Here are some ways to reduce your use of plastic and make sustainable choices. Mastering any of these tips below can lead to habits that contribute to a permanent, sustainable lifestyle.
Switch Bottles for Boxes
One of the main sources of plastic waste comes from plastic water bottles. Take the first step in reducing your use of plastic by subbing out your use of plastic water bottles for boxed water. Not only is boxed water is just as accessible as any plastic water bottle, it's also healthier to drink. Many leading plastic water bottle companies include over 20 dissolved solids. Drinking boxed water is completely free of any harmful toxins or minerals.
Make Your Take-Out Experience Sustainable
Next time you treat yourself to some delicious take out or decide to bring the rest of your food home, bring your own Tupperware. Since many restaurants use plastic or styrofoam containers to package food, using your own reusable Tupperware is a great way to lessen the waste of non-recyclable materials.
Using your reusable grocery bags is a great place to start. Try returning plastic containers at your local grocer and use your own reusable Tupperware. Additionally, if you shop at a farmers market, local vendors will fill your reusable containers, as well.
Replace the Razor Blades
Buying a new razors every time you run out leads to an unnecessary amount of plastic waste. Instead of continuously buying a new pack of razors every few weeks, try only switching out your razor blades. This way, a significant amount of plastic is saved, and you don't need to spend as much.
Ditch the Microbeads
If your face wash or toothpaste ingredients include polyethylene or polypropylene, the item likely contains microbeads. Not only do these tiny plastic beads go down the drain, eventually flowing to rivers, lakes, and the ocean, but they are also often mistaken for food by fish and sea turtles which can be deadly for all sea organisms.
Zap Away the Ziplock
Similar to using your own reusable containers for taking home food, apply this habit in your own home as well. Instead of storing unfinished food into a ziplock bag, store it in a glass or steel container. Practicing these habits around the kitchen will lessen the use of plastic around the whole house.
Shift Your Things Sustainably
During times when you're moving those heavy items to and from your car, try and keep some empty cardboard boxes in your trunk instead of plastic bags. Cardboard is more durable than plastic anyways, and more eco-friendly.
Your Furry Friends Can Be Sustainable Too
Treat your pet with a new toy. This time, try leaning towards cloth based items instead of plastic. This reduces not only your use of plastic, but the risk of a choking hazard as well.
Say Bye to the Bubble Wrap
Next time you're shipping out a fragile item, use junk mail and other various paper scraps, instead of bubble wrap, to protect it. Packaging a delicate item requires a lot of protection, meaning a lot of plastic if bubble wrap is used. Using paper instead is a huge step in eliminating plastic.
Buy the Best Batteries
When you invest in batteries, make sure they are rechargeable. This lessens both the amount of time and money spent on purchasing new batteries and the plastic that's used to package them.
Solidify Your Soap
While there may be concern about bar soap being less sanitary, the truth is that bar soap gets washed with every use. However, the plastic pump in liquid soap is not only unwashed, it is an unnecessary waste of plastic that can be easily avoided. Additionally, many liquid soaps contain microbeads.
Keep Your Spring Cleaning Au Naturale
Many store-bought cleaning products often include plastic. The perfect solution to avoiding this is simple — vinegar. Not only does this method use less plastic, but vinegar's pH of 2.0 along with the acetic acid content acts as an inhospitable environment for many microorganisms, making it the perfect cleaner around the house.
Ditch the Plastic Toilet Wrap
While many common brands of toilet paper come in plastic packaging, there is an easy way to avoid this. Who Gives A Crap toilet paper is a company that uses either recycled paper, or bamboo to make toilet paper, and is packaged in a cardboard box. Additionally, this company donates 50% of its profits to provide toilets and sanitation in other developing countries around the world.
Get Comfortable with Composting
Incorporate composting into your life. Composting solves numerous plastic use problems. Since composting helps to avoid wet items going in the garbage, you won't need plastic bags for the bin. You can also mix the compost with soil from the yard to pot houseplants, instead of buying potting soil in plastic bags.
Start using cloth rags to clean up around the house instead of paper towels. This reduces your use of trash to throw away, and plastic used to package those paper towels.
