How to Reduce Plastic Use: 18 Simple Ways (for 2020)

How to Reduce Plastic Use: 18 Simple Ways (for 2020). Featured Image.

Reducing plastic waste is not optional

We have to do it before it’s too late for our planet. 

In this guide, you’ll find 18 (simple) ways on how to reduce your plastic use quickly.

From using glass containers to using recyclable coffee cups, these 18 ways are easy and affordable for anyone to use. 

So let’s skip the fluff and dive right into the ways to eliminate your plastic footprint.

18 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use

Way #1: Stop Using Plastic Straws

Way #2: Buy A Reusable Bag

Way #3: Give Up Gum

Way #4: Use A Refillable Water Bottle

Way #5: Buy In Bulk & Use Alternative Container Types

Way #6: Pack Lunches In Reusable Containers

Way #7: Make Your Own Products

Way #8: Reduce Takeout Waste

Way #9: Ditch Plastic Lighters

Way #10: Use Reusable Coffee Cups

Way #11: Return Or Reuse Fruit & Vegetable Trays

Way #12: Repurpose Your Plastic

Way #13: Skip The Frozen Section

Way #14: Use Cloth Diapers

Way #15: Eliminate Disposable Razors

Way #16: Switch To Using Candles

Way #17: Always Have A Recycling Bin

Way #18: Reduce Plastic When Moving

Way #1:  Stop Using Plastic Straws

Plastic straws in a jar.
Image Source: Foto T on Unsplash

This tip will be very easy if you prefer not to use a straw already but if you are the type of person that must use a straw, invest in a reusable one.

Many companies are making stainless steel or glass straws that are easy to fold or compact for easy transport.

This makes it simple to bring your own straw to restaurants or for to-go drinks.

Several months ago the European Parliament voted to ban single-use plastics, including straws, that will come into force by 2021 so if you make this switch now, you won’t be caught off guard when restaurants stop offering them.

Way #2: Buy A Reusable Bag

Reusable bag.
Image Source: He’s Her Lobster on Unsplash

Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide while only one in every 200 bags we use is recycled.

This is including plastic bags and produce bags.

Invest in your own tote bags in a different, sturdier material to carry your groceries home from the store.

Also, invest in reusable produce bags or reuse the bags from the store several times before disposing of it but make sure to wash it in between purchases to ensure your produce stays fresh.

Way #3: Give Up Gum

Three packets of gum.
Image Source:  Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash

Most people don’t think about gum when they think about eliminating plastic but even if it is not in plastic containers, the gum itself is made of synthetic rubber, aka plastic.

If you reach for gum to kick bad breath, try these minty options instead:

  • Parsely
  • Liquorice
  • Mints
  • Water
  • Ginger

If it’s the oral fixation you are craving, you can try the alternatives listed above, sunflower seeds or toothpicks.

Way #4: Use A Refillable Water Bottle

Woman holding a refillable water bottle.
Image Source: Ryan Everton on Unsplash

Another way to reduce your plastic trash and save money is by using a refillable water bottle.

There are plastic and metal options in many different styles.

There are compact-able water bottles as well for lighter travel so you don’t need to buy several plastic bottles throughout your day.

Many cities around Europe even have public fountains that allow you to easily refill your bottle whenever it runs out.

Most restaurants charge for water but you don’t always want to drink it all before leaving.

Having a water bottle with you allows you to easily collect water and consume it whenever you want. 

If you have your water bottle filled already, this will save you money at the restaurant too. 

Author’s Note: As with all reusable items, be sure to wash your reusable water bottle regularly even if you are only using it for water.

Way #5: Buy In Bulk & Use Alternative Container Types

Jars of different colors stored.
Image Source: Martin Lostak on Unsplash

Plastic packaging also makes up a significant amount of plastic consumption.

Look into boxes instead of bottles or store items in your own containers in other materials such as glass.

Cereal, pasta and many other products can be bought in bulk bins and stored in alternative container types.

