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5 Tips for Going Plastic Free

Zero Waste for Beginners

Last Updated on February 10, 2023

These 5 tips for going plastic free are must-haves for anyone trying to reduce their plastic waste or adopt zero waste living.

Reduce plastic in your community with these 5 lifestyle changes and go plastic free in your personal life to make a difference in the world. These tricks for how to reduce plastic use will keep plastic out of the landfills, reduce pollution, and encourage sustainable product use. Plastic free living doesn’t have to be complicated – it just requires a little bit of creative thinking!

plastic Starbucks coffee cup with text saying "5 Tips for Breaking Up with Plastic" to depict going plastic free

going plastic free

Plastic pollution has really been in the spotlight in the media, and I’m loving it! I have been able to connect with so many people through the National Geographic article, and it’s encouraging to know there are so many people dedicated to going plastic free.

It can be really difficult to know where to start when it comes to breaking up with plastic. I wanted to give you my top five tips for phasing it out of your life. These tricks will help you on your way to a plastic free lifestyle.

why you’ll love plastic free living

  • Your overall health and wellbeing will benefit from reducing the toxins found in plastic
  • There’s no time limit to how long it takes to adopt these methods – it takes time to go plastic free, and that’s ok!
  • You’ll sleep well at night knowing you’re doing your part for the planet to reduce plastic pollution

how to reduce plastic use

Plastic is everywhere around us, so you’re not alone if you’re wondering how to reduce plastic use. It seems like you’ll never be able to escape it, but I promise that with a little bit of patience, you will. I’ve put together my 5 favorite tips to phase plastic out of your life in an approachable doable way.

tip 1: go slow

It takes time. Don’t feel like you have to do everything RIGHT NOW. And don’t feel like you’re failing if it takes longer than you expected. Certainly don’t give up.

It’s ok to be patient. No one goes zero waste or plastic free overnight.

Go slowly and start with what you can. I recommend starting with the big four. These four simple swaps happen outside of the home. This way you can focus on using up what you have inside of the home before moving on. 

I wrote a post about what to do with old plastic when you’re plastic free, which will be really helpful when making the transition.

tip 2: use it up

I think you’ll be surprised with how many disposable and plastic items you own when you really take the time to go through your cabinets and drawers. 

If something is in good shape and you don’t want it anymore, donate it to a local thrift shop. You can also list it on a freecycle group, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. 

Going zero waste is just as much about adding new products into the second hand market for others to use. This prevents new resources from being used in the creation of new products.

You can read this post about decluttering the zero waste way, which goes more in-depth on this topic. 

For products that aren’t suitable for donation, such as cosmetics and food in packaging that has been opened, use it up! 

Don’t automatically run out for zero waste counterparts. To be honest, I still have some makeup I’m using from my pre-zero waste days! (PZWD) It’s OK. 

Use up what you have, then move on when you’re done.

If you’re uncomfortable with some of the ingredients in these products, see if you can pass them off to a family member or friend (but only if they would buy that product anyway).

make up pallets in reusable containers is one way how to reduce plastic use

tip 3: keep your plastic out of sight

Sometimes, it’s nice to have disposable things for certain special circumstances. I still have a couple of plastic razors from my PZWD. 

You can’t take a metal safety razor with you on a plane. If I’m traveling, I pull out one of those razors.

I still have trash bags from my PZWD! I keep them for neighborhood and beach clean-ups. These are resources I bought long before I knew about zero waste, but there’s no reason I should throw them out. 

At the same time, you also don’t want the temptation to reach for these items especially when you’re just starting on your zero waste journey. Take these items and put them in a hard-to-reach place. 

This will discourage you from reaching for them, but they’ll still be accessible for these unusual life events. 

tip 4: remember it’s toxic

I’m not going to lie to you, companies make a lot of really cute plastic stuff. There are a lot of great products packaged in plastic. 

Whenever I find myself tempted, I like to remind myself that plastic is toxic. It isn’t just bad for our health — it’s also bad for the health of our planet.

If I have the choice, I don’t want to buy my food surrounded by plastic. The plastic can leach chemicals into the food. 

I don’t want to sleep on a toxic, plastic mattress. There are so many examples of products that I try to avoid beyond the environmental reasons — it’s really just better for our health. 

woman's hand holding a steel water bottle for plastic free living

tip 5: get excited to go plastic free

If you’re struggling with breaking free from plastic, find something that’s a treat for you! One of the great bonuses of living plastic free and having a pantry sans labels is that things become very aesthetically pleasing. 

While consumerism isn’t the point of zero waste living, buying something you’re super excited about using can be really helpful! 

Maybe you’ve just had your eye on a set of Weck jarsglass straws, or an awesome canvas bag

Go for it! Splurge a little if it will help you reduce overall.  

While it’s always best to shop the second hand market first, sometimes throwing in a little bit “shiny and new” can help you get really excited all over again! 


is it ok to just reduce plastic rather than eliminate it?

Obviously, the ultimate eco-friendly goal is plastic free living. However, not everyone is able to commit to that in their current stage of life. Every bit helps, so if you’re only able to reduce your plastic consumption by half (or even more!), that’s a start. And we’re happy to have you!

why should i use up my existing plastic first?

It’s completely contradictory to the zero waste lifestyle to throw everything out and upgrade to new eco-friendly products. It makes no sense to create a lot of waste in the name of going waste free. Using what you have until it’s used up or wears out is less wasteful and contributes more to the cause.

Going plastic free and zero waste is a journey that will never be complete. The bottom line is: do the best you can. 

This post contains affiliate linking. It’s denoted with an asterisk. This means if you choose to purchase one of these items I will make a slight commission for referring you. You can read more on my disclosure page

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  1. Hi! I will move in my first appartment with my boyfriend in only two weeks and I would like to go zero waste. The only problem is that he can’t let go of Ziplock bags.. He finds it weird to replace it by a simple fabric bag and his reason not to try it is that he is used to Ziplock. Do you have some advice? Thank you 🙂

    1. Hey Audrey, not sure if this will help but they make food safe sandwich bags that are lined with an easy to clean liner if your boyfriend is concerned with his sandwich being smushed they also make stainless steel containers or glass containers that are in the shape of a standard sandwich. The stainless steel or glass containers are probably more airtight than the fabric options, one place I know that sells them is the Package Free Store, they have an online store also.

      1. Thank you! I’ll try buying some fabric bags with a liner like you said and maybe one day he’ll actualy like them and use them haha

  2. I am struggling to find groceries NOT contained in plastic. I cannot afford to shop at Whole Foods, and most store near me package their lettuce and salad in plastic, their meat in plastic, so much in plastic. What do you do about products like this?

  3. What about things like soup and sauce..Costco has a great pesto that I love in a plastic sealed jar…how can I get products like this?