Lifestyle, Shopping guide, Sustainability

Sustainable Substitutes: 5 Products To Help You Reduce Your Plastic Usage

by Katelyn Rodriguez

Reducing plastic usage

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s spring editorial intern Katelyn Rodriguez. Find her on Instagram at @katelynrodwrites. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at thezillennialzine@gmail.com.

One of the long-term goals I made for myself at the beginning of 2022 was to reduce my plastic usage. This goal is extremely important to me because growing up near the ocean I would always see plastic littered near or in the water. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned about the effects of plastic pollution and microplastics on the environment and humans. For example, the Plastic Pollution Coalition states that “Plastic is found in the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the soil below us, and even inside of our bodies.” This shows how plastic usage is creating a never-ending cycle of effects on us and the environment we live in even in spaces where we think plastic wouldn’t be. Since 2022 I have made the switch to more environmentally friendly products that I use on an almost daily basis. If you are also looking at reducing plastic usage in the new year, here are a few plastic alternative products that you can make the switch to.

Reusable tote bags

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As a self-proclaimed tote bag girly, I have accumulated numerous tote bags over the last few years. They are great for a quick trip to Target or the farmers market and can hold quite a bit — I always carry multiple with me just in case I need extra. There are even some that hook to carts at the grocery store so you can hold your items in them while shopping. If you’re worried about that freezer aisle purchase defrosting on the way home, an insulated bag can easily solve your problems. Whether you’re looking for a trendy canvas tote or a reusable bag solely for grocery runs, they are available pretty much anywhere and are great alternatives to single-use plastic or paper bags grocery stores usually distribute.

Metal or silicone straws

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While paper straws have slowly made their debut across the globe, they still become mushy if left in a drink for too long. A reusable option that’s available is metal or silicone straws. I’ll never forget scrolling through Twitter a few years ago and seeing a video of a sea turtle having to get a plastic straw removed from its nose. If you know me, you know turtles are my favorite animal, so seeing that made me think twice about needing to use plastic straws. I have since made the switch to metal straws and even carry a collapsible straw in my purse so I have it when I’m on the go. Not only will this switch help reduce the use of plastic straws, but you’ll also be saving turtles and other marine life who mistake plastic for food.

Silicone food storage bags

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A good alternative to plastic Ziploc bags are silicone bags. There is a wide variety available on the market for you to buy. One brand that I have seen everywhere is Stasher Bag. They have a plethora of options for you to pick from, such as a half gallon, quart and sandwich. They are a little pricey considering you only get one bag unless purchasing a bundle. However, if you want to get more bang for your buck, Target sells reusable silicone bags from its brand Up & Up in an 8-pack or you can get a variety pack of 15. I have used the Up & Up reusable sandwich, snack and freezer bags and they all work amazing, so I highly recommend them, plus they’re dishwasher safe for easy cleaning options.

Water bottles/water filters

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From Hydro Flasks to the Stanley tumbler that went viral on TikTok the options for reusable drinkware are endless. Throughout college I carried my Hydro Flask with me everywhere I went, one could call it my emotional support water bottle. Not only did I find myself drinking more water, but it was an easy switch from bottled water. There are a wide variety of brands and colors to choose from, but go with one best suited to your needs. However, if you’re looking for something with a filter, Brita makes reusable water bottles with a built-in filtering system. I received a Brita bottle from a friend as a graduation gift and I ended up taking it on my trip to England. It worked like a charm and it is now one of my favorite bottles I own. Target and Amazon both sell replacement filters for it once it needs to be changed out. Another good option is getting a Brita pitcher or any other brand that makes filtered containers for the fridge. That way you can fill up your reusable bottles without having to worry about contaminates from tap water.

Consider switching hygiene products

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Lastly, switching up everyday hygiene products to more sustainable alternatives is another great way to reduce plastic usage. There are a lot of brands out there that now offer alternatives to bottled or plastic products. For example some eco-friendly products that have rolled out are bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash tabs and shampoo bars. Some of these options come in recyclable or packaging free options while also ridding themselves of any harmful chemicals found within items we use on a daily basis.

Overall, there are lots of options available if you are looking at reducing plastic usage this year. Even making a small change monthly can be beneficial in helping reduce plastic waste being put into our environment. 

Do you know of any other products that help in reducing plastic usage? Let us know in the comments!

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