Ultimate List of Alternatives to Plastic
Our dependence on plastic is a major problem. Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it. The next time you finish or run out of something disposable and plastic, you can make the switch to these best alternatives to plastic.
Whether you’re making the switch for Plastic Free July or you’re simply trying to reduce your plastic use, this list will take you through every area of your house one item at a time and offer the best alternatives to plastic so you can transition to a more natural and eco-friendly life.
What Is Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July is a movement aimed at helping people around the world make the switch to plastic free products to reduce plastic pollution. By taking part in the challenge and refusing single-use plastic items, you’ll enjoy a healthier life and a cleaner, healthier world.
But you don’t have to wait until July to stop using plastic. You can start making the switch to these best alternatives to plastic any time of year!
Why Should You Look for Alternatives to Plastic?
Plastic has two major issues: it pollutes our world and it negatively impacts our health.
Plastic pollution is quite obvious. We’ve all seen pictures of birds and animals tangled up in plastic. We’ve also seen pictures of animals who have died because they choked on or ingested plastic mistaking it for food.
However, plastic pollution goes beyond what we can see. Minuscule pieces of plastic called microplastics are in every level of the ocean food chain, which means they’re also ending up on our plates.
Ingesting these microplastics exposes us to chemicals found in some plastics. These chemicals have been linked to obesity, reproductive harm, developmental delays in children, and organ problems.
We’re also beginning to realize that there’s no such thing as a “safe plastic.” When scientists discovered the harm BPA was doing to our health, it was banned from plastic and replaced with bisphenol S (BPS).
However, new research is suggesting that even BPA-free plastics are leaching dangerous chemicals into our food and drink because BPS is just as harmful as BPA.
Now that you know why it’s so important to say goodbye plastic, here’s a comprehensive list of the best alternatives to plastic.
A Word of Advice
Before we dig in, I want to take a minute to warn you that this ultimate list of alternatives to plastic is MASSIVE. Which just goes to show how plastic has worked its way into every aspect of our lives.
When you start looking at this list, you might begin to feel overwhelmed. Please don’t. The best way to handle your switch to a plastic-free life is by taking baby steps.
First, bookmark or pin this post so you can come back to it when you need it. Next, begin by taking a look at what you’re about ready to use up.
Is that last tube of toothpaste almost empty? Awesome. Now is the perfect opportunity to switch to a plastic-free toothpaste.
Do you have a birthday or holiday coming up? Then that’s the ideal time to make a list of a few plastic-free products you haven’t switched to yet and let your family and friends know you’d really appreciate those items as gifts.
You’re not going to be able to make the switch to a completely plastic-free life overnight. The most important thing is that you’re making small steps to get rid of single-use plastic products and choosing alternatives to plastic.
The kitchen is one room in your house where you’re going to find A LOT of plastic. Since it can feel overwhelming to try to replace every plastic item with a plastic-free alternative on your way to a zero waste kitchen, I recommend starting with the plastic items that come into direct contact with your food and drink since these plastics are causing the most harm to your health and the health of your family.
Rather than use those flimsy plastic bags at the grocery store, get some reusable produce bags. I recommend these Simple Ecology organic cotton produce bags.
Not only can you use them to bring your produce home from the grocery store, but you can also use them to store your produce at home.
If you’ll be doing some bulk zero waste grocery shopping, be sure to pick up this washable crayon. You can use it to write the PLU code on your bags, and then simply wash it off when you get home.
Silicone Storage Bags
Say goodbye to those plastic containers and storage bags by getting some silicone storage bags. Silicone storage bags are reusable and safe to go in the freezer, dishwasher, microwave, and oven. Here are some great options:
Reusable Snack Bags
In addition to large silicone bags to store food, you can also get smaller reusable snack bags. These bags are ideal for packing a zero waste lunch. You also have plenty of options available:
- Organic Cotton Reusable Snack Bag
- Stasher Silicone Snack Bag
- Organic Cotton Set of 3 Snack Bags
- Organic Cotton Set of 3 Sandwich Bags
Beeswax Food Wrap
Once you use that last roll of plastic wrap, make the switch to reusable beeswax food wrap. Trust me when I say it does an even better job of preserving your leftovers!
