10 Ways to reduce plastic waste

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Plastic has consumed the world. It’s everywhere you look. 

There are 2,000 active landfills in the United States. The average American generates one million pounds of waste per year.  

The environment pays for our carelessness. 

Some people don’t care and the facts won’t phase them. They figure, “it doesn’t affect me” or “I can’t do anything about it”. 

Well, we can do something about it. Even if a small group of us take a stand against plastics, it will make a difference. We’ll lead by example rather than say it would be a nice thing to do.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but taking baby steps will help the environment and our health.

Here are 10 ways to reduce plastic waste.

plastic scattered on a beach with text

Stop buying plastic water bottles

It’s shocking to see how many people buy water bottles at the grocery store. Most bottles can’t be recycled, so they end up in landfills where they sit waiting to decompose.

Did you know it takes 450 years for plastic bottles to decompose?! 

Plastic water bottles are also bad for your health. They are full of toxins that leach into your water, especially on hot summer days. 

Instead of buying bottles of water, buy glass or stainless steel water bottles. They are easy to clean and are reusable.

Before we leave the house, we fill up a gallon jug with water, so we have fresh water throughout the day.

As a bonus, you can ask to use your reusable cups and bottles at restaurants and Starbucks!

Also Read: Sustainable Water Filtration

Stop using plastic straws

I know this might not seem like a big deal, but those plastic straws add up! 

These Stainless steel straws are reusable and these paper straws can be composted. They fit into a purse or bag and are easy to clean.

Mason jars with reusable blue and white straws

Get rid of your Keurig

Kcups are not recyclable and are terrible for the environment. Not to mention they’re so expensive! 

Instead, use this manual espresso maker. Sure it’s a little more work, but the only waste generated is coffee grounds. Use those grounds on acidic-loving plants. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Say no to disposable silverware  

You may not run into this very often, but it’s good to be prepared.

This set of silverware fits into any purse or bag and as a bonus, it comes with a straw!  

Ask for paper instead of plastic

Paper bags are great because you can use them as a base layer in your garden or compost them. Another alternative is using reusable bags. These bags are biodegradable and machine washable!

Don’t grab that plastic produce bag 

Let’s be honest. That plastic bag is only good for corralling those veggies while they are in the cart. Other than that, they are useless. Instead, let the produce ride freely in the cart or bring your own produce bags. Use Cotton muslin bags for bulk items like rice, oats, or popcorn. You’ll be happy you made the switch.

Stop using plastic baggies and food wrap

Plastic zip-lock bags are the worst because you use them once for something and then throw them away. Food wrap leaches toxins into your food.
Instead, use these beeswax wraps.  Beeswax wraps are safe to use around food and are reusable.

No more plastic razors

Conventional plastic razors have removable heads that you can toss and replace. The problem is, that the blades are surrounded by plastic! So, after a few uses, you’re tossing plastic back onto the pile… Switch to a safety razor. These aren’t only for men. Ladies, we can use them too!

Switch to reusable sanitary pads 

Ladies, I know disposals are a convenience but they don’t decompose. They are terrible for your health as well. They are made of plastics and bleached cotton. The chemicals contained in sanitary pads cause hormonal imbalances and cancer. Tampons are just as bad as they can cause toxic shock syndrome. Although you have to hand wash reusable pads, they are so much healthier for you. 
Make the switch to reusable pads. You’ll be happy you did. Plus, you won’t be throwing money away. Know how to sew? You can also make your own!

Stop buying synthetic materials 

Polyester, nylon, and other synthetic materials are made out of plastic polymers. When we wash synthetic materials microfibers are washed away.

This includes clothing, towels, blankets, pillows, etc…

These microfibers have been finding themselves in our drinking water, food, canned foods, and even beer! We are consuming plastic! 

Instead of buying synthetic clothing look for cotton or wool clothing. They do cost more but they are worth it!

We love our wool shirts and wear them even in the hot summer months!

Use cotton kitchen towels for dusting, cleaning, etc. 

Bonus tip!

Reuse plastic containers 

Use plastic jars from peanut butter and nuts to store loose screws and nails or organize tools. Use plastic egg cartons as seed starters. 

Think of ways to re-purpose the plastic you already have in your home. 

Recycle what you can. Make the needed changes to reduce your plastic waste. Educate others about the importance of reducing plastic waste. 

If we all work together, we can make a difference.

How have you reduced plastic waste? I’d love to hear in the comments! 

Whitney Stokes

Whitney is a naturalist who started Willowbottom.com in 2018 to encourage natural and sustainable living.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. What a helpful post! Our family has just embarked on a quest to stop using single-use plastic (and any plastic, as much as possible). We discovered we might have to buy toilet paper in bulk online, because all the TP in the grocery store is wrapped in plastic! We had already incorporated many of your ideas into our daily lives, such as using our own glass bottles & stainless steel cups when grabbing drinks from home or when visiting a cafe. We also use wax paper bags & the beeswax wrap, or just store leftovers in glass jars – they all work great. We’ve also got a couple glass straws. Getting better at reducing plastic requires me to be even more mindful – I chose a paper container instead of plastic when I purchased a salad for lunch today, but then I forgot about the fork being plastic! So now I will make sure to carry real silverware with me.

    1. Whitney

      This is so encouraging! Thank you 🙂

  2. Really good points! I’ve heard about using beeswax for food wrapping before. I need to give it a try. Thanks for bringing up this topic! Lot’s of plastic garbage outside, we need to do something about it.

  3. HolyVeggies

    i tried going completely zerowaste a few months ago. I didn’t succeed bu I did manage to reduce my consumption of plastic, Thanks for the tips!

    1. Whitney

      It’s difficult to go completely zero waste, but our efforts to reduce single use plastics in our everyday lives makes a difference! 🙂

  4. Nero N

    I completely agree with everything here. I’ve stopped buying plastic and use my own bag for groceries now.

  5. Kat

    A topic that definitely needs to be written about more often! I can honestly say I can check off all of the above at this point in my life and it hasn’t taken much to do so! I mean, you give clear suggestions for how to cut the plastic out. Great post.

    1. Whitney

      Thank you! You’re right, it’s not difficult to implement these tips. Sometimes we just need a nudge 🙂

  6. Clara

    Hey, this is a great post. As a diver, I’m heartbroken every time I see trash flying around or people getting a plastic bag at the checkout for a single lime. I literally want to shove that lime where it don’t shine. We need to radically change our attitude towards single-use items and stop blaming poorer nations for dumping trash into the ocean (after all Europe and the US are dumping ridiculous amounts of their trash there, not to mention all the charity clothing we send over there).

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