Plastic has become a menace for all living beings, be it animals choking on straws or humans cringing at the site of landfills. Once created, plastic does not degrade for years, and even if it does, resulting microplastic causes much harm to us. Delhi Greens has listed 100 ways how you can #BeatPlasticPollution in your daily lives. Slide through these ideas and help end the plastic menace.
100 Way to Beat Plastic Pollution
1. Stop using plastic straws
Refuse plastic straws given in restaurants, diners and takeaways. If a straw is a must, ask for agro-waste paper straws.
2. Buy eco-friendly straws
Make a statement by purchasing reusable stainless steel/glass/ bamboo straws. These are washable and help reduce your plastic footprint.
3. Refuse paper cups
Don’t accept paper cups as far as possible as they also come with a thin plastic lining and cannot be recycled, ultimately ending up in the landfills.
4. Use trendy jute and cloth bags
Purchase or make your own DIY reusable produce bag made from jute or cotton. Be sure to wash them often and keep reusing.
5. Use eco-friendly cutlery
Instead of single use plastic forks, spoons and knives switch to cutlery made of natural materials e.g. bamboo fibres, birch wood, etc.
6. Carry your own reusable mug
Whenever you head out of the house carry your own reusable mug to be used in various places for coffee, tea, juice or any other drink.
7. When throwing a party, buy hemp plates and glasses
Hemp is a wonderful biodegradable material. The next time you throw a house or office party, buy hemp plates and glasses instead of single use plastic plates and glasses.
8. Choose traditional leaf pattals
Whenever you eat street food choose the vendors that sell their products in leaf pattals. These are sustainable alternatives and also support the local economy.
9. Refuse Styrofoam
Styrofoam is big nuisance as it is not recyclable and does not degrade for a really long time. Refuse the Styrofoam plates, cups, bowls and many other such and use your reusable dinnerware instead.
10. Carry your own containers for take-out food and leftovers
Request takeout places to use your carry on containers for leftovers instead of their disposable doggy bags.
11. Switch to eco-friendly water bottles
Instead of buying plastic based water bottles, use bottles made out of glass/ stainless steel/ copper or even bamboo.
12. Switch to water purifiers
Install water purifiers instead of buying water in the form of packaged bottles in huge numbers.
13. End use of plastic bottled water in official meetings
Keep water in eco-friendly glass/ stainless steel/ copper/ bamboo bottles instead of plastic bottles.
14. Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bag
At the farmers market or natural food stores, you can buy bread that comes wrapped in paper or even without wrappings. Choose these fresh and plastic-free alternatives over bigger brands.
15. Choose milk in returnable glass bottles
Many areas have local dairies that provide milk in returnable glass bottles rather than plastic or plastic-coated cardboard. These support your local economy as well.
16. Learn to love the bulk bins
Look for stores in your area that sell foods from bulk bins and allow you to use your own bags or containers.
17. Refuse double bagging of grocery items
Politely refuse unnecessary extra plastic at the checkout lines. Stores tend to double bag heavy groceries or other shopping items. It would be great if you bagged them in your own cloth bag instead.
18. Always carry a cloth bag with you
For impromptu shopping trips it is good to always have a carry bag lying around in your bag or purse rather than having to purchase items in a plastic carry bag
19. Stop snipping corners of milk bags
These small pieces of cut corners are hard to segregate and are unable to escape even the most sophisticated filters ending up clogging the drains or worse into the food chain as microplastics. Instead partially cut the packet, enough to pour milk out.
20. Give up gum
Almost all gum is primarily made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic. Not only are you chewing on plastic, but you may also be chewing on toxic plastic. Plastic free alternatives do exist, switch to these types of gum.
21. Switch to fresh produce
Avoid buying frozen foods as far as possible because their packaging is mostly plastic. Plus you'll be eating lesser processed foods.
22. Make freshly squeezed juice or eat fruit
Instead of buying juice in plastic bottles or tetrapaks, try to consume fresh squeezed juices at home. It's even healthier if you eat the fruit instead. That way you will get the roughage that the body requires.
23. Stop buying individually wrapped fruits and vegetables
Ask yourself why do you need a potato or a carrot wrapped and sealed in plastic? They have no purpose and hurt the environment. Buy items kept in bins without such wrappings.
24. Stop buying peeled fruits
It takes a few seconds to peel a fruit. The same time and effort goes into buying already peeled and pre-cut fruits from the market. Unpeeled fruits come with their own natural protective layer that does not require use of plastics.
25. Ask for aerated drinks and beverages in glass bottles
Aerated drinks and certain beverages come in both glass as well as plastic bottle packaging. Prefer to opt for glass bottles whenever you can.
