Reduce Plastic Consumption

50 Ways We Can Reduce Single-Use Plastic Use, be healthier, and save money. 

Plastic pollution is a global problem. Every year, 350 million tons of plastic waste is created and disposed of. 19-23 million tons of that have leaked into and polluted every aquatic ecosystems, including lakes, rivers, and oceans.

The average American uses and throws away 110 pounds, or roughly 50 kilograms, of single-use plastic every year. By following just five of the plastic-reducing tips below, we can reduce 16 lbs. (15%) of plastic waste each year, easily, and with little or no inconvenience. Plus, we will be creating a healthier environment and lifestyle, and we will save money in the process.

Microplastics, extremely small pieces of plastic debris, are found in every ocean and on every continent, including remote islands and in both polar regions, posing a major threat to ecosystems due to their direct and indirect potentials an environmental pollutants. When plastic particles break down into microplastics, they gain new physical and chemical properties, increasing the risk that they will have a toxic effect on organisms. And the larger the number of potentially affected species and ecological functions, the more likely it is that toxic effects will occur. Additionally, microplastics remain in the ecosystem for 100 to 1,000 years. If that isn’t worse than you thought, I don’t know what is.

Here are some easy and achievable steps you can do to reduce your use of plastics. I suggest you start by selecting five things from the list below that you know you can follow, and make it happen. The point is to start the process, and start now.

  1. Stop buying single use plastic drinks. I choose aluminum or glass whenever possible. Aluminum is indefinitely recyclable. More than 75% of aluminum gets recycled.
  2. Use cloth grocery bags instead. All of my cloth bags I got as schwag for free. Bonus.
  3. Carry a reuseable aluminum water container and refill over and over.
  4. Don’t get to-go coffee or hot drinks. Your drink lid and cup will live on for over 100 years! The lids and lining are plastic. Bring your own or ask for a ceramic, reusable cup.
  5. Go to the farmer’s market and purchase fresh fruits and veggies (not packaged in plastic).
  6. Don’t buy convenience foods packages in plastic.
  7. Make your own bread.
  8. Buy bread from bakeries that package in paper.
  9. Clean with baking soda and vinegar instead of cleaners packaged in plastic.
  10. Buy laundry detergent in boxes, not liquid in plastic containers.
  11. Buy farm fresh eggs in reusable paper containers.
  12. Get your cheese from the deli and place it in your own container (glass or a plastic one that you already have, don’t waste what you already have!) or get it wrapped in paper.
  13. Buy your meat from the deli and have it wrapped in paper.
  14. Package your leftovers in glass containers.
  15. Buy compostable single use utensils.
  16. Use bar soap to wash your dishes.
  17. This one is not for me, but, you can stop using deodorant or antiperspirant. It’s not natural to prevent yourself from sweating.
  18. Do not use air fresheners. Light a candle or incense instead.
  19. Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it!
  20. Buy bulk cereal, bring your own paper bags.
  21. Buy tortilla chips packaged in paper bags.
  22. Buy bulk coffee packaged in paper or in cans, or bring your own bags.
  23. Buy milk in paper cartons or glass jars
  24. Buy peanut butter that is packaged in glass containers.
  25. Buy bar soap, not liquid body wash.
  26. Stop buying products packaged in plastic.
  27. Compost your trash, reduce your use of plastic trash bags.
  28. When ordering drinks, say “no straw please!”
  29. Buy real maple syrup (comes in glass bottles) we get ours at Trader Joes.
  30. Buy toilet paper that is wrapped in paper, not plastic.
  31. Don’t use ziploc. If you need to keep things like half an onion (happens to us all the time!) use aluminum or waxy paper.
  32. Use cloth rags for clean up around the house, no paper towels – reduces your trash and need for trash bags.
  33. Use matches instead of plastic encased lighters. They usually give them to you for free at the liquor store.
  34. If you want a fun drink, buy chocolate milk in a carton or apple juice in glass bottle. You can also ferment your own drinks in glass mason jars.
  35. Bring your own bag to all stores you shop in and say “no bag needed, thanks!”
  36. Put empty cardboard boxes in your car to transport heavy items to and from your car without a bag.
  37. Say “paper not plastic”
  38. Don’t use plastic cutting boards. Use wood or glass.
  39. Use baby bottles made of glass.
  40. Use stainless steel sippy cups for kids.
  41. Use cloth based toys for your pets, like catnip mice and soft squishy balls.
  42. Buy cloth diapers. Many great varieties available and better for your baby. We fill a super bowl size hole every day with disposal diapers that will leach toxins into the environment for centuries to come.
  43. Check labels on new clothes. Polyester, Acrylic, and nylon are forms of plastic. Acrylic releases an estimated 700,000 fibers (microplastic) each time it is washed. I look for natural fibers. I prefer cotton.
  44. Use junk mail and other paper to stuff into big packages to ship instead of bubble wrap or air filled plastic.
  45. Use real silverware for parties instead of plastic.
  46. Use rechargeable batteries to reduce buying batteries packaged in plastic.
  47. Use a reusable cloth bag or old fashioned steel lunch box to carry your lunch to work or school
  48. Reduce your use of unnecessary utensils handed out at all fast food restaurants.
  49. Stop buying frozen foods.
  50. Shop at local farmers markets.