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20 Ways to Reduce Plastic Use

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Plastic Alternative
Credit: @LiviBui

Plastic has become ubiquitous and unfortunately has infiltrated the most unexpected places.  You can barely get through one aisle of the store without being bombarded by plastic packaging, but have you ever thought about the microbeads in facial cleansers?  Those are made of plastic.  Even chewing gum contains plastic.

 What’s the big deal, you ask?

Plastic never goes away.  It photo-degrades into smaller and smaller particles until its small enough to absorb toxins and be gobbled up by fish in the ocean. Plastic litter often starts on land and ends up in our waterways where it kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals each year.[1]  So, how bad is it? It is estimated that each year 1 trillion plastic bags and 30 million plastic water bottles are thrown away. [2] [3]    

Ways you can reduce plastic use

At the store

1. Bring reusable bags while shopping.  Store reusable bags in your car so you don’t forget to bring them with you.  Ladies, keep a foldable bag in your purse so you always have one on you.

2. Buy powdered detergent instead of liquid.  Powered detergent gets the job done without the extra waste.

3. Purchase liquids in glass containers.  Consider buying peanut butter, juice and oils in glass bottles.

4. Buy items in paper boxes, cartons and bags.  Some examples of products in paper are tortilla chips, milk, and orange juice.

5. Take advantage of the bulk bins.  Bring a thin reusable produce bag and buy granola, beans, grains and nuts in bulk.

6. Avoid frozen foods.  Most frozen foods come in plastic packaging.

7. Get your meat from the butcher section.  Have the butcher wrap the meat in paper.  It’s the same meat as the pre-packaged meats but you can decide how much you want.

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At Work

8. Pack your lunch in a reusable container.  Bringing a sandwich? Use a container instead of a sandwich baggie.

9. Bring reusable utensils to work.  While you’re at it, throw a fork in your lunch bag.

10. Use a reusable water bottle instead of the plastic disposable cups attached to the water cooler.

 At a Restaurant or Cafe

11. Bring a reusable coffee cup to cafes.  Most mainstream coffee shops will give you a personal cup discount.

12. Grabbing lunch to-go? Bring a reusable water bottle.  Skip the calories from soda and save some plastic by getting water from the soda fountain.

13. Stop using straws.  They’re a waste of time.  

At Home

14. Have a Keurig coffee machine at home?  Consider using a reusable K-cup that way you can control the strength of your coffee and even mix flavors!

15. Light a candle instead of using a plug-in air freshener.   Save plastic and electricity!

16. Give up smoking.  Yet another reason!  Cigarettes not only contain plastic but are the most common piece of litter found on the beach.  Next time you’re walking your dog on the beach be careful Fido doesn’t eat a cigarette butt!

17. Give up gum.  After WWII, scientists discovered a way to make a synthetic rubber, which was eventually used to replace natural rubber in chewing gum.  Try eating a mint instead of chewing gum.

18. Use bar soap instead of liquid body wash.

19. Use facial cleansers without microbeads.  Instead, look for cleansers with apricot pits and other natural exfoliates.

20. Start a compost. Less trash means less trash bags.  Also, instead of throwing away scraps in the garbage disposal, composting can also save water.

It is understandably difficult to remove all plastics from your life but small changes and adopting maybe one of these suggestions at a time can have an impact.  Have any more ideas on how to reduce plastic use?  Leave a comment and share them!



Jun 26, 2014 6:55am
Well done! Like most of your ideas. I belief reducing is a better solution than reusing or recycling to save the environment.
Jun 27, 2014 5:12am
Yes! Thanks for reading!
Jul 12, 2014 5:53pm
Nice article with great information!
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  1. Marine Litter - Trash That Kills. Nairobi, Informational Report: United Nations Environment Programme, 2011.
  2. "Plastic Bag Statistics." Statistics Brain. 2/04/2014 <Web >
  3. "Bottled Water Statistics." Statistics Brain. 2/04/2014 <Web >

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