How to Ditch Plastics Part 2

More ways to reduce plastic in the short- and long-term. Take action with another 10 steps to eliminate plastic waste 

Getting the hang of phasing out single-use plastics and want to do more? Once the disposable plastics are out of our lives and we see it’s possible to live without them with just a little bit of planning (such as remembering to carry a reusable bottle and bag), we can take a few more steps toward shaping the plastic-free future our planet and next generations deserve. 

Vito Buonsante, the plastics program manager at the Toronto organization Environmental Defence, suggests that in addition to saying no to plastic whenever possible, we can all push for more systemic changes that limit the amount of plastic manufactured in the first place. 

“Part of becoming an activist for a plastic-free planet includes things such as swapping liquid soap that’s packaged in plastic for bar soap wrapped in paper,” he says. “But it also means letting companies know you want to see eggs in paper cartons and yogurt in glass jars instead of in plastic packaging.” 

Lindsay Coulter, a.k.a. the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green, also suggests making plastic-free living a reality by joining groups. “You don’t have to feel like you have to start something, it’s OK to join existing groups that organize clothing swaps or shoreline and riverbank cleanups,” she says, adding what’s important is to be open-minded and curious.  

Here are 10 more ways to eliminate — or push for the elimination of — plastic, courtesy of Buonsante and Coulter.

  1. Buy beans, lentils and other dry staples in bulk rather than canned. Yes, they take longer to cook, but kicking the cans means avoiding its plastic lining, which often contains Bisphenol A, a known hormone disruptor. 
  2. Go back to using good old soap bars instead of liquid soap, which is packaged in plastic bottles that may not be recycled. You can even get solid shampoo bars. 
  3. When buying kids’ birthday and other gifts, opt for experiences rather than more plastic toys and other objects that might one day end up in landfill. Plan a visit to a science centre or museum, get tickets to a play or a movie, or pack a zero-plastic-waste picnic for day out exploring an urban park.
  4. Swap readily available sanitary products and diapers, which are made of plastic, for washable and reusable products. There are an increasing number of diaper-washing and delivery services available in urban centres. And more and more drugstores now carry reusable feminine hygiene products.
  5. Switch to powdered laundry detergent. It’s as effective at getting clothes clean as its liquid counterpart, and it comes in a recyclable cardboard box, not in a plastic container that may end up in landfill.
  6. Organize or join a clothing swap to avoid buying new clothes made of synthetic fibres.
  7. Switch facial and body scrubs with microbeads — the tiny particles have been banned in Canada, but products with the offending beads may linger on store shelves — for coarse sea salt or coffee grounds mixed with some olive oil and an aromatherapy fragrance. 
  8. Make your own yogurt rather than buying yogurt tubs. There are yogurt machines that do the work for you and come with the bacterial culture needed to start the process.
  9. Let politicians know what kind of planet you want. Write to your local, provincial or territorial and federal representatives and demand restrictions on single-use plastics (where they haven’t been tabled or enacted already), and ask them to push for laws that require, say, beverage manufacturers to take back used bottles for recycling. 
  10. Host or join an organic bulk-buying club that sources produce, meats and other foods from local farmers.
Did you know?

Plastic packaging can be reduced by making your own cleaning products, including all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents and toothpastes. Recipes for many of these are easily found online, courtesy of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green.