These are some of the best beeswax food wraps on the market today:
- Etee Beeswax Food Wrap
- Etee Vegan Beeswax Food Wrap
- Organic Cotton Beeswax Food Wrap
- Abeego Plastic-Free Food Wrap
- Bee’s Wrap Reusable Wraps
- Hunnybee Beeswax Food Wraps
Interested in DIY? You can even make your own homemade beeswax food wrap.
Food Storage Containers
Plastic food storage containers can be very toxic to your health, especially if you heat your food up in them. Make the switch to these glass containers instead:
- 18-Piece Glass Food Storage Containers
- 20-Piece Glass Food Storage Containers
- 24-Piece Glass Food Storage Containers
- Le Parfait Glass Jar
Don’t forget you can also reuse and repurpose glass food jars like salsa jars and pasta sauce jars into food storage containers.
Stainless Steel Storage Containers
Stainless steel food storage containers are also great alternatives to plastic. These food storage containers are especially useful for times when you need something that can take some abuse without breaking, such as when you’re traveling or if you have young kids in the house.
Dish Soap Bar
You can ditch that plastic bottle of dish soap and clean your dishes using a dish soap bar. Here are several great options:
Don’t forget to pick up a plastic-free wooden dish brush to clean your dishes.
Related: The Best Plastic-Free Dish Soap
If you prefer liquid dish soap, these citrus-scented dish soap concentrates are an excellent option. Simply empty the biodegradable pod into a glass dispenser filled with 12.5 ounces (375 ml) of water. And presto! Instant dish soap. You can also get unscented dish soap concentrates.
If you usually use your dishwasher to wash your dishes, you can also make this homemade dishwasher detergent without borax.
Bamboo Cooking Utensils
Instead of using plastic utensils to cook your food, make the switch to bamboo cooking utensils:
Compostable Garbage Bags
Even though you might be working toward a zero waste kitchen, you’ll still probably have things you need to throw away. When you do, make sure it’s in a compostable garbage bag instead of a plastic one:
Bamboo Cutting Board
Bamboo cutting boards look great, are easy to clean, and can withstand years and years of use. If you get this bamboo cutting board set, you’ll enjoy three convenient sizes.
Ice Cube Tray
Did you know that even tea bags might contain plastic? Yes, unfortunately, it’s true. To make sure you’re not ingesting plastic with your cup of tea, pick up these plastic-free tea essentials:
The bathroom is another big culprit in your house when it comes to single-use plastic products. To make a zero waste bathroom, you can switch to these great alternatives to plastic once you empty the disposable items.
Say goodbye to washing your hair with shampoo from a plastic bottle and make the switch to a shampoo bar. You’ll find shampoo bars for all types of hair, and they work just as well as traditional shampoo.
Do you like to DIY? You can even make your own massaging shampoo bar.
Did you accidentally sleep in or is it your day to skip washing your hair? This zero waste dry shampoo absorbs excess oil and boosts volume so your hair will still look great.
Not only can you wash your hair with a shampoo bar, but you can also ditch that conditioner bottle and use a conditioner bar. Once again, you’ll find conditioner bars for all types of hair.
Not sure what to get? Here’s a great list of conditioner bars that help soften and nourish your hair.
Body Wash Bar
Once you switch your shampoo and conditioner, don’t forget to choose a plastic free body wash bar as well. Again, you’ll find options for all skin types. Here are some good ones I’ve used before:
- Chagrin Valley Soap Bars
- Facial Cleansing Soap
- Moisturizing Soap Bar
- Handmade Organic Soap Bar
- Natural Vegan Soap
That plastic loofah sponge in your shower is a magnet for bacteria. A natural loofah is a great way to get clean and offers a nice exfoliation. Plus, since loofah is actually a type of gourd, you can simply toss it in your compost bin when you can no longer use it.
Here are some loofah options:
You can even make your own homemade lavender loofah soap to use in the shower.
Do you need something a little gentler than loofah for your skin? Consider this sisal shower mitt or this sisal washcloth. Both options are plastic-free and biodegradable at the end of their useful life.
I’ve also fallen in love with this loofah soap pouch. It offers all of the benefits of a plastic loofah sponge, but without the waste. Simply drop a soap bar in the pouch, wet it, and rub it around your body to create a lather. It has a natural loofah side for exfoliation and a soft cellulose cloth side for a gentle clean.
