How to Ditch Plastics Part 1

10 easy ways to cut out single-use plastics right now

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when we hear and read about the negative impacts of plastic on our ecosystems,” says Lindsay Coulter, a zoologist and the green-living expert with the David Suzuki Foundation. 

That’s why, as that environmental organization’s Queen of Green, she doles out easy-to-follow advice for everyday actions that reduce plastic use. The key, she says, is to start small. “Change only one thing at a time — even small tweaks we do in our daily lives can add up to big changes for the planet.” 

The easiest place to start is by refusing single-use plastics, especially packaging. “About 40 per cent of the plastics manufactured today are for disposable products,” says Vito Buonsante, the plastic program manager at Toronto-based Environmental Defence. So the first step to reducing plastic pollution is to cut single-use shopping and produce bags, bottles and coffee cups. Bring your own cloth bags for groceries and produce, keep a reusable mug and bottle with you and shop at bulk and zero-waste stores if possible. “Switch back to bar soaps,” suggests Buonsante. “They’re cheaper than liquid soap in plastic containers and they last longer. And powdered laundry detergent works as well as the liquid counterpart, but it’s packaged in paper boxes.”

The Queen of Green agrees. “The obvious thing would be for corporations to stop making plastic in the first place,” she says. “But by making incremental changes, like always bringing a reusable bottle with you, we can all have a positive impact on the planet.” Here are 10 tips from the Queen of Green to help you kick your habit.

  1. Refuse plastic drinking straws.
  2. Swap plastic grocery and produce bags for bags made of canvas or other fabrics.
  3. Say no to plastic beverage bottles; instead, refill your own stainless steel bottle, which can be recycled at the end of its life.
  4. Shop at farmers markets and bulk stores, which limit plastic packaging, and bring reusable glass containers and fabric bags.
  5. Refuse plastic-coated coffee cups; instead, have the barista fill your own reusable mug.
  6. Switch your plastic toothbrush to one made of bamboo.
  7. Refuse plastic cutlery. If you bring lunch to work or travel often, use regular cutlery or a light-weight option found at outdoor gear stores. 
  8. Say no to plastic takeaway food containers. If you eat out often, keep a stainless steel container handy for leftovers.
  9. Ditch the cling wrap, and instead opt for reusable food containers.
  10. Pack your lunch in glass jars, or stainless steel containers if weight is a consideration.