The Theme for Earth Day 2024 — A Daunting Task

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastic.  Reducing plastics by 60% by 2040 is the goal, and achieving this goal will be daunting.

I’m shocked at how much plastic is used daily, and I’m seriously trying to cut it down! However, I’m not perfect, and if I had strived for perfection instead of progress, I probably would have thrown in the towel by now. However, I’ll try to reduce my plastic usage, even when I have setbacks.

Reducing Plastic in My Life

Now, the products that work for me may not work for someone else, and of course, I’m sure there are some excellent sustainable products out there that I’m not aware of. If that is the case, I’d love to hear about them.

Some plastic-free products have not worked, and I’m still on the hunt. The plastic-free packaging deodorant I tried gave me a rash. The bar soap dish detergent got icky, and the powder dish detergent didn’t work out. Has anyone found a lip balm product they like that isn’t in a plastic tube? I’m still searching. Regardless, I have significantly reduced my plastic usage with products I have used for years.

Sustainable Soap Ideas

Let’s start in my bathroom.

I have used Goat Boy Bar Soap for years, which I purchased locally at New Canaan Farmer’s Market. I buy enough in November to tie me over until Spring, but my kids are less keen and want a body wash. However, I can’t handle buying all those plastic bottles.

I found Blueland’s personal care products solved this problem. Starter kits include a reusable bottle and powder packets; add water, shake you, and you’ve got body wash. Now, I wish it was that easy, but I’ve found that if you just put in the powder from the packet, add water, and then shake, you get a fair amount of powder on the bottom of the bottle that doesn’t dissolve. To fix this, I put in the powder, add some warm water (1/4 of the bottle), shake, repeat, etc. I buy packets beforehand, so I’m always prepared for a refill. After this experience, I tried Blueland’s facial cleanser, which is pretty much the same process, and I love it.

Reusing plastic with bar soapReduce Plastic with Blueland Hand Soap

My kids have grown up washing their hands with bar soap. However, in our guest bathroom and powder room, I wasn’t sure guests would be as open to the idea. Once again, this is where I turned to Blueland products.

Blueland’s foaming soap dispenser starter kit and refills to the rescue. I must drop the refill table into the dispenser with warm water and let it dissolve. I’m happy to report that I’ve been using the hand soap dispensers for at least four years, and they still work well. (We have three in our house). I do wash them out, and sometimes, I will use a little bit (such as a small amount) of bleach on the handle to clean them well.

Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles

Shampoo and conditioner bottles in my bathroom were always a problem, so I searched for alternatives to reduce plastic packaging use. Several products only worked for me once. However, through trial and error, I found my favorites. I tried so many bar shampoos that left my hair stiff and greasy. I almost gave up until I attempted LUSH shampoo bars; the “Jumping Juniper” bar has become my favorite. I then follow with Nature Skin Shop’s Keratin Conditioner Treatment bar, which detangles hair. The downside is that I can buy my LUSH shampoo locally at the Norwalk mall, but I can only find my conditioner bar on Amazon.

Earth Day 2024 Ways to Reduce Plastic

If you want to try bar shampoo and conditioner, buy a self-draining bar soap holder—usually bamboo-made. This will keep your bars dry. Hence, you won’t have to learn the hard way as I did: mushy bars that didn’t last. As I said earlier, I’m not perfect about being plastic-free. I keep a bottle of clarifying shampoo in my shower, which I use occasionally, but my plastic usage dramatically decreases.

Laundry Detergent

Let’s move on to the laundry room. When I took a tour at the local Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where our single-stream recycling is processed, our tour guide showed us a tower of laundry detergent jugs squeezed into bales, waiting for a buyer. (Yup, our recycling ends up in a “marketplace.”) As the jugs were so hard to break down, he wasn’t sure anyone would be interested… meaning that instead of being recycled, they were destined to be sent to the incinerator.

Our MRF tour guide was hopeful that the market might pick up at the time. In the meantime, the bales of jugs were kept outside, out of the way of the MRF’s activity. It was clear to me that the jugs are indestructible, and plastic is something that I want to avoid!  

I immediately went about looking for alternatives to laundry detergent in plastic jugs. At first, I turned to powder detergent in what I thought were recyclable cardboard boxes, but I found out the boxes were lined in plastic (please don’t put them in the recycling bin). Anyway, the products didn’t work well for me.

