How To Use Less Plastic In Daily Life: 34 Tips To Reduce Your Plastic Use

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If you’re looking for some strategies on how to use less plastic in daily life, then you’ll love this article. Look at them as food for thought and try to implement more of them gradually.

How To Use Less Plastic In Daily Life:

1. Reduce and Recycle!

Reduced use, reuse and recycling are the best ways to keep any kind of objects out of our environment.

2. Avoid, if possible, the worst types of plastic!

When shopping, take a closer look at the label or manufacturer information. Attempt to stay away from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS) and polycarbonate (PC).

PVC is usually only half plastics. The other half are additives such as softening agents, dyes and fillers, many of which are highly toxic. They cause a whole range of health and environmental problems.

PS contains styrene. It can be inhaled and is deposited mainly in the liver, kidney, brain and adipose tissue. It irritates the respiratory system, skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Inhalation or ingestion can produce symptoms such as lack of concentration, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and headache.

PC contains bisphenol A. According to research by the Federal Environment Agency, new studies indicate a link between diabetes, cardiovascular problems, lack of libido or even obesity and an increased BPA level in the blood.

3. Learn about oceans and maritime life.

All life on earth is connected to the sea and its inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues that this vital organism faces, the greater perhaps will your desire and your own will be to help secure the survival of our marine ecosystem. And then share this knowledge with family, friends or work colleagues. It is about informing, inspiring and educating others.

Even if many do not want to hear the bad news or make fun of it (“left-green filth”), remain steadfast and explain calmly one more time how plastic garbage even accelerates the destruction of the already damaged coral banks. And why that is the one thing that concerns each of us, if we do not want to leave a dying planet to our children.

4. Steer clear of plastic bags!

Humanity produces a gigantic mountain of about a trillion plastic bags a year. Every additional minute adds another 2 million bags to this incredible number! Even us supposedly so environmentally aware Germans are not so innocent, we use up more than 100 pieces per capita. They are the most ubiquitous consumer good in the world, but only 1 percent of all plastic bags produced worldwide are recycled.

Even once we try to get rid of this troublemaker, we burn it in incinerators and thereby poison the air. We store it on land in landfills, where it releases its toxic chemicals into the ground, undisturbed, for centuries to come. We flush it into the sea where it kills our fish and corals. Stop it! Use reusable bags, baskets or rucksacks made of jute, paper, cotton or other natural fibers. Best put a spare bag into your shopping bag or laptop bag and into the trunk of your car.

Use all bags, no matter if they are (cotton) bags, plastic or paper bags as often as possible!

Don‘t be fooled: Bags or containers made of “bioplastics” are currently still pure window dressing – especially if it has “compostable” on it. In the very fewest of cases such bags are actually biodegradable and if they are, only under very specific conditions in industrial composting. Please report this misdirection to the seller!

5. No more disposable plastics (straws, coffee-to-go, ..)

The best is of course, not to use disposable plastics at all anymore. Straws, bottles and bottle caps, food containers and coffee or tea cups to-go made of plastic are the biggest environmental polluters besides plastic bags. Eight of the ten most common items in plastic garbage that stifles our oceans is disposable packaging.

Straws may seem like a trivial point, and there are actually no figures on their use in Germany and Europe, but US residents alone consume 500 million units daily. For this reason, sales bans have already been issued in many states.

6. Do you pay attention to the clothes you wear?

The largest proportion of micro-plastics in the sea comes from synthetic textiles at 35 percent. When clothing made from polyester, acrylic, lycra (spandex) or nylon is washed, between 600,000 and 18 million microfibers dissolve per wash and end up in the wastewater. Because they are so tiny, water purification filters cannot capture the micro plastic particles. This is how the particles get into our food chain.

Choose clothes made of wool or cotton, hemp and other natural fibers instead. Buy products marked with the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) label and similar seals of quality. Stay away from viscose, nylon, spandex and polyester. Broken pieces? Learn how to handle a needle and a thread, because often holes in socks or jackets can be patched or sewn again.

