To Begin Living Plastic-Free, Drew Barrymore Recommends Starting Small and Letting It Snowball
Drew Barrymore didn’t totally give up plastic overnight, and doesn’t think you should, either. When it comes to living a more sustainable lifestyle, the award-winning actress, talkshow host, mom, and entrepreneur recommends taking baby steps, starting with tangible tweaks you actually want to change, and letting it cascade from there.
“My whole journey, which started four years ago, was [started with] one thing, and it was the thing I interacted with the most. It was my cups,” she says over Zoom. “I used to use Styrofoam cups… but I switched my ways and got metal cups and have flat-head straws. I just searched until I found the things that worked for me.”
Rethinking one single object she interacted with regularly quickly gave her the momentum to go on and make other lifestyle changes she was using in her day-to-day routine, like swapping plastic garbage bags for compostable options, or single-use food storage for reusable containers. “It had this trickle effect that started snowballing, and it got me really excited to look for alternatives,” Barrymore says.
With Plastic-Free July around the corner, Barrymore has teamed up with sustainable lifestyle brand, Grove Co., to help others cut down on waste next month, and every month, for that matter. Here are her tips for living a more eco-friendly lifestyle at home, and her favorite Grove Co. products to do it with.
Find simple swaps
It can be easy fall into the overwhelming “I need to revamp my whole life to be eco-friendly” trap, which can easily make you feel disheartened and frustrated before you even start.
“I think a major life overhaul is not necessarily always the best way [for going plastic free],” Barrymore says. “It works for some people, but for me, I’m like, ‘one small thing leads to another small thing [that] leads to another small thing…'”
Rather than trying to get rid of all the plastic in your life, Barrymore suggests focusing on the swaps (like she did with her metal cup!) that make sense for you. If you realize you’re using a lot of paper towels, maybe invest in a reusable Swedish Dish Cloth ($8) instead. Maybe you’re disappointed in the amount of food waste you’re throwing in the garbage can—invest in compost bin or program. Or, if you’re going through bottles of beauty products, give shampoo bars or facial bars a whirl. Start small, and over time, you’ll start to see (and hopefully, want to change) the other aspects of your life that aren’t as sustainable.
Lead by example
It’s one thing to convince yourself to go plastic-free. But what about the other members of your household, like partners and children?
As a mother of two, Barrymore recommends leading by example, shopping for compostable, recyclable, or plastic-free products, and communicating honestly about sustainability. She explains that she started talking about the plastic crisis with her children when they were younger and receiving toys with “radical amounts of plastic” in them, which opened the door to more candid conversations.
“One positive is that they’re very aware, much more aware than I think other generations were around politics and the environment,” she says. “They see everything I’m doing and know I work with Grove… and now when they get stuff, they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s full of plastic.’ I’m so happy they get it and that they’re aware.”
Have fun and feel empowered
Barrymore knows how frustrating it can be to wait around for large-scale change, but the “doomsday” approach to sustainability isn’t necessarily a fun or empowering one. “If it gets doomsday and dark, I’m out—I just shut down. It’s not what inspires me. Like, fear—I have plenty of it,” she says. “What I’d like are positive solutions, and ever since I’ve started working with Grove, they’ve changed my life.”
She recommends shopping for sustainable swaps that bring you joy, which, luckily, Grove Co. has in spades. Particularly, its limited-edition Fresh Horizons collection, which was designed in partnership with Barrymore herself and features fresh, tropical scents, summery colors, and serotonin-boosting styles. “The packaging makes me feel good. It’s like great to look at, it’s designer-friendly, it functions well, it smells good, it’s good for the environment—I’m really really proud of that,” she says. “I think if you start with like one thing that you really interact with all the time, it feels good, and then you want that feeling and get really aware of better practices around you. Then it kind of just gets going.”
Shop Drew’s plastic-free favorites from Grove Co. below
“The thing no one tells you about these laundry sheets—you don’t need softener anymore. They’re so softening,” Barrymore says. And they’re so easy to use—simply throw one in with your dirty laundry and let it do its thing. The dissolvable sheets blend in with your clothes, letting the plant-based cleansers and stain removers go to work, without the mess or waste. Bonus: it smells heavenly, too.
Originally $27, now $24
“The hardest [swap] for me was the dryer balls, because I love fabric softener,” she says. “But the chemicals [were] starting to bother me and my daughters’ skin, and I then I’d look at the big plastic jug and think, ‘I can’t do it.'”
Barrymore can confirm the swap to these wool dryer balls is worth it. Made from pure New Zealand wool, these eco-friendly balls eliminate wrinkles while drying your clothes. Choose from the classic dryer balls or an essential oil set, which add a burst of sunny fragrance to every laundry load.
Originally $19, now $10
The limited-edition Fresh Horizons collection is discounted ahead of summer, and we recommend stocking up with all sorts of sustainable must-haves. Top of our list is this summery set that’s bound to put some sunshine on your sink. Each kit includes a bright yellow glass soap dispenser and aluminum refill of soap in either the flowery “Island Orchid” or clean, dewy “Palm Leaf Mist.”
Originally $58, now $38
Or, double down on a kitchen’s worth of cleaning supplies with this Sinkside Set, which includes two glass dispensers, a bottle of dish soap, bottle of hand soap, a tray, and a walnut scrubber sponge. Available in both “Island Orchid” and “Palm Leaf Mist.”
Originally $10, now $7
Transform your home into a tropical island getaway with this refreshing candle. It’s made from a soy-wax blend and totally natural fragrance to give you 40 hours of clean, safe burn time. And it smells absolutely magical, with notes of “sun-kissed orchid & frangipani and fresh-cut tropical leaves.”