End Plastics

11 plastic-free swaps you should know

Did you know that 10% of all human-generated waste is plastic? Or that 17,000 plastic bottles are bought every minute and 500 billion plastic bags are used each year? 

That’s a lot of unnecessary plastic waste.

While we’re nearing the end of Plastic Free July, that doesn’t mean your efforts to minimize plastic use have to end, too. So many of the items that we use day to day contribute to our plastic footprint, and it only takes some simple swaps to make these daily necessities plastic free.

Here are some plastic-free swaps for all different areas of your life that prove we can turn the tide on ending plastic pollution.

Start with the basics

Instead of taking the plastic shopping bags offered at checkout, bring your own reusable cloth bags. They can easily be stored in your car so you never forget them while shopping, plus many can be thrown right into your washing machine if they get dirty. Another alternative is to use a backpack, and it's more convenient to carry, too!

Carry a reusable water bottle everywhere you go and you’ll never turn to plastic bottles again. Besides being more sustainable, many reusable bottles can keep your drink colder or hotter for longer periods of time than plastic bottles, and they come in lots of different sizes, colors, and styles.

Swap single-use plastic straws for a reusable variety. There are so many different options nowadays — from metal to silicone to bamboo. Use them for drinks at home, but don’t forget to also bring your straw along when you go out to eat.

Make your kitchen plastic free

While shopping for produce, you may find products packaged in plastic or styrofoam that could easily be sold without packaging. Whenever possible, choose the unpackaged fruits and veggies instead of their peeled, washed, and packaged counterparts. 

In addition to your reusable shopping bags, buy reusable fabric produce bags to replace the plastic produce bags offered in grocery stores.

When storing leftovers, ditch the plastic bags for silicone bags and purchase glass containers over plastic ones. I’m particularly a fan of stretchy silicone lids and beeswax wraps — they’ve replaced the need for cling wrap in my household entirely!

Intern Michelle Drandell recently found a way to reduce her plastic use on her daily coffee run by bringing her own thermos. Just ask the barista to fill the cup you brought and save the waste produced by the disposable cup and lid.

Get rid of plastic in your bathroom

EARTHDAY.ORG intern Miranda Custer recently documented her journey to plastic-free sink and shower routines, so read more to learn about options like toothpaste tablets, safety razors, and shampoo bars.

Make a plastic-free wardrobe

Check the labels when shopping and choose items made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or hemp. Semi-synthetics such as lyocell, rayon, and modal are also better alternatives to plastic-based materials like polyester and nylon.

When you can’t help but shop synthetics, look for pieces made from recycled materials. Swimwear and workout clothes are commonly made from synthetic fibers, but today there are so many sustainable brands that offer items made from the same tried-and-true synthetic materials, just recycled. 

In your closet itself, switch from plastic hangers to wooden ones. Utilize storage bins and organizers made from wood or natural fabrics instead of plastic.

Besides implementing these plastic-free swaps, EARTHDAY.ORG’s campaign to End Plastic Pollution offers additional ways to take action. Test how much you know about plastic pollution by taking the quiz! Mobilize your community by organizing a cleanup — we have all the resources you need to get started.

If we all take steps in our own lives to minimize our plastic use and raise awareness of the harms of plastic, together we can end plastic pollution.