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Green Tips: Going Plastic-Free, Part 2

Green Tips | July 16, 2020

Humans have grown accustomed to using single-use plastic, and our production of these materials parallel our reliance. Of the 300 million tons of plastic that’s produced every year, 50% is for single-use plastics. Worldwide, only 10-13% of plastic items are recycled, and the rest find their way into landfills or our food and water supply. As plastics degrade in the natural world, they release toxic chemicals that have been found in humans, where their presence can disrupt the endocrine system. 

Small Changes with Big Impacts

Hundreds have taken our Plastic-Free July pledge. Think of all the plastics that won’t enter our waterways this summer (and hopefully beyond!) because of the small changes that individuals are making to reduce plastic waste. If you’re looking for inspiration or ideas to reduce your plastic use and waste, we’ve expanded our original Plastic-Free July Green Tips list below, thanks in part to our members.


  • When ordering a pizza, ask the restaurant to forgo the plastic “table.”
  • Get your ice cream in a cone instead of a plastic-coated cup.
  • Buy fresh bread that comes in a paper bag.
  • Consider home cooking rather than buying frozen, ready-to-eat meals.
  • Buy wine bottles with natural cork stoppers.
  • Return plastic produce containers to a farmers market so that they can be cleaned and reused.
  • Challenge your family to find plastic-free alternatives in the grocery store (unwrapped produce, processed foods in cardboard-only packaging, etc).
  • When buying meat or cheese from the deli, ask to use your own container.
  • Ask food establishments to fill up your own Thermos or reusable tumbler. If that’s not an option, forego the lid and straw (or bring your own reusable one).
  • Wash and reuse plastic containers: give them to your kids to create something, use them when cleaning to rinse out the tub, etc.
  • Grow your own food.
  • Reuse plastic bags from cereal boxes in the future as a doggy bag.

Home & Personal Products

  • Avoid products with plastic microbeads. 
  • Find personal care products that come in tin, glass jars, or as solid bars.
  • Choose powdered washing detergent packaged in cardboard, or make your own.
  • Buy large quantity containers of dish & hand soap then refill dispensers in your home.
  • Try creating your makeup and skincare products from scratch using ingredients with the least amount of plastic packaging.
  • Refill cleaning product spray bottles with bulk-purchased cleaning supplies (or make your own). You can also rinse the spray bottles out well and refill with water to spray on your houseplants.
  • Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one.
  • Use an electric shaver.


  • Buy wooden toys for your children, or donate old toys after disinfecting and cleaning them.
  • Quit smoking or using vapes (vapes are made of plastic and are not recyclable; cigarette filters are 95% plastic material that takes 12 years  to fully degrade (if an animal doesn’t ingest it first). 
  • Find a zero-waste store near you!

Implementing any or all of these tips is a great place to start in reducing your plastic use and waste. Taking our Plastic-Free July pledge does not mean you have to get rid of all the plastic in your house and live 100% plastic free forever: it’s about trying less wasteful ways of living and finding out what works best for you! We recommend starting off by choosing three plastic-free initiatives to try during July and continuing the challenge in the months ahead. Join hundreds of New Yorkers in reducing plastic waste by taking the Plastic-Free July pledge. You can win a zero waste toolkit when you sign-up! Thanks for your support.

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