This will help save you money and reduce the amount of plastic you are using in the food packaging as well as the storage containers.

Clear glass containers can also add an element of decor to your kitchen or other rooms.

We talk about using clear containers in our guides on how to declutter your home and 18 small bathroom storage ideas but it’s a good tip for reducing your plastic use as well.

Way #6: Pack Lunches In Reusable Containers

Lunch packed in plastic container.
Image Source: Photo by Yu Hosoi on Unsplash

Packing sandwiches, chips and other food items in their own small bag is a bad use of plastic. Instead, try a reusable lunch container or paper bags.

Most reusable lunch containers are also plastic but at least this option can be used over and over instead of one time only.

It can also help combat food waste.

When you bring your lunch in plastic bags it is easy to throw any unfinished food away with the bag but having a lunch container encourages you to bring any uneaten food home since you will bring your container back anyways.

Way #7: Make Your Own Products

Hand soap container.
Image Source: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

It can be a bit time consuming to make your own cleaning products but it is much more eco-friendly and cost-saving.

There are several DIY tutorials on how to make your own body wash, laundry detergent, toothpaste etc.

Not only does this eliminate the use of multiple plastic items but homemade products also have fewer toxins.

Keep these cleaning products in glass bottles to add a decorative touch or simply use a reusable bottle.

Way #8: Reduce Takeout Waste

Street food in plastic container.
Image Source: Jason Weingardt on Unsplash

Food delivery services have increased in popularity recently but there is so much waste in the food packaging and plastic cutlery.

Avoid plastic takeout containers or styrofoam that is non-biodegradable. Instead, ask the restaurant if they will use your own to-go container and if you are eating at home, leave the plastic cutlery.

Some restaurants may be hesitant to pack your takeout orders in your own container but they can’t stop you from using your own doggy-bag if you are dining there.

Way #9: Ditch Plastic Lighters

Man holding a plastic lighter.
Image Source: Jason Weingardt on Unsplash

Disposable plastic lighters may be convenient but they contribute to the abundance of microplastics filling up our landfills and oceans.

Most of these lighters are not recyclable and can often end up in places they are not meant to be. 

Use matches instead of plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.

This will also save you some money by not having to replace it each time it runs out of fluid. Whenever you run low, simply refill the liquid. 

While it might seem difficult and outdated to switch to using matches, it is actually very simple.

You can purchase them at almost any corner store and some bars or hotels even given them out for free as promotional material. 

Way #10: Use Reusable Coffee Cups

Reusable coffee cup.
Image Source: Ryan Everton on Unsplash

Just like plastic bottles, coffee cups are a one-use item that adds to the waste. Find a coffee shop with compostable cups or invest in your own reusable coffee cup.

Many businesses are also taking a larger part in helping the environment so they should not have a problem with you bringing in your own cup for them to fill.

This can eliminate two plastic waste problems by not having to use a straw either.

There are many different styles out there so if you prefer drinking out of a straw or the raised lip of a cup, you can find it.

If other customers see you bringing in your own cup, you might even spark a trend that helps the earth!

Way #11: Return Or Reuse Fruit & Vegetable Trays

Strawberries in plastic container.
Image Source: Ryan Everton on Unsplash

As we have already mentioned, the packaging of food and household products uses tons of plastic.

In fact, 40% of plastic production in Europe last year was for packaging. 

Next time you are shopping, ask your grocery store if they allow you to return the plastic trays that fruits and vegetables come in. If you shop at a local farmers market, they will refill these trays for you!

Way #12: Repurpose Your Plastic 

Little yellow flower in plastic container.
Image Source: Ryan Everton on Unsplash

Repurpose the plastic that you have in your home to make its use last longer than just one type of function.

The container that your yogurt comes in or other similar cups can be used as plant holders.

Plastic bags can be transformed into baskets or mats to use around your home. 

