Want to start living with less plastic? Beth Terry, the blogger behind myplasticfreelife.com and author of Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, recommends starting with this experiment: Collect your plastic waste for a week and take stock. Then, focus on tackling your biggest offenders. "It's a really good educational exercise because then you can look at what plastic waste you generated and then you can think: 'What's the first thing that I'm going to eliminate and replace with something else?'" she says.
Here are some other ways to reduce the plastic in your life.
1. Avoid the Produce Trap
You remembered your reusable grocery bags—go you! Take the next step and ditch the plastic produce bags. Bring multiple cloth or mesh sacks instead.
2. Bring a Travel Mug
"After bags, this should be your number two," says Terry. And don't let yourself off the hook when you first start. "If you go, 'Oh, I don't have my mug, I'm not going to have this today,' you learn to wait for things. That's what I had to do!" Forgoing your morning coffee even once or twice is a powerful way to remember to never leave home without it.
3. Buy in Bulk
Shop at stores that have bulk bins. Bring your own jars and bags for those products. "Buying from bulk bins is a less-plastic way to buy your food, not necessarily a zero-plastic way," explains Terry. "It's less plastic because it's a smaller packaging-to-product ratio. When you're buying smaller sizes, there's more packaging."
4. BYO To-Go Containers
Invest in stainless-steel or glass airtight containers and bring them to the market for items like meat and fish. "I have the butcher put them directly in there instead of in plastic," says Terry. Life Without Plastic sells a line of varying sizes she loves. Use this trick for restaurant leftovers too.
5. Pack Your Own Utensils
Carry your own wash-and-reuse bamboo set of utensils to avoid plastic silverware when you're eating out. Or bring chopsticks.
6. Save a Straw
Straws routinely end up as a top pollutant found at beach cleanups, so sip smarter: carry one made of stainless steel, paper or bamboo or skip the straw altogether.
7. Scrub Out Microfibers
Synthetic fabrics, like fleece, shed plastic microfibers in the laundry. Try washing these fabrics in a Guppy Friend; this specially made washing bag catches tiny plastics before they go down the drain.
8. Check Your Personal Care Products
Did you know that there are companies that make shampoo in bar form, instead of in a plastic bottle? How about deodorants that come in cardboard tubes or glass jars? And, yep, there are even bamboo-based toothbrushes.