Disposable plastic items are so common that it’s easy not to notice them. But disposable plastic is everywhere — the ubiquitous plastic bottles of water or soft drinks; the plastic straws delivered in our drinks; the plastic bags offered to us at stores; the plastic cups, bottles and utensils at nearly every social event; the plastic packaging of nearly everything in the supermarket. Once you see it for what it is — plastic pollution — it’s simple to just REFUSE. Here are some tips on how to reduce your own plastic footprint.

1. Water

ppc_products_08Bring a stainless steel water bottle rather than drinking water out of disposable plastic bottles. Purchase a cool water bottle  at our online store or grab one at just about any store. Just make sure it is not aluminum. Don’t have your stainless steel bottle with you? Buy a glass-bottled drink.  When you finish that beverage, reuse the bottle.

2. Bring Your Own Bag

CHBG00001_dtAlways bring your own bags whenever you shop, not just for the supermarket. By bringing your own bag, you alone can save between 400 and 600 plastic bags per year. There are lots of cool tote bag companies out there.  Just a few of the bags we like:

3. Straws

straws_in_drinksConsider some easy alternatives to the ubiquitous plastic straws that come in nearly every restaurant glass:

  • “No straw for me, please.” Do you really need one?
  • Carry your own stainless steel straw. You can purchase these from our online store.
  • Use an elegant glass straw in many sizes and designs. We also love glass straws from Simply Straws and Glass Dharma.
  • Straws made from paper are more and more common. Bring your own or find restaurants that offer them.

4. To Go Cups

SteelydrinkwareBring your own stainless steel or ceramic mug. Carry one in your car. Some coffee shops will even reward your thoughtfulness with a small discount on coffee or tea. Hot drinks always taste better in durable ceramic, anyway! Like milk cartons, those cardboard cups often have a plastic lining, so in effect they are plastic. All to-go cups have that plastic lid, a major contributor to plastic pollution.

5. To Go Food Containers

Whether you prepare school lunch, order takeout, or go out to eat, take along your own reusable containers for sandwiches, snacks, and lefovers. Some of the sites where you can purchase one:

6. To Go Utensils

bambooutensilsallcolors_plasticantidoteBring along your own lightweight bamboo utensil set. They’re much sturdier, cleaner, and better for you than plastic knives and forks! Add a stainless steel straw, and you’re all set! This handy carrying case can travel with you in the car, on the airplane, or wherever you go. You can purchase beautiful sets at our online store.

7. Lighters

zippo-life-02-02-1953-068-a-M5Rather than buy plastic disposable lighters, consider investing in a refillable multi-use lighter. The oceans of the world will thank you, as will all those birds and marine life who mistake their bright colors for food. Disposable plastic lighters are one of the most common items found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch trash analyses.

8. Milk or Juice

bottles-in-basket-small-250x300Where possible, buy your milk or juice in a glass returnable/reusable bottle. It may seem old fashioned, but it tastes great, and it’s better for you. You may have to look for it, but many local shops and even some larger ones carry glass-bottled milk and juice. Those oh-so-common cartons may look like cardboard, but they have a layered plastic lining which is a problem not only for disposal and recycling, but also for your health!

9. Choose Paper to Wrap

Wax paper is an excellent substitute to the ubiquitous stretch plastic wrap we have been told is essential for cooking and preserving foods. Choose wax paper to wrap sandwiches, place on top of foods warmed up in the microwave, or when storing food in the fridge. Yes, it doesn’t stick to foods like the plastic wrap does – but that’s exactly what’s good about it!

10. Ready to do more?

Download a more complete list of plastic objects and alternatives. Visit our Plastic Free Times and learn more.