The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
September 14, 2011

What is Your Favorite Plastic-free Tip?


quicktipvanzaterdag1I’m putting the finishing touches on the Plastic-free Book, due out this spring, and I’d love to include input from the plastic-free community, without which this site and book would not exist.  Would you like your voice to be included in the book?  If so, please share your one or two favorite plastic-free tips.  Tips could be plastic-free recipes, products, methods you’ve discovered.  Helpful web sites you consult.  Ideas for communicating with family or friends.  Ways you remember to bring your bags, bottles, utensils, etc. with you.  Things you tell yourself to stay motivated.  Ways to get kids involved.  Steps you’ve taken to make changes in your community, school, organization, work, etc.

Please keep your tips succinct and let us know how they have changed your life.

Include the name you’d like me to use (doesn’t have to be your full name) and your web site or blog if applicable.

I can’t promise that all of your suggestions will be included, but I’d love to use as many as I can.  I’ve already included a lot of inspiring stories from individuals who have taken steps to make a difference.  But the more voices the better.  I want to show readers that working to solve the plastic pollution problem is a community effort and that there are a lot of others out here supporting each other and coming together to create a movement.

Thank you!  What has kept me going for the last 4 years is knowing that I am not alone and that my efforts are magnified by all of yours.



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104 Comments on "What is Your Favorite Plastic-free Tip?"

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If you have little kids and are worried about glass straws you can always used a wide, hollow, noodle.

Most important thing: don’t start trowing away the things you already have and buy new (plastic free) stuff. The whole point is to use it up and then reuse. Reuse the plastic bags you already have, turn an old bed sheet or curtain into produce bags, make some cute sandwich cloth wrappings out of old pajamas, turn old pants into a sturdy reusable bag. Step by step you’ll be almost plastic free. 1. I keep 2 cardboard boxes in the car for shopping. They are easy to load/unload the shopping to/from the car and up to my flat. They are… Read more »

My favorite is to take an extra (inexpensive) cloth grocery bag to the supermarket and if the person in front of me doesn’t have one I simply ask whether they will accept a give. No one has ever refused me and they usually smile. This helps recruit new people to the anti plastic cause.

I buy less stuff! I have to laugh when I get these “save the earth” catalogs full of more stuff to buy! Everything created has an environmental price. I bought washable feminine pads. They are actually much more comfortable than having a plastic pad in my pants, anyway! LOL

I use glass jars for leftovers and wash and reuse- safer than plastic anyway-not good to put hot food in plastic.

I take my own “doggie bag” to restaurants. Sadly, it IS plastic, but it gets re-used (it’s a sturdy tuperware type thing, that I actually found in the street while biking to work several years ago) and it saves the restaurant $$ and there is one less foam box in the world.

I´m going to add some 3 years refusals totals for you. Because over time individual actions REALLY add up.

We have come before the city council of Boulder Colorado requesting that they enact a ban or fine on the use of plastic bags in our city. I think our efforts are going to be successful, and we will join the many other cities and countries around the world getting rid of the use of “stupid” plastic bags!

I just did a post about a plastic free challenge. I love your site! Keep up the great work.

Before buying anything that is plastic, I ask myself if there is a non-plastic alternative. Most of the time there is, it just takes a conscious effort and a little research. Plastic is everywhere—so plentiful, flashy and cheap—sometimes it’s hard not to be lured in. Especially with a new (first) grandchild, looking at toys is a real challenge. I’ve passed up so many adorable plastic/synthetic things—for lovely cloth and wooden items. Plastic-Free is a constant, on-going lifestyle choice. Thanks for all the continuing encouragement your website gives, Beth!

Just spend a few bucks more and get glass, stainless steel, ceramic, wood or whatever. It will be easier to clean and it won’t break…

1) I seek out staples like spices, pickles, and applesauce in glass containers. They can be reused to store food in the freezer and fridge or be easily recycled.
2) I use reuseable grocery bags that I got from IKEA. Granted, they are not cloth but I have had them for 2 + years and used them for many things like laundry and moving outside of groceries. They are very sturdy and easy to carry.
3) I use upcycled lunch bags made from windbreakers. These are awesome.
4) I used upcycled produce bags made from old curtains. These are awesome.

