100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life

Do you think it’s possible to live life without plastic? Or to at least live with less of it?  Check out this list of plastic-free alternatives and see for yourself.

I’ve been compiling this list of plastic-free and less plastic alternatives since June of 2007. It’s not meant to be overwhelming but simply to show what is possible. Choose a few that seem doable and that will make the most impact. No one can do it all at once. But we can all get started!

If you still have questions after looking over this list, search the blog for more plastic-free ideas, or contact me directly. You can also subscribe My Plastic-free Life for regular blog updates. And if you like what you see here, please use the email link above to forward this list on to the people you love. We can all make a difference.

    Top Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

  1. Carry reusable shopping bags.

    Carry whatever works for you. Some people like reusable canvas totes (such as those from Eco-Bags Products or Project GreenBag.) Others prefer to put their purchases into a backpack or messenger bag. Do you often forget your reusable bags? ChicoBags are a great emergency alternative. While they are made from synthetic materials, they compress into their own attached stuff sack, which makes them very convenient and likely to be used. I carry several of them in my purse so I am never without a bag. If you have a car, keep your grocery bags in it and remember to bring them into the store with you! And one more thing: reusable bags are not just for groceries! Carry them for all your purchases, from electronics to clothing.

  2. Give up bottled water.

    Not only does it come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it. And many brands of bottled water are simply filtered tap water. Get a reusable stainless steel bottle (Klean Kanteen has just come out with a completely plastic-free water bottle — no plastic on the cap at all!) or stainless steel travel mug, fill it up with tap water before leaving the house, and refill it wherever you happen to be. I don’t recommend reusable plastic or aluminum bottles. Plastic may leach chemicals into the water and aluminum bottles are lined with an epoxy resin, some of which has also found to leach into water depending on the brand. Why take a chance? Read my posts about bottled water for more information.

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    Grocery Shopping

  4. Shop your local farmers market.

    Farmers markets are a great way to buy fresh, local produce without plastic, as long as you remember to bring your own bags. Normally, the fruits and vegetables at farmers markets don’t even have those little plastic stickers on them.   And for small fruits like berries and cherry tomatoes, use your own container or bag and hand the vendor’s plastic container back to reuse.  Read more about farmers markets going plastic-free.

  5. Say “no” to plastic produce bags.

    They are generally unnecessary. What are we worried about? That our apples won’t get along with our broccoli during the trip home? Or is it that the produce will get dirty? Hey, it grew in the dirt, and we’re going to wash it anyway, right? At the grocery store, I put most produce directly into my cart and then into my reusable bag.

    If you do feel you want a separate bag for produce, cloth options are available. Some alternatives are AmbataliaECOBAGS, ChicoBag produce bags, Acme produce bags, or handmade bags from Etsy sellers. Check out this video of a woman who can make five reusable bags from one T-shirt!

    Wondering how to store your produce without plastic once you get it home? Check out this extensive list of ways to buy and store produce without plastic.   (And read why I never use Evert Fresh green bags.)

  6. Buy from bulk bins as often as possible.

    We have some great bulk food stores here in the Bay Area (Rainbow, Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods, for example) and I can get almost all dry foods as well as some personal care products from the bulk bins. These foods include rice and other grains, pasta, beans (learning to cook dried beans is an important part of plastic-free living), seeds, nuts, all kinds of flour, baking soda and other dry baking ingredients, cereal and granola, pretzels and chips, some candy, tofu, oils, nut butters, olives, herbs, tea & coffee, and more things than I can think of right now.

    The key is bringing my own reusable bags and containers with me to the store. You can carry the same kind of cotton bags for bulk purchases as for produce (see above.) Glass jars and other containers work great as well. Why shop from bulk bins and take new plastic bags?

    A question I am frequently asked is how to avoid paying for the additional weight of the container. Stores have various methods for deducting the container weight. At Whole Foods, for example, I take my containers to the customer service desk to have them weighed before filling. That weight is then deducted from the total weight of the item at the checkout counter. At Berkeley Bowl, empty containers are weighed at the Bulk Counter and then weighed again at the same counter when full before checking out. At Rainbow Grocery, customers weigh their own containers. And all the cotton bags that I use are printed with the tare weight on their tags.

    Concerned about cross contamination for people with allergies?  Check out my post on avoiding gluten while still living plastic-free.

    Even if you live in an area that does not have bulk food stores, you can still buy non-perishable goods in large size packages, which will decrease the amount of plastic used overall.

  7. Cut out sodas, juices, and all other plastic-bottled beverages.

    I’ve made the decision to eat fresh fruit instead of buying juice. This eliminates the need for all disposable bottles — glass as well as plastic. I don’t drink sugary sodas, but I do like seltzer water. Especially in the summer. So I got a Soda Stream Penguin soda maker for those times I crave some fizz. The soda maker itself is plastic, but the carafes are glass, and the soda maker replaces hundreds of disposable bottles. What’s more, the reusable CO2 cartridges are returned to the manufacturer for refilling.

  8. Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags.

    At the farmers market or natural food stores I can buy bread that comes in only paper. At the bakery down the street, I can have my bread placed in my own cloth bag and avoid all packaging. Bread keeps fresh when stored in the cloth bag inside an airtight tin. I reuse a popcorn tin that was sent to me as a gift several years ago. Often, thrift stores have more of these tins than they know what to do with. Fresh bread is a bit more expensive than its plastic-packaged cousins, but to me, it’s worth it. And since I buy so few new things, I can afford to spend more for quality, plastic-free food. See my post Fresh Bread: Buy It, Store It, Keep It Fresh Without Plastic.

  9. Return containers for berries, cherry tomatoes, etc. to the farmer’s market to be reused.

    One reader asked what I do about cherry tomatoes or berries since they can get crushed in reusable bag. I buy them at the farmer’s market in the green plastic basket and then return it to the farmer each week for a refill, so I never have to take new ones. Don’t have a farmers market nearby? Ask your local grocer to take them back. Or empty your berries into your own container before leaving the store and leave the plastic basket behind. If enough of us do this, perhaps merchants will take note.

  10. Bring your own container for meat and prepared foods

    I take my own containers with me to the butcher counter at Whole Foods or local butcher shop. (While the humans in our house don’t each much meat, the kitties do.) The butcher can weigh the container and deduct the weight, just as is done with bulk foods. The servers at the deli/prepared foods counter can do the same thing. Just ask.

  11. Choose milk in returnable glass bottles.

    Many areas have local dairies that provides milk in returnable glass bottles rather than plastic or plastic-coated cardboard (yes, all cardboard milk containers are coated inside and out with plastic, not wax.) In my area, I buy Straus milk, which is available in natural grocery stores. Unfortunately, the milk bottle does contain an unrecyclable plastic cap. But I would rather buy milk in a glass bottle capped with plastic than milk contained in plastic on all sides.

  12. Buy large wheels of unwrapped cheese.

    They can be hard to find, but when I do come across plastic-free cheese, I buy the whole thing.  Going in on it with friends can make it more affordable.  Check out my instructions for storing cheese without plastic.

  13. Try to choose only wine bottled in glass with natural cork stoppers.

    This is kind of a trial and error project since you can’t see the stopper until you open the bottle. There’s a mobile website called Corkwatch you can use to see what kind of stopper–plastic or natural cork–is in a particular wine bottle before you purchase it. If you haven’t already, please read this post about endangered cork forests and why it’s important to support them by choosing natural cork over plastic stoppers or metal screw caps (which contain BPA in the lining.)

  14. Let go of frozen convenience foods.

    This was a hard one. I agonized for a while over which brands of frozen meals used the best containers, but in the end there was just no sound alternative. They all use plastic. Even frozen food trays that seem to be made of cardboard are lined with plastic. The more we limit our consumption of frozen convenience foods, the less plastic waste we’ll generate and the healthier we’ll be!

  15. Give up chewing gum.

    Did you know almost all chewing gum is made from plastic? That’s right. When you’re chewing gum, you’re chewing on plastic.  Read more about plastic in chewing gum here.

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    Eating and Drinking on the Go

  17. Carry your own containers for take out food and leftovers.

  18. Carry a stainless steel travel mug or water bottle at all times for coffee and other drinks while out in the world.

    (I use my travel mug for water instead of a water bottle.) Besides the plastic lid and plastic straw, paper cups are lined with a plastic coating. When I first began this project, I got in the habit of requesting “no lid and no straw” when ordering a drink in a disposable paper cup. But nowadays, if I’ve forgotten my mug, I simply do without until I can find a water fountain or sit-down cafe or restaurant with durable cups and glasses. This process helps me to remember my reusable mug next time.

  19. Carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws.

    I keep a To-Go-Ware bamboo utensil set and a couple of GlassDharma drinking straws in my purse at all times. And actually, I didn’t need to go out and buy the bamboo. I could have just as easily used my own stainless steel utensils. Check out blogger Mindful Momma’s cute DIY utensil wrap.

  20. When ordering pizza, say no to the little plastic “table” in the middle of the pizza box.

    It’s called a “package saver.” Think about it. A single use plastic device meant to save a single use cardboard box. What about all the marine animals that swallow that type of disposable plastic? It doesn’t save them, does it? When ordering, say, “Please don’t put that little white plastic thing in the middle of the pizza.” They’ll know what you mean.

  21. Treat yourself to an ice cream cone.

    Instead of keeping containers of ice cream in the freezer, I will enjoy the occasional ice cream cone while I’m out. That keeps my ice cream consumption down, which is better for my health, and it also does away with the plastic-lined containers as well. Ice cream cones require zero container or utensil waste. If I do want to bring some home, I can have my ice cream handpacked in my own container.

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    Lunch Time at School or Work

  23. Keep your own reusable foodware at the office.

    I brought a plate, bowl, glass, and utensils to keep at my desk.  This way, I can avoid all the disposable cups, plates, and cutlery in the lunchroom.

  24. Carry lunches in reusable stainless containers or cloth bags.

    A few examples of good lunch container options are:

  25. Choose reusable cloth sandwich/snack bags.

    Read about the many reusable cloth lunch baggie options here.

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    Kitchenware & Food Storage

  27. Choose glass/stainless steel food storage containers, and reuse what you have.

    We save nearly all glass jars and bottles for purchasing bulk foods and for storing leftovers in the refrigerator or even the freezer. When we run out of jars, we store leftovers in bowls with saucers on top instead of plastic wrap. Bowls with saucers are great for stacking. We also use Anchor glass refrigerator containers to store daily portions of our homemade cat food. More on that below. The key to freezing foods in glass is not to fill the jar too full, since the food will expand inside the container. The other caveat is not to heat the glass too quickly. Let foods thaw at room temperature to avoid glass breakage.

    Another option for the refrigerator or freezer are the flat-topped airtight stainless steel containers from Life Without Plastic. Their flat top makes them easy to stack and the fact that they are airtight means food can be stored longer.  Read about my favorite container here.

  28. Learn to preserve foods without plastic.

    Read how I freeze produce without plastic freezer bags.  You can also learn to can foods in glass jars or dehydrate produce to keep through the winter.

  29. Avoid non-stick cookware.

    Cookware coated with Teflon or other resins give off toxic perfluorochemicals when heated. We’ve donated all of our non-stick cookware and replaced it with stainless steel and cast iron. I did question whether it was better to donate these unhealthy items or to trash them. In the end, I figured that if someone was looking for non-stick, they’d buy it anyway whether I donated or not.

  30. Choose a glass blender.

    Avoid the high speed blenders that come with a plastic pitcher.  Those containers contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  My Waring Pro is all glass and metal and works just fine.  While you’re at it, please sign my petition to ask Vita-Mix to bring back the stainless steel blender pitcher it had when the machine was first invented.

  31. Spin salad without plastic.

    In one of my favorite posts, I compare an old fashioned wire salad spinner to a plain old cotton produce bag.  It was a fun experiment.

  32. Choose a stainless steel ice cube tray.

    If your old plastic ice trays have worn out, consider replacing them with stainless steel.

  33. Use stainless steel popsicle molds.

    If you and your children enjoy popsicles in the summertime, consider investing a stainless steel popsicle mold instead of buying packaged frozen treats or using plastic or silicone popsicle molds.

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    Make It From Scratch

  35. Make your own yogurt without a yogurt maker!.

    It’s easier than you might think, using only a Thermos, a pot, a thermometer, some milk, and some yogurt from a previous batch. (Your first batch can be store-bought.) See recipe and instructions here.

  36. Make your own soy milk.

    If you regularly drink soy or nut milks, you can learn to make your own, either with a soy milk maker or on the stove. All prepared soy milk cartons contain plastic.

  37. Make your own condiments.

    Most are not difficult. I’ve learned to make my own chocolate syrup, mayonnaise, mustard,  and ketchup.  I squeeze fresh lemon and lime juice and keep it in glass jars in the refrigerator. And we make our own hummus, either from dried chick peas or from the dry mix in the bulk bin at Whole Foods.

    While it’s true that some of these condiments can be purchased in glass containers, the homemade versions often taste better and involve less packaging waste overall.

  38. Make your own snacks.

    You don’t have to give up crackers, energy bars, and other snacks that come packaged in plastic if you learn to make them yourself. Read about my friend Katie’s awesome e-book, Healthy Snacks To Go.

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    No More Plastic Trash Bags

  40. Compost food waste.

    I bought a 100% recycled plastic Urban Compost Tumbler and started composting. This solves several plastic problems. First, since we no longer put wet stuff in the garbage, we don’t need plastic garbage bags of any kind (bio- or petro-based.) And I can mix the compost with soil from the yard to pot my houseplants and avoid buying potting soil in plastic bags.

    Lately, though, I have not had the time or energy to maintain my compost bin. But here in Oakland(as well as Berkeley and San Francisco) we have city-wide composting. We can put all of our food scraps (including meat) and food-soiled paper, along with yard waste, into our green bins. It’s then picked up with our garbage and taken to a commercial compost facility where our food scraps are converted into rich soil amendments for residents and local farms.

    Read more about collecting garbage without plastic trash bags.

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    Household Cleaning

  42. Clean with vinegar and water.

    I use a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water as an all-purpose spray cleaner (storing it in a reused spray bottle) and produce wash. I buy Spectrum vinegar which comes in a glass bottle. Only the cap is plastic.

  43. Baking soda is a fantastic scouring powder.

  44. Use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.

  45. Hand wash dishes without plastic.

    Use baking soda or bar soap. Seriously, I’ve been using baking soda to hand wash dishes for several months now. It scours well and leaves dishes feeling squeaky clean.

    For really tough baked-on messes, I use a Chore Boy copper scrubber, which comes in a cardboard box with no plastic.

  46. Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges:

    • Compressed natural cellulose sponges are often sold without any plastic packaging because they don’t need to be kept moist; they expand when wet.
    • Coconut coir brushesare great for cleaning water bottles and scrubbing dirty dishes.
    • Skoy cloths are made from cotton and cellulose, work like a cloth, absorb like a sponge, and can take the place of 15 rolls of paper towels.
    • And of course, good old rags made from old clothing and towels are free and probably the greenest option of all.
  47. Wash laundry with soap nuts or laundry powders without a plastic scoop.

    • Look for soap nuts in plastic-free packaging.
    • Borax comes in a carboard box.
    • Ecover laundry powder comes with a recycled carboard scoop instead of plastic.
    • Read all about plastic-free laundry methods here.
    • Treat laundry stains with a borax/water paste or with a handmade laundry stain bar. Try the stain remover sticks from Juniperseed Mercantile or Bunch Farmers.
  48. A reusable Swiffer cloth is great for those of us who already own a Swiffer mop.

    If you don’t know what a Swiffer is, don’t worry about it. It’s plastic and you don’t need one. But if you already own a Swiffer mop, check out the reusable Swiffer cloths from Juniperseed Mercantile .

  49. Use natural rubber gloves.

    When I needed a pair of rubber gloves (for some disgusting task — I can’t remember what) I opted for Casabella 100% latex gloves lined with 100% cotton flocking. Yeah, they’re girlie pink. But at least I didn’t have to buy plastic.  An even better option are If You Care brand FSC-certified natural rubber gloves.

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    Personal Care

  51. Check labels of personal care products!

    Did you know some facial scrubs and other personal care products contain tiny plastic beads? Avoid anything with “polyethylene” listed as an ingredient. Read my post Flushing Plastic Down The Drain! for more information.

  52. Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap.

    People sometimes worry that sharing a bar of soap is less sanitary than sharing a bottle of liquid soap. But think about it: the bar soap gets rinsed off every time you use it. The plastic pump? Not so much. Where do you think the most germs are accumulating?

  53. Give up shampoo in plastic bottles.

    There are several plastic-free options.

  54. Try hair salves and pomades in metal tins or glass jars.

    My favorite product used to be one called Product, which only contains a handful of ingredients and came in a glass jar, albeit with a plastic cap.  And then I discovered Made-On Second Life Hair Butter, and my life changed completely.  This stuff is awesome for taming frizzies if you have curly hair like I do.

  55. Color hair with henna purchased without plastic packaging.

    Read about how I purchase henna in bulk or in solid form without plastic and how I mix and apply it to cover those gray hairs that make me look older than I feel.

  56. Baking soda is the best deodorant EVER.

    Instead of deodorant in a plastic container, I use baking soda mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil applied to dry underarms with a reusable cotton round. It works better than any commercial deodorant I have ever used. Seriously. If you don’t think baking soda deo is your thing, there are other options. Read my Great Big Plastic-Free Non-Toxic Deodorant Review.  But honestly? Try the baking soda first. No kidding. I would use it even if I weren’t trying to cut down my plastic consumption.

  57. Use soap instead of canned shave cream.

    There are shave soaps especially made for that purpose (Simmons, Williams) but I’ve found that any rich soap bar will do.

  58. Choose lotions and lip balms in plastic-free containers.

    Recently, I discovered a new company called Organic Essence, which is packaging its body lotions in compostable cardboard jars and its lip balms in ingenious cardboard tubes that squeeze from the end. There are also lotion bars and lip balms and glosses that come in glass or metal containers. And I’ve also made my own homemade lotion, but now that Organic Essence is using responsible packaging, I’ll leave the lotion-making to them.

  59. Switch from a plastic razor to a second hand safety razor.

    I found mine in an antique store. More on the razor and the blades here.

  60. Use less plastic tooth paste/powder, toothbrush, and floss.

  61. Coconut oil lube.

    It really works, and its natural anti-fungal properties are particularly good for women.  But be aware the oil-based lubes don’t play well with latex.

  62. Choose toilet paper that’s not wrapped in plastic.

    Seventh Generation recycled individually wrapped toilet paper can be ordered by the case through Amazon.com. It comes in a cardboard box without any plastic wrapping. Evergreen and Bumboosa are also plastic-free brands.

  63. Use plastic-free feminine hygiene products

    Some of the options include washable cloth liners and pads. One great brand is Luna Pads, which are made with organic cotton. Or search for cloth + menstrual + pads on Etsy.com. Remember to ask the seller to ship with no plastic packaging.

    Some women prefer the Diva Cup, which can be washed and reinserted.

  64. Look into plastic-free sunscreen options.

    I’ve found two great plastic-free sunscreens: Balm! Baby and Avasol.  Read about them here.  Several readers have offered other options. Check out my May 7, 2010 post and especially the comments for plastic-free sunscreen alternatives.

  65. Choose a plastic-free wooden hair brush.

    Read about my new plastic-free wooden hairbrush with wooden bristles here.

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    Medication and Healthcare

  67. Find Do-It-Yourself alternatives for over-the-counter remedies.

    Last winter, I tried making my own homemade cough syrup and looked into natural remedies for heartburn. Lately, I’ve been checking into herbs that can be used to promote sleep. I also learned to do acupressure to treat a headache.  Take a look at my favorite plastic-free cold remedies.

  68. Use handkerchiefs instead of paper tissue.

    I’ve never seen a Kleenex box without any plastic window. More importantly, we can avoid all waste by opting for reusable hankies. Some people make their own out of old t-shirts and cloth diapers. I found lots of hankies at a thrift shop. Another ingenious idea is the HankyBook, which makes carrying a cloth hanky so much neater.

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  70. Bring your own water bottle — even on the plane!

    Many people don’t know it’s actually fine to bring your own water on a plane. You just can’t bring water through airport security. So what do you do? Bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up at the drinking fountain on the other side. It’s really okay. In fact, it’s what musician Jackson Browne does!

  71. Bring your own snacks.

    Avoid plastic-packaged food. Bring your own sandwiches or containers of fruit, cut veggies, trail mix, or other snacks. But avoid liquid or semi-solid foods when flying.

  72. Bring your own utensils.

    Why should traveling be any different than staying at home? If you’re remembering to bring your own utensils while at home, don’t forget them when you go away.

  73. Bring your own travel mug.

    I’ve traveled to many different states in theU.S.and never had a problem getting my mug filled. In fact, most cafes these days will give a discount for bringing your own mug. And your mug can come in handy in hotels that provide plastic or Styrofoam cups in the room instead of real glasses.

  74. Don’t forget your headphones.

    When flying, bring your own headphones. Most planes will offer you new headphones in plastic packaging, but you won’t need those if you come prepared with your own.

  75. Bring your own personal care products.

    Skip the free travel size shampoos, soaps, and lotions offered by hotels. Just because they’re free doesn’t mean we should take them. What is the true cost of “free” when the environment is at stake? Instead, fill up your own reusable travel- size containers at home. If you’re not checking baggage, make sure they fit in your regulation zip lock bag (U.S.residents).

  76. Refuse the mini bar.

    Mini bar snacks and drinks are incredibly expensive. And they all come in plastic packages or bottles. Find real food to eat. Do a little grocery shopping when you reach your destination and stock your hotel room with healthy snacks in less packaging. Even if you can’t avoid plastic entirely, you can resist single-serving sizes.

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    Plastic-Free Pet Care

  78. Choose natural cat litter.

    SwheatScoop cat litter is made from wheat and comes in a paper bag.  It’s also certified flushable. We feel okay about flushing our cats’ poop because they’ve tested negative for toxoplasma gondii and they are indoor-only cats.  If you live inCalifornia, you should not flush cat poop unless you know for sure it is free of the parasite toxoplasma gondii, which is harmful to sea otters.  Outdoor cats are susceptible because they pick it up from rodents.

  79. Choose pet toys/furniture made from natural materials instead of plastic.

    • Purrfect Play makes beautiful all-natural toys made from wool and catnip.
    • I’ve also found all natural wool, leather, coconut, and feather cat toys at my local pet shop recently.
    • But the best cat toys of all? Wine corks, hands down. The real ones, of course. I don’t let my cats play with plastic.
    • We found a bamboo/sisal scratching post instead of synthetic carpet
    • Cardboard cat scratchers are great
    • This natural wood/sisal over-door climber is very sturdy and doesn’t contain any synthetic chemicals that can off gas into our home our the bodies of our pets.
    • Our most economical cat climber? We cleared off most of the flat surfaces in our home (tops of book shelves, etc.) so that our cats could roam and climb to their hearts’ content.
  80. Avoid plastic bowls.

    Did you know plastic food/water bowls cause pet acne?

  81. Buy secondhand pet supplies instead of new.

    We found our cat litter boxes and plastic cat carrier boxes through Craigslist and from thrift stores. They are plastic. But they are not new plastic!

  82. Learn to make homemade pet food without much plastic.

    We make our cat food from scratch instead of buying BPA-lined cans that come shrink-wrapped in plastic or dry pet food in bags lined with plastic. Our recipe does include a supplement powder that comes in a plastic bottle, but it lasts two months. Read more about our less plastic homemade cat food here.

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    Get it Fixed!

  84. Repair things when they break.

    When a plastic item breaks, try to repair it instead of buying a new one.

    I’m trying to conserve as many of the tools and appliances that I already own instead of allowing them to become obsolete or chucking them when they break.

