There are so many ways we can help the environment these days through simple actions that almost anyone can do. As a citizen of this beautiful, green earth, we owe it to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our planet to put forth our best effort as individuals to save it all by reducing our use of plastic.
Through action, we can not only make a positive, direct impact on planet earth, but we can also encourage others by example and hopefully spread this positive mindset throughout the world.
Since one of the most harmful pollutants on earth is plastic, we have our work cut out for us. We see plastic waste everywhere, too. From the grocery store to restaurants to schools to our own home. Do you think we have it in us to reduce the use of plastic in our lives? I say, yes we can!
So what are some ways to reduce our plastic use?
1. Stylish Reusable Coffee Mug
There are so many ways to knock the habit of using plastic in today’s world, but one of the easiest and most effective ways is to switch up your coffee drinking routine with a reusable coffee mug. Whenever I go to my local coffee shop (and sometimes Starbucks), I always bring my insulated, no-spill, metal coffee mug.
I even use it when going through the drive-thru! This is super simple and requires minimal effort. I’ve even seen people also use reusable coffee mugs that are made out of recycled materials. Whichever way you go about it, it’s a great way to help the environment. Plus you can get one with a cool design!
2. Glass or Metal Water Bottle
Similar to getting a reusable coffee mug, removing the habit of buying water from throwaway plastic bottles is a big win for the environment. For one, plastic bottles are one of the most common plastic pollutants on the planet and it just makes sense to avoid plastic potentially contaminating the water it’s holding.
I personally use a glass water bottle, which I often throw in the dishwasher to keep it looking good and smelling fresh. There are so many options out there when it comes to reusable water bottles, so there’s a solution for everybody. Don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself!
3. Plastic Cutlery, Be Gone!
Whenever we throw parties at our house, whether they’re birthday parties, BBQs, or just simple get-togethers, you bet there’s going to be food for people to eat. Instead of going for the standard plastic cutlery that just ends up in the garbage, we started using disposable bamboo cutlery.
The great part about bamboo is that it’s extremely eco-friendly due to its worldwide abundance, quick growth rate, and naturally compostable. With all that, you can pretty much do what you want with them without worrying about them spending a millennium in a landfill somewhere.
4. Say No to Plastic Straws
It’s become increasingly clear over the years that plastic straws are a big no-no. With the crackdown of use in some major cities, it’s more common nowadays to simply avoid using them whenever possible. The great thing is there are better, more eco-friendly alternatives that look great, work wonderfully, and create a greener planet.
Some people opt for using recyclable paper straws while others go for reusable metal straws. I guess it depends if you want to throw them away or keep and clean them, so pick whichever works for you. Actually, recently I heard about bamboo straws, which I plan on trying soon!
5. Good Ol’ Plastic Wrap (Aka Saran Wrap)
How many times have you had leftovers and wrapped them up with Saran wrap? This used to literally happen to me on a daily basis, which got me thinking how wasteful this habit was. But this habit isn’t too tough to kick since all you really need to do is switch to tin foil.
Not only is tin foil already a standard solution for saving your food for later, but it’s also recyclable (as opposed to plastic wrap). The sad part about using plastic wrap is that it’s not recyclable at all. That’s harsh because some plastic products are usually recyclable, like plastic bottles. Thankfully, we have an easy solution!
6. Try Loose Leaf Tea Instead of Teabags
This may come as a shock to you (it was to me), but a lot of teabags are actually made with plastic. As a matter of fact, the fabric that holds the tea is often times lines with a type of plastic that helps preserve the tea and keep it from leaking through the fibers. Imagine my surprise and the surprise of my friends when we discovered this.
I have tea on almost a daily basis using teabags, but quickly switched to using loose leaf tea with a metal strainer. Trust me, this is way better! The quality of tea is better, it’s more effective when re-steeping, and it’s great for the environment. It also ended up encouraging me to be a bit more adventurous when trying out new teas!
