Community water supplies meet stricter standards than the FDA regulations for bottled water. The U.S. has the safest water supply in the world. Many water bottle chemicals, such as Bisphenol acetate (BPA), and others, leach out. Use filtered water instead of BPA bottles. Modern refrigerators have water dispensers with built in replaceable filters.
Skip the plastic K‐Cups. Replace paper coffee filters with stainless steel mesh. The coffee has more body, although there can be (avoidable) dregs at the bottom. Compost the grounds. For carry‐ out, state “No utensils, please.” Pass on the plastic straws. Take only as many napkins as will be used. (Always keep a few extra in the glove compartment). Carry a re-usable mug instead of Styrofoam and plastic lids. Keep a collapsible cup in your travel bag for hotel use. For frequent travelers, this can save 100s of plastic cups.
For home offices, those who print infrequently can save lots of $$ on plastic ink cartridges that then dry out. Just download the documents onto a flash drive and print at a UPS store or the like. Buy ink pens with metal replacement cartridges and quality ink flow-- instead of a 36‐pack of plastic BICs that immediately start to run out of ink. Use both sides of the paper, crossing out the first page. Use electronic documents as much as possible. See "Organizing Mail" for other hints.
For the bathroom: Two billion single-use shavers are discarded each year. Choose razors that use replacement cartridges, or an electric shaver, not short‐lived high-percentage plastic disposables. Completely use up personal products before opening new ones, and don't buy on whim. Avoid plastic, pump-action bottles of hand soap. Many are antibacterial and contain triclosan, a chemical that several Medical Associations recommend avoiding.
A FEW SIMPLE STEPS
There are a few simple actions for individuals to reduce plastic use, that go beyond recycling.
A big bang for the buck is the reusable grocery bag which can save 1000s of plastic ones. They are sturdy, hold more groceries without tearing, and strong handles (long are best for over the shoulder) make them easy to carry. Cotton canvas bags are eco‐friendly and hold up for many many years. Plastic‐mix bags are weaker, with short life expectancy and the plastic disposal problem. Paper bags are no solution; they use 9X the amount of energy to produce as plastic, and create significant manufacturing pollution. But they can be taken and re-used at the store. Store re-usables in the trunk and train yourself to take them inside the store. If you forget, go back for them. You’ll learn.