What about body care?

7. Choose toilet paper that is not wrapped in plastic.

Look for a supplier of recycled paper or bamboo. The best part: your purchase will be delivered in a box without plastic packaging. Many of these responsible companies spend part of their profits on the construction of toilets and sanitary facilities in developing countries.

A very good alternative is – make it yourself. You can avoid plastic packaging, know exactly what’s in your home-made products (no micro plastics, that is), and make a nice event out of the manufacturing process. On the last pages of this book you will find a few homemade recipes, so you can get started right away. Many more can be found on the internet.

8. No more cheap razors!

Instead of throwing a plastic shaver into the trash every month, you should consider switching to a razor where you only need to replace the blade. For the man: Use an electric razor. Also, wearing a beard is completely socially acceptable.

9. Use plastic-free cosmetic products!

The concept of getting​ moisturized with plastic every day? Not a nice thought. Probably you have been doing that for a while now. (Micro) plastic is in more products than you might think, according to a study by the BUND. But there are cosmetic products that you can use without hesitation. You can find these items in most organic markets and well-stocked drugstores. These manufacturers offer a wide range of plastic-free cosmetics. Or make your own, eco-friendly and micro-plastic free cosmetics products.

10. It is best to do your eco-friendly shopping using your own returnable containers and shopping bags made of a durable and robust material.

Try jute. Buy in large quantities whenever possible.

SEE ALSO: How to Help Save the Environment: 27 Best Things You Can Do

11. Do not buy mineral water in plastic bottles!

Mineral water in PET bottles does not only come in a plastic bottle, but also enormous resources are spent for extraction, bottling and shipping. In most cases, bottled water is just simply filtered tap water anyway. So get a reusable stainless steel bottle or a stainless steel travel cup and fill it with tap water before you leave the house. It is strongly advised not to use reusable PET plastic or aluminum bottles.

After a while, plastic can release chemicals (softeners) into the water and aluminum bottles are lined with a harmful epoxy resin. If you prefer sparkling water, I can recommend a Sodastreamer. In no time, you are making wonderful bubbly water from tap water without hauling crates.

12. Farmers markets and market days are a great way to buy fresh, local products without plastic packaging.

Remember to bring your own bags. Usually, fruits and vegetables at the produce markets do not even have these little plastic stickers. Most retailers are also happy if you bring back these small berry and mushroom straw baskets for your next purchase.

13. Milk should be bottled, not plastic.

In all federal states, there are local dairies that deliver milk in returnable glass bottles instead of plastic or plastic-coated cardboard. Many health food stores and organic farms encourage you to return the empty bottle for the next full bottle in return for a discount. Win-win!

14. Fresh breath through plastic? Avoid chewing gum!

Historically, chewing gum has been used as a medicine rather than a treat, as the gum base is derived from natural tree resins and the aromas from natural herbs and spices. Today, that’s a whole other story as many popular chewing gum brands are overloaded with plastic, synthetic rubber and artificial sweeteners.

15. Buy detergent in refills or even better: make it yourself!

Many everyday items such as detergents and softeners, cleaning products, soaps and many more are available in refill packs. They cause significantly less plastic waste than having to buy a completely new pack or bottle each time. Or: best to make everything yourself. You will find tips for this at the end of this book.

16. Sausage and cheese without packaging

It is also possible to buy plastic-free at the meat and cheese counter! Although supermarkets and butchers are required to comply with the EU hygiene regulations, as long as your own container does not get BEHIND the counter, it is possible to buy without any foil.

17. Acquire absolutely necessary plastic articles second-hand.

The Yellow Pages, second hand shops, eBay and Craigslist offer just about everything your heart desires. The advantages are apparent:

  • Used products do not require any new resources or energy for their production.
  • The item does not require any landfill space, does not need to be incinerated and does not pollute our environment.
  • Buying used equipment usually means buying locally, which also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Buying used products is fair trade by nature.
  • If you buy second-hand plastic products, sapping materials such as softening agents, paints, and adhesives may already have released all of their volatile organic compounds to the previous owner.