Tomorrow I have set myself the challenge of going a day without plastics. I know to you guys a day might sound like a pretty poor effort. But this is without any preparation (or forethought!) and I’m going to try and get through the whole day without touching or directly benefiting from plastics. I’m going to try and follow my normal day getting up, going to work and see just how much avoiding plastics makes things difficult. I’ll be posting updates on the whole thing here: Would love it if you guys had any useful advice for me as… Read more »

Hi Emma. I enjoyed reading about your crazy day not using or touching anything plastic. What I would like to know is what you learned from the experience. I, obviously, use and touch a lot of plastics. My plastic-free commitment is not to buy any new plastic, and I also don’t use the most toxic plastics or use plastic for food contact. But your day was pretty extreme. Did you develop an appreciation for certain plastics? What conclusions did you come to?

anticipate and start researching purchases you expect to need in the next 6 months or more, outside of your regular weekly grocery purchases. i am still working on this. i try to compromise between minimizing my time thinking about consuming / purchasing while spending a lot of energy researching the impacts of something i find essential to buy. i usually find myself making a quick, poor decision when i am rushed to purchase something. examples – toothbrushes, cooking supplies, clothes, electronic goods especially cell phones, batteries, bike accessories, shopping bags, food storage containers, pens, light bulbs, appliances if you give… Read more »
One of my favorite tips is make your own almond milk. It’s really easy and it means you don’t have to throw out one of those big plastic containers. I keep it in a Strauss milk bottle. All you do is soak 1 cup of raw almonds in 4 cups of water overnight, blend it in the blender, and strain it through a dishtowel. I put my almond milk in smoothies and on homemade granola. The recipe says if you want it to be sweet you can throw a couple dates in. I haven’t tried this though cause I think… Read more »

When the world is not bothered about the environment, it feels great to find someone to write a plastic-free book. It is very encouraging. There are many plastic things that we can do without, going for iron chairs instead of plastic one, wooden combs instead of plastic combs, aluminum ice trays instead of plastic ice trays etc. I hope these ideas will help you.

1. Shop for things in old-fashioned Mom & Pop hardware stores. That’s where I found a wood handled toilet bowl brush and a glass butter dish this weekend. (Both Made in USA!) I found a handmade ceramic vase in Goodwill to contain the brush. Funky! 2. Like other posters, I cook most everything from scratch and can preserves. Today is applesauce day! My favorite is yogurt, though. I use the last 1/2 cup or so to start the next batch I keep in a quart mason jar. Haven’t bought yogurt in a plastic container in years. 3. I have a… Read more »
Jacqui MacNeill (Escents Aromatherapy Bath and Body)

For big get-togethers like BBQs, picnics, etc, instead of buying plastic cutlery I ask everyone to bring their own dishes. This makes a big difference. I just wish everyone would do this.

For my aromatherapy business, we encourage customers to use re-usable bags and only use paper bags (which biodegrade much more easily) when necessary.

I really like the world plastic free as I know the repercussions of using plastic. Before one year I went plastic free and started using earthenware utensils wherever possible instead of using plastic wares.

Choose zero-waste (plastic-free) packaging whenever possible. We are rescuing wine bottles and filling them with safe, earth friendly household cleaning products. Join the movement to reuse, by refilling your glass containers. It’s ecofriendly and economical!

because I occasionally forget the re-usable string bags I keep in the car, I now keep a couple of plastic grocery and produce sacks in my purse. I managed to accumulate those bags, but with some effort, I will re-use them endlessly and not make that mistake again!

I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!

Hi There Terry~ I’ve been following your blog since day 1. A few months ago I started an alternative food blog, but it’s more than just food, I also incorporate green living into my philosophy and your blog kicked off my “decreasing kitchen-waste” challenge a few years ago. I’m almost there….creating very little waste in my kitchen and zero plastic. I have you to thank for the inspiration and I’ve dedicated my blog post to you; here I share some of my easy methods to decreasing waste. This post is for the beginning challenger. Thank you wonderful Terry!!! Be Well,… Read more »
Sapan@Eye doctor Torrance

We used to give the patients Papers/precriptions in a plastic folder where we had our name & address printed on the cover. since last 6 months we have totally stopped giving them files, we have got new stationary printed, the size of papers are small and we have increased the font size of our name and address on it.

I love the plastic free world and three years back I have tried to minimize the use of things that were plastic. I shoved off all the plastic bags out of my house and I started using paper bags for lighter items and cloth bags for heavier ones. This has really changed my life and made me feel responsible towards our environment.

Use your teacups! A few weeks ago I was dishing out ice cream for myself and my toddler, and didn’t want to put it in our old plastic bowls. I opened a cupboard to get out the real cereal bowls, and noticed, way up on the top shelf, the teacups that came with my everyday dishes that we never, ever use. My mom had some similar ones with HER everyday dishes, and they never got used, either! Now that I’ve brought a few down, we use them for all kinds of things. My 1-year-old is appropriately careful with them, and… Read more »

To get rid of using some small garbage bags you just use a bin. Then you dump the garbage right into the garbage bags but i don’t know how you would get rid of using the big garbage bags. maybe if you dumped a bigger bin at the dump off yourself?

