How to Avoid Plastic in Everyday Situations

Plastic is everywhere — and, despite our best efforts, that makes it difficult to avoid.

The secret to minimizing plastic use boils down to reuse. Here are five easy ways to avoid plastic at common events and retail locations, including street festivals and grocery stores.

1. Bring your own container.

Whether you bring a mason jar for bulk items at the grocery store or take your own reusable carryout container to restaurants, this approach can be essential to avoiding plastic. If you can afford it, try using milk bottles that you can refill.

Don’t forget a reusable water bottle for conferences and other events that tend to rely on plastic disposables. And opt for a reusable coffee mug for your morning drink, as many cardboard cups are lined with plastic. Some cafes even provide a “BYO” discount!

Keep in mind that canned foods and sodas in metal containers contain plastics too.

2. Rethink your toiletries.

Menstrual products often include plastics, whether in tampon applicators or pads. Consider switching to a more sustainable option, like cloth pads, sea sponges or a reusable menstrual cup.

Try to avoid purchasing products that contain microbeads, including face wash and toothpaste.

3. Only take what you need.

Plastic straws in drinks, free trinkets from booths — unnecessary plastic items are constantly lurking. But you don’t have to accept them — just say no.

The same goes for packaging. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, packaging represents 30 percent of waste generated by Americans.

As Transition Troy notes, “Buying in bulk and/or economy sizes, avoiding single serving sizes, and using refillable containers is a great start.”

4. Buy secondhand or borrow.

So many clothes contain hidden plastics, like polyester. At the same time, a European study found that conventional cotton has an even higher impact on the environment due to heavy pesticide use.

Opt out of that nonsense altogether by buying secondhand clothing. This also goes for kitchen supplies and other household items. For special items that you can’t find at your local Goodwill, borrow from a neighbor or a friend.

If you have to use plastic, at least avoid feeding the demand for new plastic.

5. Be aware of hidden plastics.

Plastics are cheap to produce and buy. Even if you can’t avoid every plastic-containing product, educating yourself — and others — is an important step to becoming more environmentally friendly.

For inspiration, check out Beth Terry’s list of 100 ways to avoid plastics in “My Plastic Free Life.”

Photo Credit: averie woodard/Unsplash


donald B
donald B5 months ago

Thanks for the info !!!!

Carole R
Carole R5 months ago

Thanks for some very good ideas.

David C
David C5 months ago

thanks, and I wish whatever plastic people did use was recycled rather than strewn over roads and in wild places

Glennis W
Glennis W5 months ago

Very informative Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W5 months ago

Great information and advice Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W5 months ago

Very interesting article Thank you for caring and sharing

Winn Adams
Winn A5 months ago


Debra G
Debra G5 months ago

The list of 100 ways to be plastic free has some good ideas, but I was struck by how, in our fast-paced world, it would be impossibly time-consuming to return to pre-plastic skills (make your own ketchup, clothes, laundry detergent...). For us DIY-inept folks, we'll have to rely on recycling, bringing our own bags, and skipping water bottles and straws. Sorry.

Kelsey S
Kelsey S5 months ago


Ann B
Ann B5 months ago

plastic is a nightmare especially for the environment and animals AVOID IF POSSIBLE