7. Walk, Talk, and Not Chew Gum at the Same Time
Chewing gum is one of those things we’ve probably been doing since we were kids. Whether you use it to freshen your breath or you just like the taste or feeling, it’s commonplace. Unfortunately, nowadays gum is enclosed in containers made out of plastic, which is sometimes not recyclable, so an increase in plastic waste has been a result.
Even without these plastic containers, the paper used to keep the gum in the case is often lined with plastic to keep the gum preserved. Honestly, I wasn’t a huge gum chewer anyway, but this is definitely a sure-fire way to reduce the use of plastic.
8. This Party Glitter Is Everywhere!
Seriously, getting rid of party glitter is a nightmare! It gets in the carpet, all over the lawn, underneath couch cushions, and anywhere else you can think of. Not only is party glitter a pain to get rid of, but it’s also a very dangerous plastic product that can get into all kinds of places in our environment.
From our planet’s soil to oceans, this stuff has no limit, and sadly it’s not even recyclable. Party glitter can easily get into our waterways and find its way into marine life and the soil they live around. It can even get stuck in our soil and interfere with our food. Unfortunately, party glitter poses pretty heavy negative consequences to our environment and should be avoided when possible.
9. Plastic Bottles Are Still a Thing?
As I mentioned before, plastic bottles are the leading plastic pollutant when it comes to waste in our landfills and everywhere else in the world. This should come as no surprise since we put almost every single liquid into them. But it’s not only plastic water bottles that are to blame. There’s also juice, milk, sports drinks, tea, and more!
Nowadays, more eco-friendly companies are starting to use recyclable paper and cardboard as well as glass for their liquid products, which is great. In my opinion, reducing the use of plastic bottles at home and in everyday life is one of the most effective ways toward a more sustainable planet.
10. Good Wine Comes with a Cork Stopper
While not everyone’s a fan of wine, I for one don’t mind a glass during dinner or when watching a fun movie with my family. The issue is that a lot of cheaper wines cork their bottles with plastic stoppers, which are definitely not recyclable. That’s why moving away from plastic stoppers and toward cork stoppers is a great way to go green.
Not only is it good for the environment, but you’re likely to drink better wine that has the proper aroma and taste. The great thing is that companies are starting to notice their customers prefer cork stoppers, so hopefully plastic stoppers are eventually left in the dust.
11. Reusable Shopping Bags for the Win!
Whether you’re getting groceries, clothes, household supplies, or anything else, you might get the question: “Paper or plastic?” If this happens to you, definitely go for the paper since it’s recyclable. Otherwise, I’d suggest getting a reusable shopping bag. The amount of plastic bags we go through as a society is enormous and the worst part is that they’re not recyclable.
However, shopping bags are not only a good replacement in terms of holding your items, but they can come with easy to hold handles, insulation material, non-leak lining inside, and even a zipper to close the top. This is a super-effective way of battling plastic pollution on our planet!
12. Plastic Produce Bags Are a Silent Killer
I never really thought about it, but those thin plastic baggies that you put your produce in at the grocery store are no different than plastic grocery bags. They might even be worse because I’ve ever thought of reusing them, as opposed to the plastic grocery bags I’d keep underneath my sink.
It’s strange that some stores would ban plastic grocery bags, but not plastic produce bags. Luckily there are produce bags you can buy that completely replace them.
13. Try out Cardboard Boxes When Shopping
Have you ever been to Costco, Sam’s Club, or Aldi and had your groceries plus all the other stuff you bought placed into cardboard boxes at the checkout stand? This is one of the best examples of companies and individuals opting for recyclable, cardboard boxes instead of using plastic bags.
Reusing cardboard boxes at stores is a great option for moving around store-bought items because they’re sturdy enough to be reused time and time again. One of the best parts about using cardboard boxes is they’re easily foldable, so sliding them into storage for later use is a breeze.
