15 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use

by 4Ocean Team February 05, 2018 27 Comments

15 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use

You wake up this morning and go to brush your teeth. You then go get dressed and take a shirt and a pair of pants off your hangers in your closet. Before leaving for work, you pack your lunch for the day and put your sandwich in a Ziplock bag, pack a to-go fork and knife packet, grab a water bottle, and use a grocery bag to hold your items. 

In just the 30 minutes it took you to get ready for the day, you used 7 plastic items, which could easily be replaced with more sustainable products, that will most likely find their way into the ocean where it will turn into a threat for marine life.

Plastic toothbrush

Plastic clothes hangers

Plastic sandwich bag

Plastic fork

Plastic knife

Plastic water bottle

Plastic grocery bag

     

    We've come up with 15 ways you can reduce your plastic consumption to help create a more hopeful future for the fate of our oceans

    1. Say NO to plastic straws...

    ...and say YES to reusable ones. We use more than 500 MILLION plastic straws every single day. Think about it: when you order coffee at a restaurant or cafe, you don't use a straw to drink it. So why do you need a straw for your water or soda? Saying NO to single-use straws is easier than you think. Restaurants and bars have the tendency to give you a plastic straw even before you have the chance to let them know you'd rather not have one, so make sure upon ordering drinks that you let your waiter or bartender know you are okay with no straw. If you would prefer to use a straw, there are great alternatives such as steel, bamboo, and glass straws that you can carry with you and can use them time and time again. 

    2. Bring a reusable shopping bag with you

    More than 1 million bags are used across the globe every day and annually, about 500 billion plastic bags are produced. Whether you are going grocery shopping at the supermarket or going on a shopping spree at the mall, bring your own bag with you. Most reusable bags are only about 99 cents - a small investment to help out our planet. 

    3. Get rid of the plastic water bottle

    Most stores and many companies make a variety of reusable water bottles. Made in all sizes, shapes, and materials, there is no reason to continue to use plastic water bottles. A single person using a reusable, refillable water bottle instead of single-use plastic water bottles can save as much as 170 bottles from being produced each year. If a family of 5 all hopped on board with this greener practice, that means as a family they would stop about 850 water bottles from having to be produced.

    4. Pack your lunch in glass containers instead of plastic

    Ditch the plastic Ziplock baggie and use something more eco-friendly than single-use plastic. There are many brands that make glass containers with lids for all of your packed-food needs. Mason jars are also another creative and hip way to pack your foods for lunch.

    5. Avoid snacks/food with excess packaging

    We're all guilty of this. You buy a huge plastic bag filled with even smaller plastic bags of snack-size chips. Think of all the unnecessary packing that goes into the food on the shelf. Also, some supermarkets will wrap each fruit or vegetable individually in plastic wrap. Instead of throwing it away, leave the plastic wrap with your grocer so that they can reuse it for other products. 

    6. Stop using plastic cutlery

    When you get a take-out order, you will automatically be given a set of plastic cutlery. Before you take your food, make sure to ask for no plastic fork, spoon, or knife. Chances are if you are taking the food home, you have silverware readily available and do not need to waste the plastic cutlery. If you are taking your food to-go and bringing it back to work, keep a cheaper set of silverware at work that you can wash off and use over and over again. This also guarantees that you will never be utensil-less for another lunch again!

    7. Choose cardboard over plastic when you can

    Cardboard can be more easily recycled and unlike plastic, will biodegrade over time. While plastics can be recycled as well, buying products when you can that are in cardboard boxes such as laundry detergent will help to reduce the plastic that needs to be produced.

    8. Swap out your plastic toothbrush

    Whether you believe it or not, every single toothbrush affects the environment. One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown out every single year, creating about 50 million pounds of waste annually. There have not been any scientific research results that plastic toothbrushes perform better over bamboo ones. Just like plastic toothbrushes, bamboo brushes needed to be replaced just as often, about every 3 months, but the handle of a bamboo toothbrush only takes about 6 months to biodegrade back into the soil. On the other hand, a plastic toothbrush will never biodegrade and will remain in the environment forever.

    9. Avoid cosmetic products that contain microbeads

    Countries are making this easier to do as more and more countries are putting a ban on the production of plastic microbeads in most cosmetic items. The UK is the latest country to issue a ban which will become effective beginning in July of this year. Millions of plastic microbeads are washed down the drain each year, posing a serious threat to marine life who mistake these small plastic particles for food. Choose bath and shower soaps that do not contain microbeads the next time you go to purchase one of these items.

    10. Choose metal over plastic razors

    Sure, a metal razor may be a little heavier to hold than a plastic one, but the long-term result of discarded plastic razors is even heavier on the heart. 2 BILLION plastic razors are discarded every year - and discarded does not mean they were recycled. Invest a little more into a reusable metal razor and ditch the plastic - but in a recycle bin! 