26. Pack your lunch in containers
Preferably use metal tiffin boxes or in other circumstances reusable plastic boxes over packing lunch in use-and-throw sandwich baggies.
27. Return reusable containers
Make a habit of returning glass jars, bottles or plastic containers to your local farmers market or grocery shops. They can either refill these containers for you or can be reused to pack other items (after proper cleaning and sanitization!)
28. Try natural beeswax wraps
These wraps are perfect alternatives to the plastic cling film wraps available in the market. They retain moisture just like the plastic ones, are completely natural and what’s more- they are entirely reusable!!
29. Use wooden matches
Opt for wooden safety matches over disposable plastic lighters. If not, at least switch to the habit of using refillable lighters preferably made out of metal.
30. Say no to plastic cutlery when ordering in
If you are ordering food for home-delivery, ensure to tell the restaurant to not send plastic cutlery with the food. Just use your own cutlery from your kitchen
31. Give homemade yogurt a try
The yogurt you love so much comes in plastic containers which are thrown away after consumption. Making yogurt at home is pretty simple. All you need is a container, milk and some yogurt from the previous batch.
32. Refuse mini-bar
Many hotels stock mini bars with snacks and drinks at exorbitant prices. All these packaged products are nothing but high in plastic footprint and low in nutrition value. Instead call room service for some real food.
33. Eat home cooked food
Most fast food chains and food courts in malls serve food in single use plastics. Reduce the number of times you dine-out at such places. Also decrease takeaways and home-delivery orders. Instead start cooking more at home.
34. Shun plastic and disposable razors
Use a razor whose blades can be replaced instead of buying disposable razors. Also look for razors with a metal body instead of a plastic one.
35. Give solid shave soap a try
Shave soap last many times longer than foam creams and other shaving creams. Look for plastic free packages.
36. Plastic toothbrushes are a big NO
Plastic toothbrushes are another everyday item that needs to be replaced every few months. Consider the good you will do for the environment by switching to biodegradable toothbrushes made of natural fibre body and bristles. Also find plastic-free, zero waste dental floss.
37. Plastic free menstrual hygiene
Conventional sanitary napkins generate high plastic waste. Buy silicone menstrual cups, they are hygienic and can be reused for almost 10 years. Plastic applicator free tampons are also an excellent alternative. Otherwise choose bio-degradable sanitary napkins.
38. Use reusable makeup remover pads
Choose organic fibre makeup removers pads that can be washed and reused again instead of synthetic and plastic based materials.
39. Check labels of personal care products
Some facial scrubs and other personal care products contain tiny micro-plastic beads. Avoid anything that has ‘polyethylene’ listed as an ingredient.
40. Use natural latex gloves
Many hair colouring products sell one size transparent plastic gloves along with them. Instead ask for latex gloves. These are made out of natural rubber and are a safer option compared to plastic gloves.
41. Use wooden combs and hair brushes
Combs made out of tree bark e.g. Neem are good for the scalp and are entirely environment friendly. In case of hair brushes, choose the ones with wooden handles instead of plastic ones.
42. Buy cloth diapers
Disposal diapers for babies are poor choice as they have no reuse value and keep leaching toxins at landfill sites. Instead prefer to buy cloth diapers.
43. Install water sprays in toilets
Water sprays are much more hygienic alternative than using toilet paper. This way you are not only cutting down on plastic consumption (from all the product packaging) but immensely on paper consumption as well.
44. Use handkerchief
People in older times carried handkerchiefs to dry and clean their hands. These are washable and can be used again instead of single use tissue papers. Both plastic and paper waste can be thus reduced.
45. Use plastic free ear swabs
Cotton ear buds or swabs made from bamboo instead of plastic are available in the market. Look out for the ones that don’t have plastic packaging.
46. Say no to plastic based jewellery
Avoid artificial jewellery made out of plastic. Look out for designs in metal, wood, semi-precious stones or natural fibres.
47. Use zero-waste band aids
Band aids comprise of layers of plastic that are non-recyclable. Try using organic cotton plaster made of natural fibres and natural adhesives. Another option is to use paper medical tapes.
48. Use soaps instead of body wash
A bar of soap that comes in paper or cardboard package is very eco-friendly as compared to plastic bottles of body wash. Similarly switch to shampoo bars as well.
49. Carry your own personal care products
When out on a vacation or business meetings, ensure to carry your own set of shampoos, soaps and lotions in travel sized containers. Just because they are provided without charge at hotels doesn’t mean it won’t add to your plastic footprint.