14. Just Say No to Micro-Bead Products
Nowadays it’s become very common to find micro-beads inside of facial cleansers and even toothpaste. While I’ll admit that using these kinds of facial cleansers are better at exfoliating my skin compared to non-micro-bead cleansers, they’re some of the most wasteful products on the market.
Similar to glitter, the plastic is so small that it can enter our water streams undetected and end up polluting our oceans and soil. Sadly, this almost completely irreversible, so every time we use these products we’re hurting the planet in ways we can’t take back. Go green and say no to micro-beads!
15. Choose Reusable Razors
I’ve been using disposable razors for so long that I didn’t even realize how many I’ve gone through over the years, but the amount of plastic that doesn’t get recycled due to these items is huge. One of the easiest ways to avoid this issue is to start using reusable razors that allow you to replace the blade cartridge.
Luckily, there are reusable razors that are made completely with recycled materials as well as blade replacement cartridges that are made of recycled material. Even if you already have a reusable razor, getting more eco-friendly blade replacement cartridges can be a huge help to the environment.
16. Can Cloth Replace Diapers?
Now some of us know very well how expensive baby diapers can be, especially because there are so many to buy! But what’s not well known is how much plastic material is used in them, and since diapers are single-use, they go straight to the garbage followed by a landfill.
To opt for a more eco-friendly solution, you can invest in some reusable cloth diapers that may have an up-front cost greater than disposable diapers, but will eventually pay off financially and environmentally. A great part of using cloth diapers is also the comfort your baby has, which we all know can make a world of difference.
17. Plastic Food Storage Is All Too Common
Just take a look inside your kitchen cabinets or anywhere else you store items and you’ll find a lot of plastic storage containers. From storing clothes to food, it’s everywhere. Food storage containers, zip-lock bags, plastic wrap, and more dominate our spaces and a lot of the time they don’t get recycled.
When it comes to food storage containers, these are most of the time recyclable, so when you get rid of them it’s not a complete waste. But other items like zip-lock bags, plastic (aka Saran) wrap should be replaced with more eco-friendly solutions, like tin foil or reusable plastic containers that are recyclable.
18. Buy in Bulk
A recent trend I started taking a part in is buying some of my groceries from the bulk bins in my grocery store. Do you know those big containers full of different grains, seeds, beans, rice, and more? This is a great way to start moving away from plastic and choosing to reuse your own food containers.
Not only is it a more eco-friendly way to shop, but these items tend to be more healthy than pre-packaged products. Plus you can custom choose how much you want at any given time, so no worry about buying too much or too little based on package sizes.
19. Opt for Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bags
One of the more wasteful plastic items that are almost virtually never recycled is snack and sandwich bags. It’s amazing how much I used to use these products to prepare my kids’ lunches for school that after I thought about it, I made a change almost instantly.
The problem is these are designed to be used only once, so opting for either tin foil that can be recycled or food storage containers that are reusable is the way to go here.
20. Say No to Plastic Garbage Bags
Plastic garbage bags are quite literally used in every single household in the world and are by definition never recycled. Sadly, this inherently will always be the case and is a hard one to fix worldwide. That’s why being able to make the switch to paper or recycled material garbage bags is so important.
Without this, plastic garbage bags will end up in landfills along with the garbage they hold, and they’ll stay there for up to 1000 years. That’s a long time! This is probably one of the best ways to reduce our plastic use today.
21. An Alternative to Dry Cleaning Bags
Going to the dry cleaners is a common occurrence in my household, which is when I started to notice how much plastic we go through on a weekly basis. The problem is that this plastic is almost entirely non-reusable due to it being very fragile.
Instead of having your dry cleaner use their plastic dry cleaning bags, buy some reusable dry cleaning bags and have them put your clothes inside of them instead. My dry cleaner was very supportive and even encouraged other customers to start doing the same! With a small up-front cost, you can do it too.