Wow, so many great posts. I haven’t read them all, so I hope I’m not repeating here. (I did read a lot!) Some of my plastic reduction ideas are almost inane. I mean, I am so used to plastic that I forget how to do without it. Our kitchen garbage is my tip. We have a plastic bin. We have always lined it with either plastic or paper bags. We throw our compost in the garden, so the garbage isn’t very sticky. One day I was trying to think how to do without the plastic garbage bag and it dawned… Read more »

Here’s a tip for people with kids: use regular ceramic dishes at home. We bought a stack of salad plates at goodwill so we weren’t out much money if they got broken. 4 years later we still have most of them. They were light enough that my 1 and 5 year olds were able to bring their own plates in from the table. Kids seem to naturally be more careful when carrying the heavy weight of a glass or ceramic dish than they are carrying light-weight plastic.

My favorite tips: 1. Have a to-go container (I use a two-tier tiffin) in the car so it’s handy for leftovers. The two-tier tiffin is a perfect size for Chinese food to go. I’ve even crocheted a case for it, so it’s not too hot to the touch, for either the server or me! 2. Think of giving gifts to friends who might be open to the plastic-free life. It’s a small way to encourage others to change even one small thing about their plastic use. I’ve personalized them with handmade carrying cases and they have made great gifts my… Read more »
Groups to check out – you might want to look into “Pebble in the Pond” in BC. They have done some neat stuff. Don’t know much about them, but did some reading about them some time ago when the environmental group I work with was (and still is) trying to get our local municipal council to ban plastic bags (we started this campaign 4 years ago!) My biggest challenge is at work – I manage the local food bank and we use a lot of plastic! I did a lot of work right away when I started to replace plastic,… Read more »
Something that I think is helpful and makes sense is to try to align your hobbies with your desire to live plastic-free. If you’re feeling a tug to start baking, and a simultaneous tug to try skeet-shooting, maybe focus on the baking! Baking will help you cut way back on cookie packaging, bread bags, etc. The same can be said for woodworking, sewing, canning, gardening — they’re all hobbies that can help you cut back on plastic while learning new skills and having fun. I have always liked baking and never liked cooking, but when I started doing the plastic… Read more »

I know it would be better moved to the forum, but I would just like to second Beth on the info about cat food. No need to go through the trouble to make dry food for cats, as they need the moisture from meat. I will look for you in the forums. Beth has an entry about what she feeds her cats (which is awesome), and I have some easy “recipes” for raw feeding. Very healthy. Kudos to you for looking into it!

Beth, I can’t wait to get and read your book!

Had no idea that cans where lined with BPA… was a little shocked. Looked online for BPA-free cans and found this TreeHugger page – 7 Companies You Can Trust to Use BPA-Free Cans (I looked on the site before posting this but didn’t see anything about BPA-free cans). I’ve bough Eden cans before, and I’m gonna keep on doing that for now on! Too bad there aren’t any wet cat food cans w/out BPA yet – for now, gonna try to make my own. But even w/out BPA, making your own means less waste period. What I would really… Read more »
Hi Alice. I would be happy for you to post recipes. The Discussions Forum would be a good place. About dry cat food — I read that cats have evolved to get their water from their prey rather than drinking water from a bowl. Dry food is hard on their kidneys because they don’t drink enough to make up for the lack of liquid in the food. We feed ours homemade wet food and add some water to the food bowls when we serve it to them. The bowl of water we leave out rarely gets touched.
Two super-simple and free tips: 1. I often keep leftovers in the fridge in a ceramic bowl and just cover it with a saucer – a completely free way to change to a plastic-free method as you’re just using stuff you already have. This also works to stop food spattering when you’re reheating it in the microwave. This and the fact that when I take a dish to a potluck I choose something I can take in a lidded casserole dish mean I haven’t felt the need for cling film for two or three years. 2. When I go out… Read more »
Storing carrots, celery, beets, etc. in a bowl of water in the fridge so they don’t get rubbery. Replace disposable paper towels and toilet paper with cloth. I haven’t purchased either paper towels or toilet paper in over 4 years. Cloth diapers are great but you could also consider infant potty training. My friend used elimination communication with her daughter starting at 4 weeks old. It was easy to do and saves times and diapers. Chico bags! I have had my chico bag for 5 years. They are much more durable (and portable!) than the crap reusable bags you… Read more »
My favorite tips: * Use a Diva Cup instead of tampons. I wish every woman know about these. I LOVE mine! * Use cloth towels and napkins instead of paper. Most come wrapped in plastic, and it’s all just waste waste waste anyway. Keep cloth rags handy for cleaning. * Ask servers at restaurants ahead of time to not give you a straw in your drink. * Make your own delicious, healthy food instead of eating out or buying pre-packaged. Your body will thank you! * When my husband and I go out to eat (rarely) we split 1 meal… Read more »

A great way to acquire a lifetime supply of garbage bags is to collect bagged leaves from the curb in the fall, use the leaves in the compost pile, dry out the bags and save them for re-use. Once I have enough, I make packets of folded bags to leave with the homeowners when I collect the leaves.

