Plastic plays such a big role in our daily lives that it’s easy to not think twice about the way we use it. It’s in our supermarkets, restaurants, household items, and also in places where it shouldn’t be — in our oceans, inside wildlife and inside us.
It’s time to rethink the way we use plastic and start actively working on reducing its usage.
If you’re reading this list, chances are plastic doesn’t seem so “normal” to you anymore. Whether it was the most recent news article on yet another sea animal dying from plastic or the dangers of plastic to humans, welcome!
And if you’d like to read some more of why we all need to drastically reduce our overall usage of plastic along with changing our perspective about the material, head on over to 7 Reasons Why You Should Quit Plastic.
Otherwise, get ready to dive into the 50 easy ways you can start reducing your plastic waste today!
1. Carry a reusable water bottle
Seriously the easiest way to reduce your plastic waste is by carrying your water bottle with you. It’s estimated about a million plastic bottles are used across the globe every minute!
2. Bring your reusable coffee/tea cup
If you were under the impression that a “paper” to-go cup isn’t as bad as a plastic to-go cup, think again. Paper cups come lined with a thin layer of plastic.
Stop using those wasteful coffee cups and start saving some money by using your own coffee mug. A discount is applied in most coffee stores for those that bring their own container.
3. Use beeswax wrap instead of plastic wrap
Beeswax wraps can last up to a year with good care and can pretty much be used the same way as plastic wrap does.
It can be washed and reused over and over again. Since beeswax wraps are made from natural resources (cotton and beeswax), you can throw these in your compost once they reach the end of their life.
4. Replace your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo toothbrush
All bamboo toothbrushes in the market right now contain bristles made from synthetic material (usually nylon). Although not perfect, you’ll still be reducing the amount of plastic waste that comes from dental care.
When you’re ready to move on to the next bamboo toothbrush, you can remove the bristles and compost the wood.
- Brush with Bamboo Toothbrushes – Organic sustainably harvested bamboo
5. Refuse straws or bring your own.
If you don’t need it, don’t use it. Make sure to say “no straw” every time you order a beverage at a restaurant. Seriously, every time! If you like to drink out of straws, don’t forget to bring your own when you go out.
6. Take your reusable shopping bags when grocery shopping
I have two different types of bags that I will take with me in each grocery trip; 2-3 large bags for putting everything in and small cotton bags for bulk, fruits, and vegetables. This has helped me cut down on plastic waste by A LOT. I also tend to get bag credits for every single bag I use, even the little ones.
7. Stop buying polyester clothing, even if made from recycled plastic.
To this day, not a lot of people are aware that polyester fabric is made from petroleum. It’s not good for your skin or for the planet.
Instead, buy clothes made from natural fabrics. These might initially cost more but will last much longer than polyester.
8. Shave with a safety razor
I can’t believe I went so long without discovering a safety razor! It has a higher starting price than a disposable razor but the big difference is a safety razor could literally last you a lifetime.
9. Buy bar soap for washing hands and body that can be purchased naked (without packaging) or with cardboard packaging.
Instead of getting liquid soap that comes in a plastic bottle, get yourself some naked soap. You can usually find these at Whole Foods, Natural Grocers or at your local farmers market. Etsy is also a great place to look!
10. Wash dishes with a natural sponges
I use a few different tools to wash all of my dishes and they’re all made from natural biodegradable materials!
11. Get your fruits and vegetables unpackaged
As tempting as pre-cut fruits and vegetables are, they’re so wasteful. I’ve also stopped buying certain things like berries and grapes since they are always pre-packaged.
12. Buy loose leaf tea instead of getting tea bags
Even if your tea bag looks like it’s made from paper, it probably also contains plastic.
- Arbor Teas – Bulk tea in 100% backyard compostable material.
Related: The Hidden Plastic In Your Tea Bag
13. Buy your coffee in bulk and brew zero waste with a french press
I promise, your coffee will taste so much better when brewed in a french press!
14. Cut seafood out of your diet or drastically reduce it.
Fishing nets make-up 46% percent of the great pacific garbage patch. Another big percentage of plastic debris comes from the fishing industry.
These nets are extremely dangerous to marine life and coral reefs. Within the fishing industry, there’s also an average of 20% bycatch marine life which includes dolphins, sea lions, turtles and many more that are killed by the industry.
Watch this video for more info (graphic).