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    Buy Secondhand

  86. Acquire necessary plastic items used instead of new.

    Check second-hand stores, FreecycleCraigslist or borrow.  Car-sharingTool-lending. I have no problem acquiring second-hand plastic. I think it’s always good to give things as many uses as possible before sending them to the landfill or recycling center. I also look for items made from recycled plastic, for the same reason. Here’s a partial list of plastic items I’ve acquired second hand since my plastic project began:

    • Plastic cat litter boxes and cat carriers via Freecycle and thrift shops
    • Computer monitor from Craigslist when my old one broke and couldn’t be repaired
    • Crock pot
    • Power strips via Freecycle
    • Laptop computer from secondhand electronics store
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    Packing and Shipping Materials

  88. Request zero plastic packaging when ordering online.

    I’m trying to buy fewer things in general, but vendors do sometimes send me products to review for this blog. When that happens, I include a message to the seller requesting zero plastic or Styrofoam packaging, including plastic tape. (See my packaging policy here.) When this doesn’t work, I’ve started to send back unwanted plastic packaging with a letter of explanation. And I send back unwanted plastic I receive unsolicited in the mail or on my doorstep.  Here are some examples of innovative zero waste packing materials:

    Read more about plastic-free packaging materials here.

  89. Get off mailing lists to reduce plastic envelope windows.

    I have switched to online billing, online statements, canceled subscriptions, and called to have my name removed from mailing lists. I want to save paper as well as plastic. TrustedID (formerly known as Catalog Choice) can help.

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    In the Office

  91. Make your own glue.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade wheat paste that really works.

  92. Avoid disposable plastic pens.

    I use pencils as much as possible and for times when a pen is necessary, I have switched to a refillable fountain pen with a cartridge converter that allows me to refill the pen from a bottle of ink rather than buying new plastic cartridges.

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    Electronics & Entertainment

  94. Look for secondhand electronics, games, and toys first.

    There are so many useful products already in existence that have been gently used and need a good home.  Read about the awesome secondhand computer I bought when my old one wore out.

  95. Choose refurbished equipment from a certified e-steward.

    Learn how you can do your part to combat “planned obsolescence.”

  96. Take care of what you have already.

    Often we can avoid buying new stuff by keeping the stuff we do have in good condition.  I learned this lesson the hard way when I broke my laptop screen through a stupid accident that could have been easily avoided.

  97. Avoid buying new CDs and DVDs.

    They are made from polycarbonate plastic, after all. Instead, I download music and movies and borrow DVDs from Netflix or the library.

  98. Learn to recycle old disks.

    You can recycle old disks.  But keep in mind that recycling is no substitute to reducing what you buy in the first place.

  99. Choose healthier electronics.

    Try to find electronics secondhand rather than buying new plastic, but when you do have to buy new electronic gadgets, choose those that have the least packaging and toxic materials. For example, thinksound ear buds are PVC-free, made from wood, and come packaged with almost no plastic.

  100. Find DIY solutions for techno needs.

    For example, I knitted a cover for my iPod instead of buying a plastic one, and I crocheted new headphone ear pads when the foam on my old headphones wore out.

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    Gift Giving and Receiving

  102. Learn strategies for green gift-giving.

    Give only what will be truly appreciated. Opt for experiences or services (like restaurant meals, tickets to events, your help with a task) over stuff.  Read my Guide: Green Gifts Don’t Have to Suck to learn more.

  103. Consider giving charitable gift cards.

    But choose wisely and plastic-free.  Read my comparison of charitable gift cards here.

  104. Request plastic-free gifts for yourself.

    It can be challenging to ask friends and family not to give you new plastic.  But it can be done in a kind way.  If you don’t need any new things, request a donation to your favorite charity, perhaps.

  105. Find ways to wrap gifts without plastic tape.

    Here’s a method I discovered for myself. And use paper tape for other types of packaging needs. Of course, reusing gift bags, reusing wrapping paper, and wrapping presents in reusable cloth bags or furoshiki are the best options.

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    Holidays and Entertaining

  107. Bring your own beverage container & ustensils to parties and events.

    If you’re not sure whether the host will offer real dishware or disposable plastic, discreetly bring your own.  Or be less discreet, depending on your relationship with the host.  I carry a little stainless steel wine glass (which is good for events where glass is not allowed) and bamboo utensils with me, just in case.

  108. Throw a Zero Waste party.

    Here’s an example. Provide durable dishes, glasses, utensils.  Ask guests to bring their own dishes or at least cups.  Stock up on thrift store utensils and mugs (mixing and matching crazy mugs can be fun) especially for parties.  Request no plastic cling-wrap on potluck offerings.

  109. Re-think your Christmas tree.

    Most artficial trees are made from toxic PVC.  Opt for a real, sustainably-grown and harvested tree, a live tree that can be planted, or an artificial tree made from natural materials.  There are “trees” made from recycled cardboardwood, or even recycled glass bottles.

  110. Skip holiday plastic tchotkes.

    Make your own plastic-free vegan Easter eggs.  Avoid Valentine’s Day and Halloween plastic crap.

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    No New Plastic Clothing

  112. Choose natural fibers.

    So much new clothing these days is made from synthetic materials with names like: polyester, acrylic, lycra, spandex, nylon. In other words, plastic fabric. When buying new clothes, I look for organic cotton, hemp, ethically-raised wool, and other natural fibers. I avoid conventional cotton because of pesticides used to grow it. Sometimes the best place to find these materials is online. One of my favorite sources is Hempest.com. Just be sure and request no plastic packaging when placing your order.

  113. Shop thrift stores.

    Buying gently-used secondhand clothing and shoes is a good way to get the styles you want without buying new plastic — except of course for that inevitable tag hanger! It’s also a lot less expensive than buying new.

  114. Make your own clothes.

    Um… as someone who is afraid of the sewing machine, I can’t really elaborate on this one. But I know a lot of you crafty crafters are up for it. Be sure and choose natural fabrics.

  115. Look for plastic-free shoes.

    For example, Feelgoodz flip flops are made from natural rubber rather than plastic.

  116. Choose ethical underwear.

    You may not be able to find underwear that is completely plastic-free, but look for styles/brands that contain a high percentage of natural fibers. I like PACT organic underwear because they are made from 95% organic cotton, are packaged in compostable bags, and support non-profit organizations.

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    Camping and Outdoors

  118. Choose plastic-free camping equipment.

    Going to Burning Man two years in a row forced me to seriously consider alternatives to plastic camping supplies.  I found:

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    Avoid unnecessary plastic around the house

  120. Stop buying plastic water filter cartridges unless necessary.

    We had our water tested to find out if we even needed to be filtering it in the first place. Turns out, our Oaklandwater is fine without a filter. So we can avoid plastic water filter cartridges from now on. For those who do need to filter their water, Brita has teamed up with Preserve to create a way to recycle the plastic cartridges. Here are the details: http://www.brita.com/us/support/filter-recycling/

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    If You Do Nothing Else

  122. Avoid the Worst Plastics

    If you do nothing else, try to steer clear of Polyvinyl Chloride (#3 PVC), Polystyrene (#6 PS), & Polycarbonate (#7 Other).  PVC is found in many, many products and causes a whole host of environmental problems. Read my post about the problems of PVC. PS contains styrene, which is toxic to the brain and nervous system. PC contains BPA.  Read more about BPA here. If you must use plastic, make sure it’s not #3, #6, or #7 polycarbonate. (Note: #7 is a catch-all for many types of plastic that doesn’t fit into the first six categories. Biodegradable plastic is also labeled #7. So when in doubt, ask.)

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482 Responses to “100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life”

  1. Tia says:


    I have been taking so many steps in my life to change the amount of waste I produce but perhaps the biggest thing you can do right away for the earth is go vegan. Please everyone watch Cowspiracy and you will be astonished by the impact animal agriculture has on the earth. If you have Netflix you can watch it right away. Please help spread the word!

  2. miabchallenge says:

    These ideas are all so great! We’re a small campaign that’s trying to raise awareness about the impact that plastic waste is having on the marine environment, and these are some very useful tips that we’d love to include. Out of curiosity, which of these steps would you consider has been the toughest for you to abide by? You’ve done so much!

  3. RAYLEE says:

    Thank you for all of your hard work. I amm doing pretty good as to your standards, but there is always room for improvement, thans again

  4. mike says:

    Thank you for all the tips… Nice Job!

  5. Isabel Schwarzkopf says:

    Hi girls! There is another simple way of reducing plastic from feminine hygiene products -> https://www.menstrualcup.com/gb I think a menstrual cup is clearly a more green alternative.

  6. Catherine Sultana says:

    One question: what is verdict on silicon? Silpat or frying pan?
    I really like this list, good way for me to gauge where I am on the plastic-free continuum. Thanks for doing this work!

    • Beth Terry says:

      There is no verdict yet. It is a polymer. It is not biodegradable. I would use clear, medical grade silicone for limited applications, but I would not cook with it or use “food grade” silicone for much of anything. We just don’t know what manufacturers have added to it.

  7. Denise says:

    This is wonderfully helpful and made me aware of more steps I can take to reduce plastic consumption. The only problem with so many of your suggestions for products which can be purchased is that they are expensive, too expensive for many of the people I know in my city neighborhood. Organic cotton? I would love to buy organic cotton clothes. Sadly, not easily available, not a lot of variety, too pricey and no XXL sizes. An aware friend on public assistance knows the evils of Walmart and other discount stores, but she is forced to shop there because she just does not have the money. We will not make true headway unless these products are affordable and/or the big companies change their evil ways.

    • Nicole says:

      Spot on Denise. I feel that by doing what i can afford i am perhaps creating more of a market for these things and that eventually if the demand is high enough cheaper options will arise. At the very least i feel that because i can afford it I have a responsibility to do it. Here is a good article i found the other day talking about exactly what you just mentioned. It’s called “Dinner or dignity: Expecting the poor to remain moral” and is mainly about ethical employee practices but i think it applies to this as well.

  8. Heather says:

    Love this post, so incredibly helpful in transitioning to a less toxic life (non-toxic seems unavoidable, just thinking of the chemicals in carpet, for example :( )! As a poor grad student, do you have any suggestions on an alternative for a shower curtain liner? Also, in reading the comments below, would you mind providing a link to Beth’s website? Thanks so much!

  9. Noel says:

    Your post is so helpful. I will referring to it when I reduce plastic.

  10. Ash says:

    Love your post, trying to reduce plastic in our life and this was like a one stop shop for all the information I needed. Thank you…

  11. Emilia Simpson says:

    thank you for all of the information I’m DEFINITLY going to re-think everything I own!

  12. So simple and interesting ideas in this post! I sewed my own grocery bag and I always bring it with me when I go to the grocery. I also use glass bottles instead of plastic. Now I bought incredible jars in which I will put my muesli breakfast. Thank you for the plastic free ideas! I will definitely try them all!

  13. Panya says:

    We have two of those particular over-the-door cat climbers and both smelled horribly of glue for quite a while after we got them.

    • BethTerry says:

      Panya That’s terrible.  I wonder if they were the same brand.  Ours just smelled like sisal.  I’m very sensitive to chemical smells, and it didn’t bother me.

  14. SwineandDine says:

    I am opening a food truck and one of my biggest concerns were eliminating those little plastic sauce containers. I found paper cones with a corner that folds down for your sauce, and my other concern was plastic forks. I have not found anything for that yet other then not serving food that requires forks. And chopsticks are not for everybody since I am not serving chinese food. Any ideas? Thanks Swine & Dine.

  15. quicksilver8519 says:

    Here is petition that can be signed to ban micro-beads and protect ours waters and fish.

  16. Claudia says:

    I’m not sure if anybody has mentioned this previously, but another easy alternative to shampoo is using eggs.  Eggs are a natural emulsifier (bind oil to water), which is the whole point of shampoo.  Some people say just to use the whites, but I prefer the whole egg so I don’t waste the yolks.  Nobody can tell the difference and it is a cheap, plastic free, highly sustainable option.

    • quicksilver8519 says:

      Thank you for the idea Claudia. I may try this one. Beth, I have the greatest admiration for you. This site you have created and the open mindedness that you have with opportunity for everyone to share, is a huge example of how it is done and how it should be done.
      Hoping this will spread and other groups learn from your example.


    very good instructions.

  18. quicksilver8519 says:

    Found some recipes to make the plastic free easier with soya milk. Love your DIY yogurt recipe, thank you.


    • BethTerry says:


    • Catherine Sultana says:

      I make cashew milk and coconut milk by soaking raw unsweetened unsalted item in fridge overnight in mason jar. Cashews get rinsed in metal strainer then blended with equal amount of fresh cold water for several minutes (don’t have a Vita mix). Coconut milk is similar except no rinsing.Keep in fridge in sterilized pitcher or bottle.Use within 3-5 days, shake before pouring. Can add vanilla or sweetener during blending to cashew mylk for coffee creamer.

  19. quicksilver8519 says:

    Funny thing happened on the way to the MYPLASTICSFREELIFE today. I found a recipe for DIY plastic made at home. O.K….O.K. nobody is smiling…..yet.
    Check this link out!
    My father burned potatoes to the bottom of the frying pan years ago, and had a terrible time trying to chip and scrub the substance off the pan, saying, “I have just made potatoe glue!” Maybe it is an idea?

    • Nicole says:

      My local food co op sells biodegradable bin liners and food waste bags that look like plastic but are actually made from potatoes and can be composted! It is definitely a thing, at least in Australia!

  20. quicksilver8519 says:

    This is a good read.
    Soon enough you won’t need to worry about whether the water in your bottle is better…you’ll wonder if the plastic your drinking in the water is better.

  21. Ms schambach says:

    How bout the diva cup? I’ve been using mine for almost 6 years, which first off saved me ALOT of money on pads and tampons and healthier because tampons are bad for you. Also saves the dump/environment a lot of pads and tampon waste products. But is the rubber used for the cup safe?

    • quicksilver8519 says:

      I guess it depends on the manufacturer following safety laws to protect the consumer? Probably no BPA though. Consumers have been using rubber condoms and rubber sealers for canning throughout the years. Plastics were introduced to replace the use of the rubber used for canning, but we hear that is not such a good idea.
      Sorry to get off topic slightly, but I am going to try bees wax for canning in future. Maybe there is something better than the diva cup as well, but until found, you probably have the best solution so far, for not using tampons.

  22. quicksilver8519 says:

    Here is a link that is an update concerning our plastics in the Ocean. Maybe a motivating.

  23. Anni says:

    Thank you for this! I literally went crazy the past few days trying to research any way I can reduce all the plastic in my life. I got really overwhelmed when I looked in my fridge and there was plastic, plastic everywhere! Even my pantry! Jars of peanut butter and other things, I was like WHY?!?!? (as I threw my fists up in the air in a dramatic fashion). This list has helped me A LOT. 

    I would also like to comment on the christmas tree thing, there is a company called Living Christmas that allows you to rent a real tree, and they take it back and plant it into the ground. Pretty cool. I haven’t tried them but they aren’t in my area (only parts of CA) but here is the link: 

    thanks again! I am sure it took a good while to adopt these things into your life and to research. You have saved me lots of time by doing this :) Thanks!

  24. jazzydog300 says:

    hi jazzy here again,

    thanks for the tip and now the parents! they live for plastic but im all organic and hippie help!!!!!!

    • quicksilver8519 says:

      Well…..here is a good start…..read everything you can on this site. I find all the information and questions that others have posted to be informative and enjoyable. There are recipes and tips throughout this site. Example is, do you want to choose coconut oil as a makeup remover if you wear any? Is it right for you? Research everything even if someone else has suggested it. That is what googling is wonderful for and the library believe it! Spent many hours looking up books at the library for anything I was interested in.
      You can google or maybe learn  through the library how to use fabric dyes that are plant extraction (DIY even) and can be used to create your own fun and conversation pieces, or anything hippy you like. Macrame with jute or cotton, reduce everything you can and keep it simple. I will cost less that way as well.
      Here is one your parents may like as a cleaning tip to reduce plastic bottles cleaners come in
      This is science and fact. Could be a great class assignment as well???
      If you come up with some ideas of your own through googling and reading up on things, post your great ideas on this site.

  25. quicksilver8519 says:

    I have been reading more of the blogs and I apologize if I repeated what someone has already posted.
    Here may be something different that I hope is helpful. For all the plastic film, bags, everything else etc that seem not possible to recycle, there may be a partial to complete solution, while earning money for your household, neighbourhood, or organization. Some of these recycle companies will PREPAY YOUR SHIPPING FEE AT NO COST TO YOU AS WELL. I got these links through the David Suzuki Organization and am posting some of them for you to check out, including the link to the Suzuki organization where you can find pages and pages of how to recycle practically everything you have. 


  26. quicksilver8519 says:

    Anyone know where to order or buy wood pellets packaged in cotton or other bags non-plastic bags? Please???

  27. jazzydog300 says:

    any tips for cats

    • quicksilver8519 says:

      A few for cats. We stopped using clumpable or loose clay cat litter. Instead, we buy Satisfaction Brand wood pellets from Home depot. The wood pellets are chemical free and dust free, and can be composted and less than $5.00 per 40 LB bag. There is a plastic bag though, but it is reduced i every other way, as well as healthier for the cat.
      Good balance for the foods put into the compost.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXZjMUfXvck   link for cleaning tips.
      http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/5-diy-cat-toys-made-from-empty-tp-rolls  I found this link and tried these toys for our cat. Well guess what? She likes these toilet roll toys better than anything bought at the store. In the link the woman made a ball using parts cut from the roll. We made the ball and also made more rings that we didn’t construct into a ball, for toss, retrieve and play. The rings are her favorite!  Pounce can manipulate the lightweight rings, toss and pick up easier. Once the toilet roll toys need to be replaced, that is easy and the scraps from prior toys of course, you know it, can be recycled or composted. Bye Bye plastic toys or toys with small parts to cause bowel blockage.

      Another thing we are trying (don’t know just how great it is yet), is shredding empty egg cartons into small pieces and tossing the shreds into the litter box as another biodegradable filler. http://thegreenists.com/pets/tip-of-the-day-make-your-own-kitty-litter/1044 and recycling all paper waste through the cat litter box where possible.

  28. quicksilver8519 says:

    Here is a recipe using that baking soda of yours…..that might feel milder. Don’t know if you’ll like it. We use coconut oil mixed with baking soda to get the Pearl Drops consistency in texture and love it. Feels like just coming from the Dentists after a polish. So here it is in different versions:
    1) 1 part coconut oil, 1 part baking soda, add a few drops of peppermint oil and sweeten with sugarless powder sweetener of your choice.
    2) 5 T baking soda, 1 T sweetener, 4 T coconut oil and a few drops of peppermint oil.
    If the mix is to crumbly etc, add more coconut oil until you get the Pearl Drops texture. Main ingredients for us is the baking soda and coconut mix to get the polished feel.
    Here is a recipe to avoid plastic laundry bottles.
    Liquid Laundry: 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda, 1/2 bar Linda Laundry bar (grated), 3 gal. water + 4 cups boiled water in sauce pot to melt soap, and a 5 gal. pail to set the mixture in.
    On stove in large sauce pot boil the 4 cups of water, then turn the heat down to medium/high and add the grated laundry bar soap (use whatever laundry bar brand you like) and stirring melt it completely. Remove from heat and add the borax and then the washing soda (can use baking powder for milder detergent) and stir as it thickens. Once thickened and fully incorporated, pour into the pail and add the 3 gals of water….2 cups at a time stirring to blend well. Once all the water has been mixed into the pail, cover with a lid (I use a dinner plate) and leave somewhere for 24 undisturbed. If this is disturbed it will not jell. In 24 hours the soap has set and there will be some water separation as well as a very very thick jell. This is good. Use a hand blender or stick blender to breakup the jelled soap and mix well. Pour into your glass jars and use 1/4 – 1/2 cup per load depending on your ashing machine and load size. This laundry soap will not suds up and I was skeptical on whether it would work well or not without seeing the suds. 5 months later….I am a believer! Will never go back to buying plastic bottled expense laundry detergent off the shelf! To give your wash an extra boost….add 1/4 – 1/2 baking soda for colorfast clothing or whites.

    Have a powder version as well that I can only use on whites and really colorfast clothing or color is lifted or faded quickly. Very cheap to use.
    Deodorant: 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cornstarch, with 1/3 cup coconut oil, and a few drops of Lavender oil (or your favorite oil to scent). Add more coconut oil if the mixture isn’t soft enough. This should be a consistency of melting as your rub under your arm, to blend into skin, using the size of a pea for amount applied. This works well for our family anyway. Store in a leftover jar from bread yeast or other small jar you’ve kept.

  29. quicksilver8519 says:

    Has many recipes for household use including making laundry detergent. However, you may want to use a plastic free container.

  30. quicksilver8519 says:

    Thanks for creating this website. I would love to read more suggestions for everyone posting. Such as the cat litter box? Try a large used oven roaster from the used store. One thing that I had thought, that while we use non-plastic as much as possible and reuse what we have to make mobiles, crafts etc…we won’t live forever and unless everyone can liquidate everything through sales and give away (if wanted) there is no point in leaving any of your reused plastics in your Will.
    So, we all need to find a way to get the plastics companies to stop in productions.
    Soon there will be no fish in the Ocean, no water safe to drink and no air to breathe because of plastics. The breakdown of plastic in the Ocean as example, causes carbon dioxides and oxygen killers. Even the chemicals invented to create decomposing plastics down to disinegration, causes carbons that kill oxygen, and our planet relies on Forrests and Oceans to give us the air we breathe.
    What we do at home helps at home, but it will not solve the problem.

  31. Ruby says:

    Hi, I am considering braces and wonder if you have any information about Invisalign… They are fully plastic, I believe.  Thanks

    • BethTerry says:

      HI.  I don’t have specific information about Invisalign, and I did use that product years ago before I became aware of the problems with plastic.  Today, I would not opt for Invisalign.  In addition to concerns about possible chemicals leaching into my mouth, Invisalign produces a tremendous amount of waste, as each set is discarded every week or two.

  32. mariana1 says:

    I’m trying to reduce plastic, especially when it involves food. Many food products are available only in plastic containers. My question is: if I buy something that is sold in plastic, is it worthwhile to switch it to glass once I get it home –  or is the damage already done?

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi.  First, I would attempt to find the produce or something similar without plastic.  Barring that, I do think it’s worthwhile to switch the packaging when you get home, just because it’s so much more pleasant to live in a plastic-free environment.  Buy you’re right that much of the damage has probably already been done.

  33. Sarah says:

    I’m feeling discouraged :( I keep reading about all the wonderful reusable containers you can bring to the bulk food store but our bulk foods stores in Ontario Canada don’t allow it due to health regulations on cross contaminations. So what is the benefit of going to the bulk store if I’m forced to use their plastic bags and containers? They say I have to take a new one each time and can’t reuse at all. Arg. I’m feeling like the regular grocery story packaging might almost be better in some cases (ie. flour, sugar).

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi Sarah.  What’s to stop you from reusing their containers/bags and putting food in glass when you get home? Just do it without asking.  I’m guessing, if you’re subtle about it, they won’t even know.

  34. MelissaGraves says:

    Any leads on where to find plastic free liquors?

  35. Ideoform says:

    Hi.  I just finished reading your book.  I have done many things on your list for several years now.  I love all of your suggestions and research, and the links to help me make decisions when I buy stuff. 

    I am a person who likes lists.  I wonder if you could put this list up as a checklist somewhere, without the explanations.  I feel good when I can check things off.  It gives me the motivation to keep doing more things on the list.  I would like to print it out and post it on my wall over my desk where I make out my shopping list and do meal planning, but the list with explanations is too big for that.

    Also, do you have a nice looking artwork that says:  “Don’t Forget Your Bags!”  That I could print and put by my door?

  36. Totewise says:

    Yay! Say no to plastic bags and use ecofriendly alternatives! So many great tips here :)

  37. Georgiabags says:

    Thank you so much for your info. it is fantastic. We use frequently reusable bags.

  38. Michelle says:

    I was so glad to find your page – I live in Canada and I was getting so frustrated because we just don’t have the variety and availability of different products and packaging in my province they way you do in the USA. I have found a few local small businesses who sell handmade products, some of which are in responsible or no packaging, but we are limited by the seasons here when it comes to a lot of things – we only have a farmer’s market with produce for two or three months of the year. I can’t even switch to using cash to avoid plastic credit/debit cards because our “paper” money is now made of plastic (!). I read your posts about your struggles with plastic-free solutions and your triumphs and it gives me hope that things will one day change!