    11. Get the hang of using wire hangers

    Almost any other type of hanger is better than plastic. Almost 90% of the clothes sold in the USA are imported from overseas. Unfortunately, almost every single garment sent over also comes on its own individual hanger - meaning 30-40 billion hangers are sent to the US every year. If you laid out all of these hangers, they would stretch 8 million miles, far beyond the orbit of the moon. Even worse? 85% of these hangers do not get reused or recycled but instead, end up in a landfill. Switch to metal, steel hangers instead. Steel hangers are 100% recyclable and not to mention, usually last longer than most flimsy plastic hangers.

    12. While you're at it, get rid of the plastic hampers too

    Speaking of flimsy, we move on to plastic hampers. Another plastic commodity that we can all live without. So what can we use instead of plastic hampers? Try bamboo! Bamboo products are typically sturdy and pose no serious threat to the environment. You can place a cloth burlap bag inside the bamboo hamper and easily take the bag out to do laundry. 

    13. Switch to e-billing

    It's 2018... and you still get your bills mailed to you? E-billing may very well be one of the most overlooked green practices that we could all be doing. While there may not be a whole lot of plastic involved with receiving bills in the mail, there are many over ecological benefits for signing up for e-billing. The average American household can save 6.6 pounds of paper each year and avoid producing 171 pounds of greenhouse emissions. Call your billing provider today to get started on a more eco-friendly way to pay bills. 

    14. Paper newspapers are a thing of the past

    That newspaper that sits on your driveway may seem convenient, wrapped in the unnecessary plastic wrapping. However, chances are, whatever headlining story will be on the front page of the newspaper has already aired on every televised news station and you've already read about it online. If you don't want to give up the joy of reading a newspaper, sign up for an electronic one! Companies make it easy not with iPads, Kindles, and all other forms of tablets to receive the news you want when you want it.

    15. If it's plastic, think twice.

    While this last point is not a specific item, we realize that there are many other ways to help reduce your plastic intake than the 14 listed on this blog. Everything from the toys that kids are playing with to the many plastic supplies used for a birthday party, plastic items are all around us. While we understand that avoiding plastic at all costs is near impossible, we encourage you to avoid it when possible and to think twice before purchasing a plastic item that can easily be replaced. 



    4Ocean Team
    4Ocean Team

    Author

    27 Responses

    louis
    louis

    August 30, 2018

    let’s join forces! this sea needs to be saved! because we love this sea
    I want to be part of your association

    Wells Scheeler
    Wells Scheeler

    August 29, 2018

    This is great information and the world needs to think more about what we throw away.
    I came across your site trying to learn how to dispose of garbage. Like a lot of people I used grocery store plastic bags as can liners. Then I throw them in the trash. I do recycle what I can but always feel guilty about the bags. I have been able to eliminate plastic water bottles by using a home distiller to make my own pure drinking water.

    Esperanza
    Esperanza

    August 29, 2018

    Excelentes sugerencias

    Mimi
    Mimi

    August 29, 2018

    Great article. We really need to stop using plastic straws! Everyone needs to pitch in, and say no to plastic. You can buy reusable, biodegradable straws here: https://goo.gl/hGnBpB. I used them every chance I get.

    caleb
    caleb

    August 29, 2018

    plastic is bad for the sea

    Rick Thomas
    Rick Thomas

    August 29, 2018

    I try to be conscious of my environment and waste. Mankind is ruining our planet with so little care. Thank you for these comments of improving the world and for all you do

    Polly P
    Polly P

    July 26, 2018

    Hi!
    I’m part of a start-up developing an app that enables shoppers to reduce the amount of non-recyclable plastic purchased as packaging in grocery shopping. It’s basically an app/online shopping platform that compares how much non-recyclable stuff is included in your shop depending on which supermarket you go to. It suggests better alternatives and easy switches to make. Hopefully feedback on consumer choices will push the supermarkets to switch to more environmentally friendly packaging.

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScl3vSJny7GbOrjqDDCKuDTKrzVtrLWRLdvSnNGs3qaOMTXog/viewform

    Above is link to market research survey. Any comments are very welcome to help this development go ahead!

    Rosemary oshea
    Rosemary oshea

    July 09, 2018

    Thank for the inspiration and for making our world better.

    Isabella
    Isabella

    June 20, 2018

    thanks it gives a lot of useful information

    Bonnie Kean
    Bonnie Kean

    June 13, 2018

    I live in the middle of the U.S. and I’ve only seen an ocean once in San Diego. But where I live people LOVE to litter. It’s just such a shame that all that plastic ends up in the waterways and the oceans like it does! Anything I can do to help, I’m more than willing to try. I think you are all doing a wonderful thing with 4Ocean!

    Patricia
    Patricia

    June 13, 2018

    Why not making a law that will make all stores using plastic bags? I’m French originally and just went i left my old country for my new one we were doing our shopping with big back (we all loved the Ikea ones) to buy our groceries and it was ok. When i arrived here in 2000 of course i had with me my Ikea bag and people were staring at me in the way woah that’s very convenient. And yes it is, 2 o 3 heavy plastic bags cut blood circulation of your hand . When i go to the fresh market i have a backpack with icepacks to keep fresh, i have a large plastic container (i know i haven’t found 1 as big as this one in glass but all others are glass) so i carry it to put all red fruits, so convenient you arrive you just have to put it directly in the fridge. Plus my fabric bags I’m ready to buy my bio fruits and vegetables.
    So the real story here in around 1999 France Government decided to ban plastic bags at all stores. So either you bring yours or you can buy at the cashier a plastic bag but it’s not cheap you don’t buy them for a full shopping card. We are used to it and i’m still shopping like that. I also avoid, when possible to use the plastic bags to put vegetables. Why not getting paper bags? At wholefoods market you do have some but not enough.

