31 Ways to Ditch Plastic in Every Room

By: Kealia Reynolds

Roughly 9.1 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, and since most plastic isn’t biodegradable, all that plastic waste will remain in our environment for hundreds of thousands of years. “Every day, many plastic items are only used once and then are thrown away, generating one of the fastest growing problems for the environment,” says Matthew S. Hollis, co-founder and president of Elytus, a waste management company committed to “wasting nothing.” “There are countless amounts of plastic items in our landfills and additionally, in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Since it takes years and years for plastic to decompose, it can release toxic chemicals into our soil and water, which can affect human health and wildlife.”

So, how can we reduce our plastic use? Making simple swaps like using a reusable water bottle, investing in a reusable tote bag, or opting for organic clothing can minimize plastic pollution and make us feel better about the products we use in our home. Here are 31 alternatives that you can start incorporating around your home and in your day-to-day life.

In the kitchen

1. Ditch the bottles (and cans) of La Croix and get a SodaStream. Each SodaStream carbonating bottle saves up to 3,700 single-use plastic bottles and is completely recyclable and dishwasher-safe.

2. Store leftovers and carry your lunch in glass containers or jars instead of plastic containers and bags.

3. Stop buying plastic water bottles and opt for a stainless steel water bottle or Cupanion bottle instead. Cupanion is a sustainable drinkware company that encourages environmentally conscious habits through innovative, reusable products and technology. The Cupanion water bottle tracks your environmental impact through its Fill it Forward app and shows you how much waste was diverted by investing in one of its bottles. If you also drink bottled water at home, opt for a Brita or Pura filter instead.

4. Bring a reusable tote bag with you when you go shopping. Most reusable bags cost about 99 cents and can be used every time you go shopping. We like Baggus, which can be neatly packed and kept in your purse or work bag all the time—so you never have to remember to bring it with you.

5. Use paper bags for produce (or no bag at all). Skip the thin plastic bags in the produce department and use paper sandwich bags for vegetables like beans and potatoes.

6. If you’re a dairy drinker, buy milk in glass bottles rather than plastic.

7. Swap out plastic wrap for natural beeswax wrap.

8. Use a reusable glass or metal straw instead of a plastic one.

9. Choose stainless steel ice trays rather than plastic ones.

10. Instead of buying pre-packaged granola bars that come individually wrapped, try buying trail mix in bulk or making your own granola.

11. Paper towel rolls come wrapped in plastic, so buy a set of reusable napkins or towels to use instead of paper towels.

12. Go to the farmers market—avoid the plastic produce containers found in grocery stores (and support local agriculture) by going to the farmer’s market and choosing unpackaged vegetables.

13. Buy food in bulk whenever you can. More grocery stores are offering dry goods like grains, nuts, and dried fruit in bulk—and you can save a few dollars and a lot of plastic by opting for these instead of pre-packaged goods. According to the EPA, food and packaging containers account for nearly half of all trash in landfills and buying in bulk can help reduce that load.

14. When you buy alcohol and liquor, opt for glass bottles instead of plastic or aluminum cans.

15. If you like to eat takeout, ask them to leave out the plastic utensils when you place your order. If you pack a lunch during the week, toss in your own reusable silverware (or get a bamboo kit).

16. If you’re a coffee drinker, get a reusable glass or stainless steel travel mug and take it with you to the coffee shop. You’ll save a cup and a lid every time you bring your own, and most coffee shops will offer a discount for patrons who bring reusable.

17. Make your own yogurt. If you don’t mind setting aside time to make yogurt each week, this is the perfect alternative to buying individual yogurt containers. Kelly Huibregtse, founder of lifestyle blog A Side of Sweet, makes her own yogurt so she doesn’t have to recycle the tiny plastic containers every day. Check out her recipe for making homemade greek yogurt.

18. Shop at zero-waste stores. Zero waste stores are exactly what they sound like. According to Laura Hall, marketing executive at Shiply.com, an online delivery marketplace that uses the spare capacity of vehicles on the road and helps reduce the number of wasteful journeys needed to transport items, “Zero waste stores allow you to buy all kinds of packaging-free items including laundry detergent, cooking oils, and rice/pasta. Less plastic means having to empty the bins/recycle bins so often, and generally feeling less guilty about your household waste.”

