Replace common single-use plastics with these sturdy reusables, recommended by MyPlasticFreeLife.com's Beth Terry and the editors of the Green American.
1. Instead of accepting plastic bags at the grocery store, carry your own cloth grocery and produce bags. Choose stretchy string bags that carry many times their weight (ReuseIt.com), paper-thin organic cotton produce bags (BlueLotusGoods.com, EcoBags.com), compact recycled nylon bags that crush down to the size of two golf balls and fit in a bag or purse (Chicobags.com), and more.
2. Give up plastic water bottles and carry your own unlined, reusable stainless steel bottle. Klean Kanteen (KleanKanteen.com) now offers a 100-percent plastic-free "Reflect" bottle, crafted from stainless steel, sustainably harvested bamboo, and food-grade silicone. Try an insulated steel bottle to keep your drinks hot in winter and cold in summer.
3. Bring your own reusable food containers to buy builk items at the store and when you're ordering take-out. To-GoWare.com offers stainless steel "tiffin" boxes with two or three compartments. LifeWithoutPlastic.com sells stainless steel and glass "Tupperware"-like containers, lunchboxes, and more. And Dr. Wallace J. Nichols funds his sea turtle research in part through sales of the "Sporklace" (Sporklace.com), an attractive metal spork on a chain that functions as to-go silverware and a conversation starter.
4. When buying supplies for school or the office, choose plastic-free three-ring binders, notebooks, badges, folders, CD cases, and office labels from companies like ReBinder (ReBinder.com). ReBinder's products are made from recycled cardboard and can be recycled again at the end of their useful life.
Find more at GreenPages.org, "Office/Desk Supplies."
5. Eliminate the need for plastic wrap or plastic "ziploc" bags with reusable sandwich wrappers and snack bags, like the plastic-free, organic cotton snack and sandwich bags from GrazeOrganic.com and EcoDitty.com. For more moisture-proofing, SnackTaxi (SnackTaxi.com) sandwich/snack sacks are made of cotton with a nylon-coated interior. (The company plans to use recycled nylon and organic cotton in the future.)
6. Women can jump on the plastic-free train by choosing reusable cloth menstrual pads (GladRags.com, Lunapads.com) in a variety of sizes. Also, replace tampons with washable sea sponges (JadeandPearl.com), or reusable silicone or natural latex menstrual cups like the Keeper (theKeeper.com), the Moon Cup (MoonCup.com), Lunette (Lunette.com), or Diva Cup (DivaCup.com).
Find more at GreenPages.org, "Women."
7. When you purchase a cold beverage to go, refuse to accept a single-use plastic straw. Instead, whip out one of Glass Dharma's reusable glass straws (cleaning brush included). If you see a crack in your straw, Glass Dharma (GlassDharma.com) will replace it for free.
8. Most body-care products are packaged in plastic. Find minimally packaged shampoo bars from companies like GoodEarthSoap.com and OregonSoapCompany.com. If you have hard water, ask the retailer for advice on how to use shampoo bars effectively. RMS Beauty (RMSBeauty.com) offers cosmetics in glass jars with metal lids.
9. Avoid synthetic sponges, which are often made from foamed plastic and wrapped in plastic. Consider replacing them with Skoy cloths (SkoyCloth.com; available at ReUseIt.com), super-absorbent cleaning cloths made from cotton and cellulose. Machine-washable, long-lasting Skoy Cloths are compostable at the end of their useful life.
Find more at ShopGreenPages.org.
10. Even the greenest professional clothes cleaner may package your garments in a single-use plastic bag. Stop the waste with the Green Garmento reusable "dry cleaning" bag (GreenGarmento.com). It acts as a regular laundry bag you can use ina hamper. Pull out the handle and zip up the top, and it's a large tote in which to carry your dirty clothes to the cleaners. And turn it upside-down, and it becomes a garment bag! Use coupon code GREENAMERICABOGO to buy one Green Garmento for $9.99 and get one free.
11. Try a recyclable toothbrush. The Preserve toothbrush, made from recycled #5 plastic, is zero-waste. Once you're finished with your Preserve brush (or the company's tongue cleaners, razors, and kitchen products), drop it off at your local Gimme 5 dropbox for #5 plastics at participating Whole Foods stores and food co-ops, or mail it back to Recycline. The company closes the waste loop by turning returned items into plastic lumber.