Hi, Beth! Look, I’m catching up on my Google Reader! Here are a few more tips: Invest in a pressure cooker and make beans from scratch. Super cheap, and no more plastic-lined metal cans! Plus, you can buy dried beans in the bulk section or in 25 or 50-pound paper bags usually. Instead of making your smoothie in the plastic (probably polycarbonate) container that came with your immersion blender, purchase a few stainless steel malt cups for blending (I got mine through a restaurant supply store). They are dishwasher safe, will last much longer than that plastic beaker (which will… Read more »

My favorite plastic free tip is to use newspaper rather than plastic bags for kitty waste disposal.. I lay out a few sheets of newpaper, place the sifted waste from the kitty litter box on the newspaper then wrap it up and place in trash. Tidy, not gross and cheap.

Get cloth shopping bags where the handle material is sewn into the sides right down to the bottom of the bag. Cheap reusable shopping bags may not save anything in the long run if they don’t hold up.

This is a tip that I came up with on my own and often share with friends:

If I forget to bring my coffee mug, I don’t buy coffee at all (kind of like punishing myself). This helped me learn FAST to always remember to bring my coffee mug everywhere! ;)

I think if we buy food stuff with plastic, we should not just throw it. Keep it and reuse it.

I have struggled with how to preserve our garden bounty without using (or by minimizing the use of) plastics. Not everything is good canned, and a lot of food needs to be temporarily frozen until used. Glass works for some items but is dangerous and often breaks with the slightest touch, plus takes up huge freezer space. To date some solutions include, using sustainably produced paper cups and bowls with aluminum foil for covering (held tightly with rubber bands or string); paper take-out containers (which unfortunately can most often only be purchased in bulk); stainless steel tins (expensive to have… Read more »
@ Olena, I do agree that with many things, it is expensive or difficult to find plastic-free alternatives (toothbrushes a fine example). Since you did mention laundry detergent, though, I wanted to share with you that you can make your own plastic-free version that is MUCH cheaper than Tide (coupon or not). I like the powder version, and my clothes have never been or smelled cleaner! (I use aryurvedic soap instead of fels naptha). If you have an HE washer, the liquid version might work better (I have read time and again that HE washer users have no issues with… Read more »
My much-loved refillable ink cartridge has probably saved me a whole mountain of disposable ones… made of plastic, of course. This is one of my favorite plastic-free things because it’s also one of the first environmentally conscious decisions I made, way back in primary school. The cartridge isn’t completely plastic-free, but in the approximately 10 years I’m using it I had to replace it only once, and I would probably still be using the first one if I hadn’t lost it. Somewhat newer, but also much appreciated, is the idea to bring old potato nets with me to the store… Read more »
Always have utensils and something that you can eat out of and drink out of with you (be creative). This is especially helpful to the people out there asking for more tips with kids. And always have water with you. Bring food along to avoid melt downs (for kids and adults) and to completely avoid the need altogether to stop and buy food… which will start the dilemma of potentially needing packaging in the first place. I always keep an extra container in my car in case I ever need one, and I find that I use it quite a… Read more »

Going no ‘poo is an easy and inexpensive way to reduce plastic waste. For the past two and a half years, I have used only baking soda and water to wash my hair and apple cider vinegar, water, and rosemary essential oil to rinse. Now I have shiny, healthy, and nice smelling hair without shampoo and conditioner bottle plastic waste.

I go shopping at thrift stores and yard sales if I need anything “new.” Not only do I get the clothes and household goods I need without any plastic packaging, but I end up buying better quality fabric and furniture to boot!

My favorite tips have already been mentioned, but I wanted to add a big source of inspiration: the documentary “Bag It” . I highly recommend it; it’ll make you laugh and cry and learn a few things and continue to try to make a difference when it comes to our lovely earth and each other.

Given that this site is my insparation to reduce plastic in our home – it is hard to think of original way I reduce plastic consumption. Going slow, one step at a time is the best advise. Once you realise just how much plastic and other harmfull staff is around us – it is very overwhelming almost panicing feeling. Changing one habit at a time and sticking to it – makes for easier transition. Many may disagree but it is also expencive to go plastic free. We are family of five on one income. I cook 99.9% of our meals,… Read more »

oh, and, we have several huge thin mexican scarves – a few brought to us as presents, a few more bought at thrift stores, and we always wrap presents in these. This probably saves more paper than plastic, but some wrapping paper feels like it maybe has plastic in it….. we use the end of a roll of printer paper to cover tables for parties and to wrap any gifts that can’t be wrapped in scarves.

