Hello! I’ve been trying to move more fully away from single-use plastics (and then plastics in general), and I’ve been finding lots of ideas I hadn’t thought of before. If you’re like me, you probably don’t know how exactly to go about reducing your plastic usage (besides the most common ways) or don’t realize how many ways you are still using single-use plastics even if you’ve avoided the major ones. So I thought I’d share
This is a big list. But a lot of these things are super simple! And even if you don’t do all of these, the ones you do will make a difference. Just start somewhere. And then maybe add in another and another
Just so you know: Roughly half of plastic production is for single-use products. That’s a big, big deal.
So here are some ways to skip single-use plastic:
At the Store
🐋 choose reusable grocery bags. The hardest part is just remembering to grab them from the car, but put them in a place where you’ll see them when you get out. They’re sturdy and awesome (and mine hold more groceries=fewer trips from the car to my house 😉). for families with multiple cars: make sure you have some in each car!
🐋 choose reusable bags for bulk groceries or produce (cloth or net).
🐋 reconsider purchasing products with excessive plastic packaging.
🐋 reconsider online purchases (including grocery delivery) since they’ll come with lots of packaging.
🐋 if you buy cans of beverages, choose those in cardboard boxes instead of 6-packs in plastic rings.
🐋 look for products in boxes rather than bottles–there are often similar products in different packaging (a cardboard box of laundry detergent instead of a plastic jug).
🐋 instead of single-serving pre-packaged foods (yogurts, chips, cheese sticks, cookies, fruit cups, etc), choose bulk and divvy them up yourself as needed (in non-plastic containers, of course 😉). Fruit cups can totally just be swapped out and served in nature’s packaging 🍌
🐋 shop at local farmer’s markets where you can bring your own containers instead of shopping at the many stores that don’t give you that option.
🐋 don’t buy those single-use flosser things! Way more plastic in the handle than necessary. Regular floss works great.
🐋 choose cardboard cotton swabs instead of the ones with plastic centers.
🐋 look for medicines that can be purchased by the bottle rather than in blister packs.
🐋 skip products (mostly skincare) that include microplastics! There are still some in circulation.
🐋 opt for matches instead of plastic lighters.
Out to Eat
🐋 bring a water bottle (no need to buy from a vending machine while you’re out plus restaurants are fine with you filling up your own cup).
🐋 if you want to take home leftovers from a restaurant, bring your own container. Skip plastic or styrofoam take-out boxes. Plus, they often put that take-out box in a plastic bag.
🐋 opt out of plastic straws (drink from the cup or your own water bottle) or buy your own reusable straw made of glass, stainless steel, silicone, or bamboo. You must state this preference from the very beginning–restaurants often bring drinks with straws already in them.
🐋 skip the drive-thru. Sit down to eat with reusable utensils, cups, plates/trays, etc.
🐋 consider purchasing your own reusable utensil kits to bring out to eat.
🐋 use bottled condiments instead of single-use ketchup, mayo, etc.
🐋 bring your own mug (or order it to stay in cafes that serve in mugs) for hot beverages instead of single-use coffee cups with plastic lids.
🐋 skip coffee stirrers.
🐋 when ordering pizza, ask them to leave out the little white plastic table in the middle of the pizza.
🐋 choose a cone instead of a cup when ordering ice cream.
Out and About
🐋 bring your own toiletries on vacation with you instead of disposables (razors, toothbrushes, etc).
🐋 consider using re-fillable containers instead of single-use travel size products (soaps, toothpaste, lotions, etc). Plus, then you don’t open the complementary bar of soap or shower gel and use only a tiny portion. Instead, these can be saved for another customer.
🐋 always bring snacks when you’re out and about or traveling so you’re not tempted to buy prepackaged grab-and-go foods.
🐋 pack your and your family’s lunches in reusable packaging: stainless steel containers, bento boxes, mason jars, food wrap, fabric bags, etc.
🐋 check out other food storage ideas for home. Beeswax food wrap instead of plastic wrap, reusable cloth zipper bags instead of plastic snack bags, fabric bowl covers, Mason jars or reused glass jars from pickles, spaghetti sauce, etc.
🐋 re-evaluate your personal care items and cleaning products. There are plenty of things that likely go under-used or can easily be substituted (i.e. bar soap instead of wrapped or bottled soap; menstrual cups instead of tampons and pads; bar soap, shampoo, or conditioner instead of shaving cream).
🐋 re-use the things you already have in your home until they’ve lived out their usefulness, thereby making the transition to non-plastics less overwhelming while reducing unnecessary waste.
🐋 instead of just tossing plastic that’s already in your house, consider donating to organizations that might have a legitimate reason to utilize that particular product. For example, donating your extra plastic utensils to a local meal program (soup kitchen) or charity organization.
🐋 find used instead of new products to purchase for items that you consider necessary plastics (power strips, some electronics, etc.). Thrift stores, Craigslist, Freecycle, or just asking to borrow things like lawn tools from friends!
🐋 actually recycle recyclables. If you haven’t eliminated plastic grocery bags yet, don’t toss them in your home recycling. Instead, recycle these at the receptacles in grocery stores. Find glass recycling centers and use them.
🐋 remove yourself from mailing lists to reduce glossy pages, plastic windows, etc. that just get thrown away asap.
🐋 consider digital media purchases in lieu of plastic-packaged DVDs, CDs, etc.
🐋 if you already haven’t, stop smoking. Cigarette filters are plastic.
🐋 Balloons. Sorry! Choose a cute re-usable banner instead!
🐋 swap out plastic gift ribbon for jute or raffia.
🐋 reusable gift wrapping while we’re at it 😉
🐋 give gifts in cute reusable shopping bags. They cost about as much (or less) than gift bags and encourage shopping with reusable bags.
🐋 choose masking tape over plastic tape.
🐋 be wary of any single-use plastic. Plastic cups sneak in on us all the time, for instance. Be mindful about what you choose to use. Skip it, or find alternatives. The more you keep an eye out for plastics, the more you’ll notice just how much a single person uses. But you’ll also notice the most common situations when you’re tempted to use plastics so you can bring alternatives next time!
🐋 simply ask for changes. Ask friends to become more aware and make changes. Ask companies to reconsider products. Advocate for less plastic in the workplace, the classroom, at businesses, etc.
🐋 etc. etc. etc. There are so many things we can choose that reduce our plastic consumption overall (purchasing from bulk grocers, bamboo toothbrushes, green phone cases, cloth diapers and wipes, no gum, making some household products, toiletries, and/or foods instead of purchasing, considering what kinds of kid and baby toys we purchase, purchasing products that help fund de-plasticization or cleanup or marine life or something).
There are tons of other things we can do, but these are all excellent. Find your most common single-use plastic culprits and get creative in finding alternatives.
ALSO! There are tons and tons of non-plastic related direct and indirect benefits. Like, it’s good for you (mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, etc.) to slow down and sit while you eat. Avoiding drive-thrus and pre-packaged foods clearly has health benefits. Environmental reasons, health reasons, less-waste reasons. AND there are also important skills and other benefits to be had here (creative problem-solving, for one ☺️). Seriously, finding creative solutions is a pretty fun aspect of removing plastic from your life =)
Look at all the things we CAN do! Pretty easily. “The people who make the biggest difference are the ones who do the little things consistently.”