100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life


    01 - Top Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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    02 - Eating and Drinking on the Go

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Treat yourself to an ice cream cone.

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

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    03 - Grocery Shopping

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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. (Read about Buying and Storing Meat without Plastic and Plastic-Free Beef Jerky.)

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.)

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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, 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, or specifically buying and storing loose lettuce and leafy greens.  (Here’s why I never use Evert Fresh green bags.)

  21. 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.

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    04 - Household Cleaning

  23. 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.

  24. Baking soda is a fantastic scouring powder.

  25. Use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.
  28. Wash laundry with soap nuts or laundry powders without a plastic scoop.

  29. 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 .

  30. Use natural rubber gloves.

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

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    05 - Personal Care

  32. 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.

  33. 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?

  34. Give up shampoo in plastic bottles.

    There are several plastic-free options.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

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

    Organic Essence packages 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.

  40. 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.

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

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. Choose a plastic-free wooden hair brush.

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

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    06 - Lunch Time at School or Work

  48. 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.

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

    A few examples of good lunch container options are:

  50. Choose reusable cloth sandwich/snack bags.

    Read about the many reusable cloth lunch baggie options here.

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    07 - Kitchenware & Food Storage

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. Choose a stainless steel ice cube tray.

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

  58. 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.

  59. 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: https://www.brita.com/recycling-filters/

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    08 - Make It From Scratch

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. Make your own snacks.

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

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    09 - Buy Secondhand

  66. Acquire necessary plastic items used instead of new.

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

    • Plastic cat litter boxes and cat carriers via Freecycle and thrift shops
    • Computer monitor from Craigslist when my old one broke and couldn’t be repaired
    • Crock pot
    • Power strips via Freecycle
    • Laptop computer from secondhand electronics store
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    10 - Get it Fixed!

  68. Repair things when they break.

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

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

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    11- In the Office

  70. Make your own glue.

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

  71. Avoid disposable plastic pens.

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

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    12 - No More Plastic Trash Bags

  73. Compost food waste.

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

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

    Read more about collecting garbage without plastic trash bags.

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    13 - Plastic-Free Pet Care

  75. Choose natural cat litter.

    Integrity 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.

  76. 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 bookshelves, etc.) so that our cats could roam and climb to their hearts’ content.
  77. Avoid plastic bowls.

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

  78. 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!

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

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

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    14 - Travel

  81. 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!

  82. 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.

  83. 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.

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

  86. 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).

  87. 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.

  88. Choose plastic-free camping equipment.

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

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    15 - Medication and Healthcare

  90. 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.

  91. Use handkerchiefs instead of paper tissue.

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

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    16 - No New Plastic Clothing

  93. 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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. Look for plastic-free shoes.

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

  97. Alter and Modify Old Shoes and Clothing into New

    Do you have old clothes and shoes in the closet that you never wear because they don’t fit or are out of style?  Take them to a tailor or cobbler for alteration.  During my Buy Nothing New year in 2016, I had a pair of shoes modified to fit my feet better.  It’s like having a new pair of shoes!

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    17 - Holidays and Entertaining

  99. 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.

  100. 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.  Ask guests to bring containers for leftovers, as they did at our Thanksgiving potluck.

  101. 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 cardboard, wood, or even recycled glass bottles.

  102. Skip holiday plastic tchotkes.

    Make your own plastic-free vegan Easter eggs.  Avoid Valentine’s Day and Halloween plastic crap. Say no to fake plastic wishbones.

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    18 - Gift Giving and Receiving

  104. 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.

  105. Consider giving charitable gift cards.

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

  106. 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.

  107. Find ways to wrap gifts without plastic tape.

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

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    19 - Packing and Shipping Materials

  109. 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.

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

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

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    20 - Electronics & Entertainment

  112. 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.

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

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

  114. 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.

  115. 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.

  116. 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.

  117. 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.

  118. 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.  And while this is not exactly techno (in fact, it’s the opposite), I also knitted and felted a new checkbook cover to avoid PVC.

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    21 - If You Do Nothing Else

  120. Avoid the Worst Plastics

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

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

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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… Read more »

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

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.

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…

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?

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

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?


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 »

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.

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

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.

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. https://myplasticfreelife.com/forum/

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… Read more »

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.

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… Read more »

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.

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 »
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 »
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.  https://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:… Read more »

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.)

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 »
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… Read more »

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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:/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… Read more »

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.

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… Read more »

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?

@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?

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 »

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?

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… Read more »

@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.  /2009/03/healthy-bodies-are-good-for-environment/

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

@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.

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! :)

@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.

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?

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
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… Read more »
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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>

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 »
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 »

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!

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

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.

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.

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

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!

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. ?

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.

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… Read more »

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.

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… Read more »

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

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 »

Indeed, I would wish that plastic were the most expensive materiel on the planet so we would appreciate it for the uses it is REALLY useful for, instead of wasting it and poisoning ourselves and our ressources with it just because it is cheap. The only reasons I don’t wish it because it is a) wishes don’t change anything and b) poor people all over the world depend on it

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.

@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.

 “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.

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!

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 »

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

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>

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.… Read more »
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 »
@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 »

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.

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.

@greg56  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,… Read more »
@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… Read more »

@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.

@greg56 Obviously you have no sense of smell

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 »
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 »

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

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.

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

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,… Read more »

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?