For me the journey to simplify meant being thrifty, reusing items, and also trying not to fill my trash can with supposed recyclables that never actually get recycled.
I found a couple side benefits I never expected that changed the very energy of my life at home! Wow!
At first, I was concerned about plastic leaking chemicals into my foods and water. Water bottles are horrible! They travel on hot trucks where the worst breakdown of harmful chemicals enters the very water you drink. It's not bad enough that tap water is fluoridated (a condition of over fluoridation actually killed a mound culture in Bahrain long ago), but the plastic you throw away doesn't get recycled, only a small percentage of plastic actually does.
I'm invested in a company called Plastic2Oil (PTOI) that can take any plastics and convert to ultra low-sulfur fuel, boiler fuel, naptha, diesel. It's one way I feel better about profiting is to know I'm putting $ where industries are that make the world better for my granddaughter.
USE METAL, WOOD AND GLASS
I set out initially to just stop storing things in plastic. Tupperware - adios! Water bottles - no more!
I bought fantastic glass meal prep containers. They have plastic lids, but the food is stored in glass so no storing food long periods of time in plastic or heating in plastic. The idea of putting plastic in the microwave horrifies me!
When I purchase foods, I try to choose the glass jar options for things like sauerkraut, pickles, pasta sauce. I clean them, remove the labels, and reuse them for leftovers and even making refrigerator pickles. I can put sugar in them, baking soda, and other cabinet goods, or snacks like wrapped candies or pretzels.
Simple things like removing plastic cups from the house and having real glasses is a huge difference. I opt for mason jar glasses as they have a handle so no slippery issues.
Another great thing is mason jars. I love these so much because I can do overnight oatmeal in them, store soups, use them as a drink shaker, put cut up carrots and celery in them with water so they stay crunchy long and store in less space, and make my own sauces and store them in fridge condiments shelf.
I got a good pitcher with a filter. The filter does get thrown out, sadly, but until I own a home and can put in a filtration system, that's one thing I can do. I no longer pay for packaged water, something that could cost me up to 15 bucks a month for gallon jugs or 40 bucks for water bottles.
Something as simple as toothbrushes can be replaced with biodegradable wooden ones. These are actually cheaper (you get 10 for $8.89) than plastic brushes and I have to say that I am soooo thrilled with them! Wow, a very different experience to have these soft bristles getting into the gumline and tooth surfaces without endangering enamel or making the gums hurt. They are soft enough to go right into the tissue edge and clean up underneath and the wood handle with a wet hand is a great grip. I don't understand why they make those harsh plastic ones!
Eventually, I began to look at everything in a different way.
Cook ware could be crock ware. Wooden spoons could be used. Metal measuring spoons and cups. The transition to metal, glass and wood over time began to make my kitchen look like a legitimate kitchen and it also stressed me less. I wasn't working with wobbly ugly plastic spoons and cups and everything had a long-lasting vibe to it. Remember back when America was based on manufacturing goods that were so well made they passed the test of time?
Buying one good wooden spoon that lasts for decades versus plastic ones replaced every couple of years made good money sense and good earth sense, but it also made me feel like I had a home and not a dorm.
Cheap particle board furnishings for real wood furnishings from Goodwill became the next step, as well as clothing from vintage and thrift stores where I could find styles that were my own and not the cookie cutter stuff in the malls.
Another huge jump is getting rid of plastic bins for wicker baskets. They look gorgeous on shelves and store things out of sight without looking "temporary" and ugly.
More and more as you begin to live in a real world with handmade items, tools made of glass, wood and metal, and furnishings made of real wood, you feel a strength behind it all. Your cooking is better, your comfort is better, the aesthetic is less frenetic and much more soothing. It's rather like turning your busy suburban home into a quiet cabin getaway.
Try it with just one aspect of your life, like the bathroom or the kitchen. It might be that you set out to buy things that last and find out you feel good about the environment or perhaps you start out wanting to save the earth from the plastic graveyard it's become and find you love the aesthetic feel of it.
Whatever your reasons, I promise you will be pleased!