18. Best use an organic delivery service for shipping and ordering goods.

They deliver their products unpackaged in reusable boxes right to your front door. Not that too: sweeping week.

19. Off to your vacation by plane – Plastic Free!

Plastic cups, plastic bowls, plastic lids – all endless waste. Airlines are reluctant to talk about the amount of garbage that comes from traveling. But you as a passenger can do a lot to relieve the environment. Empty bottles, jugs or cups you can get through the security gates easily. And a home-made bread roll from the bread box tastes much better anyway than the standardized airline cardboard sandwich in its plastic wrap.

Ask the cabin crew: Can you please refill my plastic cup? Do you have glasses? Can I separate my waste here? What happens to it in the end? Write to the airline if the answers are not to your satisfaction! Why is so much disposable plastic used? What programs do you have for waste prevention? Do you really need the toiletry bags filled with one-use products on night flights?

If so, at least use them several times. The same applies to disposable headphones: these devices typically end up in the landfill or incinerator after a flight – even though they actually belong in the electronic waste. Take your trash with you: The airlines themselves rarely recycle. Many airports, however, offer reasonable waste separation systems.

20. Clean your house with natural ingredients

Soda, sodium bicarbonate, vinegar, citric acid and curd soap can replace almost all drugstore products. They come without unnecessary chemicals and replace the plastic bottles used for toilet cleaners, detergents and glass cleaners.

21. Do your dishes with a natural dish washing detergent

Use baking soda or soap for your dishes. Squeezed lemons or orange peel are ideal for cleaning stainless steel sinks or washbasins. With them you can do the dishes just as well as with any conventional industrial product and it leaves a squeaky clean kitchen. Completely without plastics and chemicals. For the really tough, burnt or spilled matters, it is best to use a bale of steel wool that comes in a box without plastic.

SEE ALSO: How To Create a Minimalist Home: Here Are 16 Tips To Get You Started

22. Avoid non-stick cookware!

Have you ever heard of polymer fever? Cookware coated with Teflon or other resins will release toxic perfluorochemicals if heated too high. Especially improper handling of Teflon-coated products such as cookware, ovens, or irons make poisoning a possibility.

23. Use natural wipes and scrubbers instead of plastic dusters and synthetic sponges

There are cleaning supplies such as cleaning rags, dish washing brushes and sponges that are made from natural fibers. Best of all: Natural sponges are often sold without plastic packaging as they do not need to be kept moist; they simply expand when wet!

Or do you rather want to crochet your sponge yourself?

24. Avoid disposable paper towels

Use natural fiber brushes for cleaning glass and scrubbing soiled dishes. Organic cotton and cellulose kitchen towels clean like a rag, soak up moisture like a sponge and can replace more than 15 rolls of disposable paper towels. Of course, the good old rags made from old clothes and towels are free and probably the most ecological of all options.

25. Clean tiles and windows naturally

It does not always have to be the chemical mace of plastic bottles. Hot vinegar, citric acid and black tea render tiles and windows shining again. Instead of using a rag or a sponge made from synthetics, it is better to use old newspapers or old tights dipped in water.

26. Buy the toy, scratching post or cat furniture that is made of natural materials instead of plastic

There are beautiful natural toys made of wool, feathers and catnip, cardboard boxes are a great pastime and no says cat no to a scratching tree made out of real wood.

27. Do away with plastic food bowls for cats

They have long been suspected to be one of the causative agents of the so-called “chin acne”, which affects mainly cats. Plastic is a magnet for bacteria and dirt that eat into scratches and notches. Your pet may become infected and /or transmit bacteria to other roommates in the household, including humans. Veterinarians generally recommend using only glass or metal food bowls and cleaning them daily.

