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5 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

Photo by Kevin Krejci

Plastics are a problem. Due to their design, plastics cannot truly ever biodegrade. In fact, about 97 percent of all plastics ever made are still in existence today (the other three percent were incinerated). Although plastics make up some of the hardiest products, roughly 33 percent of plastic products are used only once, then thrown away. Of the 30 million tons of plastic thrown away every year by Americans, only eight percent get recycled. Plastic waste also makes up 90 percent of all ocean pollution and more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year because of plastic ingestion.

These are just a few of the facts about plastics. More than 90 percent of Americans were found to have plastic toxins in their urine, with kids and women having some of the highest concentrations of BPA in their bodies.

If plastics are bad for our bodies and for our environment, it seems obvious that we should begin removing them from our lives.

Here are a few tips to reduce plastic waste that can be accomplished on the busiest days:

1. Rethink plastic wrap – The problem with plastics is simply how convenient they are. What’s easier than making a sandwich, quickly sealing it in plastic wrap, then heading off to work? Bee’s wrap sustainable food storage has created a reusable alternative to plastic wrap made from beeswax, organic cotton, organic jojoba oil and tree resin.

Their sandwich wrap, in particular, is perfect for replacing that daily disposable piece of plastic saran wrap. It’s reusable and easy to wash. Their company places a heavy focus on sustainability initiatives meaning you’re doing more than keeping plastic from the landfill when you use their products.

2. Reusable produce bags – We all know by now that bringing your reusable grocery bags to the store is a must. But chances are, if you’re buying a lot of loose produce, you still need those thin plastic bags to hold your peppers or bunches of beets. Instead of reaching for the roll of plastic bags, try carrying a few muslin cloth produce bags.

ECOBAGS makes some fantastic, affordable cloth bags that are perfect for bulk food, produce or just carrying your lunch. These bags are easy to wash and easily pack into reusable shopping bags, so you’ll never need plastic at the grocery store again.

3. Carry a reusable bottle for cold and hot beverages – The average plastic water bottle takes 450 years to decompose, with some taking as long as 1,000 years. Buying disposable bottles doesn’t make any sense when we have so many reusable options. And although adoption of reusable bottles has grown in the last decade, when it comes to hot beverages like coffee and tea, disposable cups are still in high use.

To completely cut your disposable beverage holder habit, opt for a water bottle that can hold cold and hot beverages. The standard Hydro Flask hydration bottles are particularly well-suited for this purpose because their cap always seals and never leaks. They are perfectly designed to keep your drink super cold or super hot. If you’re already carrying one of these for water, it’s even easier to rinse it out and fill it up with coffee from your local coffee shop.

4. Use a wooden toothbrush – One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away each year in the U.S., creating 50 million pounds of plastic waste. Instead of participating in this mass plastic disposal, try switching to a wooden or bamboo toothbrush.

Bamboo toothbrushes from Living Zero are a great alternative to the plastic already lurking in your bathroom.

5. Use non-plastic shower curtains and liners – Many people think that plastic shower curtains and liners are the only products that can keep water from spilling out of the shower. However, many companies have found that sturdy cloth curtains made from materials like hemp do just as good a job. Hemp is naturally mold resistant and these curtains can be easily washed.

Anja Semanco

Writer & Explorer


Anja is a professional freelance writer living in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in such places as and Zoomorphic magazine. She is passionate about the environment and getting women outdoors. 

Anja Semanco