As a society, we’re addicted to plastic, but the good news is that we can choose to reduce our use so we can have cleaner streets, healthier wildlife and less polluted rivers and oceans.
Now is a good time to start, as this month heralds Plastic Free July, a global movement dedicated to inspiring everyone to be part of the solution to plastic pollution. July 1 also marks the start of Philadelphia’s ban on single-use plastic bags at retail establishments and a ban on paper bags that contain less than 40% recycled content.
New Jersey’s law banning single-use plastic bags and foam containers takes effect May 22 and is one of the toughest laws of its kind in the country.
In this post, we offer 33 easy tips to help you on your path to reducing your reliance on plastics in your everyday life. Why is it important? Studies show:
- More than 10 million tons of food packaging is dumped in landfills each year.
- Less than 10% of all plastics in the U.S. get recycled.
- 1.4 billion plastic water bottles will be used once and thrown away.
- 18 billion pounds of plastic waste ends up in the ocean each year.
And then there’s COVID-19, which dramatically increased the amount of take-out foods we are consuming and the packaging we’re tossing. Recent global inventories cataloguing 12 million pieces of litter found in and around rivers, oceans, shorelines and the seafloor found eight out of 10 items were made of plastic. 44% of this plastic litter is related to take-out foods and drinks.
Here are 33 tips to reducing plastic use in your everyday life. For helpful resources and a special offer from our partner United By Blue, visit our Small Actions Spark Big Changes page.
Eating and Drinking
- Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages when on the go.
- Buy pasta sauce in glass jars and reuse them for storing leftovers.
- At the bakery, farmers market and supermarket, ask for fresh-baked goods still sitting on a tray, not yet wrapped in plastic. Put them in your own reusable bread bag or container that you brought along.
- Bring your kitchen utensils to work or on picnics instead of using plastic ones.
- When ordering take-out, tell them to hold the plastic cutlery and condiment packets and use the supplies in your kitchen instead.
- Make fresh-squeezed fruit juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles.
- Try frozen concentrate juice because it’s almost entirely cardboard and metal.
- Pack your lunch and leftovers in reusable beeswax, fabric, silicone and other wraps and bags.
- Opt for foods and products that come in large containers and bulk rather than multiple single-serve cups.
- Try making from scratch foods that are packaged in plastic, such as tortillas, bread, salsa, yogurt and sour cream.
- Avoid plastic straws. If you require a straw, buy a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
- Cut back on gum or give it up. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
- When you do end up with plastic baggies and containers, wash them and reuse them many times.
14. Bring reusable containers to stores that sell in bulk and fill them with the spices, beans and rice you love.
15. Bring clean reusable cloth, mesh and used plastic bags to stores and use them to bag veggies and produce bound for the cash register.
16. Carry a backpack and tote bags to cart your home your produce, groceries and anything you buy that fits.
17. If you forgot your cloth bags, ask the supermarket checkout for paper bags instead of plastic bags.
18. Try to avoid buying frozen foods because the packaging is mostly plastic.
19. Choose bread that comes in paper bags.
Hygiene and Cleaning
20. Buy bar soap instead of liquid soap in plastic bottles.
21. Try bar shampoo instead of liquid shampoo.
22. Use baking soda as deodorant.
23. Use baking soda as toothpaste.
24. Try a compostable bamboo toothbrush.
25. Try Brush with Bite, a plastic-free all-natural toothpaste that comes in a small glass jar as pellets. You bite one, then brush.
26. Opt for a safety razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.
27. Use a washcloth instead of a plastic loofah.
28. Use powered laundry and dish detergent that comes in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bottles.
29. Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
30. Use biodegradable bags to clean up after your dog.
31. Replace plastic trash bag liners with a biodegradable, compostable option.
Household and gardening
32. Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
33. Use paper pots for seed starting instead of plastic cells.
By Carolyn Belardo, Public Relations Director