  39. Maddiey says:

    Found this to be super helpful and extensive.
    I do have a suggestion for the toothpaste tubes though, Lush cosmetics make Toothy tabs,
    they come in cardboard boxes and are little chewable tabs that you crush between your front teeth and then brush. There are a range of flavors and they work really well. Their solid deodorant is really effective too.

    • BethTerry says:

      Yes!  Toothy Tabs are great.  I didn’t realize I hadn’t updated that portion of this list.  I’ll do it right away.  Cheers!  (Here’s my review of them, by the way.   http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/08/searching-for-the-perfect-all-natural-plastic-free-toothpaste-or-powder-or-soap-or/)

  40. Sierratello says:

    Wow this list is amazing!
    Another non-plastic alternative for everyone when it comes to a filtration pitcher is getting a Soma. I just purchased one since I am trying to reduce buying plastic products and I absolutely love it!
    It is made out of shatter resistant glass and has a biodegradable filter so you can compost it.
    This company is amazing and i would recommend a Soma to anyone. Their website is drinksoma.com if you’re interested! I promise you wont be disappointed

    • Mel says:

      I was just wondering if you knew if the white part of the filter is made of plastic. It looks like it is, but I wouldn’t want to miss out if it isn’t!

      • BethTerry says:

        I believe it’s made from a corn-based plastic.  Still plastic.  And as far as I know, it doesn’t have any compostable certifications, so I’m not sure it’s actually compostable in normal circumstances.

    • Cateau says:

      Hi, I am looking for a plastic free water filtration pitcher to replace our Brita, and have been looking at the Soma as well. However, isn’t the cone that holds the filter made of plastic? That, and the limited filtration (no lead or other compounds besides chlorine) are turning me away from it. Is the cone made of petroleum based plastic?  Thanks!

  41. AneCristi says:

    “But we also need to close the tap” http://www.iflscience.com/environment/19-year-old-develops-machine-clean-oceans-plastic

  42. Anonymous says:

    100 Tips..very detailed..thanks for your time n effort
    ALmost complete..would be handy for anyone who want to get rid of plastic

  43. Shayna Keil says:

    you can use 100% olive oil bar soap as toothpaste read here
    and my family has given up a christmas tree altogether. my mom loves your website. weve really been trying. we compost as much as we can, almost never eat out, walk to school each day, are on days 8 and 18 of no poo, use olive oil and sugar scrub made at home once a week for soap, we dont use soap exceptfor that, olive oil for lotion, no plastic water bottles, and baking soda and vinegar for almost all cleaning products. we also only use  borax for dishwashing detergent. any other useful tips? we grow and can our tomatoes, beans, and peppers just this year.

    • BethTerry says:

      You guys are doing a great job.  But regarding the olive oil soap toothpaste — I actually did try it a while back, and I personally couldn’t hack it.  Everyone’s different.  Some people swear by it, but I couldn’t do it without gagging.  I just couldn’t handle the taste — even in tooth chips that have flavoring in them.  Here’s the post I wrote about it:  http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/08/searching-for-the-perfect-all-natural-plastic-free-toothpaste-or-powder-or-soap-or/

  44. Izzymgoodman says:

    Thank you so much for this list! I’m trying to switch my family over to as many of these alternatives as I can but as you said it does take time!  We do a lot of them already but there are so many more we need to start doing! Thanks again! :)

  45. Maria says:

    Any one have an idea for a plastic free solution to a shower mat? We have a clawfoot bathtub and live in MN = coldness for feet all year round. 
    I’m trying to think up a mat or something to stand on while showering before winter … 

    Thanks for any ideas you may have!

  46. zambooka says:

    Where did you get your stailess steel bucket for keeping your compost in? I love that it’s attractive, and keeps smells/fruit flies at bay.

  47. Lisa says:

    Truly impressive – thanks a lot for all of this!

  48. Abigayil Abrami Moses says:

    BethTerry  I’m looking for non-plastic lids. I’m doing my own project Ditch the Plastic. Stainless is great, but conventional plastic lids will still leech chemicals and even “BPA free” plastic leeches toxic chemicals other than BPA, some of which are WORSE than BPA! All plastic has bisphenols, and more than just one. I’m looking for an alternative so I can have hot drinks.

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi. I’ve been searching for and asking companies for this for seven years. My workaround right now is simply not to drink directly from the lid. My particular mug has a nice smooth rim, so drinking without the lid is comfortable. Of course, this means not drinking while walking or while riding in bumpy vehicles. If you do find a stainless steel mug without a plastic lid, please let me know!

      • Michelle Hill says:

        I have seen ceramic mugs with silicone lids out there. They are covered but have an opening that doesn’t close, so it would be less leaky but not leak proof. I haven’t bought one yet, but hope to try one out soon.,

  49. AneCristi says:

    Hi Terry, one idea for makeup, coconut oil is the best makeup remover, and it can be found in a glass bottle. Hugs, Cris

  50. marthaisbliss says:

    Hi! Any suggestions for a plastic free electric tea kettle? Thanks!

    • cheryljoy says:

      How about just a regular stainless steel one that goes onto the stove? Mine is from a thrift store or yard sale (can’t remember which) and it’s got a built in whistle! (I ruined many without the whistle, but fortunately never burned down my kitchen.) It’s Revere-Ware. Though it does have a plastic handle. A while back I looked for the best and found my dream kettle: Simplex, made of copper, wooden handle, and there’s a version for gas stove and a different bottom for an electric stove – oh it’s beautiful! but definitely out of my price range.

  51. GreenQueenofMod says:

    WOW! This is one of the most comprehensive lists I have ever seen. Thanks for putting in all the research and sharing it on the web.

  52. AneCristi says:

    Hello, thank you for posting so many ideas!!! I wish I could find the products you talk about here in France… I guess I will have to find my own solutions!!! But thank you very much!!!

    • BethTerry says:

      I’m collecting ideas for a global database of solutions. I hope you’ll share any resources you find in France.

  53. Manish says:

    We can use CLAY container in kitchen, in ancient India people use maximum clay like for handwash, kitchen container, i found some website which greatly offer clay product, you must see it, 

  54. 7Holly says:

    I am astounded by the detail and thoughtfulness here.  I am going to scour this because I am already finding your research invaluable.  I, too, am trying to live a healthier, plastic-free as I can be, life.  Thank you so much! :-)

  55. zambooka says:

    Hey one of my favourite companies Nature Clean started making their cleaning products in bulk. One of the store nearby bought the bulk and allows people to fill up their old containers, using the product. Unfortunately the bulk containers were made out of plastic that had to be recycled when it was finished. (It’s still way less plastic then buying new containers all the time. )I wrote to the company comending them for thinking up this neat idea, and I explained how I was trying to save on the amount of plastic I used. I asked them if there was a way in which they would accept the empty containers back for reuse. I also asked them to make a few other of their products in bulk. 

    They replied to me and said that there is an impact on sending big empty containers through the mail too. They also said that the company was having financial troubles but they would do their best to think up a solution to my idea. 

    I looked on the company website, and they made a new feature advertising that it saves 85% of the plastic used. Here is the link. http://www.naturecleanliving.com/nature_clean_eco_refill_program

    The company is really concerned about the environment and their products are all natural and eco-friendly. The company does not use sweat shop labour and their products are all manufactured in Canada.  I love that this company took what I said to heart, and actually tried their best to make something work to reduce their footprint.

    • zambooka says:

      I just wanted to add that the company decided to recycle the plastic sent back to them and they did not go with the reuse idea. If you could send an email to the company commending them for their brilliant idea, but informing them that reusing the bags sent back to them would be much better for the environment I’m assuming it would also save them on money. Then if the bag is no longer usable, then they can recycle it. 

      I imagine it would be difficult to reuse these bags. But I wonder if there is a way.

    • BethTerry says:

      I think this is a good step.  Yes, they are still using plastic, but a lot less of it.  Hopefully, they can figure out a way to recycle the bags that doesn’t involve shipping them through the mail.  If the stores that sell the bags would collect them for recycling, that would save on fuel.  Perhaps the company could work with the stores that sell their product to come up with such a system.

  56. sunshinedaydream says:

    Can you recommend a  travel mug  for hot tea that is is safe?

    • cheryljoy says:

      I use a mason jar with a cloth napkin wrapped around it and held on with a couple of rubber bands in matching colors. It looks good, too, choosing appropriate napkins for the season or the occasion. The only problem is the lining on the metal lid, but it’s one of my last holdouts also, like Beth.

      • quicksilver8519 says:

        You can buy mason jars with handles already on the (part of ) glass jar and sold as a drinking glass at stores like Walmart, Dollar stores and Canadian Tire store. Just screw the lid on using any canning lid and if you drill a smooth hole in the lid, you have a sippy coffee cup made of glass and metal.

    • BethTerry says:

      I use a stainless steel mug from Aladdin. I take off the plastic lid before I drink. But I do like the mason jar idea too. This is the Aladdin mug I have: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000IZ99YU

  57. zambooka says:

    I have to say, for the past year and a half I’ve reduced my packaging footprint by a lot. I no longer use, 

    1. Disposable feminine hygiene products
    2. plastic bags from stores
    3. cling wrap
    4. bought cheese
    5. plastic yogurt containers
    6. shampoo/conditioner/body wash containers
    7. new Dish soap containers (I refill from bulk)
    8.  plastic deodorant containers 
    9. plastic bulk bags
    10. plastic fruits and vegetable bags
    11. disposable milk containers
    12. (I’ve only bought one kleenex box for guests)
    13. cleaning supplies containers (except vinegar)
    14.  new handsoap containers
    15. Ziplock sandwich/freezer bags
    16. disposable water bottles
    17. (very few plastic covered chocolate/candy) I have my moments of weakness but I have cut down significantly.
    18.  new plastic toothbrushes. (I only buy the heads)
    19. bought bread covered in plastic or paper
    20. I reused my berry containers when I could go to the farmers market. (for 5 months of the year.)
    21. new laundry detergent containers
    22. plastic straws

    So yeah… even though I still use a ton of plastic, I’m still proud of my reduction!

  58. KarenScribner says:

    You deserve Straus ice cream for all the hard work you are doing to raise the awareness of plastic use gone wild. Keep in mind with quality ice cream you eat less so the carton of ice cream lasts longer. You can use the carton for a plant pot, too.

  59. Janet says:

    Love your post! I do a fair amount to decrease our use of plastic and try to provide a healthful diet for my family. We still have plenty of plastic in our home. I’m constantly pulling plastic bags out of the trash (from his purchases)  AND I have to keep telling hubby that things he thinks are ‘healthy’ to feed the kiddos really just aren’t.. Will keep trying…

  60. Marina says:

    Hi Beth,
    This is a very comprehensive and useful guide. Ive been reading your blog for hours now. Thank you. However, Im wondering about buying from the bulk bins. I also live in the Bay Area and If I remember correctly Rainbow uses plastic bins for their dry bulk storage. Doesnt that mean that the grains etc. are tainted?

  61. zaklyon says:

    Hello, I love this post. I’ve been trying to find a manufacturer of Plastic-Free Deodorant Stick Applicators. Is there anywhere you might tell me to look. I cannot find a single company that does it. Are there at least ones that do biodegradable plastic or BPA Free plastic?


  62. Liz says:

    Totally, totally love your blog. It’s become my go-to place when I’m ready to let go of another source of plastic in my life. However, here’s a question I haven’t seen answered yet.  A friend and I want to get our county government to ban plastic bags, much as is done in Portland, OR.  One major question that I know will come up is how are people going to bag their garbage for pick-up by the county.  You and I both know that if folks would compost, this wouldn’t be a problem.  But we’re talking almost 1.5 million people and, sadly, many of them aren’t going to get on board unless things are easy for them.  So, do you know of any sources for heavy-duty paper bags that could be used for people’s kitchen garbage? Many thanks for any info or resources you can share.

    • lynn says:

      Goodness people, what do you think people did in the past? I was an architectural draftsman in the 70′s and 80′s designing schools, restaurants and nursing homes. They all would have a can wash janitor’s sink. Just don’t use a bag and wash the can if it gets dirty. Most wet stuff should be composted and I just wrap any fish or meat bones/scraps in a piece of newspaper, which is what I drain any fried food on.

  63. DeCrafts says:

    I love this! Thank you!

    Maybe to be added, I had a real dilemma about my birth control.  Condoms, pills, patches… what I ended up deciding on (and LOVE) is the copper IUD.  This has been the most effective and non damaging or body altering solution I’ve found.  I was disturbed how our waste is affecting the reproduction and health of fish! Have you seen how estrogen levels are affecting wild life: http://www.mnn.com/local-reports/south-carolina/local-blog/birth-control-pill-endangers-fish-populations

  64. zambooka says:

    I also have a question about a compost. I live in an apartment building, and I’ve been thinking about getting a worm bin. Does anyone here have one? I have a balcony, can I put them on there? I live in Canada, and it does get cold in the winter, will they survive? I know they survive underground all year in Canada, so I can’t see it being an issue.

  65. zambooka says:

    I wrote an email to booster juice asking them to change their environmental practices with their cups. THis was the e-mail I got back. 

    Thanks for contacting Booster Juice. I applaud your iniative in trying to do your part by saving extra cups/straws.
    Booster Juice is always looking to minimize our impact on the environment. To that end we offer our own reusable cups and offer customers a free booster every time they re use the cup.
    Our stores should not actually be using customer provided cups or containers, all smoothies should be served in our styro cups or Booster juice reusable cups.

    Regarding the Styrofoam cups, most of the research out ther
    e contradicts the long standing public belief that Polystyrene cups are harmful to the environment. The cups of today are nothing like the cups of 30 yrs ago that contained CFCs. CFCs have been banned in polystyrene since 1980. Polystyrene cups are far better insulated than paper cups, thus preserving the product whether it be hot or cold for a much greater length of time. Virtually every paper cup used in the food service industry is NOT recyclable as it is lined with a wax polyethylene compound that prevents the cup from leaking. If the cups were not lined, the liquid would quickly leak out. Most cups whether they be paper or styrene end up in the landfill. Styrene cups are much lighter and take up less space. Tests have shown that coated paper cups do not breakdown or decompose in landfills. The other issue is the production of paper cups is much less environmentally friendly than styrene. Paper making is one of the most environmentally unfriendly processes there is, producing more than twice the greenhouse gases than a comparable styro cup and using twelve times as much water as a styro cup.
    I hope now you can understand why we continue to use the styro cups. As soon as a better option presents itself, we will investigate it. We encourage everyone to use a reusable cup, as that is the most environmentally friendly thing to do!

    Please write emails to booster juice telling them that polystyrene is not good for the environment. 


    • BethTerry says:

      It doesn’t make sense that they will allow people to use Booster Juice reusable cups but not their own cups.  It can’t be a cleanliness issue because there’s no guarantee a Booster Juice reusable cup will be cleaned any better than any other cup.  It seems like just a way to make more money.  Also, in their defense of polystyrene, they did not address the toxicity issue.  polystyrene has been found to leach styrene into foods and beverages.  It’s also not true that polystyrene takes up less room in landfills. Because it’s filled with air, it takes up more.

      • zambooka says:

        I wrote another email explaining the same things you did, and this is the response I got back. (I have to admit I am kind of impressed that they’ve written me  twice. I have written to about 10 companies, and I always send emails back after and after sending another email in response to their initial response email I don’t get anything. )

        I just wanted to follow up with you and clear up some misconceptions. Booster Juice and our Franchise partners are involved in their communities across the country.
        Here is just two recent examples:
        In November Booster Juice partnered with JDRF Canada in their biggest fundraising campaign ever that resulted in the largest single donation they received this year in support of Juvenile Diabetes Research. Yesterday Booster Juice announced a partnership with PGA professional Mike Weir whereby Booster Juice will create a month long awareness and fundraising program at our 300 stores nationwide in the goal of advancing physical, emotional and educational welfare of children across Canada.
        I will agree with you that all takeaway cups used in food service are not environmentally friendly, that is why we offer the reusable cup option for our customers that want to reduce their environmental impact.  For everyone else, we offer the styrene cup that is proven to be exponentially far more green than its paper counterpart. Whether it be paper or styrene, neither of them decompose.
        Thanks again for your interest and feedback.
        I’m guessing the first one was a response to when I said that I didn’t see the difference between people using the booster juice reusable cups vs the ones they already had and it must be a money thing. The second one was when I said that they were sadly mistaken to think that polystyrene was the best environmental option.

        • BethTerry says:

          It’s great that they took the time to write back again.  I just wish they had answered the actual question… why they won’t let customers use their own cups.  Thank you for following up with them.

  66. zambooka says:

    I buy milk from glass bottles and make my own yogurt. I used to buy tons of yogurt in plastic containers. From the glass bottles I also make my own cheese for salads. I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I have the main bags, bulk bags and produce bags. I save all my gift bags, tissue paper, gift boxes and bows. This saves a lot of plastic from the bags these items are stored in. I use cloth napkins, where disposable ones come wrapped in plastic. I use vinegar and water for cleaning supplies. (I buy the biggest tub of vinegar I can find, because I have not been able to find them in glass.) I try to avoid buying produce wrapped in plastic bags. I use a radius toothbrush where I only replace the head. I use hankybooks so I can avoid kleenex boxes with the plastic windows. I try to buy from bulk containers a lot. I replace the heads on my razor, even though it’s cheaper to buy a new one. I freeze my stuff in stainless steel. I use wash clothes and tea towels instead of paper towels and sponges. I use a diva cup. I use baking soda as my deodorant. I don’t buy bottled water instead I use a reusable water bottle. I would like to get my meat from the butcher shop where he agreed to put the meat in my own containers. I get my books from the library. I get my hand soap, laundry detergent, and dish soap bottles refilled from bulk. For the dishwasher I use powder in a cardboard box. I bring waste free lunches to work. (the only waste I generate is my fruit cores/tops.  I bring my own utensils, and collapsible stainless steel cup in my purse. I use stainless steel straws.  Yet somehow I seem to STILL produce a ton of plastic. I don’t get it.

    • zambooka says:

      I guess I just wanted to ask is if I’m doing enough. Is there another simple way of reducing plastic? Personally I LOVE ravioli and the stuff I buy at the store is often wrapped in a plastic container. Is there a way to get ravioli without making the noodles? I am on a limited time/money budget. I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to eat at home, and frankly I’ve not found it to be that much cheaper and in the long run it probably evens out to my previous fast food diet because of the extra time it takes. But I am willing to do it for the environment. Most of the stuff I buy is reusable, good quality, and ethically produced so it’s been costing me a small fortune these past 2 years that I hope pays for itself soon. (it definitely already has with the diva cup.) The hardest thing I find is food, and I’ve also not been able to find toilet paper wrapped in paper either. Is there a special place I can find that? My dental floss has also been a challenge.

      • BethTerry says:

        Would you be willing to take the Show Your Plastic Challenge and post your plastic waste for the week on the web site?  That way, we can see what challenges you have and give you suggestions.  http://myplasticfreelife.com/showyourplastic/  

        One thing I will say… if the “No Poo” method is drying your hair out, you could be using too much baking soda and not enough vinegar.  The acid is essential for restoring the pH of your hair.  On the other hand, it might just not be for you.

        We buy our plastic-free toilet paper from Amazon and save money by subscribing: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007636DIW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007636DIW&linkCode=as2&tag=fakplafis-20

        Unless you have a pasta shop nearby that will sell you pasta in your own container, I don’t know how you could get ravioli without plastic unless you make it yourself.

        • zambooka says:

          I would, but I don’t have a camera to post the picture of my plastic online. I also have limited space to store my plastic for a week. (my apartment is tiny.)

  67. Vakil1992 says:

    What advice do you have for people who have to touch plastic all day? For instance, I am a student who uses the computers at my school for several hours on end daily.  The mouse and keyboard both are made of plastic.  Also, I believe most of the interior and the steering wheel of my car are made of plastic.  Do you think that leather ( thinking about purchasing the ones on toughgloves.com ) gloves would help protect me from the estrogenic activity that can be caused by touching plastic?  If not, would hemp gloves work?  My main concern is honestly with preventing estrogenic activity from occurring within my body from touching plastic.  Or do you think the chmicals in plastic would still leach through the gloves and touch my skin, therefore not help much?  Let me know what kind of gloves you would recommend for me if possible.  They’d have to be tight fitting though, since I am often on the computer.  I would really appreciate this.

    • BethTerry says:

      Vakil1992 Personally, I am not concerned about simply touching most plastics.  The one exception would be PVC (polyvinyl chloride.)  Try to avoid buying things made from, coated with, or covered in PVC.  School binders, for example.  Backpacks and bags.  Unfortunately, the interior of many cars is made of PVC.  I would be more concerned with breathing the fumes than touching the steering wheel.  PVC offgases — especially when exposed to heat.  That “new car smell” is phthalates from PVC offgasing. 
      It’s really hard to completely reduce our exposure to all of these chemicals, and we are all exposed to them when we are out in the world anyway.  The most important thing you can do is work towards updated toxic chemical legislation on a federal and state level.  As long as these chemicals are unregulated, it will be very difficult to eliminate all exposure to them.

  68. AlliePhillips says:

    What advice do you have for if we do have a situation where we use plastic? For plastic bags that my veggies come in, I cut them up into small pieces. Is that enough? I find it challenging to go plastic-free, so what practical advice do you have to help us “destroy” plastic before it destroys an animal?

    • AnoSinPlastico says:

      Hey Allie, thought i would chime in.  Take it one step at a time, and before you know it you’ll be using hardly any of the plastic you originally did. First look at one-use plastics.  These can be cut out pretty easily (bags, bottles, straws, utensils, coffee mugs). Get in the habit of carrying a water bottle, coffee mug, and a metal fork.  Remember the reusable bag.  Don’t buy impulse-buy snacks and candies (the no-plastic-diet has it’s benefits :-)  ). 
      As for vegetables, just throw them all into your cloth bag, and wash them later.  One tough thing to buy are loose greens.  Even the farmer’s markets near me still display these in plastic.
      Just think of how much waste would be reduced if everyone took the first steps in plastic reduction!

    • BethTerry says:

      AlliePhillips Hi.  Are you referring to plastic bags for frozen veggies or plastic bags for fresh?  For fresh, as AnoSinPlastico said, you can throw them in your cloth bag without a plastic produce bag and wash when you get home.  But if you’re talking about frozen, maybe consider buying some fresh vegetables and freezing them yourself in glass or metal containers.  Here’s how I freeze raw kale:http://myplasticfreelife.com/2013/08/my-morning-zero-waste-green-smoothie/
      As for cutting them up, that won’t prevent them from harming an animal because animals will just eat the small pieces.  You can take them back to the store to be recycled.  Most stores that accept plastic bags will accept this kind of film as well.  You can also use them to hold any other trash that is headed for the landfill.  
      The types of plastic you want to cut up are plastics that animals can get stuck in.  Like 6-pack rings, etc.

      • zambooka says:

        I have a hard time with frozen vegetables too. It’s just so handy to buy those bags. Plus I live alone, and my fresh stuff goes bad. But I guess what I can do is buy fresh and freeze them myself. I have those “life without plastic” containers now, so I should be able to do it.

    • KarenScribner says:

      All of the grocery stores take plastic bags even if you cannot see the container to put it into. Plastic bags include grocery bags, produce bags, drycleaning bags (no paper stapled on) with no receipts in the bags: any bag that does not make a noise. This plastic is used to make the Trex and similar fake wood for decking.

      • BethTerry says:

        The problem with Trex is that it cannot be further recycled. But interestingly, I just yesterday spoke with a guy who worked for Safeway’s recycling department, and he told me all that plastic film is not shipped to Trex but to China, like the majority of plastic recycling in the United States.

        • KarenScribner says:

          Thanks for your excellent research. I don’t take a plastic bag, bring my own bags. When I ask for no dry cleaning bag or straw in my drink, for instance, these things come anyway. I have trouble with service people who are on auto-pilot or brain-affected by RFID, wifi and cell phone signals.

