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51 Ways to Reduce Plastic Use

Updated on October 30, 2009

Reduce your plastic use today!

I was so frustrated when I found out about the Pacific Garbage Patch (videos below). What is it? It's the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.

When I learned about it, I scoured the internet for solutions. There are a few solutions that involve large scale clean ups, but the depressing truth is that it exists and we are complicit in its existence.

Being proactive is one solution. Reducing our plastic use and consumption is incredibly important. I tried to find a large list of ideas, but could only find scattered ideas, so this is one of my ways to pose a solution. A long, long list of ideas to change your life for the better of the ocean, the land, the environment and the earth we love so dear.

Live plastic free! It is possible.

Why is plastic bad?

Plastic is plentiful. Plastic is used for everything from shampoo containers to beverage and food containers to baby toys and the casing for many, many household items.

The immediate harms of plastic are few. The long term damages of small toxins in plastics are being researched. Plastics are created with the help of chemicals, and some are dangerous to us. Two in particular stand out: bisphenol A (or BPA, used in polycarbonates and resins) and phthalates (used to make plastic soft and pliable). Both chemicals upset the way some hormones function in our bodies. They are both now the subject of fierce scientific and public scrutiny. Many scientists have discovered a connection between plastic and human development. So much so that the European Union has banned phthalates in children's toys.

The effect of plastic on the environment is much easier to see. The trash island in the middle of the pacific ocean, named the pacific garbage patch, is an alarming result of our use of plastic. It is everywhere and it is slowly collecting in the middle of the ocean. Plastic cannot biodegrade.

We can help. We can limit our use of plastic and urge our legislators to ban plastic in children's toys and food and beverage containers. We can urge plastic manufacturers to develop biodegradable plastic.

We have to save ourselves and the planet!

Aluminum and Steel Beverage Containers

There are some pricey ones on the market, I found some on Amazon for $8! Being environmentally conscious doesn't have to be expensive.

51 Ways to reduce plastic use

or completely eliminate it!

What you've been waiting for, a long long list of ways you can reduce your plastic use. You probably know some already, but I hope that many of these ideas are new and do-able. Just think of the pacific garbage patch whenever you feel tempted to buy water, get a to-go cup or buy liquid laundry detergent.

Note: Many of these suggestions are to reduce your waste, which will in turn reduce your use of plastic trash bags.

Here we go:

1. Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store (or any store!).

2. Don't buy beverages bottles in plastic. Glass is great.

3. Carry your own reusable steel or ceramic beverage container. If they're too pricey, use a glass mason jar! Heavy, but cheap.

4. Don't get to-go coffee or hot drinks. Your drink lid and cup will live on for over 100 years! The lids and lining are plastic. Bring your own or ask for a ceramic, reusable cup.

5. Go to the farmer's market and purchase fresh fruits and veggies (not packaged in plastic).

6. Don't buy convenience foods packages in plastic.

7. Make your own bread.

8. Buy bread from bakeries that package in paper.

9. Clean with baking soda and vinegar instead of cleaners packaged in plastic.

10. Buy laundry detergent in boxes, not liquid in plastic containers.

11. Buy farm fresh eggs in reusable paper containers.

12. Get your cheese from the deli and place it in your own container (glass or a plastic one that you already have, don't waste what you already have!) or get it wrapped in paper.

13. Buy your meat from the deli and have it wrapped in paper.

14. Package your leftovers in corningware.

15. Bring your own containers to restaurants to package leftovers.

16. Use bar soap to wash your dishes. Dr. Bronner's is perfect.

17. Stop using deodorant or antiperspirant. It's not natural to prevent yourself from sweating. Use perfume in a glass bottle if you want a nice smell.

18. Do not use air fresheners. Light a candle or incense instead.

19. Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it!

20. Buy bulk cereal, bring your own paper bags.

21. Buy tortilla chips packaged in paper bags.

22. Buy bulk coffee packaged in paper or in cans, or bring your own bags.

23. Buy milk in paper cartons.

24. Buy peanut butter that is packaged in glass containers.

25. Buy bar soap, not liquid body wash.

26. Compost your trash, reduce your use of plastic trash bags.

27. Line small trash bins in your house with paper bags.

28. When ordering drinks, say "no straw please!"

29. Buy real maple syrup (comes in glass bottles) we get ours at Trader Joes.

30. Buy toilet paper that is wrapped in paper, not plastic.

31. Don't use ziploc. If you need to keep things like half an onion (happens to us all the time!) use aluminum or waxy paper.