Though committing to zero waste stores may seem daunting at first, Hall maintains that once you get used to taking your own reusable containers to stores, the process becomes easier. Here’s a complete list of zero waste grocery stores in every state.

19. Compost food waste instead of using plastic trash bags. Compost can be made at home from ingredients you were planning to throw away, which means it’s not only good for the garden but environmentally responsible as well. This process is neither complicated nor expensive and only requires a few materials and the right combination of organic matter.

In the bathroom

20. Use bars of soap rather than bottles. Most hair care products that you use in the shower come packaged in plastic, but these plastic bottles generally aren’t recycled and end up in landfills. Hall recommends switching to bars of soap rather than using shower gel in plastic bottles. “You could even go a step further and get shampoo bars,” says Hall. Tom’s makes a shampoo bar with no parabens that is gentle on skin and not tested on animals.

21. Opt for applicator-free tampons or invest in a reusable menstrual cup instead of buying pads and tampons every month.

22. Buy toilet paper wrapped in paper. Another simple way to cut plastic use is by switching to toilet paper wrapped in paper instead of plastic. Who Gives A Crap is a toilet paper subscription company that makes toilet paper with 100% recycled paper and wraps it in environmentally friendly paper packaging.

23. Invest in a reusable safety razor. Opt for a metal or wood safety razor with reusable blades. Safety razors come with a stainless steel handle (this is where you’ll place the metal razor blade) and multiple blades. We recommend the Van Der Hagen safety razor—it’s made in Germany from ice-tempered, Teflon-coated stainless steel for the perfect balance of sharpness and flexibility and comes with five blades.

24. Use a bamboo toothbrush. One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown out every single year, creating about 50 million pounds of waste annually (plastic toothbrushes never break down). Just like plastic toothbrushes, bamboo brushes need to be replaced about every three months, but the handle of a bamboo toothbrush only takes about six months to biodegrade back into the soil. We recommend the MABLE toothbrush—the brush is made of bamboo that’s sustainably sourced from China, the bristles are non-toxic, BPA-free nylon, and the packaging is plastic-free.

25. Make your own toothpaste. When you swap out store-bought toothpaste, you’re cutting down on plastic by eliminating the plastic tube and plastic microbeads in the toothpaste used for extra whitening. To make homemade toothpaste, all you need is sea salt, water, guar gum, baking soda, coconut oil, and peppermint essential oil for flavor.

Around the home

26. Opt for organic clothing, bedding, and textiles. Many types of synthetic fiber contain plastic. When possible, opt for natural fiber clothing like cotton, wool, or linen over spandex and other performance fleece clothing.

According to Christine Dimmick, founder of The Good Home Co. and author of Detox Your Home, “All that performance fleece and spandex is significantly contributing to the plastic microfibers in our waters and in our seafood supply. Every time you wash them, it’s releasing thousands of plastic microfibers into our water streams.” If you do have spandex clothing, Dimmick recommends washing them in a GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag which will trap the microfibers and prevent them from being released into the water.

27. Make a homemade cleaning solution. Instead of buying cleaners packaged in plastic, a simple, all-purpose cleaner can be made by mixing one part vinegar with one part baking soda and pouring the solution into a reusable metal spray bottle.

28. You could also use these items separately: white vinegar can be used to clean your shower doors, microwave, and dishes while baking soda can be used as an air freshener, produce cleaner, and laundry hamper deodorizer.

Here are two other eco-friendly ways to clean the glass and windows in your home.

29. Get a self-cleaning lint brush rather than the disposable plastic lint rollers. The OXO self-cleaning lint brush is a compact and reusable lint brush that works just as well as a plastic lint roller.

30. Swap out plastic pet toys for cloth ones. Keep plastic away from your pets and give them cloth-based toys like catnip mice or soft, squishy balls. We recommend the Mammoth MaFlossy Chews White Rope Bone—this toy is made of 100% natural white cotton materials.

31. Rather than buying laundry detergent in bottles, buy powdered detergent in cardboard boxes.

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