          • BethTerry says:

            Lol. I know what you mean. I find that if I show them my glass straw, they are more likely to remember my request. :-)

  69. jettafoldsfive says:

    Hi! I am new to the concept of reducing plastic in our lives. I want to start with the kitchen…. first changes are to ditch the coffee maker, yikes! I will immediately stop microwaving in plastic… and stop using plastic “kid dishes” for my 2 and 4 year old kiddos. I have a question that I have been unable to locate ANY information about– are my corningware/corelle dishes “safe?” They are made of glass technically, but I am not sure if they are “safe,” truly. Do you know anything about this?

    • BethTerry says:

      @jettafoldsfive I guess I would like to know what you mean by “safe”?  Are you asking if they will break?  Or if there is lead in them?  Or do you have some other concern?

  70. Livia says:

    Oh, one more thing.  Instead of water filtration where the water quality is semi-ok, there is a technique of sending water through a vortexing tube that helps restore its freshness and softness and oxygen content.  These metal vortexing tube (in copper and stainless steel) produce water that can freeze faster and harder in skating rinks, keep produce and fresh cut flowers fresher longer, clean a homes pipes out, behaves like a water softener in the laundry, and perks up landscapes more than pre-vortexing.  I have one for my shower head, but they also make them for kitchen faucets and whole house.  No plastic, no moving parts, no filters to replace.

    • Marina says:

      The vortexing tube technique sounds interesting. I did an internet search for it but could not find much. Where do you buy this device? What brands make it?

  71. Livia says:

    I’ve recently switched from the plastic produce bags provided at the store to washable, reusable ones made of polyester mesh that are feather-light.  I imagine people could make their own out of reclaimed honeycomb nylon tulle with similar effect (scanner/checker can read the labels, doesn’t add weight (and cost).   
    I don’t like the mercury in CFL bulbs, and the quality of the light is gross.  I favor natural light from windows, going to bed early, and halogen or incandescent lighting when needed.  
    Flea treatment – dogs can use essential oils much more safely than cats.  Oh well.  How about an herbal sachet around the neck?
    Pet Food – we feed our dog raw meaty bones, raw fish and raw organs.  We have been freezing his day’s rations in plastic baggies, but I you’ve inspired me to try the vintage glass containers instead.  Thanks!
    Have you considered alternative health practices the don’t involve prescriptions?  
    For those who don’t care for aged cheese, it isn’t hard to make your own mozzerella and goat cheese at home, along with yogurt and kefir and sour cream.

  72. xyelan says:

    Thanks for the great info! Just one thing: I would not repair plastic items, as wear and tear is the trigger that releases chemicals like BPA. Let’s continue the quest against plastic domination! :)

    • BethTerry says:

      @xyelan Hi.  I’m okay with repairing things I’m not going to eat or drink out of.  I sometimes choose to do that rather than purchasing a brand new plastic-free item because all manufacturing requires materials and energy and has an impact on the planet.  But we all have to consider the implications of our choices and make the decision that seems the most right to us.

  73. grnyr says:

    Excellent information! I am stumped about what to do about my britta water filter. It is astounding that they do not make a glass one. I do like to filter my water however how are plastic free folks filtering water?

    • grnyr Hello and thank you for your comment. Did you know you can now recycle your britta water filter? 
      Check it out here http://myplasticfreelife.com/takebackthefilter/BritaFilterRecycleReleaseFINAL.pdf
      and here http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/11/brita-and-preserve-announce-filter/

    • grnyr Hey, I just reread your question. I found a product that doesn’t contain plastic called Kishu.
      You can find more info by checking out their website: http://www.lifewithoutplasticblog.com/2012/11/waters-friend-kishu.html
      One thing you might want to do first is to find out what you are trying to eliminate from your tap water. To do this you would first need to have your water tested which can easily be done by purchasing a home water testing kit. By the way, Beth’s book Plastic Free has lots of information about testing your tap water and water filters. 
      This product isn’t certified by the Environmental Working Group and we haven’t tried it yet but it’s worth looking into.

  74. Jax says:

    In regards to fleas, we are plagued by fleas and have found that chamomile planted through out my yard helps. Also I have a floor sprinkle that uses all natural ingredients, equal parts baking soda and salt, and a few scoops of loose chamomile tea. Mixall together and sprinkle on the floor. Walk around on itfor a dayorso and vacuum up. At first I kept re applying for about amonth. Now every week. Our ground will jump with fleas but inside is flea free.

    • KarenScribner says:

      See http://www.dirtdoctor.com to see how to feed the good bacteria in your soil to have a healthier yard. He has healthy flea control also. AND feed your animals the proper food to keep them healthy so the fleas won’t want to bite. Diatomaceous earth should be sprinkled everywhere: it is non-toxic to everyone.

  75. Anne says:

    I’ve shampooed my hair with bi-carb and cleaned my teeth with soap – great, thank you.

  76. MyMarsRomance says:

    I’m 15 so I can’t practice going to plastic free till I move out of my parents house. All but one of the schools in my area HAVE industrial sized DISHWASHERS but they GIVE us STYROFOAM plates/trays and plastic sliverware. When I was young child, they used to give us reusable plastic trays, but have gave us throw away stuff for the last couple of years. Giving us washable plastic is better then throwing it away after one use.

    • BethTerry says:

      MyMarsRomance Hi.  there are kids groups at schools campaigning against Styrofoam trays.  Check out some of the links in this post:  http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/08/back-to-school-in-1974-lunchbots-giveaway-in-2010/

  77. shanayaarticle says:

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  78. shanayaarticle says:

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  79. JRREEDY says:

    Terry includes handy lists and charts for easy reference, ways to get involved in larger community actions, and profiles of individuals— Plastic-Free Heroes—who have gone beyond personal solutions to create a change on a larger scale. Plastic-Free also includes chapters on letting go of eco-guilt, strategies for coping with overwhelming problems, and ways to relate to other people who aren’t as far along on the plastic-free path. Both a practical guide and the story of a personal journey from helplessness to empowerment, Plastic-Free is a must-read for anyone concerned about the ongoing health and happiness of themselves, their children, and the planet.

  80. Marie says:

    I practice a lot of these ideas (I especially hate styrofoam) and I always carry a reusable to go box with me for restaurant leftovers or carryout.  There is one plastic I have invested in that I will have for a long time. I found CRESBI crates to use for groceries because they are lightweight yet rigid collapsible crates and keep my food from being crushed like it would in a bag.   They stack in my cart and I put my products in them as I shop. Then I just set the crates on the conveyer and the checker scans them in the cart.  Plus they can be thrown in the dishwasher so no bacteria worries.  They cost more than a bag but like I said, I’ll have them a long time.

  81. PBX says:

    These are great tips and with the technology right now, it’s easy to rely on it too much. Let’s do this for a greener tomorrow!

  82. Thank you for stimulating my brain with this bright and observant post.

  83. piscesaqua says:

    The biggest advantage I’ve found to shopping online, however, is the selection. The declining economy has hit my local area hard, and businesses are closing their doors all over town. It’s becoming harder and harder to find the item I’m looking for.

  84. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post

  85. Adam says:

    I’ve been looking around for a good under-the-counter water filtering system that doesn’t use plastic, and it’s not an easy pursuit. However, I wanted to let everyone know that I found this place: http://oasiscoolers.com/
    The housings for the filters is plastic, but this company sells the refills as solid carbon tubes, without extra plastic. From what I’ve researched, you can just crumble up the old filters, and add them to soil. Apparently it’s also possible to purify them in boiling water and baking, but that can be smelly and dangerous.

    • BethTerry says:

      Hey, did you see these Brita pitcher filters where you just open the housing and remove the carbon material?  Fantastic.  This is what we were really trying to get Brita to do.  http://www.oasisfilters.com/pitcher/brita_replacement_media/  Brilliant!  Thanks for forwarding me this link.

    • Marina says:

      that sounds interesting. Where can you buy these? What brands make these tubes?

  86. Mary says:

    Hi. I just purchased the Green pan. It’s non stick but its not made from Teflon and it supposed to be non toxic. Did I make a right choice? I did give away all my old non stick pots and pans. Thanks!

  87. jo says:

    Hi, if you are recomending people buy and use CFL bulbs perhaps you should let them know they contain mercury, so they must not be broken and  require special disposial programs. ?

  88. ParastooParsa says:

    Hi Beth. I just saw “Bag It” again and noticed it is you in the movie. Beautiful job. I also have a new post about Plastic free Tupperware system. I would appreciate your imput. Thank you so much for everything you are doing. You are truly amazing and are making a difference.

  89. Lakritzwolf says:

    Hey there!
    I guess not all people have access to farmer’s markets, so we gotta make a point of not wanting plastic. So tell the store you don’t want to buy plastic foil, you want to buy bananas who already have a protective casing for god’s sake, and a biodegradable one to boot!
    I remember the beginnings of environmental awareness here in Germany, back when I was a kid. In increasing numbers and fed up with all the effing plastic and shrink wrap around fruit and veg and the completely unnecessary double and triple wrapping of already wrapped items if there’s several of them. 
    So people would unwrap the things right in the store, at the checkout, and leave the plastic there for the store to dispose of. The method is simple, easy and saves space in the bin at home, so a lot of people started doing it. After some time, guess what happened? Especially in the fruit and veg department, plastic and shrink wrap began to recede. I guess things would take a little longer what with the US being a much bigger country, but you gotta start somewhere. Keep it up!

    • cheryljoy says:

      yes, I remember when I was there in Germany in 1989 and 90, that my friend did that. It is a good idea. I’ve done it here a few times, taking bananas out of the unnecessary bag….  and hearing you say it, I will do it every time from now on, for everything I can.

  90. Adam says:

    Here’s a tip for those in Southern California, along the same lines as the pizza table idea: if you ask the taco shop to put hot sauce directly in your burrito, you can avoid those little ramekins.The sauce heats to the temp of the burrito, and I’ve found that to be more pleasant to eat, anyway. Just make sure they wrap it up in paper or foil!
    Additionally, I recommend those who enjoy craft beer get growlers for your local breweries, and reuse them, rather than buying new glass. Part of this entire thing, in a larger context, is cutting back on the need to manufacture unnecessary items.

  91. Read the latest Fashion Trends news and view Fashion Trends pictures from our team of local insiders.

  92. Jere says:

    You act like plastic containers and bags choose to get blown down the street after its use is up, plastic doesn’t have legs it can’t do that. How it gets disposed of is up to people they choose whether to litter or recycle. Yes, recycling can be costly and yes it will degrade a material slightly but why does that matter when recycled plastic goes into making other bottles, trek decking, flower pots and children toys; items that do not need the best properties. A big thing is garbage cans, what alternative material will you use if you need a new garbage can (outdoor ones you but all trash bags in for garbage men)? Making a garbage can out of any time of metal would be ridiculous and making it out of wood would be heavy. Or are you just going to continue to use garbage bags which are made out of plastic? I’m sorry to inform you but plastic will not go anywhere: it’s versitile, cheap, and has a quick production when compared to glass paper and your stainless steel. With the finding of the Marcellus Shale there will be enough petroleum to keep the plastic industry alive and kicking for years to come.
    Did you know that several types of bulletproof glass are actually made out of plastic, that being polycarbonate. Bulletproof vests also include polycarbonate and Kevlar, bulletproof vests you know the ones protecting the men and women protecting this country’s freedom. So are you saying we should live without plastic so if this men and women need protection they shouldn’t get it because plastic is bad.
    Clothes, nylon and polyester, those are plastic fibers. So hopefully you don’t ever buy clothes made from those materials.
    Automobiles, hopefully y’all only buy used cars because did you ever stop and think about how much plastic is in a car? The dash, interior door panels, bumpers, mirrors, etc. So here’s a scenario: you car gets a decent dent or underneath it starts to rust out what do you do? Leave it? Buy a new bumper which is plastic? Or use Bondo or a similar product to patch it; which is primarily polyester.
    Plastic is a huge part of the medical field. Many medical parts are made out of plastic because most of the parts are one time use due to sanitary issues. So why do they choose plastic over another material? Because its more cost effective they can produce more of the component and use less energy making the same number of parts.

    • BethTerry says:

      @Jere Welcome.  Please continue reading.  You’ll see that I do use plastic, but my goal is to reduce the amount of new plastic consumed.   In fact, several of the steps on this page address what to do when you do need a plastic item.   All opinions, as long as they are expressed in a thoughtful, considerate manner, are welcome on this site.

    • KatieS says:

       “I’m sorry to inform you but plastic will not go anywhere”
      You know if you would have added the phrase “little lady”  it would have been easier to see that you are mansplaining and hadn’t really read most of the post.

    • hillcountryann says:

      @Jere I’m not sure if this has been said, but I’m going to say it anyway.  You talk about all the important things that are made out of plastic– medical supplies and bulletproof vests– and that is exactly the point.  We have so many important and innovative uses for plastic, and we waste this resource by doing things like filling it full of (basically) tap water and then throwing it away.  Now, that doesn’t make sense to me.

    • zambooka says:

      Jere hi, 

      I actually agree with you. I consider plastic to be precious and it should be used sparingly for things that matter. Even though it is a wonderful material and it has so many awesome uses, it is terrible for the environment. If we can cut down on single use disposable plastics I think this is beneficial for everyone! I have cut down on these items a lot, and I can tell you that my lifestyle hasn’t changed a bit, but my carbon footprint is significantly lighter.

  93. Torie says:

    Sorry if I duplicate (there are too many posts to read right now!). Two ideas:
    The Crockpot Lady makes yogurt in a slow cooker. Haven’t tried it myself yet but I hope to.
    I bought my guitar-playing husband a pick punch. It punches guitar picks from plastic credit cards and gift cards. One punch within a circle of musical friends would be enough. Different weights of plastic suit different players. Saves the plastic from buying new picks from the store.
    Love your ideas and commitment. Thanks!

  94. Sam says:

    Hi. I love this site! After having recently moved from Oahu I have regained my plight to stop wasting so much. Sadly, on such a beautiful island, the amount of extra waste is sickening – Styrofoam take out every where. Anyhow, I truly love your site and feel that it is really a spiritual path. It takes such dedication and commitment. I was wondering about how you feel when eating out with others who don’t share your philosophy. I am normally pretty low key but the other day I was at the market and found myself a very heavy presence towards my brother and his girlfriend for drinking smoothes out of disposable plastic cups with plastic straws. I had a hard time even being present with them I got so angry! Any tips?

    • BethTerry says:

      My strategy is to set an example for others with my actions and to explain to them kindly the choices I make.  I believe that people are basically good and just don’t understand the consequences of their actions sometimes.  But nagging them doesn’t help… it often just makes people resentful.

  95. I have used refillable ink cartridges in the past, but they just are not nearly as effective and do not have the same quality. Are specialized printers for re-filler cartridges significantly more effective? At the moment to save the hassle I opt for the standardized printer!
    Thanks for the read! 
    Kathy Blackmore | Cartridge Shop

  96. I have used refillable ink cartridges in the past, but they just are not nearly as effective and do not have the same quality. Are specialized printers for re-filler cartridges significantly more effective? At the moment to save the hassle I opt for the standardized printer!
    Thanks for the read! :)
    Kathy Blackmore | 
    <a href=”http://www.cartridgeshop.co.uk”>Cartridge Shop</a>

  97. ParastooParsa says:

    Hi Beth. I also noticed you mentioned Yogurt  in you list, because of the plastic container. I found two options for that problem. My family LOVE plain yogurt and i had to find a way.
    1. Here ia California, I found “saint benoit yogurt” which is in returnable glass container. It is a little pricy for the amount of yogurt we consume.
    2. Make my own. I made my own for a while. But the results were very unpredictable. It started to stress me out. So i just invested in a yogurt maker and am waiting for it to arrive. I buy organic milk in returnable glass, so making yogurt will not generate any extra waste. Here is a likt to the yogurt maker i ordered. I made sure it comes with glass bottles, not plastic. As far as the actual machine goes, i am afraid there is no ther chice but plastic.
    Here is a link to the yogurt maker
    I double checked the link and it links you to my store. I am having a hard time linking it directly to only the yogurt maker.Sorry.  But please go to kitchen category and one of the last ones is the yogurt maker. I also ordered extra glasses. This one has an authomatic shut off and has great ratings.
    Thank you Beth for everything you are doing.

    • BethTerry says:

      Yes.  I think maybe the list is confusing.  I meant that I have given up yogurt packaged in plastic, but not all yogurt.  Number 28 has a link to my yogurt recipe.  I actually use a Thermos instead of a yogurt maker, so I didn’t have to buy anything new.  The only reason we don’t buy St. Benoit is that my husband doesn’t like full fat yogurt., and that’s all they make. And since he’s the main one who eats it here…

      • ParastooParsa says:

         Thermos is a great idea. I should have checked you receipe before ordering the yogurt maker. I was so bad at making yogurt that my husband and kids gently and nicely asked me to stop making them. LOL. I am going to go through you site more and dig in some more. I just love it. Thank you Beth.

      • Janet says:

        I tend to think about things for a lot time before I try them and them take baby steps. So I got a yogurt maker and it sat around for a long time. I finally started using it and had good luck so then I decided to try making without the yogurt maker. I have consistent results with the following —
        I use a corning casserole dish on the stovetop and heat milk to 170 degrees (milk from local dairy / glass bottles / I use full fat). You can tell it’s 170 degrees when the top develops a bit of a skin and looks kind of frothy). While it is heating, I put my starter out near the burner to warm it up a bit. I do buy a small container of plain yogurt with active cultures approx once a month. Also while the milk is heating, I preheat oven to lowest temp and then turn it back off and turn on the oven light. 
        Once the milk has reached the 170 degrees remove from heat and let it cool back to about 100 degrees. I then gently stir in 2-3 tablespoons of starter yogurt. (I also remove the skin from the top of the heated milk – not sure if you have to but I find it gross). 
        Place the casserole dish with heated milk into the oven. The oven light will keep the oven at a nice temp for incubating the yogurt. I leave it in there overnight. In the morning I take it out, give it a gentle stir and place in the refrigerator. 
        Side notes – I generally use 1/2 gallon of milk per batch. 
        I have a glass top stove / my casserole dish has a smooth bottom which is safe for my stove top. 
        I LOVE that I use the same dish for heating the milk, incubating it to yogurt and then storing in the fridge :)
        I came up with this technique after perusing the techniques other people posted and kind of mixing and matching.

  98. ChristinaMinniti says:

    Hi Beth! Thanks for this great list. I work in climate change research and I’m always looking for ways to reduce my waste, but plastics can be so overwhelming. It;s helpful to a  list of ideas I wouldn’t have thought of, and that have already been tested out. I wanted to offer one thing to add to your list in the kitty section. It’s often really hard to find attractive looking cat scratchers in general, much less eco-friendly ones. So I was really excited when I found the sky scratcher on etsy. The designers use a central wooden post on which they stack floors of cardboard, without any adhesives or added chemicals. The floors can be replaced once they’re worn out, which means only replacing those specific sections rather than the whole scratcher. Check it out here http://tinyurl.com/skyscratcher.

    • crazliblady says:

      @ChristinaMinniti Hi, Christina.  I actually made my furballs a catch scratching post that they love scrap wood, rope, glue, and a couple of screws.  I bought rope and scrap wood from the scrap wood pile at Home Depot (a couple of pieces about 3 feet long and 2 inches wide).  We already had a couple of screws and wood glue at home in our toolkit.  It cost around $10.00 or so and a little bit of time.  It took awhile for the smell of the new wood and glue to disappear, though.  Until then, the furballs would not touch it, but now they use it regularly and with gusto.

    • BethTerry says:

      @ChristinaMinniti This is fantastic.  I have emailed Mike to find out when the Empire State Building model will be available.  I love that there isn’t even any glue used in his products… just wood and cardboard.  And that  the pieces can be replaced.  Really great.  I hope he can ship it without any plastic packaging.

    • Beth Terry says:

      Unfortunately, the Skyscratcher didn’t work for us. After 2-1/2 years of trying to get our little fur balls to actually scratch it, we finally gave up this weekend and gave it away to a friend. Luckily, her cats took to it right away. We should have given it away sooner.

  99. ParastooParsa says:

    What a wonderful list. Loved every one of your ideas. Here is a post about how i have a plastic free freezer. I have been doing it for over a year now without any problems.

  100. greg56 says:

    I was going to ramble on about how stupid this article was, about how chemicals from plastics can only leach from the material when its a molten liquid, how its actually more environmentally friendly to make and transport plastic bags vs. paper bags, and about how outdated some of this material you base these ‘facts’ on, actually are. Rather, i’ll just laugh to myself and know that the dumb preach to the uninformed.

    • NutItOut says:

      @greg56 Obviously you have no sense of smell

    • BethTerry says:

      @greg56 I guess you haven’t read the studies that show chemicals leaching from plastic containers.  And you haven’t read my blog because you would know that I don’t advocate any kind of disposable bag… paper or plastic.

    • crazliblady says:

      @greg56 Well, if you don’t agree with this viewpoint, why are you even on this website reading this blog?  Go find another blog to read.  There are plenty out there with other “facts” and viewpoints for you to read and complain about.

    • ParastooParsa says:

       Greg. Making the plastic bag is half the story. Desposing it is the other half that most of us are having a problem with. At least paper is from nature and goes back to nature. But plastic is never going anywhere. Some other problems I pesonally have with plastic is;
      1. Is Oil base. It means the wars over the oil will be a never ending story.
      2. Making it is create a huge amount of pollution.
      3. Because it is so cheap, people will buy more and more junk and this buying habit causes many problems. Like debt, Lack of savings, cluttered homes, Stress,…
      4. Even if you recycle it, the pollution and transportation for recycling is very hazardous for the invironment.
      Why not get rid of it all together. To me, Using plastic, looks like a bad decision that is not worthed.
      Also please see the movie “Bag it” There are tons of information there.
      Good luck

      • Jere says:

        @ParastooParsa  @greg56 
        Your first statement may in fact be partially true however the discovery of the Marcellus Shale in PA would be natural gas that could be used to create the plastic so we would have less dependency on foreign countries. 
        Making plastic doesn’t create a huge amount of pollution. The machines used to make plastic parts, bags, etc run on electricity, how is that pollution? That would be like saying turning the lights on in your house is pollution.
        You can’t say plastic is bad. Its the choices people make that give something a reputation. In this case people not being responsible for recycling and monitoring what the buy give plastic a bad reputation.
        Pollution and transportation of recycling is bad for the environment? How do you think your city takes your garbage from your house? The same way they take the recyclable stuff. So you would be implying that the garbage services are bad for the environment as well. Because plastic is so light weight it would actually be better in terms of transportation. 
        Lastly, you say get rid of plastic all together? Ask Michigan how that worked when they tried to ban Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). It turns out they would have had to ban Legos, computers, automobiles (dash boards, bumper panels), appliance housings, and various medical plastic components.

        • BethTerry says:

          @Jere  @ParastooParsa  @greg56 Hi Jere.  Natural gas extraction has some pretty serious environmental impacts of its own, and it is also a nonrenewable fossil fuel.  The pollution from making plastic is not simply energy used but the chemicals used to make plastics, which can be very toxic and contaminate air and water. As for energy from transportation of recyclables, please consider that many of us are trying to reduce the amount of all waste we produce in the first place… whether garbage for the landfill or recycling to the recycling center.

  101. crazliblady says:

    Hi, ingallsa18.  I, too, am gluten intolerant.  There are several brands of pasta out there that are gluten free and in a box and don’t really cost a lot more than regular pastas.  Hodgson Mills makes mostly wheat products, but also some guaranteed gf products.  They actually taste pretty good.  I have found Hodgson Mills and DeBoles at my local grocery store in the health food aisle.  If you don’t find them there, check for a diet food aisle or where the regular pasta is.  At one store I went to, the Hodgson Mills was in a diet food area separate from the regular pastas and health food.  I never could figure that one out.
    Hodgson Mills http://www.hodgsonmillstore.com/en/gluten-free/gluten-free.aspx?p=1-12
    DeBoles  http://www.deboles.com/products/gluten-free-pasta.php
    Vitacost is a big company that carries many products of various brands.  They carry several brands of gf pasta.  Here is the link to their gf pastas for sale.  Ancient Harvest is a good company.  They make guaranteed gf quinoa and quinoa pasta.
    All of these products are in cardboard/paper boxes.  They have plastic windows, but between being guaranteed gf and having less plastic packaging, are very good options.