50. Don’t buy liquid detergents
Buy laundry detergent that comes in cardboard boxes and not the liquid detergents that come packaged in plastic containers.
51. Use dish wash bars
Use bar soap in the kitchen to wash your dishes instead of liquid dishwashes. Look for the bar soap that are plastic free.
52. Make DIY home cleaners
It is really easy to make your own all-purpose cleaners. Vinegar and baking soda are excellent for cleaning windows, counter tables, kitchen slabs etc. Prepare your DIY cleaners and store them in reused containers rather than buying from market in plastic ones.
53. Use natural fibre scrubbers
A variety of plastic scrubbers are used everywhere from scrubbing dishes to cleaning toilets. Compressed natural cellulose sponges and natural fibre brushes and mops are great plastic free alternatives.
54. Line trash bins mindfully
Line small trash bins in your house (especially those which do not have a lot of wet waste) with paper bags instead of plastic bags. If you can do away with lining them altogether it is even better.
55. Use cloth rags
These get the clean-up job done and can be easily washed when dirty, unlike paper towels. Such practice will reduce your waste and also the need for trash bags.
56. Choose cotton table cloths
Use natural fibre cloth as table covers instead of plastic table cloths.
57. Reuse paint container buckets
Reuse the paint container buckets for bathing or moping purposes instead of buying new buckets. These can also be used as storage bins.
58. Make gardens out of plastic bottles and containers
As a consumerist society we end up with a lot of plastic containers, beverage bottles etc. Make lively vertical gardens, flower pots or even kitchen herb gardens out of these.
59. Start composting your trash
This will drastically reduce the amount of organic waste from homes ending up in landfills, reducing the number plastic trash bags. As a benefit you don’t need to buy fertilizers and can simply use your DIY organic compost for gardens.
60. Use metal bathroom fittings and pipes
Use metal pipes and other bathroom fittings like taps and showerheads for your building or house, they are more durable, long-lasting and won’t end up in the landfill.
61. Use natural fibres to keep house cool
Instead of fibre sheet and plastic coverings we can use tin sheds and jute/bamboo blinds or sheds to keep our houses and rooftops cool in the summers.
62. Install metal handles on doors
As great as plastic handles may look their metal counter parts are always more classy, durable and have a good afterlife value.
63. Don’t use plastic shelves, book cases and storage boxes
Give up on buying shelves, book cases and other storage boxes made out of plastic for your homes or office space. Look out for designs available in wood or metal or other eco-friendly alternatives.
64. Don’t buy plastic electric fans
Most electric fans sold today are made of plastic bodies. While these are lightweight, the metal ones in comparison are sturdy and last longer.
65. Avoid plastic table mats and coasters
Buy trendy looking natural fibre table mats and coasters made from tree bark rather than plastic ones. These are aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly as well.
66. Refuse plastic wrapping on bouquets
Say no to plastic wrapping on flower bouquets. Either provide the vendor with newspaper to pack your bouquet or refuse any sort of packing.
67. Plastics in furniture
Opt for plastic free furniture. Use charpais or folding beds made of jute ropes or cotton niwars instead of plastic ones.
68. Shun plastic ropes
Switch to alternatives such as jute ropes or metal based binding wires instead of plastic ropes. Small fibres of plastic from wear and tear after prolonged use ultimately enter the food chain.
69. Don’t buy plastic flowerpots
Use traditional flowerpots made of clay, terracota or ceramics instead. You can even make DIY flowerpots from old jeans, jute bags etc.
70. Stop using use and throw pens
Instead of such use and throw plastic pens that are quite cheap, buy good reusable pens. Refillable fountain pens with a cartridge converter allow refilling the pen from a bottle of ink, decreasing the plastic footprint.
71. Use paper pens and paper pencils
Various brands provide pens and pencils made from upcycled newspapers. Some pencils also come with seeds and can be planted after they have served their purpose. This stationery reduces both plastic and wood waste.
72. Use paper tapes instead of the plastic cello tape
Paper tapes work just the same as the plastic ones we are so used to and are an environmental friendly alternative.
73. Don’t use plastic paperweights
Paperweights can be found in almost all offices. Instead of using plastic ones, go for trendier options such as stone, wood glass or ceramics.
74. Don’t buy plastic wrapped newspapers and magazines
Often magazines come wrapped in a plastic. Refuse the plastic when buying them at shops. Ask your newspaper vendor to deliver the daily paper without the plastic wrapping.
75. Sign up for e-statements
Instead of receiving monthly bank and other utility statements in bulk post, sign up for e-statements. Posted paper statements usually come with a small plastic window on the letter envelope. This would help save both paper and plastic.