When you’re done with your shower, you can soothe and hydrate your skin using a lotion bar instead of a plastic bottle of lotion. Check out these nice options:
- Lavender Chai Organic Lotion Bar
- Coconut Lemon Organic Lotion Bar
- Zero Waste Lotion Bar
- Chagrin Valley Lotion Bars
- Refillable Natural Moisturizer
When you use that last expensive plastic cartridge in your razor, say goodbye it to and say hello to a safety razor. Safety razors are just as easy to use as disposable razors, yet there’s zero waste involved since you can recycle the replaceable blade.
Even better, the replacement blades for safety razors typically cost just a few cents, which means you can save money when you shave with a safety razor.
Once you make the switch to a safety razor, don’t forget to ditch that can of shaving cream and use shaving soap. Shaving soap gives you a nice lather for a smooth shave. Here are several great options:
- Natural Citrus Shaving Soap
- Badger Organic Shaving Soap
- Nettles and Clay Shaving Soap
- Chagrin Valley Shaving Soap
- Organic Shaving Soap
- Scented Shave Soap
You can also make your own homemade shaving gel that goes on clear and is super nourishing.
Skip that plastic string of floss that won’t biodegrade and might actually be coated with a chemical that can cause cancer. Instead, use biodegradable dental floss made from either silk or bamboo fiber.
Once you use your last plastic toothbrush, make the switch to a bamboo toothbrush. Bamboo toothbrushes work just as well as plastic toothbrushes, and you can compost the bamboo handle when your toothbrush reaches the end of its useful life.
Zero Waste Toothpaste
Once you have your bamboo toothbrush, don’t forget to switch to zero waste toothpaste. You’ll find zero waste toothpaste options that will suit everyone’s needs, including zero waste whitening toothpaste and zero waste children’s toothpaste.
Zero Waste Mouthwash
Did you know you can also get zero waste mouthwash? Simply pick up these zero waste mouthwash tablets, dissolve them in a little bit of water, gargle, and spit!
There are several reasons why you should switch to a natural deodorant, including the impact that aluminum and parabens can have on your body. There’s also the fact that you can get plastic-free deodorant!
You might use that cotton swab for a few seconds, but if it has a plastic handle, it’s going to stick around for hundreds of years. That’s why you should make the switch to LastSwab from LastObject.
Each reusable LastSwab can help replace up to 1,000 single-use cotton swabs. It’s easy to use, sanitary, and comes with its own bio-based carrying case. LastObject also makes LastRound, which you can use to replace single-use cotton rounds.
If you prefer traditional swabs, consider using one of these biodegradable cotton swabs:
The next time that plastic hairbrush or comb breaks (and let’s face it, you know it will) make the switch to a wooden hairbrush and comb. Wood hairbrushes and combs are significantly better than plastic options because they’re so durable.
- Round Hairbrush
- Vegan Hairbrush
- Wooden Hairbrush
- Wooden Children’s Hairbrush
- Wooden Pocket Comb
- Wooden Comb
Biodegradable Hair Ties
If you need to pull up your hair, skip those plastic hair ties that stretch out and eventually break and go with one of these biodegradable hair ties instead.
- Organic Cotton Hair Ties
- Colorful Plastic Free Hair Ties
- Organic Plastic Free Hair Ties
- KOOSHOO Plastic Free Hair Ties
Chances are good you’ll always find me with a tube of lip balm. At one time, I didn’t think twice about that plastic tube. However, now I use lip balm in a biodegradable tube. Don’t forget you can also switch to zero waste makeup that’s better for your skin and the environment!
- Natural Lip Balm
- Vegan Lemongrass Mint Lip Balm
- Jumbo Lip Balm
- Tinted Vegan Lip Balm
- Lavender Earl Grey Vegan Lip Butter
- Vegan Lip Balm
Scraps and cuts happen. You can get the same level of protection and care from a biodegradable bandage that you can get from a plastic one. Biodegradable bandages also come in fun designs that kids will love.
- Natural Bamboo Bandage
- Activated Charcoal Enriched Bandages
- Aloe Vera Enriched Biodegradable Bandages
- Coconut Oil Enriched Panda Kids Bandages
Ladies, when that time of month rolls around, we don’t have to use tampons with plastic applicators or plastic lined pads that take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Instead, we can go with one of these alternatives to plastic.
