Green Tips: Going Plastic-Free
Green Tips | July 1, 2020
Plastic waste is becoming increasingly problematic in our world. Plastic does not biodegrade: it turns into tiny particles called microplastics. These plastic particles can break down until they’re invisible to the naked eye. Pieces of plastic waste and microplastics are ingested by marine life and move through the food web. In fact, you probably have microplastics in your body right now! As time goes on and plastic waste builds up in our natural environment and waterways, it is essential that we learn to cut back and eliminate unnecessary plastic use. Before we recycle and reuse, we need to remember to reduce our use. This week, our Green Tips will help you begin your plastic-free journey.
Avoiding plastic products entirely is nearly impossible to do all at once. If you’re not sure where to start in order to “pack the biggest punch,” take a look at your trash and recycling bins. Are most of the plastic items that you are disposing or recycling from the kitchen, from the bathroom, or from your child’s toys? Once you know where you’re creating the most plastic waste, you’ll know where to start.
Although it may seem impossible to eliminate plastic in your everyday life, there is almost always an alternative. Take inventory of when and where you can choose another option, and where you’re not willing to compromise. Here are just a few examples of where you can swap and reduce plastic waste:
In the Kitchen
- Buy unpackaged produce and use reusable produce bags
- Buy in bulk when you can and use glass jars for storage
- Swap cling wrap for beeswax wrap
- Swap single-use ziplocks for reusable ones
- Avoid paper plates or single-use plastic cutlery
- Invest in a blender or juicer to make package-free smoothies and juices
- See which packaged, processed foods you can make at home
- Buy a water filter instead of purchasing single-use plastic water bottles
- Limit frozen convenience foods and purchase fresh, paper-bagged bread
In the Bathroom
- Use a safety razor with refillable blades
- Use a toothbrush that you can buy brush head replacements for, or use one with a bamboo handle
- Use toothpaste tablets instead of tubed toothpaste (there are mouthwash tablets, too)
- Avoid disposable face wipes and opt for reusable cloths
- Swap plastic bottles for bars of soap, shampoo, conditioner, and shaving cream
- Swap plastic-stemmed Q-tips for paper or bamboo versions
- Use a waterpik instead of dental floss
- Opt for a metal tongue scraper
- Purchase toilet paper that’s not wrapped in plastic
- Use plastic-free feminine hygiene products
On the Go
- Use reusable bags (you can wash or sanitize them!)
- Carry a reusable water bottle or coffee cup/thermos to fill
- Have a metal straw handy (or say “no thank you” to a plastic one). At the bar, tell your bartender that you do not need a straw when you order
- Carry your own cloth napkin and reusable cutlery
- Bring Tupperware with you to a restaurant to pack up your food (hopefully, you will inspire other diners to make this easy switch!)
- Opt for the cardboard-packaged items
- Ditch chewing gum made with synthetic rubber
- Make your own all-purpose, chemical-free cleaner and put it in a glass bottle
- Use natural cleaning scrubbers, brushes, and cloths
- Try to repair plastic items when they break instead of replacing them
- Switch to a refillable fountain pen
- Request plastic-free shipping options when ordering online
- Go paperless to avoid envelopes with plastic windows
Do Your Best
In our world today, it is very difficult (but not impossible!) to become zero-waste or plastic-free. Remember that any effort to reduce plastic waste is a step in the right direction. If alternatives seem daunting to switch to, at least give it a try! You may find that it’s not so hard. In turn you can save money, inspire others to make a switch, improve your health by reducing packaged, processed foods, and may find joy in homemaking various foods or products. At the very least, the planet will thank you for doing your part!
If you’re up for the challenge, take our Plastic-Free July pledge to go plastic free this month! It’s a great opportunity to try out some of these alternatives– and you can win a zero waste kit when you sign-up to take the pledge. Best of luck in your plastic-free endeavors!
Have a plastic-free alternative that you want to recommend? Lisa Darrigo, our Program Coordinator, is compiling tips from our members and wants to hear from you! Email Lisa with your plastic-free tip at LDarrigo@nylcv.org.< Back to Citizen’s Toolkit
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