  102. ingallsa18 says:

    I would love to buy more bulk items, but my family has many food allergies.  I have not ever seen gluten free pasta in a bulk, probably because of the risk of cross-contamination.  I also have a deadly peanut allergy and have to be careful of the bulk section if there are nuts.  If anyone has a suggestion, or knows of a source of gluten free pasta in a box (even with a window, it would be less plastic) I would appreciate it.  I know I could attempt to make gf pasta, but I am already a bit overwhelmed learning to revamp my baked goods recipes.  Thank you,

    • BethTerry says:

      @ingallsa18 Hi.  Severe allergies and sensitivities can make buying in bulk more challenging.  In fact, I wrote a post about plastic-free, gluten-free diets:  http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/03/gluten-free-and-plastic-free/  Also, I’m wondering if there is the same danger of peanut contamination if you buy from the bins that let items fall from above via gravity rather than a scoop.  Do you know what I mean?  I interviewed a rep from Whole Foods while writing my book, and she said those bins are less likely to be cross contaminated and explained how the bins are cleaned.  But I think that if your allergy is life-threatening, bulk bins just might be too dangerous.  It’s a judgement call.

  103. GreenB says:

    Just wanted to say, I loved your book and it has inspired me to make a lot of changes in the way we do things around our home.  It drives my husband a little crazy, but even he is coming around to the non-plastic lifestyle!  
    I am also trying to pass on your message down under through my own blog.  Thanks for the inspiration

  104. Mandie says:

    Can’t you freeze liquids such as broth and sauces in glass jars?  I’ve not yet mastered canning – my attempted have failed and proved inedible.  So for now, I freeze things.  I do try to wash and reuse the freezer bags that I do use – it’s the best I can do for now.

    • BethTerry says:

      Yes, you can freeze in glass.  Make sure not to fill jars all the way full to leave room for expansion.  Tighten lids after liquids have frozen.  Do not subject to extreme changes in temperature.  We do it all the time.

  105. Daisy says:

    This list makes my attempts to live a plastic free life look pathetic!  Clearly I am not trying hard enough and am going to have to make more of an effort

    • BethTerry says:

      One of the things I stress in my book is to push yourself a little but don’t try to do everything all at once.  It’s not about being perfect but being mindful of our choices.

  106. I am so inspired by this list! I have been on a green journey for years now, and there are many, many great ideas here to keep me going and help me continue to make progress. I also have a few suggestions:
    -A baby section: cloth diapering/cloth wipes; avoiding prepared baby food: make your own, or do baby-led weaning/baby-led solids; natural rubber pacifiers, breastfeeding or using glass baby bottles–maybe there are plastic-free formula brands?
    #29. You can also make soy milk or nut milk in a vitamix.
    #44. You can also make deodorant from equal parts coconut oil, baking soda, and corn starch. The consistency is more like store-bought, so it may make for an easier transition for some people.
    #50. You can also switch to reusable toilet paper. It’s similar to using cloth wipes for baby. You just cut flannel or other fabric into rectangles and keep a little storage container for them in the bathrooms. Then launder. It’s just like using hankies.
    #52. You can make your own sunscreen as well.

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi Cotton Bottom Mama.  Thanks for the added tips.  I do need to update this list.  But fyi, almost everything on your list is included in my new book!  There is a whole section on cloth diapering and other children’s products, as well as different recipes for deodorant, toilet paper alternatives, etc.  The book is much more comprehensive than this list.  It ought to be… it’s over 300 pages!  http://myplasticfreelife.com/plastic-free-how-i-kicked-the-plastic-habit-and-how-you-can-too/

  107. kindredspirit says:

    Lizzyand all,
    I have 5 abcessed teeth and am thinking I need dentures at this point. The dentures are plastic and are making people sick,,,,any alternative suggestions or people who have found biological dentures that are safe.Help?

    • BethTerry says:

       @kindredspirit Hi.  I am so sorry about your dental problems.  I have been reading a little about the toxicity of dentures this morning, and if it were me, I think I would do whatever I could to avoid dentures.  Have you looked into alternative dental care and diet?

  108. Lizzy says:

    Hi there, I’m really digging reading your plastic-free tips! I actually found some lunchskins bags at Target and I was so excited! 
    I was wondering if you have any tips about buying meat, like chicken breasts, without plastic waste. I only ever see it being sold on those styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic! 

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi Lizzy.  We buy meat for our cats in stainless steel containers.  We take them to the butcher shop.  Do you have a butcher shop or grocery store in your neighborhood with an actual butcher counter?  They might be willing to do it for you.

    • crazliblady says:

      Hi, Lizzy.  I am curious.  What sort of material are the Lunchskins made of?  I have looked at those online and they looked like plastic, so I was leery to order them and have no local stores that would have them.

  109. GreenDiva says:

    YOU…SO…ROCK!!!! I spent an entire weekend (foregoing all of my house projects:-)) on your site going through all of the resources you have here. Most of the conversations on your Plastic-free Guide are from several years ago so I was happy to find that you are still active on this page. I went car free 3 years ago, and I am a pretty hardcore environmentalist, but I constantly challenge myself to do more and to be a better steward of our planet because, well, there is no Planet B:-/ You have really inspired me to kick it up a notch and this site is so very valuable. Going plastic free will be an even greater challenge than giving up 2,000 lbs of steel! But I’m up for it! I have logged websites and recipes and can’t wait to get started on so many of these ideas including making my own cat food. I will spread the word far and wide!! I also enjoyed your TED video. Keep up the great work!! :-) Sustainably Yours, the Green Diva:-)

  110. Heather1 says:

    I am curious to know more about making my own pet food. We have a dog now, but might add cat(s) at some point. What resources did you use to determine the right proportions of which foods for your pet’s needs? Thank you! And thank you for so many ideas on how to eliminating plastic.

    • BethTerry says:

       @Heather1 Hi Heather.  I used this site to calculate the proportions and purchase the supplement powder:  https://secure.balanceit.com.  You can do it for dogs too.  The supplement powder they sell comes in a big plastic bottle, but it lasts a long time — for our two cats it lasts 2-3 months.  It’s one of the only remaining items of plastic in my life on a regular basis.

  111. Nicole E says:

    I’ve been trying to find a green way to pick up after my dog when she does her “business” on walks. Do you have any ideas for an alternative to plastic doggie bags? I’ve started thinking about a cloth option after reading about cloth diapers on Young House Love, but I’m not yet sure how to make it work.

    • BethTerry says:

      A lot of people use old newspapers.  One woman said she uses pages from old phone books.  You could carry a little bucket to dump it in as you’re walking and then flush the poop in the toilet. 

      • Nicole E says:

         @BethTerry Thank you. I’ve been living in the country with my dog since I got her, so I haven’t had to deal with this yet. Although I don’t plan on subscribing to any newspapers, I’ll try using used paper – hopefully I can find something I use that doesn’t absorb moisture (ick!).On a side note: Any ideas for reusable cloth options are still appreciated!

        • I don’t have a pet, but I do use cloth diapers and cloth wipes on my daughter. I would think you could use something like a cloth wipe (just a piece of flannel or even cut up old t-shirts. Cut with pinking shears to avoid fraying) to pick up the poo. When you get home, dump the poo in the toilet and deposit the used cloth into a pail or wet bag. Your pail could be lined with a cloth bag or a PUL-lined waterproof bag. Once it’s full or stinky, dump the pail into the washer and wash everything. Seems like it would work. Take a look around some of the cloth diapering websites to see what you think might work for you. I always find that these things seem more difficult/daunting until I just jump in and try some things.

  112. David Bellamy says:

    I saw you today on Melissa Harris-Perry. I notice that you wear eyeglasses. Do you demand glass, not plastic, lenses? Is it even legal?

    I do not wear glasses, and I hope I never need to, but I wonder about this.

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi David. I do currently have plastic lenses. I’ve been wearing them since before I started this project. I have been looking into glass lenses. There is a trade off because glass is much thicker and heavier. But plastic scratches much more easily. Hopefully, I won’t have to replace them any time soon. One of my “plastic-free” practices is to continue using the things I already have until they wear out. The only things I replaced right away were food containers because I don’t want the chemicals from plastic leaching into my food.

  113. Kim says:

    I have been beating myself up trying to think of how to eliminate plastics from my life for the last couple of weeks and then I found this site. Thank you for this comprehensive and inspiring list! I’ll start trying my best in acheiving an almost plastic-free life (I’m not trying to kid myself that I can go cold turkey on plastic). Plastics in gum was frightening! I can’t stop thinking about all the gum I’ve swallowed in the 45 years of my life!

    Any hints on how to get your spouse on board the “No Plastics Train”? He’s slowly coming around to the benefits of organics and less red meat, but doing without plastics is really daunting!

  114. Mike says:

    Any idea where I can buy a PLASTIC FREE bottled water cooler/dispenser for my 5 gallon glass bottles?

    • BethTerry says:

      Mike, that’s a good question.  I’m going to ask the folks at Life Without Plastic.  They sell various kinds of stainless steel water dispensers, but they are not meant to be used in combination with jugs.  I’ll find out if they know about anything else.

  115. Truth says:

    here is my website again, i had made a mistake the first time:
    http://adaptt.org/, great work u did with this website, i am sharing it, i also love it if i must not use any plastic

  116. Truth says:

    great page but please go vegan as well

  117. Toni Samoranski says:

    And also, what about lotion/moisturizer containers?

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi Toni. I don’t think there is a direct substitute for those big plastic containers, and in fact I still use one that I bought before I started this project. Nowadays, I would either store things in a repurposed cardboard box or I would find a container secondhand instead of buying a new one. I also store some things in big repurposed suitcases that I found secondhand.

      As for lotion, some of the best/simplest moisturizers are plain organic olive oil or coconut oil. Organic Essence makes a lotion in a compostable cardboard container. And there are also solid lotion bars you can buy that come in metal tins or even naked. Check Etsy.com.

      • Toni Samoranski says:

        Great, thank you so much for your help. This is an absolutely wonderful article, so helpful. I will definitely be passing this along to some friends and family.

  118. Toni Samoranski says:

    Have you found an alternative for storage containers? Like, large ones that would normally store, Christmas decorations, etc.?

  119. randy says:

    I was pretty smug when I started reading this, but see I have a ways to go before I have done all I can do. Thank you for setting me straight! Plastic in gum…ug!

    • BethTerry says:

      Randy, I was smug in the beginning of this journey as well, and now that I’ve come this far, I realize there is a ton I still don’t know and many more steps I could be taking. It’s all a learning process. I hope you’ll share any ideas you have that may not be listed here.

  120. Lisa says:

    Just wanted to say that as kids we used to use the little pizza box saver things (when they were round – I think most are triangle shaped now?) to use as side tables and stools in our Barbie doll house.

  121. kanishka says:

    more natural latex gloves on market, not girlie – http://www.ifyoucare.com/product/fsc-certified-household-gloves-fsc-c005046 . i feel like the ones i own (blue) are from a third company i can’t remember right now.

  122. hey, I’m an advocate of the most minimalist, I really do not have to have everything:) I live in the EU, plastic? It’s a big problem but you will not find in our stores plastic bags chee other packages, it is good progress. The EU is a strong emphasis on protecting the environment. Hug:)

  123. BethTerry says:

    Beth, thanks for letting me know. I just fixed it.

  124. Beth Partin says:

    Beth, the link for the Take Out Without card isn’t working.

  125. Sam Snide says:

    While I generally share the sentiments about plastic, I do find a few somewhat concerning bits of advice. While it is generally the best to avoid it when possible, some of your alternatives actually have a bigger negative impact on the environment:

    1. Steel containers are an environmental nightmare: http://envimpact.org/node/154
    2. Paper as packaging material (e.g. for bread storage, toilet paper, etc.) is equally harmful to the environment: http://envimpact.org/paperorplastic
    3. Aluminium toothpaste containers are way worse in their overall impact on the environment than plastic.
    4. Having locally available items like toilet paper shipped to you by Amazon to avoid plastic packaging is environmental insanity.
    5. Unless supplied in bulk and filled at the store, buying milk (or for that matter any beverage) in glass containers is also counter productive, due to the weight of glass and the additional energy requirements for transport.
    6. Bringing your own bottles on a plane….. really? Flying is about the worst thing you can do to the environment…. so you really think saving that one plastic bottle is going to make it OK?

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi Sam. thanks for your thoughtful comment. It is true that all products, no matter what material they are made from, have an environmental impact. That’s why I like to emphasize reducing our consumption overall. Choose products with less packaging of all kinds (like naked soap and shampoo bars, for example.) Ask ourselves if we really need something in the first place. Look for secondhand goods instead of buying new stuff. But plastic does have some special concerns. Here are my answers to your specific points:

      1) Steel does require more energy to produce than plastic. But it’s a healthier choice for food. Plastics contain hormone-disrupting additives that can and do leach into our foods. Many “food-safe” plastic containers contain antibacterial chemicals like triclosan which are not disclosed on the label. In fact, the chemicals added to plastics are never disclosed for proprietary reasons, so there is no way to make a truly informed decision about their safety. A good steel container will last for many, many years without leaching toxic chemicals during its life. The key is to only buy what you actually need or find secondhand items and use them for a long time.
      2) The paper wrapping on a loaf of bread or roll of toilet paper will biodegrade. That plastic wrapper will only break down into smaller and smaller pieces and possibly leach chemicals into the environment. What’s more, the paper wrapping on a roll of Seventh Generation toilet paper is as thin as tissue paper, a tiny amount of paper compared to the toilet paper itself. There are people who choose washable “family cloth” instead of toilet paper, but I’m not willing to go that far. Bravo to those who are.
      3) I agree with you on aluminum toothpaste tubes, and I posted a blog recently about alternative toothpaste options. I’ll update this page with the link to this new post: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/08/searching-for-the-perfect-all-natural-plastic-free-toothpaste-or-powder-or-soap-or/
      4) The toilet paper that is delivered by Amazon comes in a 48-roll case, the same size that would be delivered to a store, and it lasts many months. I suppose I could order the case through a store, but then I’d have to travel to the store to pick it up. And the cardboard box can be reused multiple times and then it will biodegrade. That plastic wrapper won’t.
      5) While it’s true that glass is heavier than plastic, once again, it’s not healthy to consume foods and beverages packaged in plastic.
      6) Flying is an absolute environmental nightmare. I don’t claim that bringing my own bottle negates the environmental impact of flying. What I am saying is that we should be as mindful of packaging waste on a plane as we are during the rest of our lives. There’s no reason to drink bottled water or eat packaged meals on a plane if we wouldn’t do it at other times.

    • kanishka says:


      i like the fact that you are challenging conventional environmental wisdom. good to keep questioning, looking for better solutions, deeper answers

      btw, on the glass, i bike my glass bottled milk and yogurt home direct from the dairy! though i don’t know how many people are so fortunate to have such an awesome dairy as brookford farm near me.


  126. sharron says:

    Why do you care about the use of plastic & its impact on the planet when you aren’t vegan? How can you care for the planet without caring for its inhabitants? I was enjoying reading this until your advice about packaging when going to the ‘butchers’. Disappointed with the hypocricy

    • BethTerry says:

      Hi Sharron. I hope you will come back and read my response to your comment. First, this list is for everyone… carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. If someone is going to buy meat, better that they do it without plastic. Second, please don’t assume that because I give advice about how to buy meat without plastic that I eat meat myself. In fact, I don’t. But my cats do. Cats are obligate carnivores and do not thrive on a plant-based diet. So we bring a stainless steel pot to the butcher shop to buy meat for them. Third, please stick around and get what you can from this blog. It’s sad to me when people are quick to accuse others of hypocrisy and make assumptions about their lifestyle before checking in first. Let’s have conversation instead of accusations.

  127. Virginia says:

    Congratulations for such a fantastic page !.. To be honest I’ve myself started a “new life” about a year ago after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and finding out that a lot of things that are in our daily life can be hormone disruptors and would have had an impact in me having the illness made me very sad and angry. Its not easy and its not cheap either to make the changes but I’ve started so far little by little. I do live in Europe which makes it more easy to become plastic-free, according to my experience. I do eat only organic fruits, vegetables and meats. At the market and supermarkets you can get preservative veggies instead in a can in bottle jars very easily. The organic markets where I buy don’t use plastic bags but paper bags for groceries, besides that, everybody here brings they’re own bags to the markets…

    I also change all my cosmetics and threw away almost US$ 400 in expensive brands which they all have very bad things, overall, I avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Parabens (Methyl, Ethyl, Buthyl and Isobutyl), Phtalates, Musks, Artificial Fragances, Methylisothiazolione (MIT), Mineral Oils, Paraffin and Petrolatum, Proplylene Glycol and Acrylamide. I changed for hair and face products certified by BIDH which is a German institution which certifies for natural products. I use organic deodorant and baking soda (no aluminum!). Toothpaste I use Weleda ones which don’t come in plastic containers.

    For cleaning products I use natural things as you do: white vinegar, baking soda, lemon, essential oils. I trew away all sprays from my house and old cleaning products. For washing use certified natural products as well.

    Finally I got rid of the teflon pans and bought very nice Mauviel PTFE & PFOA-free skyllets for cooking. I do also carry my own non-plastic bottle of water every day. To be honest, life is going very crazy !!!

    There is still long way ahead of me, but you have done a fantastic job!

  128. BC says:

    Hey just a question, I work on an organic farm and we sell a ton of lettuce, any suggestions on getting it to consumers with out it wilting?

  129. Natalie says:

    What a great website! I’ve found it a few weeks ago and I am still digging into old articles and browsing all the resources. I especially like the list on how to store produce in your fridge. Now, there is something I have not found an answer for and I thought maybe someone could point me in the right direction: I am looking for a plastic-free salad spinner. My grandma used to have one in stainless steel (or aluminum?) that you need to take outside and shake with all your might. I would not mind, as long as there is no plastic. Thanks.

    • Claudia says:

      Maybe you could use a dishtowel. Put the washed salad in a dishtowel and shake it above your sink. For me it works really well.

  130. April says:

    Wow, this is quite amazing!

    I am wondering, however, what type of computer you use? You didn’t mention any electronics in the “Plastics I can’t avoid” list…so I’m wondering if your keys, monitor, etc are plastic? Or do you have an aluminum mac?

  131. Nan Sea Love says:

    i LOVE this blog! Back in the early 70s before the first Earth Day i had a handout that gave many of these suggestions. But a former housemate of mine RECYCLED my treasured last copy!

    i am currently updating a poster i made in the 80s with suggestions for living green and would love to use some of your suggestions if that is okay with you? i will be happy to include a link to your website. ♥

    • BethTerry says:

      Nan, please do use some of these suggestions. A link back to the web site is much appreciated, as I constantly update this list as I discover new plastic-free alternatives. I’d love to see your poster when it’s done. Will it be something you can post online and let people download?

      • Nan Sea Love says:

        i am not sure yet how i will distribute it Beth. The last time i did it i had it on 100% post consumer waste paper. But the most economical way i can have it printed is through my cafepress store, i chose them because they offer 100% organic tee shirts and are print on demand which is a good environmental choice as it means less stuff is printed. But they do not have recycled paper nor soy inks as an alternative choice yet. Since the art will be highly detailed i still want to offer it as a recycled paper soy inks poster. However your suggestion is a good idea, i will see if i have the technical skills to have a less detailed one available to download online for free. ♥

  132. Nicole D says:

    I’m moving into a new apartment and need to purchase a shower curtain. I notice you don’t mention shower curtains in your list. Any advice on materials that are natural and non-plastic and also do well in a moist environment? I’ve seen people use cotton but it seems like in a humid climate this would require a lot of washing (read: unneccessary extra energy/water use) to keep from getting mold build up. If I owned my own home I’d definitely use a glass and metal shower door but since I don’t have that option I’m looking for shower curtain advice.

    On the same topic I will be replacing the old, disgusting shower head currently installed in our shower. Is it possible to get one without plastic?? I know they come in mostly metal but it seems like the holes where the water comes out are always plastic and I’m sure most of them must have a plastic ring seal where it connects to the water line. If anyone has any advice for plastic free options or at least maybe recycled plastic I’d appreciate it!!

    • Nicole D says:

      UPDATE: I found a shower curtain made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. It was at KMart of all places! It didn’t even come in a plastic package and included it’s own hangers (also 100% recycled bottles). It did come on a plastic hanger which probably wasn’t recycled but I think it will work nicely for my needs. I realize this isn’t plastic free but since I wasn’t able to find anything that wasn’t plastic (everything, everywhere I went was polyester or polyester blend) I feel better about it being 100% post-consumer recycled. That’s a rare thing to find.

      I still don’t know what to do about the shower head, I’m probably going to have to make that concession and then hope that it lasts me a long time (and I’ll be taking it with me when I leave this apartment).

  133. Laura says:

    Just an fyi Tom’s of Maine has recently switched to a plastic “laminate” tube. Their website says that they were getting lots of complaints about the aluminum tube cracking and leaking toothpaste, and this new tube is more user friendy (I’ve used their toothpaste for years and never had an issue – maybe the complaints were due to operator error). I wrote them an e-mail saying I’m not buying their toothpaste anymore as long as it comes in a plastic tube… I was seriously pissed about this yesterday. Hopefully enough people will give them negative feedback that they’ll switch back to the aluminum tube soon.

    • cheryljoy says:

      I was very disappointed with Tom’s toothpaste, too, and called to complain. The customer service guy on the phone told me the same story about complaints about the aluminum tube getting holes and leaking. I never had that problem either, and remember when ALL toothpaste tubes were metal. Aargh. Anyway, I hope they switch back also. Meanwhile, almost all other tubes are plastic. Weleda makes toothpaste in the old aluminum tube. And they make deoderant in a glass container. Though with both, there is still a little plastic in the cover and pump, etc.

  134. Nora says:

    Love the list! I have been making my own laundry soap out of handmade or scrounged soap combined with washing soda and borax, which not only ditches the plastic jug, but the petroleum-based detergent as well. It’s way cheaper, too!

    Here’s my recipe- http://paradisecityhomestead.blogspot.com/2010/12/diy-laundry-soap.html

  135. James Marshall says:

    Dear Beth,

    Have you developed that recipe for ketchup you mentioned? If so, I would dearly love to have it. Here in Costa Rica, we can no longer afford ketchup or mayonnaise, and the mustard is terrible.

    Also, we have just formed a new expat newsletter here oriented toward sharing ideas for sustainable living. Would it be okay to include material from your site, of course with proper credit?

    I’ll tell you one thing: You would absolutely die here. You could never possibly believe the amounts of plastic used here – everything, but everything, is in cheap plastic bags. They have clogged up all the rivers here, and there are vast accumulations of plastic floating in the ocean, too.

    Thanks for your very nice site. James

  136. Jan Steinman says:

    I think it’s important to make the most out of plastics that already exist.

    We sell at the local farmers’ market, and we only offer plastic bags that have been already used at least once.

    I bought a plastic welding kit from Harbor Freight tools. I can repair many plastic things that break now. They aren’t necessarily pretty afterward, but they still function!

    Any plastic containers that we do end up with somehow get re-used until they are no longer re-useful.

  137. Cristiane says:

    Beth, congratulations, your blog and your initiative are wonderful.
    There are few people in the world that concerns about the environment like you and try to do something to change.

