How to Reduce Plastic Use: 9 Tips & Tricks

We said it before and we will say it again: life in plastic is not fantastic, especially for the environment, whose life is quite threatened by the massive amounts of plastic waste we suffocate it with. While we can easily recycle plastic, we can also reduce its use in the homes, at work, and during our daily activities. Today we will learn together how to reduce plastic use in 9 ways, following tips, tricks, and advice coming from environmentally aware people and specialists. Remember there are the BIG 4 Plastic Pollutants: bottles, bags, cups, and straws. We took them into account for this list, together with other plastic pollutants you can ditch without regretting it for a second.

1. Give Up the Shopping Bags

Instead of plastic bags for shopping, you can take canvas bags next time you go for groceries. One great idea is to keep a basket in the trunk as well. When you have your canvas bags full after raiding one supermarket, you can empty the goodies in the basket in the car and then go to the next supermarket. This way, you will always have your canvas shopping bags ready to go. When you arrive home, you just take the basket inside the house and this is how you shop responsibly and free of plastic.

It takes 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture the 102 billion plastic bags that Americans use annually, according to the United Nations. Given the fact that plastic bags are becoming the number one enemy of marine wildlife, ditching them for good might indeed make this world a cleaner place.

2. Switch to Glass Containers

Plastic water bottles are the nightmare of this planet and we gather them up by the billion. Almost the same goes for our plastic food containers and plastic boxes for lunch and storage. One great idea on how to reduce plastic use is to buy bottled water in glass bottles.

The glass is recyclable and everything is just right from this point of view. However, plastic containers are everywhere, so letting them go may be a bit tricky in the lack of alternatives. Some of these, however, include glass jars and steel boxes to take lunch to work or glass containers with lids to store foods in the fridge or freezer.

For condiments and sauces such as ketchup, mustard and salad dressing, choose varieties that come in glass jars instead of plastic squeeze bottles.

3.  Embrace the Thermos and Travel Mugs

Plastic cups for coffee, drinks, and all sorts of to-go beverages make one of the largest sources of plastic ending up in landfills. From Styrofoam to solo cups to plastic-lined paper cups, these beverage holders have a lifespan of about half an hour, while they account for about 2 million tons of discarded plastic a year. Instead of risking that 75% of all these cups end up in a landfill, use a thermos, a travel mug or a tumbler for your everyday coffee, tea, and other beverage needs.

4. Ditch the Straws

You may think plastic straws do not make a lot of waste, but they do massive amounts of forever-lasting trash that does not biodegrade. Since you decided to ditch plastic cups and carry your own drinks cold or hot, exactly how you want them, make sure you tell waiters in restaurants, pubs, and fast-food joints to forget the plastic straw when they offer you any type of drink.

5. Shop with an Eye on the Plastic and the Other on Your Wallet

One of the easiest things to do is purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice, nuts, or frozen veggies from bulk bins, filling a reusable bag or a container. You save money and unnecessary plastic packaging. Moreover, you can do the same for fresh fruit and vegetables. Go to the farmers’ market instead of the supermarket and buy loose fruits and vegetables instead of bagged produce. By doing so you avoid using plastic wraps, bags, and containers and it allows you to buy only what you need. In other words, you will spoil and waste less food.

This is a great way of saving money, as well. For a boost in health, use the farmers’ market for other products such as meats, eggs, bakery products, bread, and more. They are usually fresh and do not come in plastic or plastic mesh packaging. In these circumstances, local producers wrap food in aluminum foil or try beeswax-coated food wraps you can use repeatedly.

6. Add Alternatives to Your Cleaning Habits

We are so used to buying detergents and cleaning products in plastic bottles and boxes that we tend to forget how much plastic we actually collect and throw away in a year. As an alternative, you can buy some laundry detergents coming in cardboard boxes. Moreover, as a natural, eco-friendlier, and perhaps healthier and cheaper alternative, you can use other products for cleaning.

Research the miraculous cleaning properties of baking soda, white apple cider vinegar, lemons, toothpaste even. Instead of buying loads of cleaners and bleaches, get your hands on some DIY projects, just as if you would make your own home DIY perfume or your home cosmetic products.

7. Use More Compostable Utensils

While not a completely new idea, it becomes more and more popular all over the world. Instead of plastic cups, plates, and other kitchen utensils, throw your garden parties, picnics, and home reunions with the help of compostable utensils. Made of starch materials, compostable cups and plates are the best choices when it comes to eco-friendly, plastic-free parties and gatherings.

8. Say No to Plastic Clothes

Wear natural, organic textiles instead of synthetic ones such as nylon, acrylic or polyester. Did you know that in an average wash around 2,000 fibers come off a single synthetic article of clothing? Did you also know that these fibers together with microplastic beads in cosmetic products (exfoliating gels or skin scrubs) are ones of the most common types of plastic pollution in our oceans?

9. Recycle Your Electronics and Home Appliances Responsibly

According to the EPA, Americans toss away more than 30 million tons of electronic waste each year – and the number is growing. A large portion of plastic waste comes from discarded televisions, fax machines, keyboards, cell phones and other tech gear. If you want to get rid of your smartphone in the favor of a new one, find buy-back stores or take them to special centers that will take your old devices and send them to the proper channels for reusing, refurbishing, recycling, and so on.

Wrapping up (but not in plastic)…

The amount of plastic in our lives is almost incalculable unless you want to experiment and see how much plastic you gather in only one month. If the pile of plastic waste proves to be an ungodly sight, try one, more, or all of the tips and tricks above and lead a plastic-free life. Now that we saw how to reduce plastic use easily, tell us: do you have your own methods to ditch plastic and never look back?

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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