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11 Things I Still Buy In Plastic

Things I Still Buy In Plastic

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After a couple of years of my zero waste journey, I still buy certain things in plastic. Yikes – I feel a little weird and hesitant to say it, but it’s true. 

The whole zero waste movement can look aesthetic and dreamy, with all the pretty reusable jars, containers, and metal straws. However, that isn’t the entire picture. Zero waste has its “ugly” and wasteful side, too. 

At the beginning of my journey, I was obsessed with producing as little trash as possible. I was becoming very upset over getting a tea in a plastic bag from coffee shops, or getting a straw in my drink (after asking to get it without).

But the more time passed, the more I realized that not everything is under my control, and as much as I try, I can’t live a perfect 100% zero waste life – and that’s okay.

In this article, I will share 11 things I still buy in plastic. I want to show you that I’m far from zero waste, and I hope this list will make you feel a bit better and less worried about not being “perfect,” too.


11 Thing I Still Buy In Plastic:


1. Tofu & tempeh 

While I would LOVE to learn how to make tempeh and tofu by myself, at this stage, I still buy them from the shop. 

When I was living in Denmark and Spain, I found tofu and tempeh in glass jars, which was awesome, because 1) they were plastic-free, and 2) I was reusing the jars afterward.

But it isn’t that common to find those foods plastic-free, and now I purchase them in plastic packaging. 

Low waste tip: Buying tofu once in 2-3 weeks, and tempeh – even less frequently, to reduce overall waste. 

Things I Still Buy In Plastic
Tofu in a glass jar (from Denmark).
Things I Still Buy In Plastic
Tempeh in my current local health store.

2. Plant-based yogurt

Another one that I want to start making at home. I already tried making homemade plant-based yogurt, but I failed both times. Ugghhh

Low waste tip: Learning (soon) how to make delicious homemade plant-based yogurt!

2. Plant-based milk

I try to make my plant milk at home (now it’s even easier since I got a Plant milk machine), but honestly, the homemade milk doesn’t work that well with coffee. That’s why I sometimes still buy it for my coffee.

(if you have tips on how to make plant milk non-slimy, and non-watery, please share them in the comments!)

Additionally, I don’t have the time or equipment to DIY homemade milk if I travel somewhere, so I buy Tetra Paks. 

Low waste tip: Making my plant-based milk whenever possible. 

Things I Still Buy In Plastic

4. Certain legumes, nuts & seeds

I rarely buy legumes, nuts, or seeds in plastic; however, sometimes, I need specific ones that I can’t find plastic-free currently, such as soybeans and walnuts. Thus, I buy those in plastic, when I need them.

Low waste tip: Whenever I can, I choose legumes and nuts that I can find plastic-free. 

5. Snacks

I try to be prepared almost always, but sometimes, unexpected things occur, or it just happens that I want to try a product in plastic packaging. Most commonly, it is small snacks like energy or protein bars. Or ice cream. 

Low waste tip: Whenever I have the chance, I pick plastic-free snacks like these: 

Things I Still Buy In Plastic

6. Reduced food

Did you know that globally about one-third (1.3 BILLION tons) of the food produced never gets eaten?

Wasting food means wasting resources, fertilizers, cropland, freshwater, and energy. 

Furthermore, when food decomposes in a landfill, it produces methane gas – a greenhouse gas that’s 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The worst part is that the biggest component of landfills is food.

If buying reduced food means saving it from the landfill – I think it’s worth it, regardless of the plastic. I don’t do it often, only when the reduced food is actually something that I eat and like.   

Low waste tip: In short, saving food that’s expiring soon it’s the better option, even if it means bringing plastic into your home. 

7. Medication

If it is something unavoidable and related to my health, I buy it, even if it’s in plastic. 

Low waste tip: Always look after your health, and eat a variety of wholesome foods, like legumes, veggies, and fruits.

And if I start feeling a bit sick, I try to prevent feeling worse by eating a lot of garlic, ginger, lemons and drinking lots of tea. Most times, I feel better the next day already. 

Things I Still Buy In Plastic

8. Condoms

While it generates non-recyclable waste, it prevents an unwanted pregnancy, which I think is worth the “waste.”

Low waste tip: If possible, I try to purchase sustainable condoms made with natural latex in paper packaging (locally, I can find a german brand called Einhorn). 

9. Online orders

I order things online, and sometimes it happens that the items come with unnecessary plastic wrapping. This can be pretty frustrating, especially if you order from a “sustainable” company.