- GladRags Washable Menstrual Night Pad
- GladRags Washable Menstrual Day Pad
- GladRags Washable Pantyliner
- Daily Reusable Menstrual Liners
- XO Flo Silicone Menstrual Cup
- Saalt Silicone Menstrual Cup
- Silicone DivaCup Menstrual Cup
You might not think about the plastic in your laundry room, but it’s there every time you do the laundry. Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to make your laundry room more eco-friendly by getting these alternatives to plastic.
When you’re ready to remove plastic from your laundry room, you can start with your laundry detergent. I love to use soap nuts for my laundry because they’re clean, natural, and zero waste. I’ve even used them to create liquid soap nut laundry detergent.
Wool Dryer Balls
Once you’ve switched out that plastic bottle of laundry detergent, it’s time to get rid of that plastic bottle of fabric softener. I don’t have to use fabric softener to soften my laundry because I use soap nuts for my detergent and these wool dryer balls.
Even better, not only do wool dryer balls help soften your clothes, but they can also cut down on drying time, which can save you money!
If your family is like mine and they end up with a lot of stains on their clothes, you’re going to need an effective stain remover. But that doesn’t mean you need to keep a plastic bottle of stain remover in your laundry room.
This homemade stain remover offers results you have to see to believe. My husband and son have yet to get a stain on their clothes that this stain remover couldn’t get rid of.
Synthetic fibers like polyester release microfibers every time they’re washed. These fibers are so small they pass through the water treatment plants and either end up in our waterways or back into our drinking water.
To trap these microfibers before they enter our water supply, you need to get a microfiber catcher that you can toss in your washing machine with your clothes.
Once you get your laundry room free of plastic, it’s time to look at the rest of your cleaning routine. When you create an eco-friendly cleaning routine, you can remove toxins from your home and make it a safer place for everyone in your family.
Toilet Cleaning Brush
When that plastic toilet brush falls apart, make the switch to a plastic-free wooden toilet brush.
Wooden Scrub Brush
I use this wooden scrub brush pretty much everywhere around the house. It does a great job scrubbing the shower, cleaning the floor, and more.
Organic Unbleached Cotton Unpaper Towels
The other cleaning tool I use pretty much everywhere are these organic unbleached cotton unpaper towels. Are you wondering why I only recommend organic cotton? Then be sure to check out this post that explains the important difference between microfiber and cotton.
Homemade Cleaning Products
Once you have your cleaning tools, it’s time to make your own cleaning supplies. Natural cleaning products work just as well as store-bought products. Even better, they don’t contain any dangerous chemicals that are hazardous to your health.
Not sure where to start? Here are several simple homemade cleaning products you can make right now.
The good news is your bedroom shouldn’t have too many single-use plastic items, so it’s pretty easy to make this a plastic-free room. In fact, your main issue will be what’s inside your closet.
Those plastic hangers are cheap and flimsy. The next time one breaks, make the switch to a wooden hanger that will stand the test of time and hold up even the heaviest of clothes.
Rather than use those lint rollers with the sticky sheets you throw away, make the switch to this handcrafted lint brush. This sustainable option works incredibly well with zero waste.
Wait a minute. Plastic in clothing? Yep, unfortunately, the vast majority of clothes in your closet are likely made with plastic. Materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic all contain plastic.
The only way to avoid plastic in your clothing is start slowly start switching to sustainable clothing. Not only can you find nice sustainable clothing for yourself, but you can also get sustainable clothing for your kids and stylish and sustainable swimwear for the entire family.
If you think you have a lot of plastic in your kitchen and bathroom, take a look at how much plastic your kids touch every day. Everything from what they use to eat and drink to the toys they play with are plastic.
Remember, this is especially concerning because even BPA-free plastic is leaching dangerous chemicals that can impact growth and development in children.
To help eliminate how much plastic your kids come into contact with every day, here are several excellent resources to check out:
- Top Plastic-Free Baby Bottles
- The Best Plastic-Free and Non-Toxic Sippy Cups
- The Best Eco-Friendly Products for Babies and Kids
- Eco-Friendly Back to School Supplies
Plus, since part of our responsibility is teaching our kids how to take care of our planet, don’t forget to check out these top children’s books about sustainability.
