Single-use plastic is one of the major threats to our planet. They are made from depleting resources of fossil fuels, leach toxins into our food, and pollute our oceans killing wildlife.
If each person made a few small changes to eliminate single-use plastic, it could help slow or even reverse the damage to our now delicate environment.
Here are 20 easy-to-implement changes to reduce single-use plastic and make a difference.
1. Use Compostable Disposable Wooden Cutlery
For outdoor dining, switch from disposable plastic cutlery to sustainable wooden utensils. Not only are they compostable and biodegradable which are harmless to the environment, but they are also safer to dine with. They are 100% natural and free from the toxins present in plastic utensils which can leach into your food when heated.
2. Reusable Sandwich Bags
Reusable sandwich bags are great for taking your lunch to work, for the kids’ school lunches, picnics, and hiking. They keep your food safe and fresh, and they are easy to clean and reuse again.
3. Use Cans instead of Plastic Bottles
Whenever thirst strikes, reach for an aluminum can over the plastic bottle. Aluminum isn’t exactly eco-friendly but roughly 70% of aluminum cans are made from recycled materials and are much easier to recycle too.
4. Bulk Buy Bins
Zero waste supermarkets are becoming more popular. You can pick up items like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins using your own reusable bag or glass containers. Often, it’s the packaging that food items come in that pushes up their price, so this way you’ll save money and cut down on unnecessary plastic packaging.
5. Reuse Containers
For food that comes with plastic containers like butter, ice-cream, or jam - reuse them by washing after use. They can be used for multiple things such as for storing leftovers, filling up at the bulk bin stores, for gardening, or art projects.
6. Reusable Mug
Ditch the plastic coffee cup on your morning commute. Instead, invest in a travel mug for your hot cuppa java. Coffee shops won’t mind preparing your favorite hot drinks to go in your reusable mug and some will even give a discount for doing so.
7. Reusable Bottles
Plastic water bottles are one of the worst offenders when it comes to single-use plastic overtaking our environment. Reusable bottles are much better, safer, and greener while keeping your drinks cold or warm longer.
8. Avoid the Frozen Foods Aisle
They may be handy for a quick dinner when life gets busy, but the packaging of the majority of frozen food is plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard have a thin layer of plastic coating on the inside-- and eating less processed foods isn’t a bad thing either!
9. Take-Away Food
Ordering in? In the special request box, leave a note that you don’t want to receive plastic cutlery. If you’re dining out and want to take home a doggy-bag, bring your own container and avoid using the restaurant’s own plastic or styrofoam containers.
10. Cloth Diapers
Having a baby is expensive, but you can save money and reduce plastic at the same time by switching from disposable to washable cloth diapers.
11. Homemade Natural Cleaning Products
There are plenty of great recipes for homemade cleaning products. They are much less toxic and will help you cut down on the number of plastic bottles of cleaner cluttering the cupboard under the sink!
12. Keep a Reusable Bag With You
Bags-for-life come with great, funky designs these days with funny or cute pics and witty slogans. These ‘tote’ bags are easily rolled up and put into your handbag, car, or even your jacket pocket. So, if you find yourself doing some spontaneous shopping, you can forget about the plastic bag.
13. Bamboo Toothbrush
While your traditional plastic toothbrush isn’t exactly single-use, plastic waste from discarded toothbrushes is so great it could circle the Earth four times. Opt for sustainable natural wood toothbrushes. They last much longer than your regular toothbrush and when they have to be thrown out, they are 100% biodegradable.
14. Beeswax Food Wrap
Replace plastic food wrap with beeswax cloths. They do the exact same job as plastic food wrap, but without the nasty chemicals. They can also be washed and reused for up to a year when cared for correctly.
15. Shampoo Bars
Think about it, how many plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner does your family go through in a year? Replace them with a conditioning shampoo bar to save money and eliminate plastic waste.
16. Shaving Options
Stop using disposable razors that end up in landfills. Instead, treat yourself to a lifetime safety razor, epilator, or get a wax. The effects last much longer and will keep single-use plastic out of your bathroom.
17. No Straws
When you’re ordering a drink ask for it without a straw. If you’re planning a party and want a straw for fancy cocktails, there are non-plastic straw options available. Stainless steel or bamboo straws are great eco-friendly alternatives.
18. Organic Biodegradable Cotton Swabs
Q Tips or cotton swabs are made with harmful plastics. Switch to sustainable cotton buds with the stem made from bamboo, cardboard, or paper.
19. Compostable Bin Liners
Even if all your waste is organic, it won’t do much good if you dispose of it in a plastic bin bag. Choose a compostable bin liner for a more sensible and sustainable solution.
20. Menstrual Cups
A woman uses about 9,600 tampons over her lifetime, according to an article by Groundswell, adding a significant amount of plastic waste. Make the change to a more eco-friendly and affordable solution such as menstrual cups.
We can significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in landfills and pollutes our environment just by making a few simple switches to our daily habits!