15 Ways to Reduce Consumption of Single-Use Plastic

If you’re like me, you’ve been on the reusable grocery bag bandwagon for a long time now. I have even been successful in converting my husband and several friends and relatives to join me in the fight against plastic grocery bags. But grocery bags are just the tip of the single-use plastic iceberg. Literally dozens of other single-use plastics cross our paths every day. Here are 15 ways we can limit our dependence on this deadly addiction.

Why Single-Use Plastics Are Bad:

Huge amounts of discarded plastic ends up in our waterways. Turtles and other aquatic animals have been known to ingest these items, which ultimately causes their death. Marine animals become entangled in various types of plastic refuse and die as a result. Plastic never biodegrades. When exposed to sunlight, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, but never actually goes away. In urban areas, discarded plastic bags clog storm and sewer drains causing severe flooding and life-threatening public health conditions.

Ways to Reduce your Usage:

1. Take your own reusable bags to all stores, not just the grocery store.

2. Do not use plastic produce bags. Larger items like apples and tomatoes don’t need a bag. Just cluster them together at checkout. For items like chili peppers or okra, bring your own reusable produce bags.

3. When purchasing items like celery and carrots, choose those without plastic packaging.

4. Buy toilet tissue that does not include inner plastic packaging.

5. Buy sliced cheese that does not have individually wrapped slices.

6. Instead of covering your bowl of leftovers with plastic film before microwaving, cover it with a plate.

7. Stop buying plastic zipper bags. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to find reusable substitutes.

8. Shop the bulk food section for items like pasta and beans. Bring your own light-weight reusable bags, and then transfer the food into airtight containers at home.

9. When buying any product, choose no packaging if possible, but then choose paper over plastic.

10. Stop buying beverages packaged in plastic bottles. Opt for aluminum, which is much more efficiently recycled.

11. Stop buying bottled water altogether. Instead, filter your own water and carry it in reusable BPA-free water bottles.

12. Refuse plastic bags at your dry cleaners, and instead, take a garment bag with you for your cleaned clothes.

13. Use reusable storage containers instead of plastic wrap for leftovers.

14. Use wax paper instead of plastic wrap for lunches.

15. And finally, when you do end up with a plastic bag, plastic bubble wrap or anything else plastic that’s meant for a single use, reuse it anyway – and then recycle it properly.


Thomas M. Kostigen, “The World’s Largest Dump: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” DiscoverMagazine.com

Bag Monster, “Learn the Facts,” BagMonster.com

Ye Lwin, “Plastic bags to be banned as govt acts on pollution,” mmtimes.com

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