76. Buy plastic free envelopes
Choose envelopes that do not come with a plastic window or a plastic lining inside. You could even opt for variety of recycled paper options.
77. Buy wooden exam-board and drawing boards
Buy wooden drawing or exam boards instead of plastic ones when you shop for stationery next time.
78. Use newspaper for notebooks covers
Cover your books, notebooks and novels with newspaper or recycled paper instead of plastic covers. Ask your school to support this cause.
79. Use cloth pouches as pencil cases
Use cloth pouches or DIY cloth pencil boxes instead of plastic cases and transparent plastic pouches.
80. Avoid buying new CDs or DVDs
These are made of polycarbonate plastic. Today it is much simpler to buy your music and movies online.
81. Use rechargeable batteries
Single use batteries and their packaging hurts the environment. Switch to rechargeable batteries that can be used for hundreds of charging cycles before they need to be disposed.
82. Repair mobile phones instead of buying new
Mobile phones use plastic for their casings and not to mention the amount of plastic packaging with a new box. Try to get your phones repaired than throwing them away. This goes a long way in reducing e-waste as well.
83. Buy refurbished electronics
Electronic goods such as laptops, mobiles, TVs, cameras etc. can be purchased at much cheaper prices if they are refurbished. The stores repair the previously used or damaged items to ‘almost good as new’ condition. Warranty is also provided on such products
84. Buy electronics with minimum plastic and rubber
Plastic bodies often break and rubber casings usually pull off after continued use, forcing us buy new products. Instead look for metal body electronics as they have a greater shelf life.
85. Request zero plastic packaging on online orders
Online ordered packages come with a whole lot of unnecessary packaging. Make sure to request the retailer against the plastic packaging when placing the order.
86. Recycle clothes
Instead of throwing out old clothes, send them for recycling or donate at thrift stores. These would help people looking for cheaper yet good quality clothes. It definitely reduces plastic footprint in the long run.
87. Share and repeat clothing
If possible your dresses, formals, party wear etc. with your family and friends. This way, you end up buying less as a group, but still have lots of variety. Also make sure to value the clothes you buy and repeat them often before buying new.
88. Buy clothes but not plastic
Remember your purpose was to buy clothes and not the plastic that comes with them. It’s better to refuse the vendor/ retail outlet for their plastic packaging.
89. Opt for natural footwear
Buy footwear made out of jute, hemp or natural rubber instead of PVC.
90. Buy clothing made of recycled plastic
Some multinational brands have come up with apparel made out of recycled plastic bottles. While they are a little pricier than regular apparel, give these a chance.
91. Buy natural fibre clothes
Clothes made out of synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic, nylon etc. are essentially plastic fibre. Millions of microfibers entre the water system with each wash cycle. Natural fibres on the other hand e.g. cotton, hemp, wool etc. are degradable.
92. Buy from second hand stores
Surprisingly a lot of good quality, rarely used stuff ends up at second hand stores. Acquire second-hand plastic-ware than buying new plastic. Also make a habit of donating your old plastic-ware to such stores, rather than they ending up in landfills.
93. Buy wisely
Estimate your consumption of all items in daily life be it food, clothes, personal hygiene or electronics. Do not buy many packages in smaller quantities if your requirement is more. Likewise do not buy in bulk only to throw the items when they reach past expiry date and could not be consumed.
94. Skip the worst plastic types
If you do nothing else, try to steer clear items that are made out of Polyvinyl Chloride, Polystyrene and Polycarbonate. Apart from being bad for the environment these are harmful for our health also.
95. Use bags made of handmade or recycled paper
These work great as gifting bags, wrapping sheets and of course as carry bags for lightweight materials.
96. Feeding bowls for pets
Plastic at times causes acne in pets. Avoid plastic feeding bowls and use metal ones instead.
97. Buy zero-plastic pet toys and accessories
Buy your pet only the toys made out of natural materials like wood, coconut husk, leather, wool, cotton or even those made from recycled materials. Look pet furniture that does not have any plastic.
98. Plastic free party decorations
When planning a party, remember to avoid single use non-biodegradable materials such as plastics. Plastic balloons, confetti, and other decorations made from plastic should be replaced with environmental friendly options.
99. Reuse existing plastic bags
A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Make sure to not throw away exiting ones.
100. Always pre-cycle
Think and judge before you buy anything. Always buy only things that you absolutely need, find sustainable and plastic-free or recycled plastic options in them. Start refusing plastic bagging for single items that can easily be carried in hand.
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Compiled by Vasundhara Kapoor, with inputs from Deepali Khandelwal, Marilyn Peters and Perzin Tavadia. Edited by Madhavi Jain