22. Treat Yourself with an Ice Cream Cone
Every so often, my family and I dip into our local Baskin Robbins and grab some ice cream (Gold Medal Ribbon anyone?). Now, whenever I go there we always opt for an ice cream cone because it ensures that we don’t use the plastic spoon when asking for a cup.
The thing is, I actually like the cup sometimes, so I started to bring in my own spoon (a small one though), which is also useful for sampling. This is a great option if you’re trying to reduce your use of plastic and enjoy some delicious ice cream with the ones you love!
23. Get Some Eco-Friendly Plant Pots
Plant pots can be made out of a lot of different kinds of material, but many of the less expensive pots are made of plastic. While some of these are recyclable, they’re not always the most durable and can, more often than not, be the first ones to be thrown away and replaced.
Instead of buying more plastic that’ll end up being thrown away, go for the other materials that are more eco-friendly, like ceramic or metal. Not only will you be saving the environment from even more plastic use, but the other materials are often a bit more stylish.
24. Make Your Period Plastic-Free
I’ll just be straightforward about this. A lot of feminine hygiene products are made with plastic and we all know where the majority of them end up. Instead of flushing our plastic products down the toilet and into our waterways, I encourage you to go a greener route that can have a massively positive effect on our planet.
A good start is to use biodegradable products that are plastic-free. I for one found some great products that are really supportive and haven’t forced me to miss a step in my daily routine. Try it out and see if it’s right for you!
25. Pandas Want Your Bamboo Toothbrush
One of the worst perpetrators of plastic waste on the planet is plastic toothbrushes. Think about it. For the rest of you and your family’s life, you’ll replace multiple toothbrushes at least every three months. In all likeliness, they’ll be made out of non-recyclable plastic. That’s a lot of plastic!
Instead, I highly encourage you to try out bamboo toothbrushes. Bamboo is naturally biodegradable, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and highly renewable. On top of all that, they look and smell great! I started buying these bamboo toothbrushes some time ago and haven’t looked back since.
26. Move Away from Plastic Cotton Swabs
It used to be the case that cotton swabs were purely made out of recyclable paper, but nowadays it seems more common to find cheaper cotton swabs made out of plastic. Of course, the swab part is still cotton, but the stem of the swab can be made out of plastic.
Sadly, this isn’t recyclable plastic and will end up in the trash. This is a good time to be conscious of what you’re buying at the store so as not to be fooled by simply buying the cheaper plastic version. And to be honest, cotton swabs are pretty cheap anyway, so it’s a win-win!
27. Try Plastic-Free Deodorant
It’s shocking how much plastic is in the products we use on a daily basis. How did it ever get into our deodorant? Well, it has. And not only is it not recyclable, but it’s being exposed to our family’s skin and even being absorbed into our bodies. That is definitely not good.
I implore you to check the ingredients of all the deodorant used in your household and replace them with plastic-free deodorant. Not only is this a sure-fire way to help the environment, but a guaranteed way to reduce the potentially toxic intake happening in you and your family’s bodies.
28. DIY Cleaning Products
Similar to most liquid products, cleaning products are always stored in some sort of plastic container because they’re virtually guaranteed to keep it contained. Unfortunately, the number of cleaning products anyone can have in their household is potentially huge, which can mean a lot of plastic products lying around.
A great alternative to these products is to make your own cleaning products with more natural, chemical-free ingredients. These can include vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and more. The great part about this is that it’s plastic-free, it uses less dangerous chemicals, and it’s cheaper. Win-win-win!
29. Drop the Plastic-Packaged Food and Snacks
Want to be healthier and plastic-free? Well, a good start is to ditch the plastic-packaged food and snacks. Let’s be honest, almost nothing that comes in a plastic bag is a healthy way to snack, and if it is there’s probably a healthier, plastic-free snack to have instead. Think potato chips, cereal, candy… You get the idea.