My sister recommended Dropps Laundry Detergent Pods, which she discovered from an online advertising blitz. (The ads are funny and worth a watch.) The problem is that Dropps can only be purchased online, and they recommend a subscription service – which turned me off the idea of trying. However, my sister convinced me to try, and I’ve been a loyal customer for two years. I’ve gotten over my reluctance to have a subscription, and I like getting my laundry pods every few months right before I run out.

The pods come in a regular cardboard box (no plastic lining), which I rip up and put in my compost. (It’s brown for my compost, for those in the know). The pods themselves are encased in polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) film. This material is on the EPA Safer Choice list and, according to Dropps, breaks down entirely in the wash. However, another sustainable laundry detergent brand, powder, is fighting this claim, so I am watching the outcome. However, as the EPA still lists it as a safer choice, I’ll stick with it for now.

Earth Day 2024

Drying Laundry

I don’t use fabric softener, and maybe I should as I often hang my clothes up to dry – they do get a bit stiff, but my family doesn’t seem to notice – or know any better. However, when I use the dryer, I have three wool dryer balls that bounce around and fluff up my clothes and sheets while drying. I’ve read claims that these wool dryer balls cut down on drying time; honestly, I’m not sure about that. I suppose, in theory, it’s possible, but I haven’t noticed a big difference. However, clothes come out static-free and soft without fabric softeners, often made with chemicals and in plastic jugs. The wool dryer balls last a long time, and I prefer the plain white balls. Please keep it simple.

Cleaning Products

Let’s move on to cleaning products, and we are back to Blueland products. I adore their window cleaner tablets; I buy at least 20 at a time and always prepare when I need more for cleanup. I don’t bother with bathroom or surface cleaner – I use glass cleaner for everything. I don’t adore The Blue Land “forever” spray bottles; they weren’t forever for me. It wasn’t long until the metal spring failed, and I had to throw away the bottle. Instead, I buy a bottle of Windex (the more eco-friendly kind) and use it up. Then, when I need more window cleaning spray, I throw in a Blue Land glass cleaner tablet in the spray bottle, add water, and I’m good to go. My current bottle is over a year old, so I’ve significantly reduced my plastic. However, the metal spring will go at some point, and then it’s back to the store for some more, and then I use my Blueland refills until I need another bottle.

Reusable Mugs

I am not a coffee drinker, but I love my tea, and I have purchased a few good-quality reusable mugs that travel with me from home to work and back. This helps to reduce my use of single-use paper cups – which are lined with plastic. My husband loves to go to Zumbach’s for coffee; though he doesn’t always remember, he often takes his reusable coffee mug to cut down on waste. The perk is that the Zumbach’s rewards people bringing in their reusable mugs by charging for a small coffee when a reusable mug is used. However, don’t be the guy who brings in some 40 oz reusable mug and expects the same deal – don’t.

Bottled Water And Soft Drinks

Bottled water: I’m not a fan. Something that has become ubiquitous, unheard of 40 years ago. I use the filter on my fridge water dispenser for those who want purified water. Or, you can try a Brita Filter pitcher. Is it a perfect solution… no. You do have to throw out the filters, but you will get a lot of use out of them, significantly reducing your plastic consumption. If you like to buy soda – always go for aluminum cans over plastic. Plastic can be recycled several times, but aluminum can be recycled endlessly without much energy.


Lastly, I love getting Chinese takeout, but those black plastic containers are not recyclable. Plastic that can handle high heat isn’t easy to break down, and if you go to and check with the “RecycleCT Wizard,” you will get the answer about where these containers can be recycled.

Best Option

Trash: Put this item in your trash


Initially, the range of black plastic containers we generate were acceptable in CT’s mixed recycling program, due to market conditions, CT MRFs have removed these items from our “IN” list. Thanks for readjusting to this charge.

I have started going to the restaurant rather than ordering takeout out. Still, once again, I’m not perfect, and sometimes I give in to staying at home in PJs while having some General Tso’s Tofu (not my husband’s favorite). The black plastic take-out containers can be re-used countless times if cleaned and stored correctly. Also, when I go to restaurants, I bring black plastic containers in my purse (my 12-year-old self would be mortified). If we have leftovers (we usually have leftovers), I use the containers I already have. As most places now bring you a container to fill yourself, I’ve never had a problem or a waiter or waitress complain. I typically get the opposite response, and expressed gratitude for the effort.

Start Small to Reduce Your Plastic

I just wanted to let you know that this is enough for now. Could I go on? Of course, starting small and building up your plastic-free habit is better than becoming overwhelmed and giving up. Start with one change and then make another when you feel comfortable.

If you have any questions, email us at [email protected], and we will try to help. Let’s celebrate Earth Day by doing better for our planet.