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Plastic Free Tips for Beginners

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

For Plastic Free July, here are some quick tips on how to change your day-to-day habits for a “less plastic” life.

  • Cut out the unnecessary “stuff.” Americans are enabled now more than ever to accept or buy “goodies” that are not essential, including party decorations, low-quality party favors, giveaway items at conferences or events, and the like. In an Instagram- and material- obsessed culture, we accept these items without ill-intent and get excited about nice aesthetics…but be mindful of the amount of waste you’re enabling when you’re taking these types of items. Do you really need it?

  • You can choose to be “plastic free” in the way you shop for your basic day-to-day needs like personal care items (including floss, toothbrushes, and skin care), kitchen implements, cleaning supplies, and even pet products! Not only can you buy more items that contain less plastic, but you can choose to buy them from retailers that choose to ship those items without plastic shipping packaging.

  • Local options:

Good Bottle Refill Shop

179 Glenridge Avenue, near N. Willow Street.

  • Online:

Package Free Shop – based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Earth Hero – based out of Boulder, CO.

  • Kindly reject plastic bags at stores. Many stores, like clothing or liquor shops, have checkout clerks trained to automatically place your items in a bag at checkout. Simply saying, “no bag, please,” will reduce the amount of bags you’re given.

  • In the same breadth…keep your own reusable bag handy in your car or purse. You’ll see your consumption of disposal bags go down, and less clutter in your home.

  • Stop with the straws! Here are some great alternative options:

    • Don’t use a straw at all!

    • For situations where disposable straws are necessary, choose paper straws.

    • Metal straws, that can be cleaned and reused. Try these ones from Kleen Kanteen - they have a silicone piece on the end and can be better for people who are sensitive to metal taste.

  • Reusable utensils can act as a replacement of single-use plastic forks, knives, and spoons that are NOT recyclable, and most certainly not “biodegradable” despite the environmental claims. These are easy to keep in your purse or car and can be easily stored away to wash later. Here is a great bamboo utensil option.

  • When ordering takeout, be sure to request (by phone, or in the comment or “special request” section of your online order) that you would like to forgo plastic utensils and single-use packets like ketchup and soy sauce. Daikichi in Montclair offers this option…encourage your favorite restaurants in town to do the same!

  • By now, this should be an obvious one: stop using single use coffee cups and plastic bottles. This is an easy one, especially with so many businesses incentivizing you to do so. Local Coffee in Watchung Plaza encourages guests to bring their own coffee cup, all while keeping in mind best sanitation practices. Added bonus: they welcome dogs and offer doggie treats!

Good luck on your journey to less plastic!


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