32. Use cloth rags for clean up around the house, no paper towels - reduces your trash and need for trash bags.

33. Use matches instead of plastic encased lighters. They usually give them to you for free at the liquor store.

34. Use cloth napkins. They feel nice and reduce your waste and use of plastic trash bags.

35. If you want a fun drink, buy chocolate milk in a carton or apple juice in glass bottle. You can also ferment your own drinks in glass mason jars.

36. Bring your own bag to all stores you shop in and say "no bag needed, thanks!"

37. Put empty cardboard boxes in your car to transport heavy items to and from your car without a bag.

38. Say "paper not plastic" at the grocery store.

39. Don't use plastic cutting boards. Use wood or glass.

40. Use baby bottles made of glass.

41. Use stainless steel sippy cups for kids.

42. Use cloth based toys for your pets, like catnip mice and soft squishy balls.

43. Buy cloth diapers. Many great varieties available and better for your baby. We fill a super bowl size hole every day with disposal diapers that will leach toxins into the environment for centuries to come.

44. Buy CDs packaged in cardboard sleeves or buy your music online.

45. Use junk mail and other paper to stuff into big packages to ship instead of bubble wrap or air filled plastic.

46. Use real silverware for parties instead of plastic.

47. Use rechargeable batteries to reduce buying batteries packaged in plastic.

48. Make a compost heap to reduce your food waste and put it back into the earth.

49. Use a reusable cloth bag or old fashioned steel lunch box to carry your lunch to work or school.

50. Make your own yogurt in glass mason jars. It's easy!

Last but not Least!

51. Spread the word! Tell people about the harmful chemicals in plastic, the pacific garbage patch and help reduce plastic use by example!

Plastic Free Washing

Say bye bye to liquid and use these wonderful alternatives.

Plastic and babies

A chemical used in plastic baby bottles and many other food and beverage containers causes genetic damage in mice. The study has prompted many countries into re-evaluating their use of plastic. There are two chemicals in particular to be worried about: Diisononyl phthalate (DINP) and bisphenol A (BPA). DINP is used to make plastic flexible and soft for those vinyl products such as bath books, rubber ducks and nipples for baby bottles. BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic -- that hard, clear plastic used in baby bottles, sippy cups and numerous other everyday products.

The damage is seen in egg cells of female mice. When these cells try to divide, their chromosomes don't line up right. In humans this results in spontaneous abortion, birth defects, or mental retardation.

Scientists found that dangerous amounts of the chemical-known as BPA-can seep out of used plastic bottles.

Other animal studies have linked BPA to low sperm count, hyperactivity, early puberty, obesity, small testes size, and enlarged prostates.

Many countries around the world have responded by banning DINP and other phthalates from from infant and children's products and toys, including the European Union, Japan and California.

The debate around BPA is still ongoing.

Baby Bottles

Chemical free and safe for your baby!

More ideas? Comments? - Leave em here!

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      its very good thought

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting lens, thanks for sharing! If you get a chance check out my new lens on bottle-less water coolers - another way to reduce use of plastic:

    • gamecheathub profile image


      7 years ago

      I just moved back to Pasadena and evidently, in the LA metroplex, plastic bags are banned and they actually charge you for paper bags. They have pushed for you to bring your own bags and it's been a real eye opener as to what it can accomplish.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very well done.

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 

      7 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      Really, really good ideas. Great job.

    • ernieplotter profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the advice... great lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Plastic recycling is important but reducing plastic usage is our ticket to a healthier planet moving forward. Scientific research conducted by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, brings news of a Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where bottle caps, cigarette lighters, shards of plastic and other plastic marine debris swirl endlessly, eventually photodegrading and impacting our food chain. The foundation's lab analysis results show that small bits of plastic outweigh the naturally occurring zooplankton 6:1. "More trash than life," as Algalita founder Charles Moore puts it. It remains to be seen what can be done, if anything, to remove existing plastic from our oceans. It's not just a matter of "cleaning up" unfortunately. New plastic garbage keeps flowing into our oceans

      compost bins

    • hsschulte profile image


      8 years ago

      Great job! Blessed.

    • Krafick profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens, great tips.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens! I especially like your tip no. 16!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Nice lens! You've got a great collection of tips and resources here. I'd love it if you'd drop by my lens and say hello when you have the chance.

    • greenerme profile image


      10 years ago

      Excellent tips, these are great!

    • greenerme profile image


      10 years ago

      Excellent tips, these are great!

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 

      10 years ago

      Very helpful lens! Welcome to the Zero Waste group!

    • smallhandsdesigns profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      [in reply to Gmomofive]


    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Thanks for joining the group Green Tips- Quick Fixes, Easy, & Long Haul Choices! I gave you 5 stars!! Great squid!


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