A FEW SIMPLE STEPS
There are a few simple actions that go beyond recycling that individuals can take to reduce plastic use.
A big bang for the buck is the reusable grocery bag which can save 1000s of plastic ones. They are sturdy, carry more groceries, have strong handles making them easy to carry (long for over the shoulder), and they don't tear. Cotton canvas bags are eco‐friendly and hold up for 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 energy to produce as plastic ones, and create manufacturing waste. But they can be taken and re-used at the store. Store the re-usables in the car trunk or front seat, and train yourself to take them inside the store. If you forget, go back and get them. You’ll learn.
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 mesh. The coffee has more body, with a filter to avoid dregs. Compost coffee grounds. For carry‐out, state “No utensils, please.” Pass on the plastic straws. Take only napkins that will be used. (Keep the extras in the glove compartment). Carry a glass or steel-lined re-usable thermos mug in your car to avoid plastic exposure. 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 $$ for plastic ink cartridges that quickly dry out. Download documents onto a flash drive and print cheaply at the library, UPS store (more $$), or the like. Buy ink pens with metal replacement cartridges and quality ink flow-- instead of a 36‐pack of plastic BICS that promptly run out of ink. Use both sides of paper, crossing out the first page. Electronic Adobe PDF documents are replacing FAXing. See "Organizing Mail" for other hints.
IN THE BATHROOM
Choose razors with replacement cartridges, not short‐lived plastic disposables. Two billion single-use shavers are discarded in the US each year. Missoula, MT just banned them completely. Electric shavers use consumables rarely. Don't overbuy personal products, and use them up completely before opening any new ones. Avoid plastic pump-action bottles of hand soap. Many are antibacterial and contain triclosan, a chemical that some medical associations recommend avoiding.