I recently took inventory of all the different areas of my life single-use plastic has infiltrated. Spoiler alert: it’s everywhere. From my morning routine to my kids’ lunch boxes, nearly every product in my house was either made of plastic or wrapped in plastic, and the vast majority were only meant to be used one time.
Plastic is a problem. And I know I can’t save the world on my own. But maybe little choices–here and there, little by little, over time–DO add up to a big impact. So I’ve made it my goal to start eliminating single-use plastic from my life, one little product at a time.
If you’d like to use less single-use plastic too, I’d encourage you to start small. Start with one new habit. Reuse what you already have. Find joy in it. Tell a friend.
Note: I’ve included many links in this post, but do not necessarily endorse or recommend a certain brand over another. I hope to show you the wide variety of what products are out there–you choose what works for you!
It’s time to ban the bottle–that unsightly plastic jug of dish soap from your kitchen counter. Did you know you can get solid dish soap now? Find a local maker of dish soap bars or dishwashing blocks. If you prefer liquid soap, purchase it in a glass bottle, or use a refillable bottle and buy reduced packaging refills to refill it.
Rather than a plastic brush or cleaning wand, choose a wooden or compostable option.
Sure, those little dishwasher tabs are super convenient; I agree. However, that plastic tub they come in is just not necessary. There are many brands that still offer the convenience of a tab but packaged in cardboard, rather than plastic. If you’d prefer something that’s readily available at most grocery stores, choose a powder version in a cardboard box. Vinegar in the rinse aid compartment works great, too!
Make your own food
In general, processed foods tend to be wrapped in plastic. If you make more of your food from scratch, you can bypass a lot of the packaging.
In the Shower
So many people are making the switch to solid shampoo bars, ditching both the plastic bottle and the practice of paying for water as an ingredient! Lush is one of the most popular commercial brands, and I’ve been wanting to try HiBAR, but you can also check out your local markets and vendor fairs to find a local artisan to support.
Some salons are beginning to offer refillable hair products. Ask your favorite salon if they offer this service, and if they don’t, maybe they would consider it in the future.
Just like shampoo, conditioner can come in solid bar form. If you find that these newfangled bars just aren’t for you, consider washing your hair less often, or using less product when you do. Using half as much product means half as many plastic bottles over the course of your lifetime, and that is an improvement!
Keeping a container of apple cider vinegar in your shower (diluted with water) is a super simple conditioning trick. By lowering the pH of your scalp, ACV closes the hair cuticle, making your hair smoother, shinier, less frizzy, less prone to breakage, and more moisturized. Some people skip conditioner altogether by using a vinegar rinse.
Bar soap for shaving, body, and face
Shaving cream, body wash, and face wash don’t all have to be separate products. A simple, sensitive formula bar soap is an excellent eco-conscious solution that can accomplish all three uses beautifully.
A quick Google search will turn up lots of options for eco-friendly or zero-waste razors with responsible packaging. Bonus: metal construction offers durability and unbeatable close shave!
Ditch the plastic loofah, sponges, and back scrubbers. Find a wooden or bamboo brush alternative, or–spoiler alert–good ol’ wash cloths are incredibly versatile, reusable, and effective at cleaning and exfoliating.
Use bar soap instead of liquid. If you prefer liquid, choose a glass bottle and bulk refills.
Brushing your teeth
Who Gives A Crap toilet paper is made without trees, is not wrapped in plastic, AND they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. Plus they have a funny name.
Washing your face
Instead of throwing away those disposable wipes every day and night, use cloth facial rounds instead. They won’t take up much room in your washer, so they really won’t require extra laundry. Or use a good old fashioned washcloth. You probably already have them. (Bonus: washcloths are exfoliating! Skip the extra product!) Choose a sensitive-skin facial bar for cleansing, and ditch another plastic bottle!
Find a solid lotion bar and eliminate the need for yet another plastic container.
There are many washable and reusable products to choose from, such as the cup, cloth pads and/or pantiliners, and period underwear. Not only are these choices less wasteful, but they are often more comfortable and less irritating, too. If reusables aren’t for you, find tampons with no applicators or wrappers.
At the Grocery Store
The grocery store can be a battle ground of packaging and plastic, so come prepared. Bring along your reusable tote bags, produce bags, and containers or bags for the bulk bins. Try to avoid foods wrapped in plastic, and choose whole ingredients instead of processed whenever possible.
Skip the individually wrapped serving sizes, and opt for the bulk buy instead. You can sort it out into reusable containers at home and conserve all that extra packaging. Bonus: it’s cheaper!
Start with a reusable lunch box like the Bentgo or the ever-popular stainless steel PlanetBox. Skip the individually wrapped snack section, choosing reusable snack bags like velcro Lunchskins or silicone Stasher bags.
Goodbye plastic wrap! Beeswax wraps are simple cotton fabric pieces that have been coated with a beeswax blend, leaving it moisture repellant, clingy, and washable. They last up to a year, at which point they can be re-waxed! Find a local artist who makes them and save on shipping.
Instead of putting leftover food or snacks in throw-away plastic, use the containers you already have. Washed out sauce jars, yogurt containers, Tupperware, Pyrex, drawstring bags . . . the possibilities are endless!
Out and About
One of the most powerful and effective ways to avoid single-use plastics is to plan ahead. Pack a bag with the following items, and keep it in your car or on-the-go bag. You’ll never be caught without them!
*You can buy a super cute cutlery set for travel if you like, but I bet you have some in your kitchen already!
Go ahead–pack your on-the-go supplies right now!
Around the House
There are plenty of ways to avoid that giant plastic jug. One of the easiest is to choose a powder variety in a cardboard container, or make your own. Or try Dropps, a little laundry detergent pod that comes in eco-friendly packaging. A newer choice on the market is laundry strips, a dissolvable vegan alternative to liquid detergent, that touts 94% less travel pollution. Yet again, when the water is removed from the product, space, plastic use, and pollution are all reduced.
Instead of purchasing a different single-use plastic bottle for every different kind of surface, stock your cleaning cabinet with a handful of basics. Baking soda, vinegar, and castille soap (not to mention a bit of elbow grease!) are incredible cleaners that can cover a wide range of surfaces and messes! Simply mix in a glass spray bottle as needed.
Eco-Friendly Product Resources
And so many more! Start following them, get inspired, and share your favorite products with us!