While it is important to recycle your plastics, if you focus first on reducing your plastic use, you’ll have less to ultimately recycle. Fortunately, it is getting easier and easier to cut back on your use of plastic. Here are five cheap and easy ways to reduce your plastic usage.
Target's recycled plastic bags are cheap and can be reused again and again.

Reusable water bottles

According to Michelle Mehta with the NRDC, Americans throw away 2 million tons of plastic water bottles each year — that’s 2 million tons of plastic that will just sit in a landfill. If you make the switch to a reusable water bottle, you can drastically reduce your plastic consumption. Imagine how great of an impact you could make if you encourage your family, friends and co-workers to also make the switch to reusable water bottles.

Reusable grocery bags

If you’ve been in any grocery or drug store chain anytime during the last year you’ve probably seen a store-branded reusable grocery bag. Buy a few reusable bags and vow to never use plastic grocery bags again. You can even take your reusable grocery bag into other stores that typically use plastic bags — department stores, toy stores and even the bookstore. Just make sure you launder your bags regularly.

Reusable lunch sacks

Whether you take your lunch to work with you or pack a school lunch for your kids, reusable lunch sacks are a great alternative to traditional plastic bags. Lunch bags come in a variety of sizes, including sandwich and snack-sized. Learn more about making the switch by reading “Waste-Free School Lunches.”

Glass food containers

If you have a collection of plastic food containers with matching lids, you should consider switching to glass instead. While plastic containers have dominated the market for years, glass food containers are making a comeback.

Homemade cleaners

Last year, I encouraged readers to give homemade cleaners a try. While the main purpose of the post was to reduce exposure to toxins in common household cleaners, a secondary benefit is that switching to homemade products will also help you reduce your plastic use. Take an old cleaning bottle and refill it time and time again with your cleaning concoction. Instead of having five different cleaners, each in their own plastic bottle, you’ll have one bottle that won’t need replacing. Now it’s your turn, what cheap and easy ways have you tried to reduce your plastic use?