    Cristiane from Brazil

  138. Rebekah says:

    For cats, the only really eco-friendly alternatives are either letting your cats poop outside (I wouldnt dream of it- outdoor cats’ lifespans average 3 years, indoor cats’ 18!) or toilet training them. Yes, you actually can train (some cats- best to start when they’re young!) cats to do their duty squatting on a toilet seat instead of using a litter box. It takes time, patience, and a kit you can find in several styles online. Good luck!
    Mine are in the process, but until that is completed, I use one of the litters that is made from recycled paper (it’s in pellet form). It doesn’t work the same as traditional clumping litter, so you just have to adjust; only scoop out the bits of poop that are left, don’t scoop all the way to the bottom. The pee flows to the bottom and gets absorbed by pellets down there, which will hold the odor unless you scoop all the way to the bottom and disturb it. You can flush the poop that’s scooped (the little bit of litter that goes with it is paper, so it’s just like our toilet paper going down the drain) and empty the box completely every few days or once a week, depending on usage and preference.
    My cats didn’t understand the wheat or corn litters (which also bugged me on principle a bit to) because they thought it was edible and tried to eat it! Since cats are easily stressed and don’t accept change well, be sure to mix any new litter in with their old and gradually change the amounts so the change is gradual rather than sudden. The only exception is small kittens, as they are a bit better about adapting to changes.

  139. Niki says:

    THANK YOU!! For this amazing list, I can’t imagine how long it took you to amass all this info. I am going to try my best to use as many of these options as I can. One of my first steps was a Diva Cup, and ladies, it’s not as bad as one might imagine, and also very budget friendly!

    Near the top of my wish list is take out food containers. Living in a small town, I have no doubt that I could drop off some containers for them to prepare my order in, but I wish there were more suitable options for say, a burger. Especially because one of them still uses styrofoam for all the burgers. How bad are tin foil wrappers??

    I have a question regarding the wheat cat litter. Is it still beneficial when you take into account the tractors & combines & chemicals involved in plowing, planting, fertilizing and harvesting the wheat? If I’m not mistaken, agriculture accounts for a significant amount of air poillution. Also, given the global food situation, I don’t feel right about letting our pets poop in it. But maybe there are other factors I’m not considering.

    Thank you again! I’ll keep reading.

    • Beth Terry says:

      Hi Niki. Truth is, when it comes to cat poop, there is no perfect solution. Clay litter has environmental impact as well. We don’t let them outside because of the havoc they wreak on bird populations. Cats are complicated. :-)

  140. amy says:

    this is a fantastic list and resource… but gosh it is such a lot of work isn’t it! what a shame more companies don’t cotton on and start making plastic free a more readily free alternative! here in australia it is not easy to find food sold in bins (which means you’d have to give up so many foods) and not every place has a farmer’s market either… it’s a real shame as plastic freaks me out and i’ve been trying to reduce it in our lives, but it is so hard when alternatives are sometimes impossible to find….

  141. Lisa says:

    I didn’t read through all the comments, so maybe this is covered. (If so, don’t post this.)

    Any suggestions on the plastics in eyewear? Do you know of any no-plastic alternatives in sunglasses? For regular glasses, do they still sell metal frames with glass lenses? I know they are usually made out of plastic to cut down on the weight.

    How do contact lenses compare? They’re much smaller than plastic eyeglass lenses, but do they require more resources to make them? I’d love to see some links. And here’s a post with a number of places to recycle old eyeglasses.

  142. Teya says:

    Apparently kids are 60% more BPA contaminated that adults, it’s all in pop can inner coating and in gum too. That’s our focus this month :)

  143. Maggie says:

    Hello, I’m not sure if someone suggested this as there are many comments, but diatomaceous earth is supposed to be a natural flea killer. I have no idea what goes into getting this product or the production process, but it can come in a paper bag. It also works as a wormer for cats, dogs, and horses. People can eat it too. It is a sedimentary rock that was once algae, and the product is 100% with no additives or other things in it. I give it to my horse instead of using a chemical wormer.

  144. Natalie Diebolt says:

    I’ve noticed that you’ve mentioned the kitty litter box as something you use. Have you considered training your cat/s to use the toilet? It can be done and saves you time and materials to maintain a healthy kitty and human environment. http://www.wikihow.com/Toilet-Train-Your-Cat

  145. Tori says:

    As far as the reappearing prescription bottle inquiry goes, I know here in Charlotte, NC the Humane Society will take the used bottles to help with distributing the animals “new” medications to their furever homes. Not sure if they all do, I’m sure some animal rescue groups could use them for this purpose too… Just an idea.

  146. Mary says:

    Thank you, Laurie for all the excellent information and for letting us know that we can return the plastic pots to the nursery. I’ve always thought I’d be insulting them by returning garbage to them.

    I won’t think that way anymore though.

  147. Laurie says:

    I work at a nursery and would like to suggest that gardeners find a small nursery that will recycle their used plastic pots. The nursery where I work re-uses pots again and again until they eventually crack. Some of the pots are still growing things after several decades. We highly encourage customers to return pots for recycling, especially large pots because they are quite expensive for us to buy.

    Prior to the use of plastic pots, nurseries sold plants bare root during the winter, balled and burlap (B & B), in wooden boxes(larger trees), and in metal cans. Metal cans were typically cut off and not reused. Plants can still be purchased bare root during the winter. Find a small nursery where the plants are sold in bins filled with damp sawdust instead of the big box stores where the plants are already wrapped in plastic. Many plants are now available in biodegradable pots that can be planted along with the plant, although I usually remove the pot when planting. Larger trees can be purchased in wooden boxes.

    I’d suggest that instead of purchasing smaller plants, like vegetables and flowers, in pony packs (these are not easily recycled and have a short life even if recycled), gardeners buy seeds and grow plants themselves. Seeds can be started in wooden flats, terracotta pots, or a variety of other containers. Wooden popsicle sticks can be used as labels. Use a pencil to prevent fading. Larger plants can grow in terracotta pots, wooden containers, or a variety of other containers.

    Potting mix can be purchased in bulk. For smaller amounts, check to see if a local nursery that stocks bulk mix will sell you a bucket or box of it. Fertilizer, especially organic varieties, is often available in cardboard boxes. Hoses are available in rubber, even recycled tires. And hoses can and should be repaired when they break or split.

  148. Rebekah says:

    Beth, I noticed that Tyvek race numbers are listed on your list of items not given up yet. I assume you may already know how Tyvek can be recycled, but unless you are keeping them all for scrapbooks, you may want to know where to send Tyvek for recycling at DuPont (the company that makes it). This also applies to Tyvek envelopes (like FedEx paks), wristbands you get at clubs or paid events, etc.

    Methods vary depending on the volume you’re sending in, but basically you can just flip one Tyvek evelope inside out, stuff everything else inside of it, and mail it in. See this link for the address and what to do if you use this for work or have a larger volume.

  149. Jessica says:

    For the longest time I looked forward to getting out of my folks’ place (and God bless them for putting me up – and putting up with me – for so long!), get out on my own, and be able to run my own household as GREEEEEEEEEN as I could possibly make it.

    Instead, I got married. So it’s technically not MY household. It’s both of ours. And we have a roommate. And as much as I love my husband, and we both really like our roommate…well, let’s just say they’re not nearly as passionate about being green as I am. I would LOVE to get rid of as much plastic from the house as possible – but I’m finding that, when I’m the only one doing it, it’s REEEEEAAAALLLLLY hard to keep up with all the waste the other two generate. (Not to mention the excess water they consume just taking showers, running the laundry multiple times a day, running the dishwasher when it’d be more effective simply to hand-wash, running the tap full-blast and continually when they do hand-wash the dishes, leaving all the lights and the tv on, running the dryer when we live in a DESERT and it would actually be faster to simply hang-dry the clothes… BTW, did I mention we live in a DESERT?? And all our water and electricity needs to be imported in?? And they insist on keeping the thermostat around 74 degrees! I know 120 degrees is miserable, but can’t we at least keep the thermostat at 80, keep our utility bill down, and minimize our carbon footprint just a little??)

    *sigh* Boys.


    Anyway, I’m happy to find your site here, and I hope to find some wonderful tips and advice that I can use around the house. Maybe I can get the boys in on it, too.

    *crossing fingers*

  150. apw says:

    Thanks for the tips! I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a non-plastic lunchbox, so I made a bento from wood. I posted instructions online if others are interested: http://www.instructables.com/id/Bento-Lunch-Box/

  151. MamaBee says:

    Wow, this is fantastic! Your blog is inspiring – I’m glad I found it today. We recently pronounced that we would buy no new plastic dishes, food storage containers or toys. We’re not heavy consumers by any stretch; still, I cringe every time I toss a bit of plastic packaging. You seem to live with such integrity when it comes to plastic – I’m challenged to redouble my efforts! Thanks for the reminders of what we can be doing (I can vouch for the “no-poo” lifestyle) and the new ideas. I never thought about bringing my own containers to the butcher shop!

  152. Mary says:

    Hi Beth,

    Do you have any information on your website about plastic flower pots? I want to buy some to grow vegestables in, but I’m not sure the plastic ones are safe to eat out of. The pots I’ve seen at the store lately appear to be very cheaply made and break easily. I did manage to purchase a bucket from a yard sale made from copper and a smaller one made of galvanized steel, whicha are very expensive new?

    What is your advice regarding flower pots for growing food in? Thanks, Mary

  153. Jacqueline says:

    Wow…I love your website!! Reading about what you can do to reduce plastic in your life made me realize actually how MUCH plastic we are exposed to in our daily life. Thank you for all your wonderful information I will work to apply your suggestions in reducing plastic. I will continue to check your site for guidance!!
    Thank You :)

  154. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Mary. I do know about Ecoforms plant pots. They are made from vegetable-based sources instead of plastic: http://ecoforms.com/

  155. Karen Martin Sampson says:

    This is a great blog! My husband and I already implement a lot of these things but you have lots of ideas we haven’t considered…but will from now on! Thanks!

  156. R says:

    At first I thought your article was going to be a bunch of kooky tree hugger stuff. But as I read, it was pleasantly surprised your ideas were in alignment with my philosophy. Thanks for the ideas.

  157. Angela says:

    Amazing list. Trying to reduce my plastic use, too. Will bookmark your blog :D Thanks a lot for sharing!

  158. Bhavana says:

    Dear Beth,

    Could you please help out with ideas about storing popcorn? I live in Chennai, India and our coastal city’s humidity is always, ALWAYS above 50%. So, a lot of things(grains, crackers, cookies etc) that could be stored in a plain steel container out on the kitchen shelf needs to be stored in the refrigerator….necessitating frequent buying also. No buying in bulk as it either goes bad quickly/you get worms in them! (Eg:whole wheat/maize that I buy- to be ground in a mill)

    While I have found a my own solutions to that, popcorn, tapioca/banana/corn chips that I buy fm a local shop-they get made fresh everyday, and the owner is glad to give them out in my own container – these things CANT be stored in a steel/glass container, and just kept on the shelf. They become moist overnight. AIRTIGHT containers are also not great in this weather. And ofcourse, cold popcorn or chips fm the fridge doesnt sound /taste great.

    I have a toddler and these natural snacks are what Im limiting him to(no cookies at all as they all come in plastic and have unidentifiable ingredients listed.He gets enough sugar from fruits) So at the moment I reuse plastic bags and tightly twist the opened end and clip a clothclip. And such reuse can last 3-4times before the plastic cover gets permanent creases and I know its breaking down. Also I can storestuff like this for about 3 days max before the popcorn goes limp.

    Any ideas please? I dont have an oven/nor do I want to buy more plastic/energy consuming appliances. Im tempted to bake my own bread, etc, but the heat that a running oven gives out is daunting.

    Please help.

  159. Brad MacInnis says:

    re:glycerin in plastic bottles

    I hadn’t even noticed but I’ll have to look at that

  160. Brad MacInnis says:

    I just wanted to address two of the items that you mentioned you could not let go of. 1-You mentioned the envelope windows but many companies now use windows made out of cornstarches and other things. If the ones who are mailing to you are not using this option you could nag them to switch over

    2-you mentioned toothpaste tube caps, have you tried homemade toothpaste instead? I’ve been using a homemade recipe for quite some time now and I don’t have cavities or anything else. The recipe I use is one part salt, one part glycerin(a natural hand moisturizer), one part soap flakes (sodium tallowate), three parts baking soda and just a drop of water to help the consistency of it. That way there is no need for the caps and you save money that I’m sure you can find better ways to spend

    • Beth Terry says:

      Hi Brad. Have you found glycerin that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle? I’ve looked for it and haven’t found it.

      Yes, I have noticed that some envelopes come with compostable windows these days. Also, some are glassine, which is a paper product. I am off most mailing lists at this point, but every month, the occasional window envelope arrives with some random thing that I probably won’t receive again.

      Thanks for your comments!

  161. Mary says:

    Do you recommend that we get rid of our water coolers? I have an old one that I would like to use to pour my Brita filtered water into it because the Brita pitcher uses a lot of space on my counter.

  162. Beth Terry says:

    Mary, if you’re talking about the kind of water cooler with a hard plastic container, then I wouldn’t use it. That container is made from polycarbonate, which contains BPA. The Brita containers, while plastic, are at least BPA-free.

  163. Melissa says:

    as to plants, most small garden centers will take back the black plastic grow-pots and either reuse them themselves, return them to the grower, or sell them for a small fee to customers. So, they can be reused until they break.

  164. Beth Terry says:

    Dawn, please let us know when your posts are up!

  165. Dawn says:

    Hey again!
    Just a heads up. Thanks to your inspiration I have decided to write a post scheduled for next Monday about taking more exotic pets and getting them plastic free. Soon I’ll also be writing about what I will do to try to reduce my daughter’s plastic consumption and eventually my own. :) Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  166. Jon says:

    if you really want to reduce your waste.. go vegan..then go raw vegan and eat fruit and some veggies. if you do some research you will find it is much healthier. I laugh that you cant give up your prescription drugs. those are toxic and kill you. thats not medicine. just eat a healthy diet and you wont need those chemicals that stop your body from trying to heal its sick self. I dont even have to try to reduce my plastic because i dont eat junk that comes in plastic. go raw go vegan or stay a sicko. ciao

  167. Fern Hotels says:

    This is another great article! It is inspiring to see such resolve in terms of refusing to use plastics! We hope you can keep this going and in the process inspire all to use lesser of what they already do…. It takes one to start walking and pretty soon, we could have a hundred running! Good luck on all your endeavors!
    And share your views about the green ideas we share on our blog!

  168. Serina says:

    Here on my ranch we used to spray poisons to kill weeds and pests. Not only is that bad for the environment, but the sprays always come in plastic containers. When I saw your site, I started trying to live a plastic free (or at least reduced) life, but weeds and bugs were still a big issue. I researched alternative methods and discovered that there are certain animals which are excellent weeders and bug eaters and amazingly are 100% plastic free! Flip Flop Ranch now has goats and geese for the weeds, ducks for mosquitoes and flies and soon we’ll have guinea hens for the mice, snakes and the bugs the ducks missed. And no plastic or poisons will be used!

    • Beth Terry says:

      Serina, thank you for letting me know about what you are doing on the ranch to avoid pesticides and plastic. Your ranch therapy program looks fantastic, too!

  169. Calen says:

    I recently found your website and am overwhelmed by all the little things that use plastic! I ended up making a checklist of nearly everything on this page so I could start removing plastic from my life as well!

  170. Ecobabe says:

    I’m impressed with your dedication! Just fyi, though — almost every link I tried on this page produced a Page Not Found error. In the interest of helping others live a more plastic-free life, it would be great if you could update the links to make the info more accessible!

    • Beth Terry says:

      Ecobabe, thanks for letting me know! Something has gone wrong with WordPress. I am working on fixing it right now. I hope this issue has not been going on for very long. :-(

    • Beth Terry says:

      Okay, I went through and made sure all the links worked. Sorry about that. I transferred from one blog platform to another a while back and sometimes the links get messed up.

  171. angi says:

    Thanks for this awesome guide and website! We’ve been doing some small things (bringing our own bags, carrying water bottles, bringing our own containers to restaurants) but this list has given me so many more ideas!

    I just want to chime in about a fun kitty toy we accidentally discovered. I had some pairs of socks with holes in them that I was about to throw away. Instead, I tried rolling them up into little sock balls and it turns out our kitty loves chasing them around the house! :)

    • Beth Terry says:

      Hi Angi. My husband Michael actually made them some toys with old socks, too. I should add that to the list. He added catnip and put little bells inside and sewed them up. The cats love them.

  172. Chris Chambers says:

    Great website!

    Here’s my cruisade:

    There is a lot of dyes, and wasted paper, and probably plastic as well in our Junk mail!!! Every year in the USA, every household gets approximately 40 lbs of junk mail, 90% of which never gets opened. There are ways to reduce junkmail. Here in Canada, simply affixing a letter to our postal worker, and a ‘no junk mail’ sign on the mailbox, we are taken off the Canada Post Admail mailing list, AND they reduce the number of copies of these ads that are produced. Its a consumer choice program. It reduced my junkmail to almost none whatsoever in about 5 days. Maybe there is a similar program in the USA? I have been canvassing my home town, telling people about the program door-to-door, and have saved an estimated 5000 lbs of paper this year.

  173. Kat says:

    Please add a cautionary to your advice:

    #45 Olive oil lube!
    At least one doctor thinks it’s a healthy alternative to synthetic personal lubricants.

    Oil based lubricants have two problems – 1. They deteriorate latex. They are NOT safe if you are using latex condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy. (They also deteriorate some other rubbers so using with non-plastic, non-silicone adult toys is just damaging an expensive product). There are condoms made of polyisoprene or polyurethane which are latex free and safe to use with oil based lubricants, but they are made from plastics.

    2. Oil clogs pores and smothers cells. You must use soap and water thoroughly to wash away oil from your skin. Using oil based products on the genitals can trap bacteria and encourage acne and infections such as urinary tract infections.

    Using olive oil as a personal lubricant is excellent for massage, but should only be used for sexual penetration if you do not need a latex condom and wash up with soap and water afterward to discourage infection.

    An alternative to use with latex products – Look for all natural or organic lubricants. At least there’s no chemicals or petroleum used in the actual product. Some advertise entirely recyclable packaging. Find out the life of your lube and buy in bulk. If your lube has a long shelf life (and most do), then you can usually find large quantity containers online or ask to order it from your local adult store.

  174. Alexandra says:

    Thanks for this great list!

  175. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Leanne. I just added Email and Print buttons. Thanks for the suggestion!

  176. Leanne says:

    Hi Beth – Can you possibly make a PDF/text/easy read version of this? Then I could send it around my email list of people, and around Facebook as an attachment for people :-)

    Its an awesome post, and deserves to be stuck on everyone’s fridge. hey – maybe a one page version? :-)

    That would be excellent. Up to you though.

  177. Mary says:

    Danish girl,
    where do you get your Rhassoul powder and do you use it to both wash your hair hair and your body? How do you prepare it? Do you use it in powder form directly on a wash cloth or puff?

  178. Danish girl says:

    Hi Beth,
    another way to wash your hair is to use Rhassoul powder. It’s basically mineral soil that works well for the whole body and hair as well. I am using it for more than 3 years now and am extremely happy with it. The no poo method wouldn’t work for me, because the baking soda and vinegar would irritate my skin extremely much, even at low concentrations and I don’t have any of these problems with the Rhassoul powder. I never saw it in bulk, but I buy huge packages of it (5 Kilos), which basically lasts forever.
    Maybe you can include that in your list? It made my hair very soft and shiny and my skin likes the soil, too. And now I only have to wash my hair 1-2 times a week (with normal shampoo almost every day).

    Keep on going with the good work!

  179. Anon.e.mouse says:

    Hate to point out the obvious, but lots of mineral waters come in recyclable/recycled glass containers, don’t hate on all bottled water, I can’t go through life without my Gerolsteiner

  180. Lynn Fang says:

    Phenomenal post! I will be referring to this page many times in the future! Thank you!

  181. Heather says:

    Such a hugely helpful post, thank you! Another line of bags I’ve found on the east coast at WF are http://www.sustainablebite.com I love them b/c they are washable and can keep the produce after I’ve gotten it. Not to mention, they’re cute!

  182. Con says:

    I would like to add to the list: If you are a parent, use pencil crayons instead of felt pens/markers which are little plastic tubes that cannot be recycled when they run out. Thanks and love your blog

  183. MrBuss says:

    Love the intent, but the creation of baking soda is an extremely ecological-damaging process.. I would stop recommending using it in so many places considering how the chemicals are created to form baking soda.

  184. josefina gurrola says:

    Hi Beth, looking at how much you’ve reduced plastic consumtion over the past 2.5 years is overwhelming. It’s hard to imagine myself having that success at eliminating plastic while visualizing all the Sam’s Club/Cosco type packaging my family of five goes through, but it’s a mountain worth climbing.

    I admire your ethics, persistence, endurance and graceful wittiness :o)

  185. claire says:

    yes, I did notice that you regularly post updates, so I’ll definitely try to read all the posts on a certain topic before commenting. as far as chalk goes, the site was a yahoo answers page and the question seems to have been deleted. they offered a source for their answer but I can’t check it now. I haven’t been able to find any evidence to substantiate their claim, however I did find this site (http://www.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/chalk) which says:
    “Although great care is taken to eliminate contaminants when chalk is manufactured, some impurities inherent to the mineral remain. Chief among these are silica, alumina, iron, phosphorus, and sulfur. In less significant, amounts, manganese, copper, titanium, sodium oxide, potassium oxide, fluorine, arsenic, and strontium may also occur.”
    and I don’t see any plastics on that list. so it’s possible someone was just making stuff up. but I probably still wouldn’t use chalk considering it’s not made for ingestion.
    you could maybe try a calcium supplement in a glass bottle (plastic cap) for an antacid such as: (http://www.igreenwarehouse.com/Minerals-Calcium-500-mg-with-Mag-nesium-Vitamin-D-180-tablets-TWINLAB-212383), but you might want to ask a doctor or someone who knows about stomach chemistry whether it would be as effective.
    I’m not surprised at all by chewing gum, considering people always talk about how it can’t be digested (though I don’t know how true that is). before chewing gum, people used to use spruce tree sap, but who knows how that would taste. the only practical purpose to actually chewing gum is to stimulate saliva flow, so it’s not a horrible thing to have to give up. I’ve already given up candy for dental reasons (though I’ve heard things like chips might actually be worse for your teeth, they don’t give me the screaming pain that candy does), but I have a chocolate addiction and tend to sneak pieces of it into things like ice cream to justify eating it. but I’m glad I’ve given up on candy because I realize how much plastic packaging is used to wrap it, plus any step toward eating healthier is a plus.

    • mairsydoats says:

      Good heavens, don’t ingest chalkboard chalk – but percipitated chalk, which is pure calcium carbonate, is okay to ingest, and is used in toothpastes. I can’t speak for whether or not one would want to use it for an antacid, but when I run out of my current toothpaste, I’ll make my own using it. I hate the taste of baking soda. Blech.

  186. clare says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about plastic reduction lately and I think yours is my favorite, you seem to have almost everything covered (which is probably why your blog keeps popping up in my google searches). a few things I want to mention:
    -as far as antacids go, baking soda can be used for this as well. I was going to suggest chalk because it’s made of the same chemical as tums, but apparently (according to this site: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091109164730AAxvfrk) it has plastic in it! who knew? needless to say it’s not good for you. and who would want to eat chalk anyway?
    -for your ice cream cravings (if you still can’t overcome them), have you considered making your own? it’s a very simple process and there are plenty of ice cream makers you can get (I’m sure you can find one in a yard sale or thrift store as well). I made ice cream in my tenth grade chemistry class in (of course) a plastic ziploc bag.
    -you mentioned butter wrappers in your cat food article. I was going to recommend foil-wrapped butter, but I’m not entirely sure it would be recyclable, since it might be more like foil paper. while wax paper isn’t recyclable, it is compostable from what I’ve read, and can also be used for baking purposes, so it may be the better option. do you compost your butter wrappers? I know that, in my area at least, you can get wax paper wrapped blocks of butter with no outer box, the equivalent of 4 sticks worth, so that saves a lot of packaging. the brand I’ve seen is called hampton dairy (I live on long island).
    -about deodorant, for people who are not ready to let go of commercial deodorant, you can buy glass bottled roll-on anti-perspirants and/or deodorant from several companies. it’s not a plastic-free solution since they do have a plastic cap and the roller is plastic, probably the label too, but at least the container would be recyclable (and possibly reusable?). but the ones I’ve seen in my online searches are made by nivea, fa, dr. hauschka, lavera and weleda. I haven’t had any experience with these brands, but I used to have a mitchum roll-on in a glass bottle and I loved it (it’s long since been discontinued, unfortunately). some people seem to complain about the weight of the bottle, but the one I had was very light.

