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Alternatives to plastic

There are and always were many alternatives to plastics. Glass, wood, stainless steel, natural rubber, wool, hemp, bamboo, jute and cotton are just a few.

Have a look at the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge Shop for a whole range of alternative products. Alternatively, below is a table compiled by Sustainable Baby Steps which shows how some alternatives can be used…

Replace plastic containers with glass or stainless steel.

Use canvas or reusable shopping bags.

You can replace your plastic calculator with a bamboo model!

A steel dustpan and wooden brush may cost more but will last alot longer and is of course recyclable.

Check office supplies are recyclable, including all-metal scissors, waste bins, thumb tacks, etc.

Choose natural wool, hemp, jute, or cotton rugs.

Use glass or stainless steel straws (and include a straw brush for easy cleaning).

Alternatives to plastic

Plastic
used in
Alternative to plastic
​Art supplies​Consider homemade play dough, paint, etc (to store in glass or metal); choose items such as coloured pencils and charcoal or pastels that come in cardboard boxes instead of plastic containers.
Baby bottle​Glass or stainless steel, and silicone nipples.
Bags (food storage)Glass or stainless steel containers.
Bags (shopping)Canvas or reusable shopping bags (homemade or bought).
Beverage container (store-bought)Drink water instead. Store homemade beverages in glass carafes, buy milk in glass bottles or from a local farm.
Brush (scrub or bottle)Tampico (Mexican) fibre or horsehair brushes.
Brush (toilet)Pig-hair wooden toilet brush.
Calculator​Bamboo calculator.
​CarpetNatural wool carpet, real wood floors, sealed concrete.
Computer keyboardBamboo keyboard.
Cooking utensils (spatulas, spoons, etc)​Invest in wood (naturally antibacterial!), stainless steel or silicone when necessary.
CupsGlass (or stainless steel for toddlers).
Dishwasher soapSkip the store-bought and make your own homemade dishwashing detergent to store in a glass jar or stainless steel container.
DustpanSweep dust out the door or use a stainless steel dustpan.
Food storageGlass and/or stainless steel containers.
Hard hatV-Gard GREEN Helmet (non-petroleum 'plastic', made from sugarcane).
Ice cube trayStainless steel is best; also silicone, or natural rubber (if you're using an automatic ice cube maker, you're out of luck)!
Lint rollerWooden and natural rubber lint brush.
Lunchbox​Fabric lunch bags or stainless steel box.
Media cases (CDs, DVDs, etc)Purchase digital through iTunes or Amazon, or watch online through Amazon Instant Video or Netflix, etc.
Office suppliesCheck out paper tape (skip the dispenser); Many pens come with metal shells; you can often find all-metal scissors at craft stores (check the sewing department); choose mouldable or square erasers (as well as single pens) from bins instead of in plastic packaging; look for metal thumb tacks, etc.
Razors (disposable)All-metal razors and blades (non-disposable).
RugsMany are made from synthetic polyester or recycled plastic. Choose natural wool, hemp, jute, or cotton. Choose a silicone non-slip pad underneath.
Seasoning containersChoose seasonings that come in glass with a metal lid, recycle the plastic topper inside, and consider growing and drying your own in the future.
Shower curtainChoose cloth, bamboo, or hemp instead. And use metal curtain rings.
Skin care containersUse coconut oil, essential oils, homemade sunscreen and other homemade skin care options.
StrawsGlass or stainless steel - be sure your order includes a free straw brush for easy cleaning.
ToothbrushPlastic-free wooden toothbrushes.
ToothpasteMake your own homemade toothpaste and store it in a glass or stainless steel jar.
ToysReplace with wooden, cotton, hemp, porcelain, metal or other natural materials.
Trash bagsFirst be sure to precycle, compost, and recycle your waste. With the small amount left, try going without a bag, using paper bags, or compostable bags (such as BioBags).
Utensils (especially for picnics)Choose bamboo knives, forks and spoons, and keep them (cleaned!) in your car or van.
Water bottleStainless steel, or glass with silicone or padded case to prevent breaking (these usually only come with plastic lids - if you find a quality bottle without any plastic at all please let us know!).
Water filter (for the refrigerator)Instead of the fridge filter, use a stainless steel and charcoal water filter.
Yoga mat​Bamboo, hemp, jute, or natural rubber mat.