all together in my book.

Bonus number 6: Stop buying stuff in plastic containers. Even though many sauces such as mayo, BBQ sauce, etc. come in plastic, many still come in glass. You may have to choose a different size sometimes or a different company. Or better yet, learn to make it yourself. Yes, you will need to read the ingredients to make sure it’s something you want to eat. But you will get rid of more plastic in your house, but you will get rid of more plastic. 

Where can you find glass containers, because they can become pricey? Look for glass containers at garage sales, grocery stores, thrift markets for more non-plastic containers. You’ll be amazed at the different sizes you can find to suit your needs at a very low cost.

I hope some of these hints help so that you can get rid of some plastic.  Depending on your level of not wanting plastic in your environment will depend on what actions you choose to take for your house and homestead.

You’ll find a huge cost savings by not buying plastic. Plus, less trash and recycling by not using the plastic containers. If you pay for trash, it means less money out. If you don’t pay for trash, it means less time running to the trash can and to the curb.

So this week I’d like you to pick one item that lowers your plastic consumption and see how it goes. Let us know how it goes in the comments or email me at support@foodplusfreedom.com 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, so you never miss an episode and visit our website at foodplusfreedom.com

Remember, homesteading is a peace of mind, not a piece of land, and anyone can do it.

Thank you for listening, this is Janet Davis from Food Plus Freedom. 
Now hang tight for the tip of the day.

Here’s a cooking chicken tip for you! 
Defrosting a chicken. What is the best way to defrost a chicken? Ideally, it’s in the refrigerator, in a bowl, for about a day.  This isn’t always feasible. And whole chickens take longer to defrost than parts because of the size and density.

If you don’t have the time to defrost in the refrigerator, then defrost it in a bowl or sink in warm to cool water. Never use hot water for it can start cooking the chicken. If your room temperature is lower than about 75, you can defrost it on the counter in a bowl with or without water.

Either way, make sure your meat is covered so nothing can fly into it. And keep checking the meat throughout the defrosting process that it’s defrosting slowly and not getting warm. Once defrosted, either cook immediately or put in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook.

Now you know.

Grow Food – Eat Local – Gain Freedom
Until next time.

Video: A Winter Garden Walk

Video: A Winter Garden Walk

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