How to Reduce Plastic Use: 4 Ways to Use Less Plastic

We all fall victim to the conveniences of plastic—bottled water at a picnic, plastic-wrapped snacks on-the-go, plastic cutlery with takeout food. Unfortunately, our temporary convenience is our planet’s long-term burden. There are 9.2 billion tons of plastic on planet earth today, and more than half of that amount exists as waste. In fact, less than a 5th of all plastic gets recycled globally, and in the U.S. it is less than 10%. Unfortunately, a large amount of unrecycled plastic collects in our oceans, where it breaks down into tiny particles that may or may not biodegrade (estimates range from 450 years to never) and puts our marine life at risk.

Fortunately, there are an increasing number of plastic-free alternatives that are much kinder to our planet. Every day, through each small (or big!) choice you make, you reduce your plastic use. Plastic is pervasive in building and construction materials, industrial machinery, our cars, electronics, clothing, housewares, and packaging—and we have the power to change that through our buying decisions.

Here a few key replacements you can make in your everyday life to reduce plastic use:

 

Rethink the way you grocery shop.

  • Bring reusable shopping bags and reusable produce bags.
  • Buy from bulk sections and bring your own reusable containers to reduce packaging waste.
  • Sign up for a CSA program from a local farm to reduce plastic packaging.
  • Choose products in reusable glass containers.
  • Request loaves of bread without the bag (you can use one of your reusable produce bags to transport).
  • Replace plastic wrap with beeswax wrap.

Reusable plastic-free grocery bag sitting on kitchen counter

 

Change the way you eat on the go.

  • Ditch bottled water. Instead, invest in a reusable water bottle made with stainless steel—you may be surprised how often water fountains in public and at businesses are available when you need a refill.
  • Get your own reusable mug to use at coffee shops.
  • When you order takeout, request no plastic silverware and no straw.
  • Pack snacks in a glass container for travel days rather than buying snacks wrapped in plastic.

reusable plastic free bag, coffee mug, and water bottle on the kitchen counter

 

Choose plastic-free cleaning and beauty products.

  • Choose unpackaged bar soap vs. liquid soap packaged in plastic.
  • Buy cosmetics made with natural products.
  • Buy products packaged in glass or not packaged at all.
  • Compost your food waste to reduce the need for trash bags.
  • Make your own cleaning solution with water and vinegar for a natural alternative to cleaning supplies that come in plastic bottles.
  • Try reusable pads and menstrual cups instead of single-use items.

plastic free cleaning supplies on counter

 

Review your wardrobe.

  • Choose clothing made of natural fibers like hemp and wool rather than synthetic fibers that contain plastic.
  • Avoid buying new clothing, instead, buy second hand.

woman looking into her closet reviewing her plastic wardrobe

 

 

When you consciously choose to reduce your plastic use you positively impact our planet, set an example for people around you, and inspire others to make the change as well.