After our plastic automatic drip coffeemaker broke, we refused to buy another. Now we make cowboy coffee using our old enamel camp coffee pot. 1st Grind coffee beans, fill coffee pot with water bring to a rolling boil, remove from heat, add coffee grounds, cover brew about 10 mins, pour over grounds a 1/2 cup cold water, the grounds will settle to the bottom. The taste is amazing.

My personal favorite plastic-free tip is replacing baking soda as deodorant. It’s cheaper, more effective, and completely plastic-free. My favorite tip for those new to reducing their plastic consumption is to approach it a single item at a time. When you first take a cold, hard look at all the disposable plastic we consume, it can be incredibly overwhelming. By focusing on and replacing one item at a time you set an achievable goal and increase your chances of making it a permanent change. I’ve found the best way to introduce plastic-free habits to others is to be plastic-free in… Read more »

We buy so many things used, usually from thrift stores but also from Craigslist. I am always appalled when we get gifts that were new at how much packaging is involved! So my tip is – buy used!

Cloth menstrual pads and the Diva cup –
Cloth diapers and wipes – (I know these are polyester, but I’ll use them for all of my kids up until they are potty training and can then pass them on to someone else)
We have a big stack of hankies in our bathrooms instead of tissues. We have mini baskets beside our garbage cans to toss them in for the laundry.
Soap instead of dish detergent and toothpaste –
Solid shampoo and lotion –
Safety razors –

zerowastelifestyle (Sonja)

Hello, Beth! Have you seen this article? I heard about it today via Zero Waste International Alliance.

This article is so interesting and also pretty scary. Looks like plastic just went microscopic. I love polar fleece-it is warm, dries quickly and often made from recycled plastic but………….. Check out the article!
Best Wishes

This is not exactly a “stop using plastic tip” but it helped me realize how much plastic I used on a daily basis. I stopped washing any plastic (containers, dishes, cups) in the dishwasher. Washing them ALL by hand really gave me a feel for how many I was using. The extra work really motivated me to find alternatives and transition away from using so much.

Yessica Curiel-Montoya
For me, a golden rule is to never buy reusable bags. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have tons of them and reuse them a lot, but the thing is, I didn’t want to get more eventual waste going around, so I just got a few old backpacks and totes to bring to the market. Nowadays, every store and brand gives away reusable bags, and I still only accept them very rarely, and even then, it’s only if they’re plastic free and I forgot my own at home. Whenever I feel like I have to many bags, I just give… Read more »

Yessica, that’s awesome. In fact, I just put a story in the book about how Michael always brings some extra bags with him wherever he goes and hands them to people in line who’ve forgotten theirs.

Beth – the favourite thing I do is take my egg basket to the local Hutterite colony and get my eggs without a carton. I blogged about it here: I like it because I get to use a family heirloom, I get to be a good example to people who see me with it, and the Hutterite egg lady, Sara, shows everyone who is closeby whenever I go out there. It’s a conversation piece! It’s not something that everyone has access to, but I think it’s a good example of the little things we can do if we think… Read more »

My strategy to help fight off overwhelm but also keep moving forward in my efforts to reduce my plastic is to try just one new change each month. One month I ordered cloth produce bags and stopped using plastic. Another month I found a plastic free laundry soap. This pace of change works well for me and keeps me feeling inspired. (if you use this you can use the name Tara and I’m from Sacramento, CA)

What I found an extremely important thing is to think outside the box. So often I find myself trying to replace something made from plastic to something not made of plastic, not realising that I actually don´t need the object in the first place, I am just so used to the thought of the object. For example, I used to have this tupper boxes for leftovers and sandwich toppings like slice cheese and I was looking for a replacement in the right size (the size of the former tupper box) made from glas or metal for ages. Until I realised,… Read more »
I keep thinking of things to add: I decided to only buy SunChips potato chips – which is going to be a hard one for me because there are so many potato chips brands I LOVE – lets hope they follow SunChips’ example and also start making a completely compostable chip bag! I am going to send them emails and make the suggestion! I also reuse them. Since they are compostable, I reuse them to put food scraps and other organics/compostable stuff instead of using my “Bag to Earth” bags ( ). “Bag to Earth” bags – which are… Read more »
I still have a lot of shampoo and laundry detergent bottles, so I try to make them last as much as possible. – I wash my hair about every 3 or 4 days. I don’t have to have super nice fluffy hair, I’m a dishwasher and have to wear a net. I save on electricity also – I never use my hair dryer (only on special occasions). I also save water; my showers are short (and I always stop the water when I have to wash my hair, and myself, then I turn on to rinse). – I walk to… Read more »