Next time you're whipping up a meal in the kitchen, be mindful of your cutting board, and its use of plastic. All cutting boards get dirty after a while, but when a plastic board gets filthy, it's more tempting to replace it instead of scrub the plastic. Avoid this cycle by using a glass or wood-based cutting board so you can reuse the item and ditch the plastic.
Keep it Sustainable From Day One
Your little ones are capable of sustainability too! Next time your shopping for new diapers, invest in cloth-based products. Not only do disposable diapers leech toxins into our environment daily, it's also better to keep those toxins away from your baby.
Keep It Real With Your Silverware
Next time you throw a get together, make sure to ditch the plastic silverware and switch it to the real deal. This way, less plastic is thrown away and less money is spent buying more products.
Learn To Buy In Bulk
Look for stores in your area that sell foods from bulk bins and allow you to use your own bags or containers. This allows more bang for your buck and takes away the plastic element of your shopping experience.
Say Farewell To The Frozen Aisle
As tempting as frozen food may be, these foods waste plastic with packaging and most of them are filled with tons of sugar and sodium. Buy fresh produce and avoid unnecessary plastic packaging. Fruits and veggies have their own natural packaging or can be washed with water. Add a bit of vinegar to act as a bacteria-killer.
Keep An Eye On The "Good" Reusable Plastics
It's important to know the chances of a certain item being recyclable. Clear plastic bottles, bottles for shampoos, yogurt containers, toys, and reusable food containers have a higher probability of being recycled, while disposable cutlery, cling wrap, coffee cups and lids have very low probability.
Heat It Up Sustainably
If you're looking to light a candle or create a campfire, start using matches instead of plastic lighters. These disposable lighters stay in landfills for ages and have even been found in dead birds' stomachs. If giving this habit up challenges you, pick up a refillable metal lighter to help cut down on plastic use.
Pack Your Own Plastic-Free Lunch
Instead of packing food items in plastic or paper bags, put them in reusable containers you have at home. Additionally, you could try certain lunch accessories like reusable snack bags.
Figure Out Your Filter
Not only is a stainless steel water bottle the superior option over plastic for when you need H20 on the go, but the same can be done at home. Using a water pitcher with a filter makes for healthy drinking water without the use of disposable plastic.
Keep Your Hygiene Sustainable
Using plastic free natural deodorant is a strong way to reduce plastic because it's a daily process. These products come in paper or bamboo instead of plastic and are 100% biodegradable.
Be Sustainable While You Sip
Plastic straws are one of the leading causes of plastic waste and pollution. While you may notice that many restaurants these days have subbed out plastic straws for paper straws, you can take the next step by investing in your own metal straw. This eliminates waste of both paper and plastic and can last for way longer.
Be Good With Your Gum
While chewing gum already contains plastic in itself, it is also wrapped in a huge amount of plastic. Chewing gum can be a tough habit to break for many, but no fear. There are so many alternative types of gum like Glee of Chewsy which doesn't contain any plastic. Or ditch the habit all together, if you can.
Ditch The Plastic At The Dry Cleaners
When picking up your clothes from the dry cleaners, a lot of plastic is commonly used around your clothing when they’re re returned. To solve this problem, you can bring your own reusable garment or clothing hanger to reduce this use of plastic.
Laundry Done Right
Wolvens Microfiber Filter Wash Bags catch shedding fibers and can save up to 90% of them from entering wastewater. Do your part to protect your oceans and waterways by investing in a microfiber filter bag before your next wash. Remember to wash cold, use liquid detergent (less friction and shedding), and hang dry.
When you're packing for your next adventure, keep sustainability in mind. Many travel sized items and hygienic products tend to use an excessive amount of plastic. To avoid this, go through a packing list and see if any of the tips above can be applied to swap something on the list, and make it more sustainable.
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About the Author
Roxy Meyer @roxymeyer
Roxy was born and raised in Los Angeles but travels back and forth from school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and home. When she isn't spending time outside with her friends, family, and German Shepherd, she applies her researching skills to learn about the psychology of digital media and marketing. She is passionate about discovering how her knowledge of research and writing can be intertwined and inspired by ideas on how to improve a healthier lifestyle.