7 Reusable Alternatives to Single-Use Plastic

A brief history of the invention of plastics takes us all the way back to 1839, when a fellow by the name of Eduard Simon inadvertently discovered polystyrene. In 1909 Leo Hendrik Baekeland invented the first synthetic plastic.

Fast-forward to 2017 and a study released by Science Advances tallies up all the plastic ever made. It turns out humans have produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic since 1950.

If it was at least being put to good use, that number might not be quite so disturbing. Unfortunately, most plastic production is for single-use packaging.

To put it in perspective, in 2015 humans threw out 141 million metric tons of single-use plastic packaging – almost as much as was made that year.

In 2015 humans threw out 141 million metric tons of We might not have the power to stop plastic manufacturing, but we can choose reusable alternatives.

The amount of plastic trash littering the earth is staggering. Stopping production of this environmentally-unfriendly substance isn’t going to happen, so the next best thing is to vote with your wallet and choose reusable alternatives to single-use plastic.

1. Plastic Straws

Straw pollution is a huge problem. Edible straws are one solution, but what if your local smoothie bar doesn’t stock the Lolistraw?

From steel and bamboo to glass and paper, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws. You could even go rogue and opt for no straw. You rebel, you.

2. Water Bottles

There are plenty of easy hacks to reduce your plastic consumption and one of them is to get yourself a reusable water bottle. Unlike its single-use plastic cousin, the forever alternative isn’t bad for your health.

3. Plastic Shopping Bags

It’s heartening to see the growing number of countries that have banned plastic bags.

Some, like South Africa, have imposed a tax as a way to discourage people from using them. The amount is far from prohibitive, but at least the major grocery chains have made reusable shopping bags cost-effective and easily available.

4. Take-Out Eating Utensils

Living sustainably isn’t just the domain of the eco-friendly nomad. There’s nothing wrong with carrying a reusable cutlery set with you even if you do have a permanent address. What if you forget your packed lunch or need to work late and order take-out?

5. Take-Out Coffee Cups

Along with plastic straws and water bottles, one of the easiest ways to avoid adding to the world’s growing trash problem is to quit your morning cappuccino habit.

I’m kidding. Everyone knows the day hasn’t started until the caffeine’s been had. Just get yourself a reusable coffee cup and you’re good to go.

6. Flip-Flops

Synonymous with summer and lazy days at the beach, the trusty flip-flop is a favorite with many people. They also pose a huge hazard to ocean life.

A better idea is to find an eco-friendly sandal that will last you more than one season.

7. Kids Toys

Although technically not single-use, the cheap gimmicky toys that come in Happy Meals (or lure little hands in the checkout aisle) might just as well be. Kids will whine like there’s no tomorrow until they get it and then toss it aside an hour later. Instead, buy them some eco-friendly toys they’ll actually appreciate.

If you want to take another step to fight single-use plastic, sign this Care2 petition asking Starbucks to ditch plastic straws.

Photo Credits: Thinkstock


Barbara S
Barbara Sabout a month ago

Thank you

Barbara S
Barbara Sabout a month ago

Thank you

Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer1 months ago

Thank you. I'll try better.

Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Angela AWAY K
Angela Kabout a year ago

We have a well-functioning recycling system in Germany for years ... Plastic, glass, paper, household waste and garden waste .... plastic bottles are with us ONLY returnable bottles. There are so called "bottle return automats" in all supermarkets, where we get back money for plastic bottles ... so nobody throws them away anymore ......and plastic bags are not free here .... we have to pay for it .... small bags 2o cent and large bags 50 cents, so one think twice if one buy a bag that one throw away 2 hours later anyway .... It's a very simple system !
I think that recyceling would be a very big step for Mother Earth, if all countries would do this.
The petition I have already signed and shared!

Leo C
Leo Cabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing!

Paola M
Past Member about a year ago

thanks for posting

Chad A
Chad Andersonabout a year ago

Thank you!

Alexis S
Past Member about a year ago

They should bring back glass syringes