I buy Bio-Vert dishwashing tabs. I live in Hull, QC, and Bio-Vert is a locally-made (in Laval QC) choice for me also. I just noticed on their website that Bio-Vert changed their packaging for the better:

It says that the reduction of plastic use compared to the previous packaging is 100%

Gotta be happy about that! :D

Congratulations; Beth! Your book is well-deserved and highly-anticipated! :) My tip is similar to those who suggested things like “plan ahead” and “lose the embarrassment” and is admittedly easier said than done: be mindful. If I am paying attention, if I am aware, if I am educated that chewing gum is mostly all plastic, then I will make conscious, smart, and healthy decisions and will leave that gum where it is. Being mindful is difficult in our world (as you can surely attest!), but it is not impossible. The more of us who do it, the more things may change.… Read more »
My favorite simple plastic-free tip is getting one (or 5, like I did!) airtight stainless steel lunch containers from Greenfeet doesn’t use plastic in their shipping and the container comes packaged in a cardboard box. I use these containers for everything from restaurant leftovers to soup lunches to delicate berries or fish from the farmer’s market. The clips hold the lid on tight so you don’t have to worry about spills. I get compliments on them everywhere I go. I also have a lot of baby tips, but I’ll chose my favorite.. Instead of a stroller with many plastic… Read more »
Something that really cut down on my waste was changing to a menstrual cup. I cannot put it back in when I’m not at home, but luckily I don’t need to do since it holds so much more blood than a normal tampon, I only need to empty it in the morning and at night. It took me a long time to get used to the idea and then a couple of months until I really tried it out, but now I absolutely love it! The more women can be convinced to try that, the better. I also switched from… Read more »
One thing that may seem counterintuitive is to NOT throw away the plastic you already have that is not coming in contact with food. For instance, I have a plastic waste basket in the bathroom that I have had for 30 years. If I throw it out to be plastic-free, then I have added to the landfill and have to spend money on a new product, thereby increasing the manufacture of new products. The plastic shoe boxes I have for storing hundreds of huge spools of sewing thread keep the thread dust-free. These have been here for over 20 years.… Read more »

Buy organic foods and use glass food storage! Food and food storage are two of the highest chemical bad guys that we come across that enter our systems through our mouths! Using organic foods reduces the chemicals but when you don’t use the proper food storage you can find chemicals and even nasty bacteria coming into your food. Using glass food storage will not interfere in anyway with your food. Good luck, can’t wait for the book!

My two biggies are: 1. reusable lunch containers…especially stainless ones like Planetbox and Lunchbots. 2. cloth diapers. the covers often have a bit of plastic coating, but you’re cutting down a ton on chemicals if you use cotton/bamboo/hemp diapers and separate covers. For completely plastic-free cloth diapering, use a cotton/bamboo/hemp diaper (contoured or prefold–dipes with snaps or velcro have plastic) and a wool cover. Beth, I love your blog, but it would be so great to have more suggestions about how to cut out plastic as a mom. It’s just so much harder to be plastic-free with kids and babies… Read more »
I recently threw out my old yukky toilet brush (not an ecological one) and for my next purchase I wanted one that was ecological, so I looked online and found one right away! I was so happy! “Made from natural coir fiber – which is made from coconut shells – this toilet brush will scrub away all the icky stuff that toilets hide leaving a bright sparkling bowl. The sturdy wood handle makes this brush functional and attractive”. Shipped in a box and the packaging was paper. No plastic anywhere. – Website for brush: – Link to my green list:… Read more »
Problem: I worry that I will lose, leave behind, or otherwise misplace an expensive reusable bottle so I drink bottled water instead. Solution: Attach your name and contact information to the water bottle with a pet tag. It is a fun way to personalize your bottle and the tag will last longer than “permanent” marker. Regarding the comment about compostable plastic, The National Organic Standards Board, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, considers bioplastics to be “synthetic” products. Therefore compost containing compostable plastic and food grown with this compost cannot be labeled certified organic. Due to this rule some… Read more »

when I bring a dish to share to a friend’s or a potluck, I cover it with a clean cotton bandana or large cloth napkin instead of plastic wrap. One bandana is placed over the top of the dish; another is brought up around the sides and tied firmly by diagonal corners Japanese ‘furoshiki’ style, which works nicely as a carrying handle too. I have several bright bandanas I keep for this purpose. I always get compliments about how nice it looks!

