Back to Blog

10 Simple Ways to Kickstart Your Single-Use Plastic Reduction Journey

single-use plastic items strewn about with leaves

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by New Jersey Clean Communities.

In the face of new environmental challenges, there’s a pressing issue that needs our attention right away—the problem of single-use plastics. The increasing use of plastic is leaving a lasting mark on our planet, affecting ecosystems, marine life, and even human health. It’s a crisis that calls for swift and collective action. We need to change our habits and start using more sustainable alternatives.

Let’s explore practical tips and strategies that empower individuals to make a real impact. As we discover numerous ways to reduce single-use plastics in our daily lives, we’ll also uncover the environmental benefits that accompany such a shift. Join us as we navigate this path toward sustainability.

1.  (BYOB) Bring Your Own Bag

No To Plastic. Unrecognizable Girl Carrying White Eco Bag Over Yellow Background. Studio Shot, Copy Space, Cropped

Tip: Always carry a reusable bag with you. Keep a foldable tote or a sturdy canvas bag in your purse, backpack, or car to avoid the need for plastic bags at stores.

Benefit: Reusable bags reduce the demand for plastic bags, cutting down on pollution that harms wildlife and ecosystems. This helps conserve resources used in the production of disposable bags since the production of plastic bags relies on non-renewable resources, like oil.

Single-use plastic bags pollute communities with litter, degrade the environment, and harm marine life.

The good news is that New Jersey has a well-designed single-use plastic bag ban that has successfully reduced plastic bag use and associated litter and pollution.

Check out this Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban Waste Reduction Calculator to estimate the impact on your town. Click Here!

2.     Ditch Disposable Water Bottles

Female choosing reusable thermos instead disposable bottle, plastic pollution

Tip: Invest in a reusable water bottle and carry it everywhere. This small switch can save you money and prevent countless plastic bottles from ending up in landfills.

Benefit: This limits the production of single-use plastic bottles which can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Less plastic bottles help reduce the environmental impact of plastic pollution, as many plastic bottles end up in oceans and waterways, posing a threat to marine life.  Using reusable bottles also saves money in the long run compared to buying bottled water regularly.

3.     Embrace the Power of Reusable Containers

Tip: When packing lunch or getting takeout, opt for reusable containers instead of disposable ones. Bring your own container to restaurants or request a non-plastic alternative.

Benefit: Reusable containers reduce the amount of plastic waste generated from disposable containers that can cause landfill accumulation, taking years to break down. Regularly requesting sustainable options encourages restaurants and food establishments to adopt more sustainable packaging options.

4.     Skip the Straw

Tip: Skip the plastic straw when ordering drinks or invest in reusable alternatives like stainless steel or bamboo straws. Make it a habit to say, “Skip the Straw” when ordering food.

Benefit: Skipping the straw helps minimize the use of non-biodegradable plastic straws that contribute significantly to marine pollution. This reduces microplastic generation when straws break down into smaller particles and contribute to microplastic pollution.

9.     Choose Reusable Coffee Cups

Female Worker in Cafe Serving Coffee In Sustainable Reusable Cup

Tip: Invest in a reusable travel mug or thermos for your daily coffee runs. You can also keep a coffee mug at the office instead of using disposable coffee cups.

Benefit: Reusable options decrease the need for disposable coffee cups, which can be challenging to recycle in some locations. Avoiding disposable cups encourages businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices and may result in cost savings through reusable cup discounts.

6.     Skip the Stuff with Take-Out

Tip: When ordering takeout, whether at work or home, remember to “Skip the Stuff”. 

Keep a set of reusable utensils – a fork, knife, and spoon – at work. This simple step reduces the need for disposable plastic utensils when eating on the go. Then you can ask restaurants to leave out the single-use plastic utensils by saying “Skip the Stuff.” This is especially important to do when having food delivered to your home where you have utensils already.

Benefits: This can cut down on the use of single-use plastic utensils, reducing plastic pollution and the environmental impact of disposable products. Skipping these extras encourages a more responsible and waste-conscious dining culture.

5.     Choose Sustainable Packaging

Tip: Be mindful of your purchases by choosing products with minimal or eco-friendly packaging. Opt for products in glass, paper, or cardboard instead of plastic whenever possible.

Benefit: You can support environmentally conscious practices by reducing the demand for excessive plastic packaging that can result in more waste in landfills. This plastic packaging can also end up as litter which contributes to habitat destruction. Choosing alternatives to plastic helps promote a shift in the market towards more sustainable packaging options.

7.     Opt for Refillable Containers

Tip: Choose products that come in refillable containers, such as cleaning supplies, personal care items, and pantry staples.

Benefit: Refillable containers reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles and containers, cutting down on plastic waste. This supports a circular economy by promoting the reuse of packaging. It requires less resources and energy than producing single-use plastic bottles.

8.     Shop in Bulk

Tip: Buying in bulk minimizes packaging waste. Bring your reusable containers to bulk stores or use the provided reusable bags to fill up on items like grains, nuts, and snacks.

Benefit: Buying in bulk minimizes packaging waste by buying larger quantities and requiring less packaging. This often results in cost savings and supports a more sustainable approach to consumption.

10.  Educate and Inspire Others

One happy woman talking on cellphone while working on sustainable apple orchard farm on sunny day. Cheerful farmer speaking on phone while planning tasks for harvest season of fresh organic fruit

Tip: Share your journey towards reducing single-use plastics with friends, family, and on social media. Encourage others to join you and create a supportive community dedicated to making sustainable choices.

Benefit: This can create a ripple effect by inspiring others to adopt sustainable practices. Spreading the word strengthens the community’s commitment to reducing single-use plastics, and can foster a sense of shared responsibility for the environment.

In conclusion, the journey to single-use plastic reduction has a profound impact on our daily choices and the health of our planet. The environmental consequences of plastic pollution include detrimental effects on marine life and public health.

We have an opportunity for transformation and the power to make a change. The single-use plastic crisis can be impacted by individuals who choose to adopt sustainable practices, one decision at a time.

Through united efforts, we can pave the way for a sustainable, plastic-free future—a future where our choices today create lasting positive effects for tomorrow. Together, let us be the creators of change for the planet we are proud to call home.