15. Make your own cleaning products – Here’s a guide for cleaning your entire house with your own products:
16. Clean your clothes with soap nuts or DIY detergent
17. Store your lunch in silicone bags or metal tins
- Stasher bags – These silicone bags are great for a little bit of everything
- Bento Box– Also great for leftovers and to-go food
18. Carry reusable bamboo utensil
19. Lower the amount of processed food you buy
Processed food is convenient, but it’s not always good for your health.
20. Make your own juices or buy in glass containers
21. Stop chewing gum
Did you know gum is made out of plastic? Now I understand why it was so dangerous to swallow it! I wish I would have known sooner.
I don’t think anyone should need to chew on plastic. If you really like gum, buy the one that is made from natural ingredients
22. Use wool balls instead of drying sheet
Wool balls have all the same great benefits of a drying sheet less the waste, and synthetic fragrances.
You can throw a few wool balls in the dryer with a couple of drops of your favorite essentials oils and that’s it! Wool balls can also reduce your drying time by up to 30%!
- Wool Balls – from rescued sheep in a sanctuary. The money from the wool balls goes towards the animals!
23. Stop buying non-stick cooking pans
These are coated with Teflon, a synthetic resin that is not healthy for humans. It can become especially dangerous when your cooking pans start peeling into your food.
24. When ordering to go, bring your own container
25. Instead of placing your fresh produce in plastic bags, use cotton mesh bags.
26. Forget the tampons and start using a menstrual cup
Using a menstrual cup can help cut your plastic waste and also save you money as you don’t have to throw it away after every use.
27. Put a “No Junk” sign in your mailbox
28. Get deodorant that comes in a glass or cardboard packaging
29. Make notes in your online orders requesting minimal to no plastic with your order if possible.
30. Refuse freebies
31. Shop less online and more locally or from ethical online stores whenever you can
32. Wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner bars or try the no poo method
My favorite plastic-free way to get my hair nice and clean is by using shampoo and conditioner bars from Ethique.
33. Replace your old cosmetics with plastic free cosmetics
I have an article all about where you can source your plastic-free make-up!
34. Bring your own containers to fill
I am lucky enough to live in a place where I have two bulk refill stores 30 minutes away. I will bring my own containers and fill them up with whatever I need; dish soap and lotion are amongst the things I get!
35. Purchase toothpaste that comes in glass or metal
36. Buy from the bulk section as much as possible
37. Use glass jars and metal containers for storage
38. Filter your water with a charcoal filter
I purchased a big glass container to fill up with water and filter overnight with a charcoal stick. It usually takes around 7 hours to filter out the water.
39. Analyze the number of products you currently have and use on yourself and really think about their impact on your body and the environment
I’ve cut out so many products since trying to reduce plastic waste.
More than half of the products I was using every day weren’t worth keeping around. A quick internet search of the ingredients made it really easy to make that decision.
40. Buy as much as possible in glass, aluminum or cardboard
Glass, aluminum, and metal can easily be recycled endlessly while cardboard can be recycled around 5 times.
41. Quit glitter
Almost all glitter is made from plastic, and due to their size, they’re extremely dangerous. Stop covering yourself in microplastics, and instead use biodegradable glitter when needed.
42. Gift wrap the zero-waste way
Here’s an article all about zero waste gift wrapping.
43. Reduce your junk food intake
44. Use newspaper as a trashcan liner (or nothing at all)
45. Wash all your recyclables before placing them in the recycling bin
This will ensure that your recyclables don’t end up in the landfill for being contaminated with mold or food particles.
46. Check with your recycling center to verify what types of plastic types they accept
47. Buy second-hand
Before purchasing anything new, I search through thrift stores, Craigslist, Facebook Market and pretty much anywhere to see if I can find what I’m looking for second-hand.
Almost all of the furniture in my home has been purchased second-hand and so have a lot of my clothes. It helped cut down on plastic AND save money.
48. Take care of the things you already have, even if they’re made from plastic
49. Before making a purchase, wait a few weeks to think about if you truly need that item in your life.
50. Be prepared. Create a plastic-free kit to take everywhere!
What are items that could help you reduce your waste on the daily? Here’s a list of a few of the items you might include in your kit:
- Mason Jar – For beverages and storing leftovers.
- Bamboo Cutlery
- 1 Straw
- 1 Linen Napkin – Great for pastries, sandwiches or to be used as an actual napkin
You can carry these in your purse, in a backpack or in a cute shoulder bag. Make it so that it’s convenient for you to carry around.
There you have it! These are very simple but practical things you can start doing today that will help drastically cut down your plastic waste.
Credits: This amazing and helpful article is written by Andrea Coleman, founder of Splendidmoon.com