    I probably have more to add but I can’t remember anything else at the moment. I was wondering if it’s a faux pas to comment on older posts? because as I read them I can’t help but want to share my input (a behavoir aquired from years of posting on forums). anyway, thanks for posting this, it’s a very thorough and helpful guide. I really admire your dedication.

    • Beth Terry says:

      Thanks for your comment! It’s definitely fine to comment on older posts. I see all comments that come through, and also new people are always discovering the older posts and leaving their thoughts.

      That said, keep in mind that older posts are, well, old. So the information might not be current. I try to add updates as I get new information or make changes. For example, we are not using butter in the cat food anymore.

      That’s really interesting about chalk. I was astounded to learn that chewing gum was made from plastic. I’ll have to look up your link. I don’t use baking soda for antacid because of the high sodium content.

  187. Ruth says:

    Since Klean Kanteen has switched to plastic lids, have you found any truly plastic-free water bottles? Or do you know of anywhere I could get an old-school Klean Kanteen (with stainless steel lid)?

    Thanks for all you do!

  188. GREG says:

    It is so nice to find someone who thinks like me. My co-workers think I am crazy, bringing home things to recycle. Anyway I don’t buy plastic trash bags but I take trash home from a local restaurant, recycle what I can then use their used trash bags for what little garbage I have left. I do have three cats and will try your idea of making homemade cat food, I hate the waste their cans and plastic coated bags of dry food and litter make. I won’t buy the scoopalbe kind because the plastic buckets with metal handles are not recylcable. I live on the shore of Lake Ontario and it saddens me how much plastic waste washes up on my little spec of beach. Thanks for all you are doing. greg ps, I wish plastic water bottles could be outlawed.

  189. Jessie Krebs says:

    OK, just saw some other things I may be able to help with. First the microwave popcorn dilemma! Find yourself a good size glass/porcelain bowl with a glass/porcelain lid at your local thrift store-pour in a little safflower oil and some organic popcorn and pop it in for a few minutes until the popping slows and you’re done. Add a few sprays of Braggs amino acids/tamari and some Nutritional yeast plus any other herbs/spices you like and enjoy.

    For bulk food storage, I was having the same problem, Flour beetles were in one of my bulk 25 lb bag of oats when I ordered it from the store. Determined not to lose all of it to the infestation I sifted out all the bugs, put the remaining oats in washed pillowcases I got from the thrift store for 25 to 75 cents apiece with liberal amounts of food grade Diatomatious Earth sprinkled in and fed a piece of line/rope through the top of the pillowcase to tie it off. That was last summer and the oats show no sign of infestation and taste fine! As long as you’re storing them in a dry area (I have bought metal trash cans which I then put the bean/rice/oat filled pillowcases in) the pillowcases make great ready-made bags for bulk storage.

    And lastly, more cat toys. Especially if you know someone in catnip growing areas (my relatives in Michigan are my main source) have them cut and dry large quantities and send it/give it to you in a brown paper bag. I had male cats that despite being neutered would still spray on occasion. However they won’t spray “happy places” or places that smell like catnip. Once they find a place they like to spray they will seem to keep targeting it over and over no matter how well you clean. So I would take a small rag, like a 4″ X 4″ section of old t-shirt or jean material, or even an old sock (depending on how animated your cat gets with catnip!), fill the center with a tablespoon or so of dried catnip, then fold up the sides and tie a sliploop around it with a long piece of string and hang it a few inches off the floor in the area they were spraying (or just where ever you want their play area to be). They would never spray there again. So after hanging several around the house as they tried new places, they gave up and only did it outside, and always enjoyed batting the toy around regardless.

    Thanks again for this site-it'[s awesome to connect/hear about fellow plastic-free fighters and learn more we can do!

  190. Jessie Krebs says:

    Hi Beth, thank you so much for doing this! I have a recommendation for flea control that has worked faithfully for me for years with my two cats in several different homes around the country. It’s Diatomatious Earth-ground up seashells basically. You can buy it online or at garden stores since people also use it around gardens to control pests. It was also used once-upon-a-time to filter pool water in swimming pools. It works by slicing open hard shelled small insects as they crawl by it, causing them to quickly dehydrate and die. So it is also extremely effective on ants, crimson crawlers, and a host of other hard shelled larvae and “pests”. It’s also ridiculously easy to use though you should take care not to breath it in-like most pest-control products. It is comprised of very sharp shards on a microscopic level so you want to keep it out of your lungs as much as possible. I just sprinkle a very small amount (say a 1/2 cup or so for an entire 1500 square foot home) on the floor of each room that has carpet or any flooring with cracks/holes in it like old wooden floors or anyplace else I have pests like the cupboards or around the exterior wall/foundation of the house. This is where flea larvae and mites and such live when they are in developmental stages. For every adult flea you see there are thousands of larvae that are in it’s vicinity that in a couple weeks will be ready to graduate to adulthood. So sprinkle around the Diatomatious earth and gently rub/brush it into every nook and cranny you can find. Then just wipe/vacuum/sweep (wear a dust mask for extra safety) up the excess and you’re done. Just one dose will last you years if it’s inside since no matter how well you clean there will always be some left deep down. I never even put flea collars on my cats after that since I knew if they brought in a flea it would die soon and any eggs it laid would simply die as well. I never had a problem with fleas or ticks on them again. You can in bad infestations dust the animal and their bedding after a good washing too. I’ve even used food-grade Diatomatious Earth in my food (like bulk apricots, oatmeal or raisins) to make sure it won’t be infested with anything like moths, beetles/whatever, The “Earth” has no taste-just a fine white powder that cleans out your insides too! It’s a great feeling to eliminate pests with such an earth-friendly product that works so well. Happy pest and pesticide-free living! Jessie

  191. Isabelle says:

    Great List of Ideas!!!

    I just saw you on abc this morning… luckily I happen to glance at the tv being a unusually very busy morning, I stopped in my tracks to hear your words on the plastic problem. I thought it was only me and a few others that thought like you. Every day I throw plastic out (I live with roommates) my stomach turns because I know it’s bad and feel so overwhelmed with all the plastic going out to the oceans into mothers natures creatures. I sort it out but many containers are not recyclable. I have a list in my head of things. I use my toothbrush till nothing left to the brush, etc.. I always get on the roommates not buy so much food items with plastic but it seems impossible. I wish it was illegal to use plastic with food items and make company’s go back to glass jars. I’m going to try harder, never giving up. Thank you and I love you website
    please save this one and delete the other,,ty!

  192. Isabelle says:

    I just saw you on abc this morning… luckily I happen to glance at the tv being a unusually very busy morning, I stopped in my tracks to hear your words on the plastic problem. I thought it was only me and a few others that thought like you. Every day I throw plastic out (I live with roommates) my stomach turns because I know it’s bad and feel so overwelmed with all the plastic going out to the oceans into mothers natures creatures. I sort it out but many containers are not recycleable. I have a list in my head of things. I use my toothbrush till nothing left to the brush, etc.. I always get on the roommates not buy so much food items with plastic but it seems impossible. I wish it was illegal to use pastic with food items and make comany’s go back to glass jars. I’m going to try harder, never giving up. Thank you and I love you website

  193. shaune says:

    Yea Beth! I’m so glad to have watched you on the news. I’ve been on an anti-plastic campaign for years and years! As a teacher, I give my students tokens for being plastic free for school snacks. I encourage them to bring their snacks in reusable containers, wax paper, or just “au Natural”. It is really difficult to change habits, but we have our best hope with the youth.

  194. Jaylah says:

    About those cat toys. All of your suggestions are excellent, but I used to have three cats (all at once, I’m owned by a dog now) and once I started making this toy for them, they turned up their noses at all other toys.

    Take a sheet of regular paper. (No, don’t grab a couple of fresh sheets out of your printer…use the letters that come in junk mail for this.) Tear each in half. Place them in a sink or basin of water until they’re soaked through. Take each half sheet out and wad it up as tightly as you can. They should end up around an inch in diameter. Place them on a tray or counter and let them *thoroughly* dry. Toss them on the floor and watch your cats chase them. Since you’ve wet the paper and then let them dry, they don’t come uncrumpled, but a cat can easily hook a paw or claw or tooth in them. One of my cats was almost always to be found with one in her mouth.

    We named these toys “Moggy balls.” My middle cat was named “Mogai” but we always called her Moggy. (Which is, perhaps, appropriate as the Brits refer to a cat as a “moggy.”) I usually made a dozen or so of these at a time when the last batch seemed to have all disappeared. Then I’d find them under the couch, under the dresser, under the fridge. Some days, instead of making more, I’d do a “moggy ball hunt” and would usually manage to find a dozen under various furniture.

    If your cats like catnip, you can sprinkle some finely shredded fresh or dried catnip on the papers after wetting but before you crumple them up. The shreds will become embedded in the crumpled up paper.

  195. tinabeans says:

    One of the most interesting things I learned recently was that the little exfoliating beads inside many mainstream brands of facial cleanser are actually little beads of plastic. Every time you wash your face with one of these, the tiny beads of plastic go down the drain and eventually into bodies of water. These are especially harmful to aquatic/marine life because small critters like plankton (the foundation of many marine ecosystems) will ingest them and die. They do not biodegrade and they are impossible to clean/remove from the wild. So next time you choose a face wash, go for a biodegradable exfoliant like ground up apricot stone.

    Who knew that sometimes the most insidious forms of harm comes in the tiniest packages!

  196. Tamara Meske says:

    Lina, I am having the same issue with buying bulk but all the large containers are plastic! After spending several hours researching today, I’ve found some glass containers with metal (or glass) lids up to 5 gallon size. Probably not large enough for a 50lb bag of flour, but two would probably do it. I’m also looking into buying a grain mill so I can store the whole grains instead of the flour, which I think will keep longer and be a little less messy to store in a non-sealed container (I intend to line the tops of the grains with herbs to keep the bugs out.)

  197. Lina says:

    Hi – this is a great post, thanks so much. I like your points on the bulk buying and not getting more plastic bags to carry them home in, its something I hadn’t thought about. I wonder if you have any suggestions on storing large quantities of bulk food without plastic? I want to just go ahead and get 25 or 50 lbs of flour for example, but all the options I see for storing that amount of flour are plastic. Any ideas? Thanks again.

  198. Christina says:

    I also wanted to say that dried milk powder is a good alternative, especially if glass bottles are not an option. Straus Creamery is a good glass bottle dairy, but it sounds like you’re in the SF bay area where they’re local. Dried milk is a way better product than I remember growing up, or at least the Organic Valley that I’m using is. It takes energy to turn the milk into powder, but I figure it’s mostly if not totally balanced by the reduced refrigeration and the transportation reduction caused by not shipping water.

  199. Christina says:

    Regarding the SodaStream for carbonated water, did you look at any other options? I’ve seen homemade contraptions for using a big tank of CO2, and I’m wondering if a soda fountain style machine might use the larger tanks as well. This is my big ecological sin, carbonated water, which I choose because it keeps me off soda and juice (I can use a little bit of homemade juice for flavor), so I definitely want to find a way to reduce the bottle consumption. (Though of course I recycle them all.)

  200. Patty says:

    Once you open your eyes…there is so much to see…
    http://reelthing.us/bagit.htm (http://www.vimeo.com/5645718)

  201. Namaste_Heather says:

    Thank you so much for such an extensive post. Our family has been working on a lot of these things, but you’ve given some great tips for things we are not yet doing. I plan to come back often for more tips!

  202. Patty says:

    Saturday morning cartoons this week turned into me watching ‘Addicted to Plastic’ by Ian Connacher on the Sundance channel. Happy to see more and more ways things are being recycled and a little more motivated to reduce my consumption. Hoping to find out more what my city is doing and petition for additional changes.

  203. Karin says:

    Mary, thank you for your tip!

  204. Mary says:

    I have a vacuum sealer also and I use canning jars. No plastic bag to throw away. Plus the vacuum sealer work better on jars than the plastic bags.

  205. Karin says:

    Excellent list — very well thought out! We recently made the choice to purchase a Foodsaver vacuum sealer. The upside is that we can purchase more food on sale and purchase in larger quanties during the season (like from farmer’s markets) in order to freeze the food. Plus we will be doing a larger garden next year and preserving food. Vacuum-sealed food lasts longer in the fridge and freezer and you can avoid most freezer burn. The downside is that the storage bags are all plastic of course and are not biodegradable. But they can be reused a number of times. Foodsaver does sell plastic reusable containers for vacuum sealing, but we have not purchased those (plus it’s more plastic). We are trying to make some good decisions about what to freeze and what to can so that we are not using so much plastic. I would like to see Foodsaver develop a storage bag that is biodegradable or at least manufacter them from recycled plastic. Tough choices!

  206. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Mary. I use baking soda to clean the toilet. I wrote a whole post about baking soda uses last week. It is here:


  207. Mary says:

    What do you recommend we clean our toilets with?

    I hate cleaning the toilets because I hate using bleach because I don’t know what else to clean them with.

  208. Wow! thanks for sharing this information. I commend you for the things you’ve given up. you serve as our inspiration now. keep up the good work.

  209. Serina says:

    Thanks Beth! Works great. FYI, I’m a college teacher in psychology and I’m assigning my classes a paper on the effects of plastic on people’s psychology. All you plastic-free bloggers inspired me! lol

  210. Serina says:

    It seems like the links on this page aren’t working. Keeps coming up with an error page. I’d love to read more if you can fix it! Thanks!!

  211. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Serina. I think I fixed the problem. Please try it now. It’s a matter of transferring from Blogger to WordPress.

  212. Thank you for the comprehensive and well-tended site!

    I found your site while doing a little research for a VERY grassroots campaign to decrease the amount of plastic bags handed out at the NYC greenmarkets. I currently work at an organic farmstand where we charge 5¢ per plastic bag as an “encouragement” for customers to bring their own bags (BYOB!) each time. As of this week, we’ll be the first stand at the Union Square Greenmarket to switch to vegetable-based compostable bags (brand name Biobag) and we’ll be charging customers the price of the bags– 5, 10 or 15¢ for small, med, and large bags. We estimate distributing 1500+ bags each market, and we’re small fry compared to some stands. We would love to get out of the bag-peddling business and have all customers bring their own. It’s amazing to see the wide span of reactions from our customers: some thank us with a touching sincerity, others are irritated but understanding, others are just confused, and still others are enraged and quite reactive.

    I appreciate your list of “how I avoid plastic” because it is gets down to the dirty details of how plastic pervades our lives, and by association, how much of our lives are spent shopping and consuming in a culture that seems to rely completely on plastics. It’s kind of like the ant phenomenon: when you look down and you see an ant on your leg, and then one on your–no, two on your shoe, oh and then there’s a whole bunch on the sidewalk, and then you spy the crack where there’s a river of ants emerging. Plastics (and one-use, throw-away ‘stuff’) is right in front of you, and as you widen your vision, you see it everywhere multiplied by the thousands. How many disposable chopsticks does it take to make a forest?

    Having worked and shopped at various farmers markets in baltimore, sanfrancisco, and new york, I see them as a very very important trend in shopping culture. The trend has to do with sustainability, person-to-person interactions, freshness, local economies, community & communication. One of the side-benefits of farmers’ markets is the reduced packaging and marketing of foods. You can buy meat & cheese simply wrapped in paper, you can buy eggs and milk and return the containers to the farmstand each week, you can bring your own bags for everything else. At the greenmarkets in nyc (where there is no city-wide composting as in san fran) there is a growing interest in customers being able to bring their compostables to the market to be used on the farms where the food was grown or used in local composting productions.

    FInally I’ll just give a shout-out to the country of Ireland, who imposed a national plastic bag tax in 2002 and thereby reduced plastic bag use by about 90%. There is much information about this at a great and helpful website: http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php?id=20

    Thanks thanks thanks!

  213. admin says:

    Patricia, I wish I had a solution for you. I agree that you need to get the water out of the #7 container as soon as possible. Is your county working on getting your water cleaned up? Is this a temporary situation or will it be ongoing forever? Can you install a whole house filtration system? I know that’s really expensive. But unfortunately, chemicals get into our bodies not just through our mouths but through our skin. Is it safe to shower in your toxic water?

    I would be interested in learning more about what’s going on for you.

  214. patricia says:

    Love your list of tips.
    I am hooked up to a county rural water system in California. Due to the Calif. clean water act, I am required to buy bottled drinking water from a local company. (Actually I was given a long list of companies to choose from). If I do not sign up for water delivery, my household water will be turned off. All of the companies on the aforementioned list use big plastic # 7 bottles. They all told me there are no alternatives. I have two crock dispensers which I pour the water into the minute I receive it. My thinking is the less time in the plastic the better. I don’t know what else to do.

  215. hbTurner says:

    In response to # 36 comment-why do we have to have everything scented. Even using essetial oils I just don’t get it.
    Why isn’t a home just smelling of “air” enough.
    I do wish there would be a better campaign about all the artificial fragrances**they are pertoleum or other noxious chemiclas and are terrible for us not counting the plastic cartridges and little fans.**
    I use lemon juice in laundry and a lot of vinegar but never use anything with even a natural based fragrance if I can find it. I get strage looks trying to find handsoap, why do I want some fragrance, even one Imight like, on my hands while I eat? If I want fragrance I go find a flower.

  216. Anonymous says:

    what about breast implants when you get a MRI,is it the same as a plastic bag in the microwave…there plastic

  217. nerdstar says:

    Awesome site. Great resources and ideas. Try 41pounds.org for getting rid of junkmail.

  218. Anonymous says:

    You mentioned to buy CFL lightbulbs but it should be known that CFL lightbulds usually contain mercury which is terrible for the factory workers that put together the bulbs and when a CFL breaks it can be a health issue.

    Not sure if these are facts but this is want I have herd.

  219. Fake Plastic Fish says:

    Hi GreenDigitalist. I loved your thorough response to the kitty litter question on the Answer Bag. There really is no perfect solution, is there? We flush our cat's biodegradable corn litter because they have tested neg for toxoplasma gondii and are indoor cats. But if you have outdoor cats, you're not supposed to flush. And you're right that flushing is a waste a good clean water. If only we could install a grey water system, but we are renters.

    Anyway, you have inspired me to take a look at the graph (with is just a screen shot of an Excel graph) and figure out a way to allow people to see the details. Maybe there's a way to embed a Google spreadsheet.

    The spikes might be related to holidays but also there were a few unusually heavy items — a broken computer monitor, for instance, and a polar fleece blanket that my kitties chewed (actually ate) up.

  220. GreenDigitalist says:

    Thanks for the re-inspiration and the work. I would love to look at your graph in a little more detail: are the spikes at the holidays? no response necc, but maybe a post?

    I am going to start linking to your blog, plus this is posted at: Answerbag – http://www.answerbag.com/a_view/7007352

  221. Anonymous says:

    "I'd stopped using most produce bags long before beginning this project because they always seemed unnecessary."

    Me Too, But it drives the crocery clerks crazy sometimes. Why must 2 apples be in a plastic bag? I have no idea either. How about corn on the cob. I had a clerk verbally spank me because the corn got the belt wet.

    Stores need to educate employees!

  222. HorseJumper12341 says:

    Thank you for writing this post!! I have been looking for and trying to think of ways to save/cut back on my plastic use for a long time. My mom and I are crazy about not using plastic bags, especially!! Thanks again!! :)

  223. Fake Plastic Fish says:

    Hi Martin. Can you keep a shelf next to the water cooler where you each store a reusable mug with your name on it? I don’t know how your work environment is set up, but it seems like this would be the most convenient choice.

  224. Martin says:

    I have been on mission to reduce my plastic usage at home, but realize at work at the water cooler we go through an amazing amount of plastic cups. I work in a research environment and sometimes difficult as we cannot drink in the lab where we spend most of our time, so many researchers go straight from the lab to grab a drink. The few of us that have our own cups have to go out of their way to our study area/desk and back again once finished to return our cup, for some people this is on a different floor. Many people have complained when there are no cups available and are resistant to the idea of bring their own. Do you have any ideas?

  225. Anonymous says:

    Great list. I can’t wait to implement your ideas. I wanted to mention an alternative to the brita water filters. I got a Berkey water filter about 6 months ago, and it is awesome. http://www.berkeywater-filter.com
    It has saved me tons of money in filters and the water tastes much better. We have the metal one. It is about the size of one of those big coffee makers you see at gatherings. Please, check it out!

  226. Anonymous says:

    I read in a packaging industry magazine that (a study showed) chemicals from printing ink permeated some containers. I keep that in mind when purchasing products.

    My husband and I continually to make changes that are environmentally friendly. He likes soda and sparkling water, so I bought a SodaClub soda maker. Their bottles are free of BPA. One carbonate canister in the size we got makes about 110 liters of carbonated beverage. We love it! When you need new canisters, they send you a box with new ones and a return shipping label to send your empty ones back and they reuse them!


  227. Talia says:

    My first time checking out your site. Totally awesome! My partner and I are mostly plastic free… but there’s one thing I can’t seem to work out a non plastic alternative for, and that’s how to keep my produce crisp and fresh in the fridge. I have tried those cloth produce bags that you moisten but have had disappointing results. Perhaps I’m not using them properly? This is one thing I would really like to eliminate from my kitchen so any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much and keep up the amazing work you’re doing! It’s so important!

  228. jonathan's people says:

    Hey guys!
    If you are searching for a place to drop off your plastic bags (the kind from grocery stores) then please go to this site- It will give you a list of all locations in your area where you can drop them off.
    -Dillon (greenhome.com)

  229. Ya Chun says:

    What a wonderful, comprehensive list.

    Last time I knew Tom’s of Maine toothpaste was in an aluminum tube (claimed to be recyclable) after cutting off the plastic tip.

    Also, Aveda is accepting plastic bottle caps. (I know i said in another comment)


  230. Anonymous says:

    i am from Vancouver, Washington…and go to Clark College. Sheesh! I can’t believe that they put everything into a big plastic bag in the bookstore…and the cafeteria is all plastic disposable utensils and styrofoam! help! i joined the Club for Social Action. i wrote to our college president, Bob Knight, and gave him lots of info on Stalk Market, TaterWare, and other replacements that are way better. He sounded amiable, but i got an email asking ME to tell him “How does the cost compare to traditional utensils?”
    How do I know? Please do email me anything to tell him how much it costs…and how much it costs NOT to switch. (tons tossed!)

  231. cathy says:

    Really like your blog. Will definitely use some of your tips. Would you be willing to put me on your blog roll?
    Thanks and please let me know, I will put you on mine. I added your blog to my ‘local resources’ guides.

  232. Anonymous says:

    Plastic wrapped cheese? Have it sliced in the deli and paper wrapped.

  233. Christine in DC says:

    WOW, I’m in awe! Way to go! I’m NOwhere near as dedicated as you, clearly, but I’ve in the past year managed to only use reusable grocery bags. At first, it was hard–mainly because I’d forget or got attitude from the checkout people. But, gradually, it got easier. I think what made me stop that bad habit was simply counting how many of those stupid bags I had…and then imagining how many more I’d already recycled or (gulp) thrown away. Thanks for the tips–I’m going to try to start another good habit!

  234. Laura Jean Karr says:

    I am so glad that I found your blog. What you are doing is just fantastic.

    We are starting to get as plastic free as we can in out home and your list was very, very helpful.

    Thank you,

  235. Anonymous says:


    I will steal your ideas. Your zeal inspires me. I’ve been on a personal campaign against plastic for the past year. I’m over it!


  236. OhGoddess says:

    Awesome, thanks for sharing your list! I’m trying, really am, but you have some great ideas on your list that I haven’t seen before. The biggest glaring fact I’ve found? That it’s EASY to make so many of these changes!! They have not inconvenienced me in any way. I’ve not given up much, just traded an old habit for a newer, better one.

    Except for the water pitcher filters. I haven’t given those up yet, and here’s why.

