Practicing Mindful Consumption: Strategies to Get Plastic Out of Your Life

Updated: Apr 2

1. Carry reusable shopping bags

Use a canvas tote, backpack, messenger bag...whatever works! ChicoBags are popular because they stuff into their own attached stuff sack and are easy to remember. Reuse produce bags and mesh bags that oranges and onions come in.

2. Give up bottled water

Tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it. Many brands of bottled water are simply filtered tap water. Get a reusable stainless steel bottle or travel mug, fill it with tap water before leaving the house, and refill it at water fountains. Buy a sparkling

water maker to make your own.

3. Buy from bulk bins

Some grocery stores sell unpackaged food in bulk bins. Bring your own reusable cloth bags, containers, or jars to the store to avoid taking new plastic bags. Have your empty contain- ers weighed when you first arrive, so the cashier can deduct the weight of the container when you check out. You can use your own containers for meats, cheeses, and prepared foods in many stores.

4. Shop your local farmers’ market

Farmers’ markets are a great way to buy fresh, local produce without plastic, as long as you remember to bring your own bags. Normally, farmers’ market produce won’t have those tiny plastic stickers on them. Buy bread at the farmers’ market or bakeries where bread comes in paper bags or no bag.

5. Request better packaging online

Do this ahead of time to avoid polystyrene packing peanuts or plastic air pillows. has some products packaged in “Frustration-Free Packaging.” Small businesses are often very happy to accommodate requests for less packaging.

6. Refill office supplies

Refill toner cartridges and pens instead of buying new ones.

7. Go plastic-free for parties

Instead of disposable tableware, use your own dishes and wash them, or buy compostable ones. Use cloth or recycled paper napkins.

8. Look for solid or powdered cleaning & personal care products

Try bar soap, solid shampoo bars, powder dishwasher soap and laundry soap, soap nuts, and deodorant in plastic-free packaging. Avoid using disposable plastic razors or buying lotions and lip balms that come in plastic containers. Use a wooden-handled hairbrush.

9. Skip plastic for take-out & leftovers

Ask take-out places to use your container instead of their disposable one, especially coffee shops. There are many reusable to-go items, such as stainless steel containers, mugs, travel utensils, and drinking straws. Use what you already have: glass jars, a fork from your kitchen wrapped in a cloth napkin, etc. Pack your lunch in a reusable lunchbox and use beeswax food wraps or metal containers.

10. Avoid single serving containers

Choose larger sized containers, rather than single serving sizes. For example, buy a large container of yogurt and scoop it into individual bowls. Buy a large container of juice rather than single juice boxes. Avoid individually wrapped products like cheese slices. Purchase from the butcher counter to avoid shrink- wrapped meats.

11. Ditch plastic garbage bags

If you get the wet stuff out of your trash by recycling and composting, you won’t need bin liners. Collect your trash in a used paper bag, or line waste cans with old newspapers or compostable trash bags. Use your City’s curbside green cart for food waste or invest in your own backyard or worm compost bin.

12. Ask your nursery if they take back plastic plant pots

13. Try to borrow, rent, or buy used first

Use your local classifieds and tool lending libraries. Get DVDs from the library or stream movies online. Share stuff through barter/exchange sites. Buy used clothing, furniture, bikes, and household items. Host a clothing swap.

14. Buy in wood!

Choose wood instead of plastic. This is possible in many occasions and ... it is so much more pleasant to have, touch and use. Visit and see the many available opportunities .

Sources: Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry Website:

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