11 Easy Ways to Kick the Plastic Habit

 Replace common single-use plastics with these sturdy reusables, recommended by MyPlasticFreeLife.com‘s Beth Terry and the editors of the Green American.


1. Instead of accepting plastic bags at the grocery store, carry your own cloth grocery and produce bags. Choose stretchy string bags that carry many times their weight (ReuseIt.com), paper-thin organic cotton produce bags (BlueLotusGoods.com, EcoBags.com), compact recycled nylon bags that crush down to the size of two golf balls and fit in a bag or purse (Chicobags.com), and more.

Find more retailers in the “Bags/Baskets” category at GreenPages.org and at ShopGreenPages.org.

2. Give up plastic water bottles and carry your own unlined, reusable stainless steel bottle. Klean Kanteen (KleanKanteen.com) now offers a 100-percent plastic-free “Reflect” bottle, crafted from stainless steel, sustainably harvested bamboo, and food-grade silicone. Try an insulated steel bottle to keep your drinks hot in winter and cold in summer.

Find more at GreenPages.org, “Exercise/Sporting Goods” or “Housewares”, or at ShopGreenPages.org.

3. Bring your own reusable food containers to buy builk items at the store and when you’re ordering take-out. To-GoWare.com offers stainless steel “tiffin” boxes with two or three compartments. LifeWithoutPlastic.com sells stainless ssteel and glass “Tupperware”-like containers, lunchboxes, and more. And Dr. Wallace J. Nichols funds his sea turtle research in part through sales of the “Sporklace” (Sporklace.com), an attractive metal spork on a chain that functions as to-go silverware and a conversation starter.

Find more at GreenPages.org, “Housewares”, or at ShopGreenPages.org.

4. When buying supplies for school or the office, choose plastic-free three-ring binders, notebooks, badges, folders, CD cases, and office labels from companies like ReBinder (ReBinder.com). ReBinder’s products are made from recycled cardboard and can be recycled again at the end of their useful life.

Find more at GreenPages.org, “Office/Desk Supplies.”

5. Eliminate the need for plastic wrap or plastic “ziploc” bags with reusable sandwich wrappers and snack bags, like the plastic-free, organic cotton snack and sandwich bags from GrazeOrganic.com and EcoDitty.com. For more moisture-proofing, SnackTaxi (SnackTaxi.com) sandwich/snack sacks are made of cotton with a nylon-coated interior. (The company plans to use recycled nylon and organic cotton in the future.)

Find more at GreenPages.org, “Children” and “Housewares,” or ShopGreenPages.org.


6. Women can jump on the plastic-free train by choosing reusable cloth menstrual pads (GladRags.com, Lunapads.com) in a variety of sizes. Also, replace tampons with washable sea sponges (JadeandPearl.com), or reusable silicone or natural latex menstrual cups like the Keeper (theKeeper.com), the Moon Cup (MoonCup.com), Lunette (Lunette.com), or Diva Cup (DivaCup.com).

Find more at GreenPages.org, “Women.”


7. When you purchase a cold beverage to go, refuse to accept a single-use plastic straw. Instead, whip out one of Glass Dharma’s reusable glass straws (cleaning brush included). If you see a crack in your straw, Glass Dharma (GlassDharma.com) will replace it for free.


8. Most body-care products are packaged in plastic. Find minimally packaged shampoo bars from companies like GoodEarthSoap.com and OregonSoapCompany.com. If you have hard water, ask the retailer for advice on how to use shampoo bars effectively. RMS Beauty (RMSBeauty.com) offers cosmeticsin glass jars with metal lids.


Avoid synthetic sponges, which are often made from foamed plastic and wrapped in plastic. Consider replacing them with Skoy cloths (SkoyCloth.com; available at ReUseIt.com), super-absorbent cleaning cloths made from cotton and cellulose. Machine-washable, long-lasting Skoy Cloths are compostable at the end of their useful life.Find more at ShopGreenPages.org.

10. Even the greenest professional clothes cleaner may package your garments in a single-use plastic bag. Stop the waste with the Green Garmento reusable “dry cleaning” bag (GreenGarmento.com). It acts as a regular laundry bag you can use ina hamper. Pull out the handle and zip up the top, and it’s a large tote in which to carry your dirty clothes to the cleaners. And turn it upside-down, and it becomes a garment bag! Use coupon code GREENAMERICABOGO to buy one Green Garmento for $9.99 and get one free.

11. Try a recyclable toothbrush. The Preserve toothbrush, made from recycled #5 plastic, is zero-waste. Once you’re finished with your Preserve brush (or the company’s tongue cleaners, razors, and kitchen products), drop it off at your local Gimme 5 dropbox for #5 plastics at participating Whole Foods stores and food co-ops, or mail it back to Recycline. The company closes the waste loop by turning returned items into plastic lumber.

This article first appeared in the Green American in our Nov/Dec “Plastics Challenge” issue.  For more tips and resources greening your life, subscribe to the Green American.  
Our Jan/Feb issue about finding a better bank is headed to the printer right now.   >>

Categories: green living

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  1. What happens when you drop you glass straw or Stainless Steel water bottle on the opening rim? it shatters or dents to the point of being unusable due to lack of proper seal, then what? Buy another one? Of course metal can bent back but often kinks to make a sharp edge the is not comfortable for drinking. Just curious…

  2. Wendell — Just curious if you’ve had a glass straw shatter or a stainless steel water bottle dent so it prevented a proper seal and how much force it took? I’ve been really lucky — I’ve dropped my glass straws on our hard tile floor without them breaking. And I’ve dropped and dented the rim of the insulated Kleen Kanteens without having the seal harmed (same hard tile floor).

    BTW, the insulated Kleen Kanteens are amazing. They keep hot drinks hot for over 8 hours — and cold drinks cold for over 24 hours, even in a Washington, DC summer. I’m the lucky owner of one with “I am a Green American” on it and another one from YES! Magazine. I take them with me everywhere.

  3. I tried the shampoo bars, and I liked them. They are also low footprint, as with most of conventional shampoos you have to transport water over long distances

  4. I was on a work course about the Environment and our impact on it and what really struck me was how much I contribute to landfill every month. I have never liked tampons or pads, they make me feel irritated and unclean, especially in the summer. Personally, I can tell you I love my MonthlyCup, so I’d always recommend giving it a try.

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