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Reusable Products: Easy Swaps to Reduce Single-Use Plastics in Your Life

Last time, we talked about plastic use for the average consumer. It is clear that plastic has numerous benefits, but there is also a high environmental cost through disposable plastic use. Nevertheless, switching to reusable options is a valuable approach to reduce waste, reduce microplastics, and conserve resources.

What (Easy) Reusable Options Can I Use?

For the most part, reusable options are easy once you start looking for them (though some may require some creativity!). For example, swapping single-use water bottles with a reusable bottle is an easy switch for many. We’re going to break down a few options based on what they’re used for in the two top swap categories, but with some ingenuity you can definitely use them for more!


Rather than using plastic bags, use reusable ones.! These can be made from cloth, recycled plastic, or other materials and are typically sturdy and durable. Few things are worse than when you buy something heavy at the store and the bag tears! Luckily, most reusable bags are durable enough that they can handle much heavier loads (but they’re not infallible, and you definitely don’t want to make them too heavy to carry!). The important aspect, and arguably the most difficult, is to remember to bring your bags with you when you shop.!

Another option, and my personal favorite, is to use a laundry basket.! I know it’s unconventional, but they double in utility by making it a breeze to bring most, if not all, of your groceries inside in just a trip or two.! I typically use a collapsible one to save space, but a traditional one works just as well. Just leave the basket in your car and, once you’re done shopping, place your items back into the cart without any bags. When you’ve returned to your car, unload your cart into the basket and you’re good to go.! Then, when you’re home, just pack the whole thing inside.! The one downside to this method, though, is that it is very car-dependent; riding a bike or walking with a whole basket would be very difficult.

Finally, if you don’t have a handy-dandy laundry basket, or you forget your reusable bags, there is the option to either place your loose groceries in your car and go home, or consider using paper bags.! Many stores, though not all, offer paper options. This will help combat unnecessary microplastics, but do be mindful that paper bags are much heavier (contributing to greenhouse gas emissions for transport), and can decompose into greenhouse gases when in a landfill – effective composting, if available, can help mitigate some of this issue.

Food/Beverage Consumption

There was a push a few years ago to stop using plastic straws, with many establishments switching to paper (or offering paper options). Another easy-to-use option is to use stainless steel straws.! While plastic and paper straws can have their uses, stainless steel straws are easy to bring with you, easy to clean, come in various sizes, and are both durable and hygienic – plus, unlike with paper straws, they don’t fall apart once you’ve finished half your beverage.

For other beverages, a refillable water bottle can be an excellent tool for cold options (water, tea, lemonade, soda, and more!). These can help save money in the long run, and are available in durable plastic, glass, or stainless steel. For hot beverages, consider using a reusable coffee cup made of bamboo, glass, or stainless steel.! If you’re a coffee savvy individual, many coffee shops even offer a discount on your beverage to customers that bring their own cup.!

Food itself can be a bit more challenging, but definitely still approachable.! For example, rather than using disposable plastic cutlery, consider using stainless steel or, if you want a lightweight on-the-go option, bamboo cutlery is another choice. Bamboo cutlery is typically biodegradable, lightweight, and fairly inexpensive. For food storage and meals on the go, swapping to glass or stainless steel containers can replace single-use plastic containers. They’re safe, durable, non-toxic, and reduce the risk of harmful chemicals leaching into your food. If you need a lighter-weight option, there are also durable, reusable plastic containers you can use, as well.

Reducing your single-use plastic use can seem like a daunting task, but making simple swaps over time makes the process a breeze. And, by doing so, you’re able to make a positive impact on the environment, your health, and your wallet. Check in with us next time where we’ll be discussing the difference between recycling, reusing, and upcycling.