The United States produces an average of 258 million tons (516 billion pounds) of solid waste each year, and that number only continues to grow. If it keeps going at this pace, some experts believe that we’ll start to run out of room in landfills in as little as 18 years.

Single-use plastics are a huge part of the problem. They’re used once and tossed “out of sight and mind”, but they’re far from gone. Even thin plastics can take anywhere from 500 to thousands of years to break down.

Finding alternatives to single-use plastic is one of the best ways for us, as consumers, to make a difference. Read on for some of the best natural plastic alternatives you can start using today.

Fabric Bags

When you go to the grocery store, do you bring a bag or use the plastic ones provided? Do you reach for a plastic baggie to pack your lunch each day? Disposable plastic bags aren’t durable enough to reuse, and once they’re tossed out, they often end up polluting both the land and water.

As an alternative to plastic bags, make the switch to fabric ones. Your plastic shopping bag can be replaced with a tote bag (bonus points if it’s upcycled!). When it comes to packing food, water-resistant sustainable bags lined with beeswax are your best friend.

Sustainable Drink Accessories

Portable drinks open up some of our biggest opportunities to use plastic alternatives. From plastic straws and coffee lids to stir sticks and water bottles, toting beverages around is almost synonymous with single-use plastic.

Be conscious about how you carry your drinks. Consider switching to metal or paper straws, carrying a metal thermos or water bottle, and using a wooden stir stick or skipping it altogether.

Eco-Friendly Food Accessories

Eating food on the go also produces a lot of solid waste. A single takeout meal can leave behind plastic food boxes, cutlery, dishes, plastic wrap, condiment packets…the list goes on and on.

The best single-use plastic alternatives for these products are the ones you already keep in your kitchen. If you must use disposable items, though, choose ones that will break down in a landfill like paper plates and compostable utensils.

Reusable Diapers and Menstrual Products

Did you know that many of the “absorbent” products sold in stores are actually plastic-based? When it comes to diapers and menstrual products like pads and tampons, investing in plastic alternatives can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Instead of paying through the nose for disposable products each month, switch to reusable ones like cloth diapers. For menstrual products, try using menstrual cups, fabric pads, or period underwear.

Which of These Alternatives to Single-Use Plastic Will You Switch To?

None of us can save the planet by ourselves, but if we all pitch in and make small changes, we may be able to reverse some of the damage we’ve done.

Switching to natural alternatives to single-use plastic is a great place to start, but sustainable living doesn’t stop there. Check out the rest of our site for more eco-friendly ideas and ways to make a difference.

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