  237. Anonymous says:

    This is so cool!
    Thought I’d add an idea: we use the ISI seltzer bottles. They have a bit of plastic (a tube and gasket) so don’t know if that’d pass muster for others. Use Torani syrups for flavoring (Cheaper at BevMo; plastic cap). Haven’t decided if the little metal canisters of CO2 are recyclable though.
    Thanks for the list!

  238. Anonymous says:

    My comment is simple.
    If you go to a beach take a large bag and rubber gloves to pick up as much plastic as it will fill. Just as a thank you to the ocean for looking after the biodiversity within it (animals starve if they try to ingest plastic). I was at Marros on a little tiny beach and could have filled 50 said bags, but the walk through the fields to get to the beach for one middle aged woman is too much. Please be one of the other 49 bag ladies (even if you are a fella) on any beach as it all ends up somewhere and a lot of it was bottles and lids (probably for drinks). Bless you. Bexy

  239. klimp11 says:

    Just stumble on your site. Loved the bit on the safety razor. I switched to a straight razor for the same reason. Keep up the great work, one person can make huge difference

  240. mori says:

    Dear Beth, I have a nasty disease and immune-system-suppressing medication, so must drink safe water. After giving up plastic bottled water I went to Brita water in a metal bottle. Now I want to do the right thing with the Brita filter. What is the right thing? Also, what about an old and non-functional iron? Thanks, Mori.

  241. Reenita's Blog says:


    On the subject of plastic bags being replaced by reusable bags, as a mother, I ask, how do I get my kids to do it?

    My kids checked out “Gorilla in the Greenhouse”, a new animated kids’ show about plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean. Since then they have been shouting out against the use of plastic bags because as my son says,

    “It’s all about the Gyre, mom!”

    Parents should check this out:

    http://www.greengorilla.com . It is also on You Tube.

  242. Veronique from Paris says:

    thank you Beth for the great work you did with this list !
    it is SO inspirational that I’ve decided to try news things AT ONCE.
    thanks to the internet I can order practically anything and have it deliverd in Paris, France where I live and work – we do not find exactly the same products here in Europe, but for things such as Brita Filters (they led me to your blog) it is not too bad.
    keep going, what you do is really important.

  243. katherine h says:

    Dear Beth – after “Blue Vinyl” I am even more convinced we need to keep working at reducing our use – regarding your prescription delemma – find out if your pharmacy will dispense in a “bubble card” – they use them in nursing homes for the residents.. the bubble is made of plastic but surrounded by a cardboard card- it might be LESS plastic than the bottle and cap route… but state laws are different- let me know what you think

  244. Tamara says:

    I loved the list. I have two caveats I think, as a health educator, bear clarification:

    1. Olive oil for lube – please remind people that olive oil, and other oil-based lube solutions can break down latex (so not compatible with condoms, dental dams). Avanti makes condoms (that are more expensive) that are compatible with oil, but they are plastic (polyurethane). I hear they break more though (http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/1997/03/connett.html).
    2. I wouldn’t agree that it is ok to reuse plastic containers for food, even if you don’t heat them, from a public health perspective. Phthalates and bispenol-A are making headlines lately, but there are so many chemicals that leach from plastic at room temperature. There aren’t really “safe” plastics for food contact.
    3. I would add #7 polycarbonate to your list of plastics to absolutely avoid. It will probably be phased out but meanwhile best to avoid because of bisphenol-A (hormone disrupting chemical).
    Love your blog! Will suggest it to people at my workshop on plastics for earth day. Tamara

  245. Emily says:

    Hiya Beth so glad to have found your page. I’ve recently gone on the NO plastic band wagon and it’s hard.

    I wanted to share with you a product at Ikea called GEMAK. They’re little steel tins with lids and rubber rings. It’s great for storing dry food like cereal. They’re small so it’s a handy way to carry snacks, especially for children, without the heaviness of glass.

  246. Cheap Like Me says:

    This is awesome! I am thinking about doing a plastic-waste “inquiry” on my blog in May (because I can’t commit to Crunchy Chicken’s 100%-or-nothing May challenge). We usually toss about 5 lbs of trash a week … but I am very curious what makes up that trash. I *love* your chart at the top of your home page.

  247. Anonymous says:

    Hi I love all of your awesome tips and Ideas. My husband and I have been slowly making changes in our lives. Going greener and recycling as much as possible. Today I got rid of all of our toxic plastics and I was appalled to learn how many foods (for babies) are packed in toxic plastic. Anyway. Thanks for such a great site. We are going to be using many of your ideas and tips.


  248. Anonymous says:

    Hi Beth. I just got organic produce bags from ecobags.com and they’re great. They’re washable, scrunchable and allow me to keep my produce off of the icky (who knows when it was last washed) scales at the store! (p.s., I struggled with signing in and retyped it twice so the anonymous is synonymous with “not enough caffeine yet today!”)

  249. The Minimalist says:

    Lifelessplastic said on her site that she buys her cheese at the deli counter and asks them to wrap it in butcher paper. My husband and I are going to try to incorporate this as a habit.

  250. Anonymous says:

    I attended your presentation at Wells Fargo on march 28th. I was shocked to say the least. I felt totally cheated by the “recycle” branding/marketing placed around plastics. Plastics appear to be more sinister than anything out there! I found your “what I’ve done” list so helpful. I’m speaking to all friends about plastics, starting to try and influence those closests to me, and spread from there. My lifestyle is changing, so big thanks for the inspiration and sharing the knowledge. John Hester.

  251. Anonymous says:

    Nothing to add, just wow and you rock! Thank you so much for your pragmatism, persistence, and passion.

    April, Sarasota, FL

  252. Daria says:

    BTW, half vinegar and half water works great as deodorant as well…

  253. Allie says:

    Do you have a good plastic-free way of freezing food? I use my CSA veggies to bake and cook up meals to stick in the deep freeze for meals over the winter. I’m not sure of a good way to keep food from getting freezer burn without using plastic. Have you thought of anything?

    Thanks! Your list is wonderful!

  254. TAB Photographic says:

    Beth. Ms. Beth Fakeplaticfish…

    Your blog, should be sent around the world. your thoughts shared and more! You know what Beth, I think you should go on the today show and share with the world… Why? Because Beth, it’s quite obvious that you rock!

    Shine on,

  255. liz says:

    This is a really thorough list, and gives me some good ideas. Thanks!

    You might try making your own energy bars if you miss them. I made some last week (recipe here) that I’m living off of at the moment. I just throw them in my own reusable containers if I need some easily transportable food.

  256. Arun says:

    It is great to know that you are trying hard to wipe out this plastic menace. I found your tips on how to avoid plastics has been a useful one. To be frank i am a person who tries to avoid plastics whenever i can.


    simple way of life

  257. ingrid says:


    I stopped using shampoo and conditioner from plastic bottles a little while ago and I’m starting to get used to it. I use a bar called ‘Castille’ from a company based out of Canada (Olivier). The stuff works great and it’s all-natural too!

  258. Elizabeth Obsesses says:

    Hi Beth -I’m a Beth too. I’m out here on the East Coast, and have been trying to get my friends to reduce their plastic use, too.

    I’ve converted 3 of my friends in the past year to swear off grocery bags (one completely, two reduce their use).

    I love your website, and will be back often for more suggestions.

  259. IceMel says:

    I’ve given up tupperware for wide-mouth mason jars. They clean easily and use space well in the frig and cabinets

  260. Rebecca says:

    This is fantastic. I have learned from this and admire your efforts. I did not know they make shampoo bars, I will look for them at the natural food store. Thanks

  261. chosenpath says:

    Thanks for the helpful suggestions. They are great and I intend to pass them on to friends and family- a digestible chunk at a time!

    The urban composting is an especially good one. This will be a family project this Spring.


  262. Cindy says:

    I just took a quick look here, but you have lots of good information! You have lots of good ideas and links for stuff I could use. I plan to come back later when I have time to really check it out better. Thanks for sharing.

  263. CrAzYoNe1 says:

    Oh my goodness, you are insane! (In a good way of course.) I’ve been trying to cut down on my waste lately in attempt to be more “green.” Hopefully I’ll be able to remember some of this and take it to heart. I’ll never be able to do as much as you, but I guess you never know, do you. Oh, and I never realized how many things have plastic in them and how harmful plastic actually is…I don’t quite know how I didn’t realize this.
    Thanks for you’re awesome blog!

  264. gaea says:

    I love the ideas you’ve listed! Most of them are so practical that they cut across geographies.

    Looking forward to more inspiring ideas…

  265. Rachel says:

    Could you take your prescription bottles with you to the pharmacy and ask them to refill them? Then they could just put a new label over the old one.

  266. Sandra says:

    Very impressive, Beth. Your blog has completely re-inspired my quest for being green. I have to admit, I had fallen off of the bandwagon since college and haven’t even been trying to recycle since I got married and had a child. I look at my greener friends with envy and wonder where they find the time! I have made very small changes however and have taught my family to conserve, but deep down, I know that I haven’t been doing enough. Since reading your blog last night, I am determined to adopt this cause and bring more awareness as well! Thank you for waking me up!!!

  267. Tracey says:

    How do you put your garbage out without plastic bags. I put the permanent plastic inner bin of a waste basket out once instead of bagging the waste, hoping that they’d just toss it in the truck, but they threw the whole thing out instead. Now I use two galvanized garbage cans, but haven’t gotten around bagging our garbage in shopping bags (we don’t get them new at the store, generally, but they drift to us from the world…)

    “I’m using the Bronner’s to wash the dishes, but I think I may have ruined it with too much lemon juice. (Does the lemon juice cancel out the soap?) So next time I’ll just add a few drops of a citrus essential oil and see if it works better.”

    The lemon juice won’t cancel out the soap, but you are better off adding drops of essential oil to soaps and housecleaning mixtures. Citrus essential oils are inexpensive. My favourite, Daisy Organic Essentials, is in CA there. Make sure you buy “cold pressed” citrus essential oils, as otherwise it’s likely to have been solvent extracted! Try 5% dilution of 25 drops to 250 ml (1 cup-ish) for cleaning strengtyh, less if you just want the scent.

    “Switched to compressed natural cellulose sponges for cleaning dishes (instead of synthetic) and other natural scrubbers and brushes.” Natural sea sponges are not environmentally friendly because they are scraped off the bottom of the sea, killing everything. It’s good to see natural cellulose things being made! My sponge alternative is simply to cut up a loofah (the cell structure of the squash plant “marrow”) into cross sections.

    I’m going to do a household assessment based on your changes. Unfortunately, our household emits lots of plastic because our 3 tenants aren’t part of my boycott. And they try to recycle everything, even though I’ve got the recycling calendar/poster everywhere. I guess it just FEELS better if you put your styrofoam in the recycle bin, even if deep down you suspect it’s just going to contaminate the recycling stream…

    Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

  268. Kiba says:

    Furoshiki cloths are a nice alternative to paper/plastic gift wrap. Furoshiki are a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that can be used to wrap gifts, carry groceries, lunches, etc. And since it’s all tied with knots you don’t have to worry about tape or glue.

    I wrapped a Christmas gift for one of my nephews this way. I just used a nice bit of cloth I had laying around and cut it down to size.

  269. N. & J. says:

    Wow, that is a lot of great ideas! I have to admit I was a little leery of embarking on a more eco friendly lifestyle after reading about No Impact Man and others that are going without electricty etc. I admire their resolve and beliefs but I don’t really think I could do that, at least not anytime soon. But your ideas are things that I could and will do. Thanks for the inspiration.

  270. racheblue @ bAd says:

    Wow – this is an awesome list full of great ideas and solutions to problems I’ve been thinking about for a while.
    I am SOOOOO impressed and inspired that you have made all those changes – good on ya!
    I will be joining you o your anti-plastic mission! :D
    Rache / Ecomonkey

  271. nell says:

    Just discovered this blog following links from “The Nag”. Great to see all the ideas and makes me realise just how much plastic surrounds me every day. Have long tried to recycle where I can but it’s not always easy – some great ideas here. My gripe is how hard it is to buy decent looking, useful, recycled products at sensible (rather than extortionate) prices. Regularly carry spare bags for shopping – reminds me of the old days when nobody went shopping without their shopping bag and the supermarkets charged for each bag used. Good to see some supermarkets here in the UK returning to this idea, even if it does mean more profit for them in the meantime.

  272. lemm says:

    thanks beth for your interesting and creative blog.it looks much better than mine but we must think alike as far as the ecology is concerned http://www.lemming5.blogspot.com

  273. allisonlindsay says:

    Beth: Thanks for visiting me at Living Small. Inspiring list; keep it up!

  274. Anonymous says:

    So much to think about. I have just started reducing plastics in my home. I am so thankful for all your information. I have a lot more to think about. I have bought the kids stainless steel water bottles and bowls for lunches. I will have to take it one step at a time. Thank you!

  275. I love the kids I have... says:

    RE: Feminine hygiene products

    I hated everything about having a period. Last year I found out about a medical procedure called Novasure (endometrial ablation). Quick outpatient procedure. Covered by my insurance b/c of anemia caused by heavy bleeding. Still need other birthcontrol just in case but NO MORE PERIODS. Everything else is the same, the only difference is the lack of bleeding. I’m not suggesting that someone should go to this extreme to stop buying feminine products but for me it was a solution for multiple issues.

    While it is still possible to get pregnant it is very unlikely. I happen to be done having babies.

  276. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Beth for an amazing wealth of information!
    Now I see that recycling, particularly for plastics, really isn’t! So much for my feeling good about 99% of my trash going into the the blue bin every week here in LA for recycling….a detergent bottle does not really get made into another detergent bottle!
    I look around the house, particularly the kitchen, and wonder how we” ever do so many things such as margarine without plastic!
    I’ll do my best to not buy it in the first place from now on!
    Best regards,
    Los Angeles

  277. Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank says:

    Hi Tanya. Feel free to email me directly. My email address is in my profile.

    I do know that hummus, in general, is easy to make. I’ve made it. But until you’ve tasted Haig’s Spicy Hummus, you haven’t had the supreme hummus experience. I’ve tried making it, but without a recipe, I just can’t make it taste the same!

  278. Tanya says:

    Hi Beth-

    Haven’t logged on in a while but thanks for the info. about rubber gloves. And yes, rubber is probably better than the electrical tape but I was just trying to get as much use out of them as possible b4 buying a new pair! :) Also, I wanted to let you know I checked out Rainbow grocery last weekend, and that place is fantastic! :) I also re-read your list and you would be surprised at how easy hummus is to make, much more so than pita bread! :)

    T. (Tanya)

  279. Laurie in the garden says:

    I found your site from a link from a financial article in the Wall Street Journal. Good work!

    When I have to buy non-recyclable plastic items, I try to talk to someone; the store manager or the manufacturer (in this case Trader Joe’s muffins from Zen Bakery)about using better plastics that I can recycle.

    It’s hard to do it all at home; I have resistant family members! But we recycle more than we throw away!I also organically garden fruits and veggies, so compost happens around here.

    We all are a work in progress. I still drink from the plastic cups I get at Starbucks from cold drinks. I wash them by hand. They are NOT garbage.

  280. freebagsmadam.nothanks says:

    Great Blog!

    Over at http://www.abolishplasticbags.org.uk we’re trying to eliminate the plastic carrier bag, but as part of the process we’re hoping to raise more awareness of the wider plastic problem. So I’m sign posting people here!

    If you have time you might also like to check out http://www.plasticbagfree.com where there are video resources about how plastics are effecting the marine environment and wildlife.

    Good stuff!

  281. mackenzie says:

    Holy smokes – what a fantastic list! You have things on here that I’m not sure I would have ever even considered, but now everywhere I look I’m swimming in plastic.

    Also love the way you are tracking your reduction over time. I think my footprint curve will look similar: you make the big changes first, and then it gets harder to give up conveniences…

  282. Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank says:

    If you already have plastic grocery bags, you can get the most use out of them by first reusing them as many times as possible. Once they can no longer be used as bags, take them to a store recycling bin. They will most likely be recycled into lawn furniture or some other plastic item.

    Then, switch to reusable bags. If you can’t find inexpensive canvas bags, check Goodwill or your local Freecycle group. There are tons of reusable bags floating around in this world that have been given out as promotions. Many people have more than they can use and would be happy to pass some of them along.

    Don’t feel you have to stick to canvas. Be creative. I usually just use my backpack unless I’m doing a big shop. I’ve heard from people who bring boxes to shop and even one woman who brings a laundry basket. Whatever works for you.

  283. George says:

    Beth – Thanks for your feedback on the Clean Air Gardening blog. I’m impressed by your list of ways to avoid plastic and plan to share it with several of my like-minded friends.

    What do you think is the most effective way to do away with plastic grocery bags? Some local businesses have installed recycling bins for the bags, but I’ve read that plastic bags can only be recycled a few times before they get thrown away. Other stores (such as Ikea and CostCo) have started charging per bag – that puts financial pressure on the consumer to use fewer bags. Do you know of any stores or city programs that offer discounted canvas bags?

  284. sorrow11 says:

    What an awesome List! Thank you so much for this…what incredible ideas!
    Many many thanks!

  285. Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank says:

    I think the gloves are more biodegradable than the electrical tape. Natural latex comes from rubber trees. They are not plastic.

  286. Anonymous says:

    Hi Beth-

    Thanks for the tip regarding the rubber gloves. I’ve actually used these gloves before and they work great! Are they biodegradable though? Well, I can’t seem to find any rubber gloves online that state that they are biodegradable and I’ve tried searching on everything I can think of so I guess I will go ahead and go with these! My other gloves have been patched so many times with electrical tape and I need a new pair! :)


  287. Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank says:

    Hi T. Welcome. I actually bought a pair of Casabella 100% natural latex gloves. I haven’t blogged about them yet because I haven’t actually tried them yet. Haven’t had a need to. (I guess they’d keep my hands from getting chapped, but I just don’t like the feeling of having my hands covered up while I’m working.)

    Of course, these would probably not be good for someone with a latex allergy, although they are lined with cotton. And they come in a plastic-free box. I’ll let you know how they work for me when I try them.

  288. Anonymous says:

    Hi Beth-

    I found your blog by accident when searching for environmentally friendly rubber gloves but I can’t seem to find any… Do you have any suggestions?

    Anyway, I am happy that I stumbled upon your blog as I recently bought some canvas shopping bags that say “Anti-Plastic” on them. And since I’m walking around proclaiming that I am “anti-plastic” I thought to myself that I better not be hypocritical and be stuffing my shopping bags full of plastic items so I would say that I am also doing about 85% of the items already listed on your list and I’m happy to find out that there are others as neurotic about eliminating plastic as me! :)


  289. RecycleCindy says:

    Wow what a big list. You’ve done so much here and great ideas for all of us. I’m into making recycled crafts. I crochet with plastic bags, vcr tape, cassette tapes, and other recycled materials into reusable bags, purses, grocery totes, water bottle holders, etc. Every little bit helps to reduce our plastic use and wastes.

  290. MoneyChangesThings says:

    I love microwave popcorn, and read you can just pop natural (organic) popcorn in a bag, so now I’ve eliminated the plastics in the single portion pkgs. Don’t know what the store-bought popcorn bag liners are but they look shiny, so maybe they’re plastic too.
    Great list – think of all the fossil fuel you are NOT consuming and all the CO2 emissions you are NOT responsible for. You’re practically an offset program all by yourself!
    what kind of shoes do you fancy? Not flip-flops, I’m guessing!

  291. Cindy says:

    Love the list / your website. I have been trying to lower plastic / all trash. I have been making yogurt in a yogurt maker my mom found at a thrift store. I buy one container to use to make batches and then can use the batch to make more. It couldn’t be easier. The kids love it. The containers are glass with plastic lids. The yogurt doesn’t touch the plastic in the cooking process.
    Also, I bought stainless steel food containers for the kids lunches.
    I am very interested in the penguin soda maker!!!
    Still having a hard time figuring out the best items to use for the pets. Have 3 dogs and 2 cats and always have foster kittens.


  292. Athena says:

    What do you use for garbage bags?

    I use canvas totes for my groceries but then stop using them when I need a new stash of garbage bags (the grocery bags work fine as I use a garbage chute in a condo building.)

    I can’t figure out a way around using those.

  293. Kat says:

    A possible alternative to Preserve toothbrushes (haven’t tried this yet): The Source toothbrush, at http://www.radiustoothbrush.com/

    I reuse plastic corks, lids and those lid wrappers as cat toys, when I can’t avoid them. They still end up in the trash after I fish them out from under the furniture for the fifth time, but it does mean no new plastic kitty toys. :)

  294. Michelle says:

    Beth, thank you for this list!! It really is inspiring, and so full of info!! (I clicked on the toothbrushes, which led me to Stoneyfield farm, and now I can send my yogurt containers back to them!) Next time I have to get a prescription refilled, I’ll bring my bottle back and ask for a true refill.

  295. Rejin L says:

    Thanks for this info, Beth.
    I’ve been noticing in all the articles about cities banning plastic bags, peoples’ main objection is they need them for their trash. Only when we to stop generating so much trash, will we stop obsessing about what to put it in.
    I wonder if pharmacists would let people bring their own bottles back for refills. I bet they’d object to the idea of reusing them for someone else, but they are too sturdy for just one use.

  296. Rosa says:

    Thank you for this list! I am going to bookmark it.

    I have been wondering about the pill bottles. They seem sturdy – it’s too bad you can’t peel off the labels and give them back to the pharmacy to be washed and reused.

  297. earthwoman says:

    I think this post is going to be really useful as I’m embarking on a journey of small changes.

    I’m surprised that you recommended opting for real cork stoppers in wine. I’ve been actively searching out screw tops because I thought there was something (can’t remember quite what) wrong with using real cork.

  298. Britta says:

    Loved this post! New ideas, plus thank you for the composter research. This helps a lot.

  299. Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank says:

    Siel, that’s a great question I forgot to answer. Right now, I just keep taking the same green plastic containers back to the farmer’s market and trading them for new ones. Same for cherry tomatoes. The vendors seem to be fine with me bringing back the used ones. In fact, I think I got the idea from Colin Beavan.

  300. Siel says:

    What do you do when you buy berries? I reuse plastic bags for this purpose, but I’m wondering if you’ve found an alternative —

  301. Nita says:

    You are very inspiring Beth. In fact the things you do to avoid plastic are awesome. I am going to try…a little a time.


  1. […] worth a look are Beth Terry’s site at http://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/. Beth Terry is a California resident who decided in 2007 that she’d stop buying any new plastic, […]

  2. Rushing To Work says:

    […] Tip of the Day: Check out Beth Terry’s blog about her challenge to live with as little plastic as […]

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  4. […] Some people are willing to give up almost all plastic. Do you think giving up plastic will improve your health? What about the health of the planet? Or is it a feel-good, useless frill improving the psychological well-being of environmentalists? […]

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    […] in one way or another on cheap easy oil. It doesn’t leave much. (See Beth Terry’s Web site, for example, for what subtracting plastics may entail.) The global economy that presently supplies […]

  6. […] that depends in one way or another on cheap easy oil. It doesn’t leave much. (See Beth Terry’s Web site, for example, for what subtracting plastics may […]

  7. […] in one way or another on cheap easy oil. It doesn’t leave much. (See Beth Terry’s Web site, for example, for what subtracting plastics may […]

  8. […] atmosphere and trash dumped into landfills on my behalf. Recently, I’ve been very inspired by this blog on eliminating plastic from your life. (Readers, please take a look and figure out two or three or […]

  9. […] everything that depends in one way or another on cheap easy oil. It doesn’t leave much. (See Beth Terry’s website, for example, for what subtracting plastics may […]

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  11. […] to try to completely reduce the amount of new plastic that came into her home. This site has tips on how to reduce plastic consumption. Her Top 2 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste: Bring your own […]

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  15. TXCBC says:

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  30. […] Act. What can you do? out of sight out of […]

  31. […] Since most of the trash found here in Sinai is plastic, let’s start there. There are many bloggers out there dedicated to the environment, and I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorites: Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish. She is an expert on reducing plastic waste! She has this to say about her Plastic-Free Living Guide: […]

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  34. Practice what you preach « Linear perspective says:

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