28. Use rechargeable batteries instead of regular batteries!

Use rechargeable power storage options to reduce the purchase of plastic wrapped batteries. Nevertheless, neither rechargeable batteries nor regular batteries are standards in nature conservation. Nevertheless, the rechargeable battery beats the regular battery in terms of environmental friendliness as it can be recharged roughly 1000 times.

29. Dispose of old electronics responsibly!

Much of the plastic waste, especially in African and Asian countries, comes from discarded televisions, computer monitors, keyboards, cell phones and other technical devices. It has been known for many years that Germany exports at least 155,000 tonnes of old electrical appliances per year to Africa and Asia. Also, that the pollutants contained in them poison humans and the environment over there. You do not need the latest iPhone if your “old” one still works perfectly.

If something breaks, first try to have the damage repaired. The technology-affine young mechanics, who specialize in such operations on an open smartphone or computer, are pretty fit. Take electronic devices that are really beyond repair to the electronic waste collection centers so that everything is properly disposed of and recycled. Nobody wants to stumble over an old computer monitor in the forest.

Therefore, even if it is sometimes cumbersome: separate the plastic from the other materials in the waste, so that the recyclable material can be recycled. No other country in the European Union consumes as much plastic as Germany. All the more important that it can be used and re-used several times.

30. Become a marine sponsor!

As you have seen, all species and habitats in the oceans, but also in the North and Baltic Seas, are threatened by humans. Fishing, mining, shipping and more and more plastic waste have brought the oceans to their limits, and often even beyond that. Not even in their protected areas are the sea dwellers safe from us. It is high time to act! Together with other volunteers, ensure that animals and habitats in the North and Baltic Seas have a future.

31. Do​ not buy souvenirs that use the life in our seas for profit.

Many souvenirs from your vacations in the south contribute to the damage of sensitive coral reefs and marine populations. Avoid buying items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell accessories (from loggerhead turtles) and shark teeth chains.

32. Commit to the fight against garbage!

You live on the coast? Then it is quite easy to help remove plastic waste from the sea or prevent the plastic garbage from getting there in the first place. Participate in the cleaning up of your local beach or a riverside. This is one of the most direct and worthwhile ways to combat the pollution of the oceans by plastic. Just walk the beach or along the river and collect plastic garbage alone, with friends or family.

Join a bunch of cleaning maniacs on Facebook, water conservationists or MeetUp. They don’t have that where you are? Then organize it yourself! Especially on vacation, when the sun is shining? And the garbage is stacked on the beaches? Why not join thousands of other volunteers at the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day?

33. Put pressure on the main perpetrators of the plastic flood and praise those who reduce the use of plastic!

At present, more than 320 million tonnes of plastic are produced per year, with a strong upward trend. The main customer is the packaging industry, which primarily uses it for product marketing. The content does not get better by this, though. In many German cities, there are now „unpackaged“ shops, where customers can fill food, cosmetics, etc. into containers they brought with them. Rethinking can also affect who it is that appeals to manufacturers and food retailers for alternatives – or simply just order regional products, for example, in fruit and vegetable boxes.

Companies selling or offering products in plastic containers should have a trash bin on their premises where customers can dispose of the plastic, and they should make sure it is collected by their local authorities or pick-up companies.

If a company or manufacturer uses too much plastic packaging, let them know. Just call, write an email or tweet. Most companies are represented on social media or have contact information on their website. If there is no answer, submit your well-formed opinion on Facebook, Reddit or Instagram. The other way around, praise companies often that reduce the use of plastic.

34. Become a political activist!

Environmental movements such as Greenpeace, nature conservation groups such as NABU or BUND, but also home associations are the most effective way to get politicians to action and to change consumer behavior on a large scale. It is up to each and every one of us to do our part to protect the Earth. Only far-reaching laws and regulations to protect our nature from the dangers of plastic can save our planet from an apocalypse in which we actually stand ankle deep in straws and plastic cups.