One family can make a huge difference by thinking about plastic use on a daily basis. Here are some ways to start.

Stop using single-use plastics

This includes straws, utensils, plastic bottles and takeout containers. Purchase reusable straws made from silicone or stainless steel and bring this along when eating out or at home. Do the same with utensils. Try to pack lunches using reusable containers or bags instead of plastic bags or containers. If you are going to use a plastic water bottle, try to use it more than once, or even better, opt for a stainless steel or glass bottle.

Ditch packaged foods

As easy as it is to pick up packaged foods at the store, like cut fruits or vegetables, this is one of the ways you can help reduce waste. Purchase produce without packages and wrapping or bring reusable containers to fill with nuts, flour, etc. and shop in bulk. Another huge waste factor is fast food – think about how many items go into a fast food kids’ meal! Try your best to purchase food items without the excessive packaging and opt for less fast food trips.

Skip the gum

According to Plastic Oceans, 100,000 tons of gum is discarded each year, which is made from synthetic rubber (a plastic). Once gum is made, it is gum for a very long time, and doesn’t biodegrade easily. Try mints instead that dispose quickly and don’t have to be discarded. If you can’t go without gum, try Simply Gum available at Amazon, a gum made from tree sap that is biodegradable.

Refuse plastics

At a restaurant, kindly ask the waiter to not include a straw or don’t open the packaging when a straw is brought to the table. Ask for a paper bag at the grocery store or bring your own reusable bag to carry groceries. Avoid purchasing plastic toys with extra packaging and opt for toys that have less packaging or none at all. When buying clothes or beauty products ask for them to not be put into a bag.

Switch to natural toothbrushes

In the U.S. alone, one billion toothbrushes are discarded each year, according to Plastic Oceans. Try brush options which are biodegradable like those made from bamboo. A few brands can be purchased on Amazon including The Green Root and Wowe. Or purchase a battery-operated toothbrush, where you only have to switch out the brush heads instead of the entire brush. Quip makes a less-expensive version for $25-$55 available online and at Target.

Donate toys

Kids own a ton of toys, mostly made from plastic products. Try to give away or sell toys instead of tossing them in the garbage, even if they are small. Ask kids to choose one toy to re-gift for every toy purchased. Items made from wood, cotton, metal and natural rubber are also good alternatives to plastic toys and tend to last longer.

Green cleaning

Think about how many plastic cleaning bottles are living under your sink, and what do you normally do when they empty? Probably throw them away.

The mission behind Blueland is to make being eco easy with innovative products in reusable packaging. The company’s cleaners live in reusable bottles, and they hope to reimagine all categories of household packaged goods with environmentally responsible packaging. The Clean Up Kit comes with three cleaning bottles and a multi-surface, glass and mirror and bathroom cleaning tablets and is $29.

JAWS (Just Add Water System) Cleaning also created a product to keep plastic cleaning bottles at bay. Add water to the plastic bottles for each type of cleaning and add a refill pod. Choose from kitchen cleaner, disinfectant, floor cleaner and more. The home cleaning kit with four pods is $26.99 and available online and at local retailers like Kroger.

Package-free shop: Owner Lauren Singer decided she wanted to go waste-free and record her journey in her blog, “Trash is for Tossers.” The trash she produced in one year fit inside a 16-ounce Mason Jar. Her store, Package Free has solutions for every area of your household including baby, self-care, kitchen items and more. Other options for purchasing “zero-waste” products include and These sites are also great places to start to know what to look for in local stores or other places online.

Products to Make a Difference

Recycled bracelets: Each bracelet purchased from 4 Ocean represents one pound of trash you’ve helped remove from the ocean with your donation. The beads are made from recycled glass and the cord is made from recycled water bottles. The bracelets are available in a variety of colors and marine life themes for $20 each.

Green Toys

Ocean-Friendly Toys: Using 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, Green Toys has non-toxic food-safe toys and tableware. Toys include vehicles, themed Disney and Sesame Street products, water play, arts and crafts and more.

Stainless steel water bottle: Hydro Flask water bottles aren’t just for adults, they make a kids’ version, too. This 12-ounce kids’ wide mouth water bottle is made from stainless steel and has double wall insulation to keep drinks cool. The silicone bottom of the bottle adds traction for slippery surfaces. BPA-free and Phthalate-free. Available in a variety of colors for $29.95.

Plastic Bottles Transformed

Start collecting plastic bottles for craft time, and use these ideas to make a plastic bottle new again.

Photo: Craving Some Creativity

Use as planters: Cut the top off of a soda bottle and save the base. Paint the outside of the bottle any way you would like to resemble an animal, face or character. Then fill with soil and seeds, add water and place in a windowsill for sunlight. Rachel with “Craving Some Creativity” paints her planters like a frog, pig and bunny.

Paint with the base: The base of most plastic bottles makes for a great stamp. Place it in differing colors of paint and then press it on to construction paper. You can use orange, yellow, pink or red for flowers and paint stems and leaves on after the “flowers” dry as well.

Make a piggy bank: Kids can use plastic bottles for saving change, and with the help of an adult, can add a slit to the cap for a coin dispenser. Go a step farther and decorate the bottle with paint, glitter, paper and more. Michelle from “A Little Tipsy” created her piggy banks using mini water bottles and cut out paper ears. Find her instructions at

Design a boat: Make a plastic bottle float by cutting the side to resemble a boat, then test out different types of sails made from cut foam or other waterproof materials to see which one works best. Susie from “Handy with Scissors” has step-by-step instructions on how to turn any bottle into a sea vessel.

Recent Posts