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.
Bring 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
Always 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:
- Chico bags – wonderful, small and easy to carry around in lots of colors
- Project GreenBag – organic cotton bags, made in San Francisco
- Citizenlove – designs by our co-founder Dianna Cohen
- Envirosax – very popular in Europe
- Mothering Mother – great produce bags
- “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
Bring 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
Bring 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.
Rather 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
Where 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!