A woman jumping while holding a reusable canvas tote

Plastics can be very useful, helpful, and convenient. Since 1907 when it was originally created, plastic has revolutionized the way we live. However, we have now reached the point that the pollution from throwing away plastics instead of reusing or recycling them threatens to overwhelm us.

We believe that using plastics isn’t bad — it’s only bad when people use them in ways that are harmful to the long-term health of the planet and humanity. Thus, we recommend starting with this helpful list:

  1. Use a metal straw
  2. Choose canvas bags
  3. Use glass and cardboard
  4. Use a reusable water bottle
  5. Refuse plasticware
  6. Clean green
  7. Opt for reusable lunch containers
  8. Buy in bulk
  9. Reuse plastic whenever possible

Decreasing the amount of plastic in our world really comes down to paying attention to what you use and how. It really is all about the 4 R’s of green living: Reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose.

1. Use a Metal Straw

The whole plastic straw conversation can be a bit overblown, and we recognize the arguments made by many disability advocates, who state that straws made from other substances can be an inflexible safety risk. In general, we think purchasing a reusable metal straw represents a strong commitment to reducing your plastic waste. If you can make this decision for all of your beverages, we recommend it.

2. Choose Canvas Bags

There is simply no reason you ever need to bring home your purchases from the grocery store in plastic bags. Reusable bags are superior for several reasons:

  • They’re more durable
  • They’re more attractive
  • They’re more functional
  • They have more storage
  • You can keep your freezer stuff cold

We recommend storing your grocery bags in your pantry so you remember to use them as you plan your grocery list. You should also keep a couple in your car in case you make unexpected stops.

An assortment of green living items, including a reusable coffee mug, a reusable water bottle, metal straws, a glass jar, wooden utensils and baking ware.

3. Use Glass and Cardboard

If you can buy a product at the store in a glass or cardboard container, then you should do so rather than the plastic alternative. There are two primary reasons for this:

  1. Glass can be reused easily
  2. Cardboard can be recycled more effectively and with fewer restrictions

Making conscious choices for your purchases goes a long way.

4. Use a Reusable Water Bottle 

There’s nothing new about this suggestion, but people still purchase plastic water bottles in bulk for use at home and in the office. Investing in a good filter for your sink or fridge is always preferable to buying yet another 24-pack of bottles. 

If you’re going on a long trip, simply fill up several containers and store them in a canvas bag. The only reason we can see for having lots of single-use water bottles in your home is as part of your hurricane prep kit.

5. Refuse Plasticware

When you place an order for takeout at your house, you should intentionally request that the restaurant not send you a pre-wrapped collection of cutlery. Besides, your good silverware and napkins are more effective than those cheaply made forks and spoons. 

6. Clean Green 

Do you really need a different plastic bottle for every possible cleaning solution you might use in your home? No, you don’t. With a bit of research into formulas and proportions, you can create a wide range of cleaning products with baking soda and white vinegar and then reuse the same mixing vessels each time you clean. Just be sure you purchase that baking soda in a cardboard box and the vinegar in a glass bottle.

7. Opt for Reusable Lunch Containers

This is one of those situations where you can intentionally use plastic containers to keep food fresh for yourself and your kids each day. The point is that you’re buying a few crucial pieces and reusing them over and over again to maximize their utility instead of using single-use plastic baggies.

You can also look for bamboo containers for your lunches, as those are more earth friendly.

8. Buy in Bulk

Let’s be clear: We are not suggesting that you purchase lots of individually wrapped products so you can make fewer trips to the store. We’re recommending that you shop from the bulk bins at the grocery store and bring reusable containers from home. By using the “Tare” function on the scale and printing out the scannable labels, you’re using less plastic for everyday activities.

Additionally, this ties into our tips for canvas bags and selecting glass/cardboard containers. 

9. Reuse Plastic Whenever Possible

As we’ve mentioned a few times, using plastic itself isn’t bad; it’s using it wastefully and without thinking of the repercussions of your actions that causes problems. Thus, when you do purchase plastic items, choose ones you can reuse and repurpose with ease. The less we send to the recycling centers, the better

You Can Reduce Your Plastic Pollution with One Simple Step

If we could issue just one directive to people, it would be this: “Stop using single-use plastics.” Saving all of our plastic use for items with long-term purposes and shelf-life would go a long way toward decreasing the amount of plastic pollution in our world. 

When we all work together towards a common goal, we can decrease the amount of new plastic pollution we create and focus on solutions for the material already wasting away in our oceans and landfills.