How to Reduce Plastic Consumption

You’ll read it repeatedly here on Ecolife - precycling is the best way to reduce your waste! And plastics are no different. Reducing plastic consumption through your life is important if you want to shrink the size of your recycling and trash bins as well as live more lightly on the planet. And with our top tips for how to reduce plastic in your life, you’ll be well on your way to living plastic-free:

  • Bring your own bags: Whether you’re getting groceries shopping for a new outfit, or going to the bookstore, be sure to bring along reusable shopping bags. When you’re done unloading them at home, set them beside the back door so that you remember to take them to your vehicle, bicycle, or put them in your purse for the next shopping trip. Even if forget your bag and have only one or two items at the checkout, get used to chanting, “I don’t need a bag with that!” to deter unnecessary plastic waste for small purchases.
  • Take along reusable containers: Stay hydrated throughout the day but without the waste of disposable coffee cups and bottled water. Instead, take along a stainless steel water bottle or a reusable coffee mug for your morning jo. You’ll save a ton of money in the process! Another great reusable take-along is a leftovers container to use when you’ve ordered too much food at a restaurant - much better than clamshell Styrofoam options!
  • Better packaging choices: When shopping for food, underwear, electronics, or cosmetics, look for options that are either package-free, or packaged with as little plastic as possible. When feasible, buy in bulk with your own reusable bags - fruit, nuts, vegetables, dried goods, peanut butter, and deli foods can all be purchased this way. You may also be able to get “bulk” socks and underwear and other consumer goods that are package-free.
  • Buy and sell secondhand: Take a bit out of new plastic production by shopping for products at your local thrift store or consignment shop. Clothing, toys, baby gear, furniture, household supplies, sportswear, and many other consumer goods can often be found through secondhand sources, thereby reducing the amount of new plastic entering the waste stream.
  • Go natural: If you have the choice between a product made of synthetics like plastic or natural materials like cotton, wood, hemp, bamboo, or paper, always go for the natural, plant-based material as these come from renewable resources and are more likely to biodegrade when thrown away.
  • Durability: If plastic is the only option available, look for products that are high-quality and made to last so that you get the most use out of your plastics as possible. All the better if the product can be easily disassembled for recycling when it no longer serves its purpose.
  • Recyclability: Another important way to reduce non-recyclable plastics is to ensure that you choose products made from recyclable plastics. Check out Ecolife’s guide to plastics by the numbers for information on what can be recycled and which resins to avoid for their non-recyclability.
  • Pack your own lunch: It’s time to stop eating take-out! Instead, bring your own lunch to work or pack a picnic for supper with friends rather than grabbing highly-packaged foods from your local fast food joint.


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