Four Affordable Ways to Cut Down on Plastic


Garbage Waste Plastic Waste Plastic Pollution

Nicole F. Anderson, News and Co-Managing Editor

It all started with watching documentaries about our polluted planet and that was it for me: I became slightly fixated on lessening my plastic footprint. It’s important to me because humans aren’t the only ones living and thriving on this planet. We share the planet with other living creatures, so why do we act as if this planet belongs to us? These are only four things I’ve done the last two years to cut down on my plastic consumption in an affordable manner:

  1. Start bringing your own cup wherever you go.

There are water fountains all over campus and bringing your own water bottle will save you money (and the planet) from buying bottled water. If you’re more of a coffee person, Dunkin’ Donuts sells their own brand of cups and offers a discounted price when you bring one of them in. Starbucks offers a discounted price when you bring in one of their cups as well. It’s usually around 10 cents and it’s not as much as Dunkin’ Donuts, but think about the amount of plastic you’re saving. You can also bring your own mug or cup into any coffee shop and have them use your cup instead of one of their one-use plastic ones. Dunkin’ Donuts cups average $7 to $15 and Starbucks cups average $10 to $30, but both cup brands can also be spotted in thrift stores for even cheaper. If you forget to bring a cup and have to go for the plastic option, forgo the straw if you’re able to and remember to empty out the cup before recycling it.

  1. Skip the plastic shampoo, conditioner and body wash bottles.

I personally use Lush products and love them. Lush has shampoo and conditioner bars along with soap bars. Aside from the bars, their other products do come in plastic; however, the company doesn’t use virgin plastic for their plastic packaging. They also  promote recycling on the back of almost every product with the incentive of receiving a free face mask when you bring back five plastic containers.

The shampoo bars average around $12 and the conditioner bar average around $13 but they last for up to 80 washes. Their soap bars are sold by how much they weigh so inquire in a Lush store. There are other solid shampoo and conditioner bars out there, but I have yet to try them.

  1. Bring your bags to the store.

This may seem like a no-brainer tip but it’s very easy to forget your bags at home or the car. By bringing in your own bags, you will save seven cents per bag (if you live in a place that taxes plastic bags) and you’ll help reduce your plastic footprint. This applies to all stores, not just for grocery stores.

When buying products in a store, try to select options that have little to no plastic packaging. This one is very hard considering we live in a plastic-filled world, but don’t fret if you buy a product with plastic because you can recycle the plastic packaging if applicable.

  1. Bring your own meals using containers you already have.

If you don’t own any resealable containers and you would like to purchase some, opt for the stainless steel kind. If you’re on a budget, you can pick up resealable containers from a thrift store for an affordable price. By bringing your own meals in resealable containers, you not only save yourself money but you also reduce your plastic consumption. If you forgot your container and are ordering a meal, dine in at the location instead of take out. If dining in isn’t an option, before ordering ask the restaurant over the phone if they could package your items using limited plastic. Worse case scenario, clean the plastic containers really well after you’re finished with them and either reuse them or recycle them.

Cutting down on your plastic consumption doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money or even change your lifestyle. It’s about recognizing how plastic is polluting the world we live in and doing something about it. At the end of the day, knowing you’re doing something to help lessen your plastic footprint is satisfying.

If you would like to share your tips on reducing plastic consumption, please send the Independent an email at [email protected]