It happened to me twice; once I ordered a dress, and another time a swimsuit from two different sustainable brands. I got pretty disappointed when the items were in plastic bags.

I contacted the brands, but they gave me some vague answers that didn’t make much sense.

Low waste tip: I often write an email before ordering to ask how they ship the products. I also ask if they could avoid using plastic packaging for my order. 

(I didn’t for the swimsuit because I was assuming that since it’s a sustainable brand, it will come plastic-free.)

Things I Still Buy In Plastic
Swimsuit from a sustainable brand – wrapped in plastic.

10. Ingredients for DIY-ing products

I started DIY-ing various things like toothpowder, body butter & body butter bars, deodorant, mouthwash, air freshener, etc. 

Usually, I find MOST ingredients plastic-free or in bulk. However, sometimes I can’t find a specific ingredient, so I buy it in plastic packaging (for example – kaolin clay). 

Low waste tip: I always try to look locally (and online) for low waste alternatives and substitutes to the ingredients I need. Sometimes, I find plastic-free options, but other times I don’t.

11. Little parts from random stuff

Receipts, fruit stickers, plastic seals in lids of bottles, plastic tags of clothing, toothbrush bristles, etc. 

Low waste tip: Less frequent shopping (to avoid receipts), shopping from local food market (to get 100% plastic-free veggies and fruits), etc.

In short, planning ahead and trying to choose and find the most sustainable option whenever possible. 

Things I Still Buy In Plastic
I collected my receipts (and veggie stickers) for 1 month.

Do I feel guilty about buying things in plastic? 

Sometimes. But as I mentioned in the beginning – the more I think about it, the more I realize that living 100% zero waste is hardly possible (here’s why).

After all, we all produce trash, one way or another (have you heard of “invisible waste?”).

Additionally, most of the time, I purchase these things just because I don’t have another option. 

I know I’m doing my best, and I’m focusing on what works for me at this stage of my life. And I believe everyone should do that, too. 

Things that I USED TO buy in plastic, but I found low waste alternatives: 

Sum up

It isn’t realistic to rely on a few people living the “perfect” zero waste life; we need personal change on a global scale. 

When more people show interest in eco-friendly, reusable items, this can also encourage systematic change. 

And when we demand change, businesses and politicians must meet the needs of the public by coming up with sustainable and better solutions. 

Remember that zero waste is not about deprivation and sacrificing things you want to have in your life. 

It is about balance, making better choices, learning what you can do better, and striving to improve along the way. 

All in all, do as much as you can, but always remember that everyone’s journey is different, and don’t compare yourself with others. 

Feel free to share below what are the things you still buy in plastic. Don’t be shy; we won’t judge. 🙂

One Comment

  1. Hello!

    Here are some things that I did when it came to some of your items you still buy in plastic:

    Plant based yogurt. I simply don’t buy it anymore. I used to crave it, but after a few months of not eating it, I don’t miss it at all.

    Plant based milk. You could always buy a can of coconut milk and simply blend it with water to make a milk or blend it and freeze it into ice cubes that you pop into your coffee in the morning.

    Vegan snacks. Make your own or just have things like fruit that doesn’t come in packaging. Or make yourself a healthy smoothie! 😉 I used to love me a yummy plant based snack, but after I stopped buying them, I just don’t crave them. If I crave a snack, I’ll either eat a meal early or drink a cup of (loose leaf) tea with sweetener of choice. I also did a yeast cleanse (not a plastic free supplement bottle) that pretty much eliminated all my snacks cravings. Now I just eat leftovers or grab something from the fridge.

    Condoms. I completely understand if someone continues to use them. There is no shame in that. This is just what I do instead that I feel is the most eco friendly. I track my cycle, use LH strips occasionally (yes some plastic), track cervical fluid, check for ferning in my saliva (sign of fertility), but mainly I abstain from day 7 of my cycle until two days after I ovulate which tends to be on day 12 to 14. Plus two extra days, I abstain from around day 7 to day 14-16. That ends up being a total of around 8-10 days depending on the cycle. I like having a break, but even if you are sexually active and in a relationship, there are plenty of things you can do as a couple that still bring pleasure that is not going to result in pregnancy. Been sexually actively 15 months now, and I feel comfortable with doing a form of NFP, you could say. No, I’m not married, and no, I do NOT want to get pregnant. I am fine with abstaining though. Some may not be. At the least, if you track your cycle and you know when you’re fertile, you could use condoms just when you are for instead of every day of the month which is using them more often than when it’s be necessary.

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