Easy Ways to Ditch Plastic in Your Daily Life

Vegetables in a reusable bag

Let’s take a beat and do a quick inventory. Do most of the products you use—from toothpaste and beauty supplies to disposable razors and hand soaps—contain plastic or come in plastic containers? How about last night’s takeout, or the iced coffee you grabbed on the way to work this morning? It’s obvious why plastic has empowered today’s high-speed lifestyle: it sure is convenient.

So why ditch plastic?

From single-use cups to pre-peeled oranges, it’s hard to deny that we have a plastic problem. Exhibit A: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating plastic wasteland that’s quickly becoming the world’s eighth continent. As the global anti-plastic movement gains traction in the media, more companies than ever before are stepping up to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics. But what steps can you take to reduce plastic use in your own daily life?

Carry reusable bags

California and Hawaii have already banned plastic bags on a statewide level, and ten more states have bans on the ballot. If this momentum continues, single-use plastic bags could be on their way out forever. So why not get ahead of the curve? Though plastic straws are taking a lot of heat in the media, a study by Reuse This Bag found that shoppers around the world use around 500 billion single-use plastic bags every year. That’s enough bags to circle the globe 4,200 times. By opting for reusable bags, you’re keeping that plastic out of landfills, sewers, oceans, and animals’ habitats.

An added perk? Many reusable bags let you share your passions and hobbies with the world. It’s time to proudly flaunt that NPR tote, or rock your company’s branded swag. So the next time the cashier asks, “Paper or plastic?” just say, “Neither.”

Opt for whole fruits and veggies

Bags of pre-cut greens, plastic-wrapped packs of bell peppers, baby carrots, and apple slices. Plastic is so common in grocery stores that many of us don’t even see it anymore. In fact, National Geographic recently found that food packaging makes up about a quarter of the trash that ends up in U.S. landfills. Opting for whole, fresh, unpackaged fruits and veggies will be easier on the planet and your wallet. Because they require less packaging and processing, whole fruits and vegetables are almost always cheaper than plastic-wrapped alternatives.

Buy in bulk to ditch plastic packaging

But how are you going to get your pasta fix without plastic packaging? The Green Education Foundation recommends buying in bulk and using your own recyclable containers. You can buy cereals, pasta, rice, beans, and lentils for a fraction of the price and with none of the plastic waste. Just make sure to weigh your containers ahead of time, so you’re not getting overcharged.

Keep your reusable cup handy

Another daily habit that’s hard on the environment? That morning latte, smoothie, or cold-pressed juice. And in this case, plastic isn’t the only culprit. Carrying a reusable cup not only helps you reduce waste, but it can also score you some serious discounts. Earthbar is happy to support you as you ditch your plastic habit, and offers a $.50 discount when you bring your own cup.

Don’t forget long-term changes

Of course, saying no to plastic means looking past the day-to-day into your long-term plans. It’s not easy, but it is doable. Especially as more businesses start tackling their plastic problem head-on. One strategy might be eradicating plastic, one room at a time. Once you’ve rid your kitchen of disposable bags, single-use straws, and pre-washed salad in plastic tubs, it might be easier to turn a critical eye on your health and beauty products.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

If eradicating plastic from your life seems like a daunting task, pause. Take a deep breath. And then do the best you can. Awareness is the first step in ending our plastic problem. If you’ve made it this far, you’re doing great. To help reduce our environmental impact, Swell is phasing out plastic razors and encouraging our members to bring their reusable cups and water bottles. And don’t forget to refer a friend for membership to get a reusable Swell Hydro Flask through the month of October