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.

  3. Back to top

    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.

  16. Back to top

    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.

  22. Back to top

    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.

  26. Back to top

    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.

  34. Back to top

    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.

  39. Back to top

    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.

  41. Back to top

    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.

  50. Back to top

    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.

  66. Back to top

    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.

  69. Back to top


  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.

  77. Back to top

    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.

  83. Back to top

    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.

  85. Back to top

    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
  87. Back to top

    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.

  90. Back to top

    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.

  93. Back to top

    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.

  101. Back to top

    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.

  106. Back to top

    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.

  111. Back to top

    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.

  117. Back to top

    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:

  119. Back to top

    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/

  121. Back to top

    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.)

  123. Back to top

Leave a Reply

482 Comments on "100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
22 days 22 hours ago


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!

26 days 22 hours ago

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!

2 months 2 days ago

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

2 months 22 days ago

Thank you for all the tips… Nice Job!

Isabel Schwarzkopf
3 months 11 days ago

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.

Catherine Sultana
3 months 24 days ago

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!

3 months 26 days ago

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… Read more »

1 month 12 days ago

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.

4 months 11 days ago

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!

4 months 22 days ago

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

4 months 24 days ago

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…

Emilia Simpson
5 months 17 days ago

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

7 months 8 days ago

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!

7 months 8 days ago

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.

7 months 8 days ago

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.

7 months 15 days ago

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.

Catherine Sultana
3 months 24 days ago

would bamboo skewers work for some items and going with handheld foods wrapped in paper? Give discount to folks who bring own to go container? Best wishes for success!

7 months 8 days ago

Hello SwineandDine, Love your logon! Got some ideas for you to look at and some are very affordable, as well as an interesting article addressing your type of concern. http://inhabitat.com/spudware-cutlery-made-from-potatoes/
for ordering ideas

Edible cutlery yum. Less landfill waste and no forks to clean.

7 months 8 days ago

There are disposable utensils made from wood, and some that are corn-based.

7 months 17 days ago

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

8 months 5 hours ago

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.

7 months 22 days ago

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.

8 months 2 days ago

very good instructions.

8 months 16 days ago

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


Catherine Sultana
3 months 24 days ago

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.

8 months 15 days ago


8 months 21 days ago

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?

1 month 12 days ago

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!

8 months 21 days ago

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.

Ms schambach
8 months 22 days ago

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?

8 months 21 days ago

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.

9 months 1 day ago

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

9 months 3 days ago

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… Read more »

9 months 8 days ago

hi jazzy here again,

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

9 months 8 days ago

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… Read more »

9 months 9 days ago

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… Read more »

9 months 10 days ago

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

9 months 10 days ago

any tips for cats

9 months 10 days ago

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… Read more »

9 months 10 days ago

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… Read more »

9 months 13 days ago

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

9 months 13 days ago

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… Read more »

9 months 30 days ago

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

9 months 12 days ago

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.

10 months 3 days ago

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?

9 months 12 days ago

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.

10 months 12 days ago

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).

9 months 12 days ago

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.

10 months 28 days ago

Any leads on where to find plastic free liquors?

9 months 12 days ago

MelissaGraves Which liquors specifically?  Most hard liquor is available in glass.

10 months 30 days ago


1 year 26 days ago

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… Read more »

1 year 29 days ago

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

1 year 1 month ago


1 year 1 month ago

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

1 year 4 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 4 months ago

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.

1 year 3 months ago

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/)

1 year 4 months ago

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

1 year 16 days ago

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!

1 year 3 months ago

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!

9 months 12 days ago

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.

1 year 5 months ago

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

1 year 3 months ago

Absolutely.  In fact, I have a post coming up on this very topic.

1 year 5 months ago

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

Shayna Keil
1 year 5 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 3 months ago

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/

1 year 5 months ago

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! :)

1 year 5 months ago

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!

1 month 3 days ago

I don’t know if it would help for the cold, but I found that: http://www.bynature.ca/natural-rubber-bath-mat.html

1 year 4 months ago

You should track down a living bath mat – they are made of moss I think. They are supposed to be fantastic.

1 year 6 months ago

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.

1 year 3 months ago

It’s actually an old ice bucket I found at a yard sale.

1 year 6 months ago

Truly impressive – thanks a lot for all of this!

Abigayil Abrami Moses
1 year 6 months ago

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.

1 year 3 months ago

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
9 months 11 days ago

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.,

1 year 6 months ago

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

1 year 6 months ago

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

1 year 6 months ago

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.

1 year 6 months ago

That’s similar for what I have for home use, but I’m trying to find one for my office (which doesn’t have a stove or heating element).

1 year 6 months ago

Did you see this blog yet: http://www.thekitchn.com/is-there-a-plasticfree-electric-kettle-good-questions-183593 ? (she always has good stuff!)

1 year 7 months ago

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.

1 year 7 months ago

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!!!

1 year 7 months ago

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

1 year 7 months ago

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, 

1 year 7 months ago

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! :-)

1 year 7 months ago

Awesome!  Let me know if you have any questions.

1 year 7 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 7 months ago

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.

1 year 7 months ago

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.

1 year 7 months ago

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

1 year 7 months ago

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

1 year 7 months ago

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.

9 months 13 days ago

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.

1 year 7 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 7 months ago

Zambooka, your progress is great. One step at a time, and you’ve taken many!

1 year 8 months ago

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.

1 year 8 months ago

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…

1 year 8 months ago

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?

1 year 8 months ago

I suppose you could scoop from the middle of the bin where the food hasnt touched the edges.