Tops of water bottles can even be used to seal different types of food. When you reuse items that you already have for a different purpose it helps the environment

Way #13: Skip The Frozen Section At Supermarkets 

Frozen section in a supermarket.
Image Source: ilja Freiberg on Unsplash

As we’ve mentioned previously, stores are not the best at minimising the use of plastic in their products.

One of the worst offenders can be found in your local frozen food aisle. 

While TV dinners might be convenient, they tend to come in excessive packaging.

That frozen breakfast sandwich might sound good but it’s usually double wrapped in plastic. 

A better alternative is to buy fresh ingredients, like fruit and veggies, that you carry in your own reusable shopping bag to cook for your meals.

When you do have to opt-in to buying products in plastic, research to see which markets have recycled packaging available. 

Way #14: Use Cloth Diapers

A baby sitting on her mother's laps.
Image Source: The Honest Company on Unsplash

The average baby goes through 6-8 diapers per day. All those diapers can really pile up in landfills and create an abundance of unnecessary plastic. 

Cloth diapers are easy to use and do not contain chemicals which may come into contact with your baby’s skin. 

Another bonus is because you are washing and reusing the same diapers, families can end up saving a lot of money that’s wasted on traditional diapers.  

Way #15: Eliminate Disposable Razors

Plastic razor.
Image Source: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

If you haven’t noticed by now, reducing your plastic use is not only good for the environment but will end up saving you tons of money as well.

This tip adds to the cost-saving ways to reduce plastic use.

The appeal of disposable razors has made it a popular trend among many people. You only use it a few times and then throw it away to replace it with a brand new fresh one. 

However, disposable razors are extremely wasteful and you should be looking into using replaceable blades as an alternative option to using the less eco-friendly ones. 

You can save the plastic waste you are throwing into the trash each week by switching to razors that you can reuse for the years to come. 

Way #16: Switch To Using Candles 

Red candles.
Image Source: Lucian Andrei on Unsplash

Air fresheners typically come in plastic holders that can take up a lot of space and be harmful to the environment.

Instead, choose containers that can be reused after their first use for zero waste.

You can either choose to replace the candle that is inside or clean out the holder to transform it into your office supply organiser, make-up brush holder or snack caddy.

Also, avoid buying the festive candle sets that are wrapped in plastic and end up getting balled up and thrown in the garbage. 

Way #17: Always Have A Recycling Bin

Recycling bins in different colors.
Image Source: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Did you know less than a third of plastic waste in Europe is recycled? You can help combat this by always having a recycling bin next to your trash.

By having a recycling option next to your trash bin, it makes it convenient to sort your trash and help the environment.

Implement this at home, work and anywhere else where trash is being produced each day.

Most people just have two bins, one for recycling and one for trash but you can take it a step further by having bins for separate material such as paper, plastic and glass.

Way #18: Reduce Plastic When Moving

Moving objects.
Image Source: Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

The first thing you should do when moving is to try and minimise the belongings you are taking to the bare necessities. This will help with the amount of plastic that’s needed when you are moving homes.  

From the plastic bubble wrap inside your boxes to the plastic tape that seals the box, and the plastic wrap that gets stretched around everything else; plastic consumption is at an all-time high when moving

What’s worse is that most, if not all, of the plastic is used one time only!

When storing or moving items with STORED, we use sturdy reusable crates and try to help you reduce your plastic packing material as much as possible with tips like using clothing as packing protection, as mentioned in our guide on how to pack for a move.

Before You Go!

As you can see, reducing your plastic waste is not as difficult as it may seem in the first place. 

Of course, we can’t have a life without plastic right away. 

But, gradually, turning your back to plastic and saying “NO” to single-use plastic will be inevitable. 

Plastic pollution is something we have to deal with now before it’s too late. 

Now it’s your turn:

Which one of these ways do you find to be the most useful when it comes to eliminating plastic use? 

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

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bySTORED. Head of Digital at STORED.

Author: bySTORED.

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