Related: Where to Donate Used Books
Once we have our kids taken care of, it’s time to help out our pets. Yes, even Fluffy and Rover have to deal with too much plastic.
Compostable Waste Bags
Let’s face it. If you have a dog, you have to clean up after them when they do their business. However, rather than use plastic bags, choose compostable waste bags made from plant-based materials.
Learn more about the best eco-friendly ways to get rid of pet waste. Plus, don’t forget you can also use these waste bags when you’re emptying your cat’s litter box!
You’re not the only one who can get clean with zero waste shampoo. Several companies also make dog shampoo bars, including these good options:
You can even make your own dog shampoo using castile soap.
Plastic bowls aren’t always the safest and most durable option. Especially if you have a pet that likes to chew! Plus, plastic can harbor bacteria from leftover food.
Instead, choose one of these more eco-friendly options for a pet bowl:
We don’t want our pets playing with cheap and flimsy plastic toys anymore than we want our kids playing with them. That’s why you can find a nice selection of sustainable dog toys here and a great selection of eco-friendly cat toys here.
On the Go
Avoiding single-use plastic when you’re on the go is sometimes difficult to do. However, with a little planning, it’s actually quite easy. It also helps when you have these alternatives to plastic!
Whether you live in a place that already bans plastic straws or not, having your reusable straw with you is very important.
We use these collapsible silicone straws because they’re incredibly convenient. They fold up into their own carrying case, which makes them easy to toss into my purse.
If you’re not sure whether these straws will work for you, check out this post on the best reusable straws to discover all the different options you have available.
If you’re out and about and decide to get some carry-out food, don’t grab the plastic utensils. Instead, keep a set of reusable utensils with you so you always have what you need.
We use these reusable bamboo utensils when we’re out and about. Each set comes with its own bag and includes a fork, knife, and spoon. They’re high quality, so they can stand up to multiple uses.
After we use them, I can just put them in the dishwasher to clean them. Best of all, once they reach the end of their life, they’re compostable!
Here are some great options that come with carrying cases for extra convenience:
I have the advantage of carrying a purse to keep all of my on-the-go essentials with me. If you don’t carry a purse, a tote bag can help.
You can use the tote bag to carry all of these essentials. You might even find you can replace your purse with a tote bag so you don’t have to carry both.
You can also consider these foldable shopping bags that you can use in case you purchase something and need a bag. They fold up into convenient pouches for easy travel.
Here are some other nice bags that might work for you:
If you’re going to be outside, you’re going to need sunscreen. You can always have sunscreen with you without having to deal with the single-use plastic bottle when you check out these excellent reef-safe and natural sunscreen options.
Not only should you protect your skin from the sun, but you should also protect it from bugs. This natural bug repellent bar offers the best of both worlds.
It comes in a metal tin that makes it easy to carry around. You can also reuse or recycle the tin when you’ve used up the last of the bug repellent.
I always like to have tissues with me in case I need to wipe a nose or clean a dirty face. For the longest time, my only option was to carry disposable tissues. But not anymore!
Now I carry LastTissue, and I absolutely love them! I just toss this reusable tissue pack in my purse, and I always have an easy, soft, and sanitary tissue when I need one.
LastTissue has 6 high-quality and amazingly soft reusable tissues that come in a convenient silicone case. If I need a tissue, I can simply pull one from the bottom, use it, and then toss it in the washing machine when I get home.
Compostable Phone Case
Ditch that bulky plastic phone case and pick up a compostable phone case in place of it. Yes, you read that right: a compostable phone case.
Fortunately, compostable phone cases are just as durable as plastic ones. And when you upgrade to a new phone, you don’t have to throw away the case. Instead, you just toss it in your compost bin.
Room-by-Room Guide of Alternatives to Plastic
Thanks to this extensive guide of alternatives to plastic, you can easily begin switching to sustainable and eco-friendly versions of pretty much everything in your house. Not only will this help you dramatically reduce your waste, but it will also help you live a safer and healthier life.
More Eco-Friendly Living Tips
Now that you see how easy it is to make the switch to these alternatives to plastic, are you interested in even more outstanding eco-friendly living tips? Then be sure to check out some of our other popular posts:
- Best Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper
- How to Reduce Paper Towel Use
- Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Common Household Products
- Best Apps to Help You Live a Sustainable Life