In Zero Waste Canada

Tips to Reduce Plastics

Say no to straws at bars, restaurants, take-out food places and even home. If you must use a straw choose one that is reusable. McDonald’s alone provides single-use plastic straws through 36,000 restaurants in over 100 countries.

  • Encourage your local beverage establishments to have a no straw policy or to switch to paper straws.
  • Support coffee shops with your patronage that use reusable cups and dishes.
  • Carry reusable containers and cups for take-out food.
  • Carry your own reusable shopping bags. Choose bags that are fabric or a material at end of life that can be recycled or composted. Plastic bags now account for four out of every five bags handed out at the grocery store.
  • Forgone the produce bags instead buy loose veggies and fruit.
  • Know the plastics and packaging you can recycle in your local recycling programs. Resist purchasing products in packaging you cannot recycle locally.
  • Have a Zero Waste kit in car, briefcase, and purse or backpack so you always have reusable cutlery, cloth napkin, and water bottle or coffee cups.
  • Avoid sachets of mustard and relish at restaurants or take-out food places. Sachet packaging, normally made of a thin film of plastic and aluminum in a sandwich laminate form. Heinz sells 11 billion ketchup sachets a year.
  • Borrow, rent or buy from a thrift store stainless steel cutlery for parties or events. Six million tons of non-durable plastics are discarded every year. “Non-durable” means that the plastic has a useful life of less than three years. Other examples of non-durable plastics include plastic packaging, trash bags, cups, and more.
  • Use cloth diapers instead of disposable. For convenience check out if there is a local diaper service. More than four million disposable diapers are discarded in Canada each day.
  • Make waste-less lunches using reusable containers instead of individually wrapped convenience food.
  • Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
  • Shop at bulk food stores, refill stores and farmers markets to reduce the amount of items in packaging. Remember to take your own containers.
  • If you have garbage, line your garbage bin with newspaper.
  • Resist buying inexpensive plastic toys for children. Borrow toys from a toy library or invest in quality play things.
  • Refuse perfume samples and cosmetic samples at stores.
  • Invest in a fountain pen.
  • When shaving use a reusable razor instead of disposable. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each year 2 billion disposable razors are thrown away in the USA: Canada probably has a similar total.
  • Take time to read labels so you avoid personal care products that contain plastic micro-beads.
  • Cut down of purchasing frozen foods or canned foods as you are buying packaging with plastics.
  • Ask the drycleaner to return your clothes without plastic wrap and take your won garment bag to keep clothes clean during transport.
  • Swap out your synthetic sponge with a cloth dish cloth or a real luffa.
  • Brew your morning coffee without single-use coffee pods. Canadians are big fans of single-serve brewers; 20 per cent of households own one, compared to 12 per cent of Americans.
  • Use paper tape instead of scotch tape for securing packages.
  • Use beeswax candles or incense instead air fresheners in plastic containers.

Plastic Facts

Today, an average person living in Western Europe or North America consumes 100 kilograms of plastic each year, mostly in the form of packaging.

A report by Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and Moore Recycling Associates, notes that in 2015 at least 322 million kilograms of post-consumer plastic packaging were collected in Canada for recycling.

Approximately 10–20 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year.


  • Bren Murphy
    Apr 30, 2018 at 04:04 pm

    There are so many helpful suggestions here – I can see my book club discussion going crazy about this! Thank you for raising awareness and empowering individuals to take personal responsibility for what might appear to be a global problem.

  • Rachel Willcock
    Sep 16, 2018 at 05:20 am

    Such great and helpful ideas!! I have turned our household habits around choosing less plastic and packaging all over! I started in July and what an improvement. Its so easy to cut out the unnecessary products and we are eating more healthy too. That is another side of going zero waste, a healthier lifestyle!

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