We all are learning more about why plastic is so bad but how do you avoid plastic? It seems to be everywhere and in everything. These tips can help!
It’s hard to be on the internet very long and avoid seeing something about how bad plastic pollution has gotten. It’s in our oceans, food and even our bodies.
We use a lot of plastic even though it’s pretty durable 33 percent of all plastic is only used once and thrown away. It can’t biodegrade but instead just breaks down into smaller and more toxic pieces.
There are some places where plastic is still needed, at least for now, like in the medical field but there is a lot of plastic we use without thinking about it that we can ditch.
One person avoiding plastic may not seem like it would make a difference but it does add up. A photo of a turtle with a plastic straw up its nose has caused a big shift in how we use plastic straws so one thing can start a chain reaction.
These are some ways you can avoid plastic and start living in a more sustainable way. If we each did half of these things it would make a huge difference.
Don’t try to do this all at once, that would be overwhelming. Start with one thing on the list and just keep working through it until you reach the end.
40 Ways to Avoid Plastic
- Ditch bottled water. At home, this one is really simple. Get a filter, there are so many options now, and drink in a real glass. When out take a reusable water bottle if needed.
- Start saying “no straw, please.” More places are ditching plastic straws or at least waiting for people to request them but not everyone has gotten on board. When you get a drink, be sure to say “no straw, please.” If you need a straw, consider getting a reusable straw.
- Use reusable shopping bags. When shopping, be sure to bring your own bags. Many grocery stores now offer a discount to bring your own bags and they won’t rip like the plastic versions. Don’t forget to bring your own bag to other stores as well.
- Skip the plastic produce bags. There are now reusable produce bags or you can just skip them altogether. Most produce doesn’t really need its own bag anyway.
- Store food in glass. Glass food storage containers last forever and won’t leach any nasty chemicals into your food.
- Use the bulk bins but bring your own container. Bulk bins can save you money and save on packaging. Just be sure to bring your own reusable containers to fill.
- Skip the plastic utensils. At home this is simple, just use your real utensils. If going out somewhere that only has plastic, bring your own.
- Use real dishes instead of disposable. Washing dishes isn’t fun but most of us have dishwashers now so it’s really not so bad. If you are having a party and don’t have enough dishes, see if you can borrow some.
- Avoid takeout and fast food. Plastic and other waste add up fast when you get takeout or fast food. There are some ways to avoid waste with takeout but it’s better for the planet and our health if we make it a rare treat.
- Learn to bake. Love bread and other baked goods? Learn to make your own. The ingredients are usually better and you won’t have to plastic packaging.
- Skip the soda. Soda is terrible for us and it usually comes in plastic. If you want a rare soda, choose a soda in glass or make your own.
- Switch to tooth soap. Tooth soaps or tooth powders are a great way to reduce your plastic and there are a lot of options out there now.
- Stop chewing gum. Almost all gum is actually plastic! Stop the habit or look for a natural version.
- Compost what you can. Composting helps reduce your trash which means fewer trash bags.
- Use fewer trash bags. Speaking of trash bags, use less. You likely don’t need them in any trash can that doesn’t have food put in it. If you are composting you may even be able to ditch the kitchen trash bag.
- Make your own cleaners. Making your own cleaners and putting them in reusable glass containers can help cut down on a lot of plastic waste. It will also save you money.
- Buy less clothing. Clothing is often made with plastic and there is a lot of other plastic waste involved. You can also try clothing rental services or shop thrift stores.
- Use rags instead of paper towels. We don’t usually think of paper towels as being a plastic waste issue but those rolls are wrapped in plastic and it adds up. You can also make unpaper towels to use instead.
- Buy toilet paper that is wrapped in paper. There are a few options that come in paper instead of plastic, choose those instead.
- Use cloth napkins. Yet another item that comes wrapped in plastic is napkins. Cloth napkins are cheap and don’t take up much space in the laundry.
- Make your own condiments. Condiments aren’t hard to make and the storebought versions are almost always in plastic. If you don’t want to make your own look for ones that come in glass instead.
- Skip the glitter. Glitter is made from plastic and is causing big environmental problems.
- Buy milk in glass. It’s not as common but you can find milk in glass still. Sometimes you even get a discount for returning the bottle. If you use planet milk try making your own.
- Eat less meat. Meat often comes packaged in plastic and has its own environmental concerns. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to help, try adding just a few meatless meals each week.
- Try a shampoo bar. Shampoo bars mean no plastic bottle and still work great.
- Switch to bar soap. If you are still using a liquid soap try making the switch to bar soap. Try and find ones the come wrapped in paper or that you can buy unwrapped.
- Ditch plastic wrap. Instead of plastic wrap, you can use glass containers or beeswax food wraps.
- Avoid polyester fabric. Polyester is used in so much fabric now but it’s a form of plastic. Look for cotton, hemp, linen, and other natural fibers.
- Start a garden. Growing your own food can help avoid wasteful packaging.
- Use reusable containers for packed lunches. There are so many great reusable lunch products now that there is no reason to use disposable bags anymore.
- Choose cardboard instead. If you see a product packaged in cardboard instead of plastic choose it. Cardboard can be recycled or will biodegrade.
- Use cardboard to get rid of weeds. Instead of plastic sheets to block weeds in your garden use cardboard. You can also use newspaper. Both will also improve the soil. Just replace as needed.
- Skip disposable razors. Use a safety razor or at least use a razor that just needs new blades.
- Switch to e-billing. It doesn’t seem like much plastic is involved in the mail but it adds up.
- Use reusable chopsticks. There are a lot of great reusable options for chopsticks now or at least choose wooden ones if you need disposable.
- Switch to dryer balls. Instead of fabric softener try dryer balls. Make sure to choose ones made of wool.
- Use a reusable coffee mug. If drinking at the coffee shop ask if they have real cups. If not or if taking it to-go use a reusable mug.
- When buying alcohol choose glass. More and more alcohol is starting to come in plastic bottles, skip those and stick with glass.
- Make your own yogurt. Yogurt can use a lot of plastic but is very easy to make at home and store in glass containers.
- Use cotton feminine products. We are learning there are a lot of plastics and toxic chemicals in feminine care products and that’s not good for us or the planet. Choose organic tampons with cardboard applicators, reusable pads, cups, and other better products.
When you do end up with plastic be sure to recycle when possible. Not all plastic is recyclable but when it is it’s better than throwing it away.
If you want to learn even more about avoiding plastic check out the book My Plastic Free-Life: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. It’s a great resource to help you avoid plastic and live a more sustainable life.