My plastic-free tip has more to do with inspiring others and getting friends and family to change their habits. From my experience…it helps to be gentle. People that are ignorant of the waste epidemic we are currently experiencing will be much less open to change if forced into it. No matter how frustrating, I’ve learned that patience really is a virtue. A lot of people still don’t get the idea of waste and excess and useless products. So even though plastic pollution is an urgent problem and needs solving yesterday, we have to be patient. The majority of people out… Read more »

My best tip is to let go of embarassment. Afetr all, what is there to be embarassed about? Just because you may be doing something differently than everyone else around you does not make you wrong. Nearly every time I have felt apprehensive about taking and using a reusable, I have ended up having a positive teaching experience. We CAN make a change, one little piece of plastic, and one mind, at a time.

I think my best tip is to plan ahead. I am most likely to get tripped up by something plastic when I’m unprepared, like when I run out of something that I need right away. It’s hard to come up with a handmade or plastic free solution when it’s late and the only store that’s open only has plastic options. But if I know I’m going to need something, I can consciously come up with plastic free solutions and figure out a way to make them work in time. Cloth pads, bulk bin jars, and reusable shopping bags are all… Read more »

A couple friends and I gathered a box of items to use for parties. All of us had large BBQ parties this summer, but refused to use plastic. We went to all the thrift stores and bought silverware, enamel plates and bandanas (for napkins). This box now contains place settings for 64 people. Whoever uses the items washes them afterwards and keeps the box until the next person needs it. We also use pint canning jars for drinks such as water, ice tea, or lemonade.

I always keep 2 things in my backpack:
-a set of bamboo eating utensils
-reusable bags for bulk items

This has saved me pounds and pounds of plastic.

Regarding learning to cook, I have found learning to LOVE cooking is a great benefit! People get into ruts and convenience (aka plastic) foods weasel their way into your life. I’m taking a free six-week cooking class and am learning from much older folks. These men and women actually ENJOY cooking, so I am learning more than just a a few dozen more recipes (and practicing and eating them). Community colleges and senior centers may offer these classes in your area, too. Grow some of your own food. Even with just a tiny space, we grow some of our produce… Read more »
I had written you before about replacing plastic sheet protectors that protect original watercolors in transit — I haven’t found a replacement for them yet, but I did ask my latest customers to save them and give them back to me, so at least I’m not generating or purchasing more plastic. I agree with the observation made above that if you cook from scratch you can eliminate a lot of plastic food packaging. I wash and re-use plastic bags for food storage, but I leave a lot of foods out on the counter sans plastic: tomatoes, eggplants, melons, bell peppers,… Read more »

The biggest impact on my plastic consumption was to start using cloth menstrual pads.

I guess I can add that using cloth diapers is also great idea, but I don’t have kids yet…

As a vegan/rawfood chef I make superfood smoothies regularly for my customers and always use BeStrawesome glass straws.

Straws are one of the most thrown away products in this world. I find when using the glass straws that I save so much waste and help to create conversation about saving the environment.

1- Invest in a wooden toothbrush with natural bristles. They’re available in adult or childrens sizes. A dab of nail varnish can be used to ID for each family member, or you can get creative! At least when you change them every three months, you’ll know they wont still be around in three years. 2- Don’t use toothpaste! It is the mechanical action of brushing that removes the plaque which produce the harmful acid, not the paste which comes in a plastic tube, with a plastic cap… If you really can’t get your head round that idea, look into… Read more »
From the perspective of someone with a little one: 1) Buy toys/clothes/cutlery for the little ones at thrift and consignment stores. This means no packaging and saving plastic toys from the landfill twice (once for the one you bought used and once for the one you didn’t buy new) 2) Freecycle or consign toys you no longer need (or never wanted in the first place – much easier with a little one who doesn’t notice that giant teddy bear from his birthday is missing) 3) Cloth diapers and cloth wipes (great homemade wipe recipe here: And then pass them… Read more »
My plastic-free tips/revelations: 1 – using ascorbic acid powder as a homemade, plastic-free, no-chemicals-ending-up-in-our-waterways (or in my body) vitamin C face serum. Changed my beauty regime BIG TIME: I now only use 3 (non plastic) products and my skin looks amazing! (I wrote about this in the comments of the July 20th 2011 post by Beth: How to make your own mint julep masque, comment #31, 35, 36.) 2 – giving up chewing gum. “Did you know almost all chewing gum is made from plastic?” No Beth, I did not! Now that I know, I am never putting those little… Read more »

It’s extra challenging to go plastic-free with kids, but I have two plastic free tips on my blog which I love. One is how to make homemade bread without covering the rising dough with plastic wrap (which all recipes for bread suggest you do!):

The other is how to make popsicles without a plastic mold:

I am so looking forward to your book!

