That Plastic-Free Life (In Eight Ways) 

by Natalie Bencivenga


May 26, 2021

I don’t know about you but I feel completely overwhelmed at times about the amount of plastic that is floating in our oceans, that I use in my daily life, and that I see being thrown out. It can seem impossible to make any kind of a positive environmental impact when you realize how much plastic is being used by all of us, all day, every day. And while no one person can do everything, we can all do something. So consider this your guide for a plastic-less (not free!) life. If we can each make a small change daily, it can add up to big results that improve everyone’s quality of life. 

Shop with reusable bags:
It may seem like a no-brainer, but how many times have you walked into your favorite boutique, thrift shop or grocery store and thought … “Oh no. Where is my bag?” What I like to do is leave a few in the trunk of my car so that I always have one on hand when I know I’ll be out shopping. Also, if you buy small items, put them in your backpack, belt bag or purse instead of taking a plastic bag. 

Bye-bye bottled water:
If people knew how many bottles of water it takes to make one bottle of water — three times to be exact! — you may rethink grabbing one when you are out. Instead, try incorporating reusable water bottles into your daily life so that you get into the habit of both drinking more water and not throwing away plastic bottles throughout the week. 

Say “no” to the little plastic table in your pizza box:
Seems like a silly thing, but all those little plastic pizza “package savers” as they are called, add up to a lot of unnecessary plastic. Just ask them not to use one in your pizza box and help reduce the waste. 

Shop for produce at farmers markets:
Of course, this isn’t always feasible, but if you can, bring reusable bags to the farmers market and load up on your local fruits and veggies there. It reduces waste and plastics by buying locally, by not having plastic bags for each of your produce items and by not having plastic bags when you go to check out. Plus, it’s always fashionable to support local farms!  


Facial product overhaul:
It’s so sneaky how plastics find their way into everything, including our facial scrubs. Some personal care products contain tiny plastic beads, so avoid anything with “polyethylene” as an ingredient.  

Try beeswax coated cloth instead of plastic wrap:
This seriously changed my life. You can reuse them, just wash them with water and soap. They cling to everything, including the tops of containers, and can be molded around fruits, veggies and anything else you need to store in the refrigerator. They can be expensive, but I started to find them at TJ Maxx for a cheaper price. Worth the investment! 

Try making your own salad dressings:
It may seem daunting to make your own, but since so many come in plastic bottles, and so many times we end up throwing half a bottle out, it adds up to a whole lot of waste. There are many recipes out there to make your own vinaigrette, ranch dressing, and more that just take a few simple ingredients and maybe five minutes of time. They taste better and don’t contain preservatives, either! 

Shop second-hand:
Naturally, it wouldn’t be a “Little Green Dress” list without a fashion component and I have done a few articles on great thrift shops around the city and how doing so decreases plastic consumption as well as lowers your carbon footprint. So what are you waiting for?

Just a few small changes in our daily habits can lead to a major collective result. I hope this inspires you to try something new!


Natalie Bencivenga is a regular columnist with The Green Voice Weekly Newsletter and hosts Pittsburgh Earth Day's VEGED; Earth Inspired Eats