1 year 8 months ago

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?


1 year 8 months ago

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,… Read more »

1 year 3 months ago

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.

1 year 9 months ago

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

1 year 10 months ago

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.

1 year 7 months ago

Hi Zambooka. This would be a great question for the Discussion Forum. More people will ser your question. I don’t have a worm bin so I can’t answer. http://myplasticfreelife.com/forum/

1 year 10 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 10 months ago

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.

1 year 10 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 10 months ago

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.

1 year 10 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 10 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 10 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 10 months ago

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.)

2 years 1 month ago

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… Read more »

2 years 1 month ago

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… Read more »

2 years 2 months ago

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?

1 year 8 months ago

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.

1 year 7 months ago

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.

1 year 7 months ago

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.

1 year 7 months ago

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

2 years 1 month ago

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… Read more »

1 year 10 months ago

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.

2 years 1 month ago

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… Read more »

2 years 2 months ago

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?

2 years 1 month ago

@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?

2 years 4 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 8 months ago

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?

2 years 4 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 10 months ago
2 years 1 month ago

@Livia Great tips.  As for alternative health practices, I do as much as possible opt for natural methods.  However, without getting too personal, I’ll just say there are a few things I need prescriptions for.  But here is a post I wrote about why staying healthy is food for the environment.  http://myplasticfreelife.com/2009/03/healthy-bodies-are-good-for-environment/

2 years 4 months ago

@Livia I’ve always wanted to try making my own cheese. I have most of the equipment needed, now just need to find the time.

2 years 5 months ago

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! :)

2 years 1 month ago

@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.

2 years 5 months ago

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?

2 years 5 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 5 months ago

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/

2 years 6 months ago

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.

1 year 8 months ago

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.

2 years 6 months ago

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

2 years 6 months ago

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.

2 years 6 months ago

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/

2 years 8 months ago

I came across your site while searching for more information about my mower, but I always love a great do-it-yourself site. I’m going to bookmark the site and look forward to reading more articles.

2 years 8 months ago

i love this blog and i find lots of useful information here.keep doing this great job and update your blog more often.thank you for the great women pics i find on this blog.
<a href=”http://www.frozendessertsupplies.com/s-3-gelato-supplies.aspx”>Gelato Supplies</a>

2 years 8 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 8 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 8 months ago

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!

2 years 8 months ago

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

2 years 9 months ago

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.

2 years 9 months ago

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

2 years 9 months ago

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.

1 year 8 months ago

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

2 years 9 months ago

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.

2 years 9 months ago

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!

2 years 10 months ago

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. ?

2 years 10 months ago

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.

2 years 10 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 10 months ago

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.

2 years 10 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 11 months ago

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

2 years 11 months ago

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… Read more »

1 year 10 months ago

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.

2 years 9 months ago

@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.

2 years 10 months ago

 “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.

2 years 11 months ago

@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.

2 years 11 months ago

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!

2 years 11 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 11 months ago

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.

2 years 11 months ago

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

2 years 11 months ago

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>

2 years 11 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 11 months ago

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…

1 year 8 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 11 months ago

 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.

2 years 11 months ago

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… Read more »

2 years 11 months ago

@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.

2 years 11 months ago

@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,… Read more »

2 years 11 months ago

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.

2 years 11 months ago

@ParastooParsa Hi.  I would love to see your post, but that link is not the public URL but I think to the Blogger post editor.  Please do post the URL.  Cheers.

2 years 11 months ago

@BethTerry  @ParastooParsa
 OOps So sorry. Thanks for letting me know. Here it is.

2 years 11 months ago

@ParastooParsa Thanks!  I left a comment on your blog post.

3 years 1 day ago

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.

2 years 11 months ago

 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… Read more »

2 years 11 months ago

@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… Read more »

2 years 11 months ago

@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.

2 years 11 months ago

@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.

2 years 11 months ago

@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.

2 years 11 months ago

@greg56 Obviously you have no sense of smell

3 years 6 days ago

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… Read more »

3 years 15 days ago

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… Read more »

3 years 13 days ago

@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… Read more »

3 years 29 days ago

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

3 years 1 month ago

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.

3 years 26 days ago

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.

3 years 6 months ago

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

3 years 6 months ago

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.

3 years 6 months ago

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.… Read more »

3 years 6 months ago

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/

3 years 6 months ago

 @BethTerry Excellent! I will have to check out your book. Thanks again for this resource!!

3 years 6 months ago

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?

3 years 6 months ago

 @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?

3 years 6 months ago

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! 

2 years 11 months ago

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.

3 years 6 months ago

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.

3 years 6 months ago

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… Read more »

3 years 6 months ago

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.

3 years 6 months ago

 @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.

Nicole E
3 years 7 months ago

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.

3 years 7 months ago

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
3 years 7 months ago

 @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!

3 years 6 months ago

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.… Read more »

David Bellamy
3 years 7 months ago

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.

3 years 7 months ago

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… Read more »

3 years 7 months ago

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

3 years 6 months ago

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.

3 years 7 months ago

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

3 years 7 months ago

great page but please go vegan as well

Toni Samoranski
3 years 10 months ago

And also, what about lotion/moisturizer containers?

Toni Samoranski
3 years 10 months ago

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

3 years 10 months ago

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!

3 years 10 months ago

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.

3 years 10 months ago

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.

3 years 11 months ago

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:)

4 years 18 days ago

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

Sam Snide
4 years 2 months ago

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… Read more »

4 years 6 days ago


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.


4 years 4 months ago

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