I brought my own mug and glass at work, avoiding dozens and dozens of plastic or paper/plastic lined cups for coffee/tea/water
simple, efficient, quick

My shopping bags (totes, produce and bulks bags) are all inside a giant tote bag, placed on a shelf in my garage. I just have to grab it on my way out. After a while, it becomes the same as grabbing your purse before going shopping! I also have two carton boxes that stay in my trunk. These are used when I buy large items like watermelon, cantaloupe, winter squash etc.. and also if I run out of bags, I can unload stuff in a box to free a few bags for my next errand. Another tip: make it fun!… Read more »

Never get any food or drinks to go. We demand “real” dishes when we eat out!


My top plastic-free tip is start composting! I can entertain a whole crowd at my house using cheap compostable plates, forks, cups and napkins and it all goes in the compost pile (use reusable utensils for personal use to save $) at the end, no washing. I do all my grocery shopping in a store that has tons of compostable options (produce bags, trash bags, sandwich bags, wrappers, etc).

Compost cuts down on tons of waste, and allows some glimmers of convenience for entertaining.

I know the focus here is on disposable plastic, but I think that one of the biggest ways I’ve found is to buy real things instead of cheap plastic ones which break and end up in the landfill after a very short time.

Just spend a few bucks more and get glass, stainless steel, ceramic, wood or whatever. It will be easier to clean and it won’t break… can’t even count how many plastic (or partially plastic) strainers, graters, grinders, corkscrews, etc, I burned through before I learned that lesson.

Have more than one way to do the same thing. That way if your preferred plastic free method is unavailable, you forgot to bring it with you, etc. you have another product/method to fall back on.

my #1 plastic-free tip is that you absolutely must know/learn how to cook. Otherwise there is no giving up plastic packaged food, which I’ve found to be the majority of people’s plastic waste.

This is awesome Beth! I know that I talked to you about lots of stuff (though… it was a bit crazy ;) )…. can’t remember if I sent you some of the recipes we talked about!?!? It’s so amazingly FUN and gratifying making foodstuffs without plastic! Three of my favorite, dance around the kitchen, super yummy and simple things that I make sans plastic are: Burger buns, tortillas, and fruit leather. Here are the links with recipes if you want/need them: Ok… so one of my favorite things about going plastic-free is bulk. I take my own… Read more »

made my own produce bags, never bought packaged veggies, i dont eat meat so that rules out over 90% of the processed/packaged stuff from my freezer, have ben carrying my own bag since i was 16. composting so that i dont have to use plastic lining in my garbage bin. i could go on..but then it is a common thgt right

We use recycled parchment paper to replace plastic bags in our childrens lunches. We also seem to accumulate a lot of little plastic toys (like those from fast food restaurants) which we stockpile to giveaway at Halloween. We eliminated a lot of plastic bins and containers by replacing them with baskets we purchased second hand. We also look for unpainted wood, stainless steel, and bamboo when shopping for our family. We educate others, especially our children and their friends because if we are to truly see change, it will start with them.

Kind of sad, but I bought my canvas bags in about 1965 (Berkeley Consumers Co-op, Save a Tree bags)–and it’s still a new issue. Not that Knoxville, TN, is anything like as aware as the Bay Area, but people are amazed at my organic cotton produce bags (some purchased, some homemade). I decided to quit merely disapproving and feeling guilty when I went to some sort of event (like meetings or church coffee hour) with all the disposable plastic forks and cups and started carrying my own picnicware. The absolutely best thing I have is a bamboo spork, about 3″… Read more »

Buy produce at farmers’ markets. Even when it comes in packaging (like those little berry boxes), they’ll almost always take it back for reuse either right away or, if you need it to get the produce home, the next week.

Farmers at farmers markets will also often take back berry boxes and similar packaging even if it didn’t come from them.

Traveling overseas and afraid to drink the water? Instead of buying bottled water take a reusable bottle with you and use Sawyer Water Filters Squeeze filter. Filters out 99.9% of all bacteria and bad stuff. We used it on our trip to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu. There are plastci bags that come with it but you don’t have to use it. You can filter any water; from a faucet or from a lake or stream. Works!!

My favorite tip is using lightweight muslin bags for buying food at bulk bins and at the farmer’s market. I had my mom make bags for me from some old cotton muslin she had, and they are great for avoiding plastic bags. I take the bags home and empty my purchases into glass jars and canisters. They also get lots of attention, which I hope prompts more people to avoid plastic bags.

Well, these might be no brainers, but my favorite tips would be:

1 – Buy 2-3 reusable canvas shopping bags and use them!
2 – Buy a metal water bottle or two (Like Kleen Kanteen).
3 – If you buy from coffee shops, carry a resealable cup with you – and know how many ounces it holds so you can tell the barristas.
4 – If you eat sushi regularly, tuck a pair of wooden chopsticks & a napkin into a pack or briefcase.