When it comes to adopting a sustainable lifestyle, focus on plastic as a key area. While properly recycling plastic is a good thing, stopping the cycle (and the plastic waste) before it begins is even better.

Single-use items, in particular, are something we should all be avoiding. But what exactly is a single-use plastic? Think of all of those random items you use only once then toss, such as water bottles, straws, plastic silverware, the packaging on all of those to-go cups.

Why We Need to Eliminate Single-Use Items

Did you know that a single-use plastic water bottle can take 450 years to break down into microplastics? Since plastic doesn’t immediately biodegrade, it ends up accumulating in cities, oceans, and water supplies, slowly releasing chemicals and wreaking havoc on the environment and wildlife. That’s why it’s our responsibility to explore ways we can reduce our plastic footprint.

Luckily, there are plenty of simple and cost-effective solutions to help you live a plastic-free, or reduced plastic, lifestyle. Below we’ve outlined some of the easiest alternatives you can use in lieu of single-use items.

1.  Bottled Water

Americans consume 1,500 plastic water bottles per second. If you haven’t managed to ditch those single-use plastic bottles for good, now is the time to do so—once and for all. Not only do disposable water bottles harm the environment, but they can also harm your health. Sip your sparkling, still, and tap from a stainless steel or glass bottle when you’re on the go. Check out our blog, Better Taste, Better Bottles [How to Help] for our favorite eco-friendly reusable bottles.

2.  Plastic Drinking Straws

People in the U.S. also use and toss more than 500 million straws a day. While straws definitely serve a purpose, single-use plastic straws do not have too many redeeming qualities (if any at all) for most of us. That’s why we should each consider our current straw usage and see if we can offer ourselves a better alternative to plastic straws.

Paper straws, hay straws, buluh straws, silicone straws, and glass straws are all great swaps. Check out our top picks in our blog, A Better Alternative to Plastic Drinking Straws.

3.  Coffee Cups

Here’s another shocking number for you – Every year we throw away 100 billion single-use cups around the world. Not only do the cups have plastic lids, which adds to the problem, but even paper cups are usually lined with plastic.

How can you help? Opt for a reusable/refillable mug or cup instead. Many coffee shops will even offer you a discount if you bring your own reusable mug. KeepCup is a stylish reusable coffee cup made from tough, durable, fully-tempered soda-lime glass and is fully recyclable. The cups are lightweight and come in five different sizes and a whole range of fun colors to choose from. The KeepCup reusable coffee mug is available on Amazon.

4.  Plastic Bags

Bring your own bag! Plastic grocery bags are detrimental to the environment. Not only are we using billions of plastic sacks every year, but they can’t be recycled. So where do they end up? Threatening marine life in our oceans, clogging up our storm drains, and contributing greatly to our global trash buildup. Check out our post Switch to Reusable Shopping Bags to discover how to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle by making the switch to reusable grocery bags.

5.  Plastic Cutlery

There are tons of eco-friendly options for plastic silverware. Simply keeping metal utensils in your office or briefcase for lunch instead of taking disposable ones helps immensely. If you’re hosting a gathering and don’t want to bother with the clean-up of real silverware, consider purchasing eco-friendly compostable bamboo cutlery, or look at the many bamboo cutlery sets offered on Etsy.

Reducing or eliminating plastic in your life is one of the best things you can do for our planet. These are a few of the simple swaps you can make to cut plastic out of your life for good.

Stay Tuned for More Ways You Can Help

If you’re looking for other ways you can help our planet, be sure to stay tuned right here on our blog!