Plastic waste pollutes our seas, ends up in the bellies of fishes (who often die a terrible death) and therefore later on our plates. That is only one example of the impact of plastic waste on our environment.

Many of us would like to reduce their negative impact on this planet, but they don't know how.  The needed change seems too difficult and uncomfortable that we feel overwhelmed.

We as consumers have the power. We're in the driver's seat. Our behavior as consumers makes a difference. However, we also have to execute our power.

The steps below contain simple ideas and everyone will find things they can implement without feeling overwhelmed.

Sustainability - Reducing Plastic Waste in 8 Steps

Step 1 - Unboxing

Unboxing means that you remove unnecessary plastic wraps and packing right in the store. The store will take them back. If enough people show that they do not appreciate unnecessary plastic packaging, stores will re-think which products they buy. Which will then force the producers to reconsider more sustainable ways of packaging their products.

I will not lie to you. It feels weird at first, because you might be the first to ever request a store to keep their

Step 2 - Transportation

Everyone has seen pictures of plastic bags swimming around in our seas. Lying on the beach. Ending up in the tummies of animals. In Morrocco, they now forbid plastic bags. In my home country, Germany, they can only sell reusable plastic bags (they are not free, and I feel that is the way to go).

It's easy to throw a few bags made from cloth or paper into your car. I will admit that paper bags can be difficult if it's raining or you are transporting wet produce.

As an added benefit, those bags are more durable and will last longer. I am sure I am not the only one who had an accident with super thin plastic bags just ripping apart.

Step 3 - Choice of products

Bananas in plastic wrap? Two kiwis in a paper/plastic bed? Cucumbers sealed in plastic? Single packaged candy sealed in packs of 3, packaged in a plastic bag of 12? Choose products that do not have unnecessary packaging. I will admit that it is not commonly available in the US yet: If you can buy yogurt and dairy products in glass containers.

BPA yes or no and whatever toxin is next found in plastic - you will not need to worry about that anymore, and you help the environment at the same time.

Step 4 - Coffee on the go

Coffee is one of our favorite drinks. No wonder that we love grabbing a coffee while we're on the road. If you take your thermos cup with you, you can avoid a lot of waste.

Mostly available in cities and "green" stores: Some coffee shops even reward you with a small discount when you bring your cup

If you do not want to carry your own cup with you: You could tell them you do not need a lid (they never seal tight anyway).

Step 5 - Personal hygiene articles

Does your bathroom look like a plastic museum too? So many tubs, bottles, and dispensers. No worries! Just start with the soap. Instead of a plastic dispenser, buy a bar of soap. If you want to use liquid soap (which most of the time also contains artificial components), buy refill packs.

If you buy organic shampoo and shower gel, you do not just help the environment, but your health will also love you for it. Just check in your local organic store or start HERE.

Step 6 - Thirsty?

Did you know that many big water brands sell what they call "re-constituted" water? What a fine name for filtered tap water. Please note: This water has not been filtered to remove toxins, heavy metal and such. They have filtered it to remove unpleasant taste, for instance, from chlorine. Nestlé, Pepsico, Coca Cola and many other corporations sell tap water.

Plastic Waste
Picture Credit: Shannon Dermody

Regular water and tap water gets moldy after a while. Did you ever wonder why "re-constituted" water lasts for years? You guessed it ...

I am using THESE water bottles. I usually bring a bottle of tea and a bottle of homemade kombucha with me. It also saves money.

Click on the link to read an article by Dr. Mercola on the worst and best bottled waters. It's one of my favorite sites with endless loads of useful information (my blog is jealous of his blog) - just be warned. If you sign up for the newsletter: Be prepared for some pushy marketing. ARTICLE

Step 7 - The Kitchen

Plastic spoons, containers - in kitchens we find a lot of plastic. Why not exchange it piece by piece with sustainable goods? Glass containers and wooden spoons, for instance, have the added benefit that no tiny particles land in your food - like it's the case with plastic.

Step 8 - Toys

Children explore the world with all of their senses. Naturally, they put many things into their mouth. They can load cheap plastic toys with dangerous toxins. Make sure that the toys you buy carry the "BPA-free" and "PVC-free" labels.

The best choice is toys made from wood and fabrics. Robust toys made from high-quality can also be gifted to someone when your kid does not need them anymore. Or you can buy them second hand.

Do not worry if you feel you cannot make all the changes at once. Every bit helps and is better than nothing.