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How You Can Reduce Plastic Waste

September 1, 2022

How You Can Reduce Plastic Waste

Reducing plastic waste can be a challenge. While not everyone can stop using plastic altogether, there are still plenty of ways you can eliminate plastic from your everyday life. Even small lifestyle changes can make a big impact on the environment!

So, are you wondering how to reduce plastic waste? Here’s what you need to know.

  • Plastics: A Global Problem
  • Reduce Plastic Waste: How to Get Started
  • Tips to Use Less Plastic
  • Summary

Plastics, a global problem

Plastic waste is one of the biggest threats to our environment. Unlike materials such as paper or fabric, plastic takes much longer to decompose. For example, a single-use plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to fully break down.

As a result, plastic builds up faster than we can get rid of it. Disposed plastic nearly always ends up in the oceans, rivers, and lakes. The world uses several million tons of plastic every year, and unless we take action, that number will likely increase in the years to come.

Plastic waste leaks chemicals into the water we drink. These chemicals can harm the animals that call the oceans their home.

It’s not just aquatic animals that are in danger, either—plastic can harm the animals on land, too. Many animals such as birds and reptiles get tangled in or choke on plastic waste they find on the ground.

Some animals may accidentally ingest plastic waste, which can block their digestive systems. Even if the plastic safely passes through their bodies, it might release harmful chemicals that damage their health.

Common examples of plastic waste include:

  • Water bottles
  • Plastic straws and stirrers
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Food wrappers

Reduce plastic waste: how to get started

Do you want to know how to reduce plastic waste in your daily life? Here are a few steps to take to get started.

First, remember that it’s okay to take it one step at a time. Once you ease into these lifestyle changes, reducing plastic waste will be much easier.

Reusable alternatives to plastic can be expensive at first, but fortunately, using reusable options can potentially save money (and the earth!) over time.

Working with a friend or an environmental group can make reducing plastic waste a little easier, too. When you and your friends hold each other accountable, you’ll have an easier time sticking to your goals.

Tips to use less plastic

There are so many different ways of reducing plastic waste in your life. As you incorporate these changes into your lifestyle, you can make a significant impact!

Choose reusable alternatives

Take a look at all of the single-use plastic in your life. Are there any alternatives you could be using instead? If so, it may be time to switch over. Opting for reusable alternatives to single-use plastic is one of the best ways to achieve plastic waste reduction.

A few examples of reusable alternatives include:

  • Shopping tote bags
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Metal or glass straws for drinking
  • Glass jars or metal tins for storing food
  • Cloth menstrual pads or menstrual cups


If you don’t already recycle, now is a better time than ever to start. You can start by searching for recycling centers in your area.

You should also figure out what your local recycling centers accept—some centers are more restrictive than others, but fortunately, nearly all of them will accept plastic.

Remember to always rinse any food containers before recycling them. Many packages will have specific instructions on how to properly recycle them, so keep an eye out for those as well.

Choose paper over plastic

In general, it’s best to opt for reusable materials over disposable ones. But in cases where you need single-use packaging, try to choose paper over plastic.

Unlike plastic, paper can break down in just a couple of weeks. You can also recycle paper if you want to reduce even more waste.

Here are a few paper alternatives to plastic:

  • Paper straws
  • Paper shopping bags
  • Cardboard pasta packaging
  • Disposable paper cups and plates

Buy food in bulk

Food packaging is one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste. So if you want to cut plastic out of your lifestyle, check for stores in your area that sell food in bulk.

Shopping in bulk can help you save money, too. While non-bulk groceries may offer more convenience, they often come at a slightly higher price.

As a bonus, you’ll make fewer shopping trips when you shop in bulk, so this tip can help cut down on CO2 emissions as well!

Choose products with less packaging

Many products come in packaging that serves no purpose other than aesthetics. So next time you go to the grocery store, try to choose items that have minimal or no packaging.

For instance, choosing bars of soap over bottles of soap is one of the best ways to reduce plastic waste. You can also bring your own bags when buying fresh produce, and avoid buying produce that comes in plastic containers or bags.

Summary: How to reduce plastic waste

Sometimes, reducing your plastic waste can feel impossible. Those living on a tight budget may feel that plastic is hard to avoid. To make things worse, recycling centers are often far away or non-accessible for some people.

But even small changes can make a big difference. Anyone can do their part in reducing plastic waste, even if they don’t have the means to revamp their whole lifestyle.

At Second Life, we empower companies to contribute to plastic waste collection and recycling efforts around the world. Want to learn more about what we’re doing to save the earth? Check out our plastic recovery projects!