    Harbor Chidi
    Harbor Chidi

    May 31, 2018

    Wow! this is more than inspiring. Thanks a lot for the orientation. I promise to do my best to apply all this information

    Robert Mira
    Robert Mira

    April 26, 2018

    Love what you guys have started and you have my full support. I started by purchasing the bracelet but still want to do more. I grew up in an island and was always blessed to be close to the ocean. I live in the Washington, DC area now and would like to know if there is some kind of 4Ocean group in my area so I can be a part of it. Let me know.

    Shannon Y Towle
    Shannon Y Towle

    March 20, 2018

    I’m so happy to support your efforts and look forward to receiving (and sharing) the bracelets I ordered today. In reading your story, I was hoping to see some suggested sources of bamboo products I can order to replace the plastic items I currently use.
    Thanks.

    heidi b merz
    heidi b merz

    March 12, 2018

    Hello! I live near the Ocean and collect the trash when I go out for walks, my bag is always too small. Those wonderful burlap bags you have in the video, how about you sell those! I would buy one or 2 or maybe a dozen and give them to friends to expand the coastal cause. They have the logo and I love to talk to people! And they certainly compost! Think about it! Hearts from Oak Island, NC

    Suzi
    Suzi

    March 11, 2018

    Good, accessible & user friendly ideas which led me to thinking of the following…

    After purchasing the 4Ocean 2-Pound Pack I (I’ve) decided to keep (kept) the limited edition bracelet & (sent) send the other, along with this note, to a likeminded friend with the challenge to ‘pay it forward’. The idea is for your friend to buy at least, one 4Oceans bracelet to give to another likeminded friend along with this ‘pay it forward’ challenge, therefore creating the ripple effect. (Pardon the pun ?).

    That then gave me the idea that if others did this when they bought the 4Ocean 2-Pound Pack, awareness would rise & maybe you could ‘capitalise’ on this by creating the 4Ocean 2-Pound Pack ‘Pay it Forward’ campaign!
    This idea not only promotes the cause & necessity of cleaning & keeping our Oceans clean but also gives each individual who takes up the challenge a more definitive sense of purpose. A record per say, of their own individual ‘ripple effect’ they may look at, as time goes by, giving them a picture of actually how much a great impact their original purchase has had.
    … Just a thought.

    Cheers & thanks so much for your fantastic work.
    Suzi, Australia ✌?

    PS. I’ll let you know if my friend takes up the challenge.

    Fletcher Young
    Fletcher Young

    February 25, 2018

    A great cause giving us alternatives .

    Daphne McCartney-Williams
    Daphne McCartney-Williams

    February 22, 2018

    Thank you for introducing simple changes to our lifestyles that we can all embrace. I already do most of these.

    Gloria Smith
    Gloria Smith

    February 18, 2018

    It i s time to be responsible stewards of our planet

    Marcelo de Souza Oliveira
    Marcelo de Souza Oliveira

    February 18, 2018

    Plástico…we’ve come till present time with it, and It has “saved” us a lot…Hope we van now save us from It before it “covers” us at all…
    Thanks for the tips…
    Now I will share this marvelous text around.

    Joy evans
    Joy evans

    February 18, 2018

    Please don’t just bin it use it till it is no longer useable then replace it

    Sheila
    Sheila

    February 17, 2018

    So thankful you and others are doing such a wonderful job of helping to educate and eradicate plastic from our oceans.
    Keep up the great job.

    Dee Moore
    Dee Moore

    February 17, 2018

    It can be disheartening at times when walking along my local beaches & bushland to see what people have left behind after a trip outdoors, all you can do is your part to remove what you can.

    It is a daunting challenge to undo what damage our species has done, however, knowing that your organization & others like you are out there are doing their bit is encouraging.
    Thanks for all that you do & helping to educate on plastic alternatives.

    p.s love showing off my bracelet

    - Dee, Australia

    Maureen Murphy
    Maureen Murphy

    February 17, 2018

    I think plastic producers should join your efforts, even made legally responsible for the end of life of what they manufacture by having to produce only recyclable plastics.

    Also, #16 could be call companies who’s plastic bags are not recyclable and encourage them to only use recyclable plastic and to clearly label their products.

    Tonya Hunt
    Tonya Hunt

    February 17, 2018

    Wow some great eye openers??

    Azra Shamsie
    Azra Shamsie

    February 17, 2018

    We all should follow these to save our beautiful planet earth

    Joy Wilson
    Joy Wilson

    February 17, 2018

    Go to a farmers market where you can buy fruit and veg and bread and cheese and flowers and cakes without plastic . And you can juice in glass bottles.

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