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Are you looking for effective ways to reduce the use of plastic?
If you are intrigued by living a more sustainable & plastic-free life, this article will provide you with easy & beginner tips on how to get started.
The ideas below will help you start your plastic-free journey with actionable steps you can start implementing immediately.
Now, let’s look at the 11 most impactful ways to reduce the use of plastic.
11 easy ways to reduce the use of plastic:
1. Rethink what you really need
Have you ever found yourself shopping and buying things that it’s questionable if you need them? It can happen with food, clothes, shoes, electronics, small gadgets, notebooks, pens, etc.
This can cause unnecessary clutter in your house and mind. It is not the best thing for your pocket and can cause a lot of additional unnecessary waste.
Whenever you are about to buy something, be mindful. Think if you really need the thing you are about to buy, or if you have a similar item already at home.
2. Buy last-lasting things
Switching to long-lasting & reusable products will save you money while reducing plastic waste.
There are hundreds of wasteful things you can avoid, like:
- Paper towels/Tissues
- Baking paper
- Menstrual pads/tampons
- Plastic bags
- Plastic straws
- Food wraps
- Cotton earbuds
The list can go on and on. To make it easier, consider eliminating the most polluting & single-use items first.
1. See if you have reusables at home or if you can make some -If you have a reusable bottle as a gift, cotton bags, or food containers – start using them! Even if some things are plastic, use them until they break. Moreover, you can make DIY things, such as cotton rounds, by cutting down an older towel.
2. Buy long-lasting products – Next, start looking for long-lasting items that are durable and reusable. This will reduce waste and save money in the long run. Some examples include:
- Cotton rounds = Washable cotton rounds
- Paper towels = Cotton cloths
- Tissues = Handkerchiefs
- Baking paper = Reusable silicon mat
- Menstrual pads/tampons = Menstrual cup or reusable pads
- Plastic bag = Reusable bag
- Plastic straws = Stainless steel or bamboo straws
- Single-use cotton earbuds = Reusable ear cleaner
- Food wraps = Prepare food in reusable containers
Related post: How To Save $5,337 A Year By Going Zero Waste
3. Start composting
Composting is another essential part of living a plastic-free and (almost) zero waste life.
When you throw your food scraps in a plastic bag and go to a landfill, they can’t decompose. There, they produce landfill gas – a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material.
It contains methane and carbon dioxide, trapping heat in the atmosphere.
So, composting can reduce your greenhouse emissions drastically.
The good news is that composting is not hard and is totally doable even if you live in a small apartment.
1. Pick a composting method – The first step is to simply read out 7 ways for apartment composting and choose one.
2. Prepare – Once you pick a method, you need to get the needed materials:
- A bucket (or two)
- Charcoal filters
- Compostable bags (optional if you choose Countertop composting)
- Bokashi bran (optional, only if you choose Bokashi composting)
- Paper, worms (optional, only if you choose Vermicomposting)
3. Compost – Once everything is set, you can start composting. For much more details on how to compost, be sure to check this article.
4. Minimize food packaging
This really depends on your situation and how many choices you have.
If you are lucky enough to have a farmers market or even a bulk shop nearby, start shopping from there!
Just by that, you will probably reduce more than 60-70% of your kitchen waste.
Usually, from the farmer’s market, you can get all your veggies and fruits; sometimes, they even offer some grains/nuts.
Then, from the bulk store, you can get the rest of the grains, legumes, nuts, oats, seeds, cooking products, spices, etc.
You can also find plastic-free items in many supermarkets if there aren’t bulk stores.
1. ALWAYS bring your cotton bags and jars – Use them instead of single-use plastic or paper bags.
2. Buy loose vegetables and fruits – Big supermarkets often have a section with loose veggies and fruits.
3. Buy products in glass or aluminum containers since they are 100% recyclable – Then, you can reuse some containers to store different goods.
5. Use what you already have
If you decide to lower your plastic waste and try to be (almost) zero waste, that doesn’t mean getting rid of everything unsustainable in your home.
First, use everything you have, even if it’s a single-use or products in plastic containers, and then start getting sustainable alternatives & reusable items.
Do NOT throw it away just because it’s plastic! It will be much worse if you do it, and it will be even more wasteful.
Eventually, if you really don’t want to use something, try to find someone that might want it – family members, friends, charities, etc.
1. Finish the products you already have – It can be from a shampoo bottle to a pack of tissues. If you don’t want to use something, find someone who will!
2. Once you are done with the stuff, start looking for getting some reusable, plastic-free, long-lasting products – You can find my huge list of zero waste swaps, including 142 zero waste products you MIGHT need!
6. Plan more
The key to avoiding any unnecessary plastic waste is to plan ahead and be prepared.
Probably you will have some small failures at the beginning, at least I did, but with time, you will become better.
This can apply to various situations, like going on a trip or to work/university.
For instance, you can always bring your reusables, prepare food in advance to avoid plastic waste from food wraps, etc.
1. Plan in advance – If you are going on a short or long trip, prepare things that you might need, such as – reusable cotton bags, water bottles, etc.
2. Don’t beat yourself if you fail – Especially in the beginning, it will be hard to remember everything you need to do. Living a plastic-free life is a process. Mistakes will make you become better and learn!
7. Observe (your trash)
Taking a good look at your trash for a week or two can be really eye-opening.
Once, I experimented, and I collected my trash for a month. It was interesting to see where most of my waste came from.
It is a fantastic exercise since once you see your biggest waste sources, you can take action and find ways to reduce them.
1. Figure out your trash – This will help you realize the products that create the most waste.
2. Find alternatives – Once you figure out that, start looking for more sustainable alternatives. You can find alternative, package-free, and sustainable products for almost anything.
Related post: Beginners List of Zero Waste Swaps
8. Refuse unnecessary things
Do not take things that you won’t use and don’t need. Simple as that.
That can be freebies, junk mail, or anything else from a family member or friend.
1. Refuse whatever doesn’t serve you – Things you don’t need, won’t use and are wasteful.
9. Waste “wisely”
Having a 100% trash-free life can be quite difficult and almost impossible. That’s why you should be mindful and waste “wisely”.
Whenever you can avoid plastic – great! Try to find alternatives, but for the situations and cases in which there are no other options, don’t beat yourself up.
1. Do your best – Try to do as much as possible, and even if sometimes you ”fail”, don’t be too harsh on yourself.
3. Reduce – Try to reduce (if you can) the consumption of an item/product that you currently cannot find an alternative and more sustainable solution.
10. Buy second hand
The truth is that the fashion industry is a huge waste generator. In 2013, 13 MILLION tonnes of textile ended in landfills.
Many of these items are made of a cheap synthetic material called polyester (aka plastic).
Instead of buying new clothes & other products, and contributing to the waste stream by the fashion industry, start shopping second-hand.
Related post: 16 Best Online Thrift Stores for Secondhand Clothing
1. Check your local second-hand shops – Whenever you need something new, visit s few local second-hand stores first.
2. Check out second-hand online stores – If you cannot find what you need locally.
11. DIY products
It is convenient to buy stuff packaged in plastic since they are often much cheaper than plastic-free and ”zero waste” options.
The truth is that zero waste goods can often be a bit pricey.
So if you are not ready to pay $8-12 for a package-free deodorant bar, or $9-10 for zero waste toothpaste, start making them yourself!
It is super easy, and you can significantly minimize the expenses.
2. Experiment – Don’t be afraid to try new things and test different recipes.
Which tip is the easiest/hardest for you when it comes to reducing the use of plastic?
Feel free to share in the comment section below.
Ways To Reduce The Use Of Plastic – Infographic: