How to use less plastic at home

Updated: Jun 5

Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. The ubiquity of plastics in our environment poses serious health problems for humans and wildlife, and since plastics are fossil fuel-based, their production generates greenhouse gases that contribute to global heating. Single-use plastics are especially damaging, given their quick accumulation in landfills and the throw-away culture they promote.


Solving our plastic pollution crisis will require a broad cultural reckoning, significant policy change, and probably some amount of technical innovation. In the meantime, concerned citizens can show their values and make a difference by choosing non-plastic options where it makes sense in their individual lives. In general...

  • Carry items in reusable bags and drinks in refillable containers: Get in the habit of having non-plastic bags and containers on-hand when leaving the home, so you’ll never need single-use plastic equivalents.

  • Store food in plastic-free containers and wraps: Use glass jars for longer-term storage, silicone or beeswax wraps for short-term, and be sure to reuse!

  • Buy food and products with minimal and/or plastic-free packaging: Keep an eye out for boxed and paper-wrapped items, unpackaged (fresh!) produce, tablets and bars in place of bottled liquids. When possible, support companies that consistently minimize their plastic footprint.

  • Decline plastic freebies: Just say “no” to plastic straws and utensils, promotional swag, cheap gadgets, and other plastic junk that you don’t need in the first place.

  • Reuse existing plastic as much as possible: It’s nearly impossible to avoid plastic entirely, so you might as well use it once you’ve got it, and prolong its useful life before sending it to a recycling center or landfill.


Source: https://packagefreeshop.com

Beyond these general guidelines, it’s worth seeking out plastic-free alternatives for specific products commonly used at home. To get you started, here are a number of ideas and recommendations from Edgewater Environmental Coalition members. Elsewhere on this site you can find information about how to support anti-plastics campaigns in the community and beyond.


Personal Hygiene

Common item made of or contained in plastic

Plastic-free alternatives

Example product / company

Toothbrushes

- Brushes with changeable heads (e.g. electric toothbrush or metal/bamboo base that is reusable)

- Bamboo brushes

Kooler Things bamboo brushes

Bonus: all packaging is paper-based and recyclable

Toothpaste*

- Metal-based tubes of paste

- Jars with powder paste

- Chewable tablets

- Recyclable containers*

David’s Natural Toothpaste

Bonus: 98% of materials are sourced in the US, and all manufacturing is in the US

Floss

Bamboo or silk alternatives, often can be found as refills for a reusable container

Wowe stainless steel floss dispenser with silk/wax floss

Bonus: all you have to buy after the first one is refill floss

Lofah

Cotton

Cotton swabs (handle is often plastic!)

Bamboo or paper sticks with 100% cotton swabs

Sinwuas swabs

Bonus: all packaging is paper-based and recyclable

Shampoo / body wash bottles

- Bar alternatives

- Aluminum (more easily recyclable) containers

- Packets that can be mixed into liquid at home and added to refillable containers

Face and Body Lotions

- Bar alternatives

- Packets that can be mixed into liquid at home and added to refillable containers

Deodorant

- Bars

- Vegan options in push-up cardboard containers

Hand soap

- Bars — as in “bar soap”!

- Reusable dispensers, ideally with refills that come in non-plastic containers

Toilet paper (comes in plastic bags)

Look for rolls wrapped in paper and/or shipped in bulk cardboard boxes

Who Gives A Crap

Bonuses:

- B-corp that donates 50% of profits to build toilets in the developing world

- TP itself made from either bamboo or recycled paper

Menstrual products

Reusable cups or period underwear

Bambody period panties

* Many of the non-plastic toothpaste alternatives are for options that do not include fluoride paste, although the landscape is changing. Notably, Colgate’s Smile for Good recyclable tube just launched, with a fluoride paste, in Europe, with plans for eventual North American expansion.


Cleaning

Common item made of or contained in plastic

Plastic-free alternatives

Example product / company

Cleaner spray

Reusable dispensers, ideally with refills that come in non-plastic containers

Dishwashing

- Liquid dish soap in reusable containers and recyclable packaging

Laundry

Detergent tabs or liquid in reusable containers and recyclable packaging

Trash bags

Biodegradable or compostable options; reuse old plastic bags or paper bags from shopping

Trash bags (many similar options exist)

Miscellaneous

Common item made of or contained in plastic

Plastic-free alternatives

Example product / company

Food storage containers

- Reuse takeout containers

- Look for glass or wood options, baskets or bags

- Try compostable sandwich bags

- Skip plastic wrap in favor of foil or a reusable container

Reusable beverage containers

- Stainless steel water bottles, often insulated to keep liquids cold/hot

- Insulated coffee mugs and tumblers with spill-proof lids

Shopping bags

Canvas totes, muslin fabric produce bags


Related Posts

See All