8 Single-Use Products You Can Stop Using Today

We’ve all heard it before: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But how often do we really pay attention to it? There’s a lot of focus on the Recycle portion, but it’s actually the first two Rs that are the most important. If you buy something packaged in a lot of paper and plastic, it’s easy to throw the packaging in your blue bin and forget about it. But unfortunately, not everything we recycle actually gets completely recycled.

Additionally, the process of recycling materials takes a lot of energy. You may pat yourself on the back for washing out your aluminum can until it sparkles (which can sometimes take a lot of water!) before watching it get hauled off from your street corner, but there’s a lot of not-so-good things in this timeline that can be avoided altogether. Reducing and Reusing are two very important habits to build into our routines, so here are 8 single-use items you can cut out from your life.



1. Straws

Sure, straws are nice, but you can usually get by just fine without one. Asking for drink without straws at restaurants is a super simple way to save this unrecyclable plastic from ending up somewhere it shouldn’t. You might be thinking, how many straws do we actually use? And the answer is A LOT. In the U.S., for example, 500 million straws are disposed of every day.


2. Plastic Shopping Bags

It’s one thing to have reusable bags, but it’s another to remember to actually use them. While you may already cart your groceries home plastic bag-free, it’s a good thing to remember they can be used for more than just groceries. Next time you go shopping of any kind, try and bring a reusable bag with you. Clothing, shoes, stationery, makeup … it usually all comes along with a plastic bag, and it really doesn’t need to. Besides, soon Victoria is going plastic bag-free, so it’s definitely a great time to make a change.


3. Disposable Bottles and Cups

While they are super convenient, plastic and non-reusable cups are just not necessary. Bringing your own water bottle or travel mug can get rid of a lot of waste, especially if a cup of coffee is always a part of your morning routine. While lots of our cups here at UVic market themselves as being compostable, they do still have negative impacts on the environment. For more info, check out UVic Sustainability Movement’s (UVSM) “Love My Mug” Campaign!



4. Toothbrushes

We’re supposed to use a new toothbrush every 3–4 months, but whether you adhere to this or not, you’re more than likely to use quite a few toothbrushes over your lifetime. Every part of the plastic toothbrushes you get from your dentist has a negative impact on the environment. While there are no completely compostable toothbrushes out there (unless you opt for bristles made of pig hair), there are definitely some great alternatives. A highly praised company is Brush With Bamboo, which creates vegan, bio-based toothbrushes that use only 38% plastic to create their bristles and that have handles made of bamboo (but not the kind that pandas eat!).


5. Produce Bags

Plastic bags used for grocery shopping aren’t just limited to the ones at the checkout, but also the produce bags you use throughout the store. Just foregoing on these bags altogether can cut down on waste, but if you find you need these while you shop, you can bring or buy reusable bags specifically for produce or bulk food.



6. Disposable Menstrual Products

Don’t worry: I’m not asking you to give up period products altogether; just to do a little substituting. Reusable pads and menstrual cups are an awesome way to keep yourself comfortable, while also saving yourself the garbage (and money!). Be sure to check out our article on 9 Reasons to Start Using a Menstrual Cup!


7. Plastic Wrap/Ziploc Bags

While plastic wrap and Ziploc bags can be super helpful for food storage, they ultimately create a lot of waste that can easily be substituted for something more sustainable. When packaging food, try to use a reusable container. It does the same job as a bag and can be reused as many times as you need. As for plastic wrap, you can get the same convenience from beeswax wrap, but without the added waste. Abeego is a company founded in Victoria that sells beeswax wrap, so you can see the real thing for yourself downtown.


8. Disposable Cutlery

Chances are you have reusable metal or wooden cutlery in your homes already, so making sure you use it when you go to work or school is an extra step you can take. If you are in need of cutlery when you’re on campus, you can use metal utensils from any food services location, or at least compostable ones!


Do you have any other suggestions? Which items are you going to give up? Let us know!