This is where buying from bulk bins is a great way to reduce plastic use since a lot of these types of food can be bought in bulk. Try it out the next time you’re at the store!
30. Choose Bamboo or Cardboard When You Can
Before I became aware of how much plastic my family and I used throughout the household, I never considered any other material to use as an alternative. However, once I woke up to the reality of the amount of plastic waste that existed in my life, I found that using materials like bamboo and cardboard were excellent alternatives.
These materials are great because they’re reusable, recyclable, eco-friendly, and durable. On top of that, they can look great and add a more natural feeling throughout your home.
31. Buy Products Made from Recycled Materials
Now sometimes we just need to use something similar to plastic since other materials just aren’t available for those products, like disposable blade replacement cartridges for reusable razors. Whenever I’m confronted with this issue, I simply opt for using products that are made out of recycled materials.
At the very least, we want to take part in the circular economy, and purchasing products made out of recycled materials is a great way to do that. You’d be surprised how many products are actually made this way!
32. Wire Hangers vs Plastic Hangers
A small but simple way of reducing your use of plastic at your home is to move away from plastic hangers and toward wire hangers made from metal. The problem with plastic hangers is not only are they often times not recyclable, but they can be brittle and can break easily over time.
Metal wire hangers, however, are able to handle a beating and can last a lot longer. Not only that, but they can be reused and recycled. Such an easy way to go plastic-free!
33. Say No to Snail-Mail
I don’t know about you, but whenever I check my mailbox and it’s full of letters from the bank or some other unexpected envelope, I just want it to stop! Not only is it kind of annoying, but it’s also extremely wasteful because many envelopes are built with a transparent plastic window to reveal the delivery address.
The problem with this is that it makes that paper non-recyclable, which is really unfortunate. A great way to combat this is to switch to digital correspondence so that instead of mailed letters, you get emails. Sometimes you even get reimbursed by the business your subscribed to for doing this, too!
34. Bring Your Own Doggie Bag to Restaurants
I’d say virtually every single time my family and I go out to dinner, there’s still food on the table that’ll end up in a doggie bag. I’m a huge fan of taking food home like this because wasting food has always been a big no-no for me and my family.
The problem is that doggie bags are made out of plastic and, just like other plastic bags, aren’t recyclable. I suggested getting a reusable doggie bag that you can take with you whenever you plan on going to a restaurant. I do this every time we go out for a bite to eat!
35. Avoid Ordering out and Food Delivery
You know a good way to stay healthy and go green? Avoiding ordering food takeout and delivery! I’ll be honest, I’m still guilty of this because there are times when I just want to take a break and order something. But in the long run, it’s better to avoid it and simply make your own food because the amount of plastic bags that are used in the process of food takeout and delivery is huge, so at least reducing this can have a big impact.
If you still want to order out or get delivery, see if they can put it in a paper bag or cardboard box instead of a plastic bag.
36. The Infamous Six-Pack Rings
Beverages that come in packs of six are most likely going to be held together with the infamous six-pack rings. These are infamous because they aren’t recyclable and they can easily get in the way of nature. For example, it’s not uncommon that they end up in our waterways and get tangled up with fish, birds, plants, and other marine life.
If you’re going to buy products that use six-pack rings, at the very least make sure you cut the rings with scissors. A good alternative to buying beverages with these rings is to opt for the beverages placed inside cardboard inserts. Not only are they recyclable, but they’re safer for living marine life everywhere.
37. What Else Can You Replace, Reduce, or Remove?
Can you think of anything else you can either avoid buying or replace in your everyday life that’s made out of plastic? There’s virtually an infinite number of items that fall into these categories, so staying on the lookout for them is up to each and every one of us.
Some of the best materials that are eco-friendly and recyclable are products made out of fair trade and organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, soy, and recycled materials. So the next time you consider buying your next product, ask yourself: “Is there a plastic-free alternative available?” The likely answer? “Yes.”