How To (Painlessly) Reduce Your Single-use Plastic Consumption

17 February 2020
Style, Home, Eco-friendly, Climate Change
Upgraded replacements for 13 disposable items you use all of the time

You're here, so I don't need to tell how important it is to reduce your single-use plastic consumption. But here goes anyways: Not only does the production of plastic require a ton of energy that creates a lot of pollution, but also plastic takes ages to break down—and its presence can cause immense damage to our oceans. Even when you actually attempt recycle it, reports have found that a bunch of it just ends up in landfills anyways.

Slightly altering your habits isn't going to magically fix these problems—your individual contribution to climate change is fairly inconsequential in comparison to that from large companies, billionaires, and the military—but every little bit helps? Plus, a lot of the ways that we've adopted to reduce single-use plastic presence in our lives have ended up being better ways of doing things. Metal straws, for example, have more structure than plastic straws, you can't bite down on them if you tried.

We've collected 13 items like this, which are replacements to items we use and then dispose throughout many areas of our life.

All products featured on GQ are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Zojirushi stainless steel mug

Whether you make coffee at home and bring it in, grab a cup at an artisanal third wave roastery, or get it from a metal cart on the side of the road, you should drink it out of a reusable metal thermos. Coffee cups, despite being made of paper, are not only single-use items, but they're also often impossible to recycle. This one from Zojirushi keeps coffee almost upsettingly hot, so hot that you'll be unable to drink it hours after putting it in into the the thermos. To be clear, this is a good thing. It'll keep things cold too. $26 at Amazon

Kleen Kanteen reusable metal straws and brush

A set of reusable straws fit for a grown-up, with a few extra for when the kid in you leaves one behind in the coffee shop. $9 at Amazon

Stasher reusable sandwich bag

The reusable bags from Stasher are an enormous upgrade for that half of an apple you couldn't finish, the handful of Cheerios you're bringing to your kids soccer game, or that steak that you want to sous vide. Ziploc what? $12 at Amazon

Takenaka bento box

You can bring your lunch to work in almost anything, but if you're bringing more than just some mixed veggies and rice, you should bring it in a bento box. It comes with a few partitions you can use to organize your food, and separate out your snacks, plus a band that secures it closed while it jostles around the bottom of your bag. $40 at Williams Sonoma

Onyx steel sandwich box

If you want something a bit smaller and simplier, this metal sandwich box, which also has a bottom and top compartment, should also do the trick. $13 at Need Supply

Bee's Wrap reusable food wraps

There's no perfect replacement for Saran wrap, but Bee's Wrap will work in most situations. Use it to cover a bowl with rising bread, or to save half that sandwich in the fridge for later. Just make sure you remember to wash it every so often. $18 at Amazon

Glasslock container set

Glass containers are best for storing food you won't need to transport, like when you batch cook a ton of chili or pasta or stew that you want to eat for dinner throughout the week. These from Glasslock are sturdy and won't break the first few times you drop them. $34 at Amazon

Baggu standard reusable bag

The reusable bags from Baggu have a tiny bit of stretch to them, which gives them a much bigger capacity than that reusable bag your mom paid $5 for at Whole Foods eight years ago. They're also lightweight and pack small enough to just throw in your backpack and forget, which means you'll never have to choose between paper and plastic on that random post-work trip to the supermarket. $12 at Baggu

Hydroflask standard water bottle, 21 ounces

Keeping one of these at your desk gives you both the hydration you need to do your work and a bulletproof excuse for walking away from that work every 45 minutes. $33 at Hydroflask

Terya portable reusable toothpick

Your post-lunch toothpick addiction just got both a lot nicer to look at and a bit better for the Earth. $14 at Amazon

United by Blue utensil set

A utensil set you use to eat the lunch you brought from home or the $15 bowl of [insert carb], [insert protein], [insert sauce] you waited 34 minutes in line for. Whenever you buy something through United by Blue, the company pledges to remove a pound of plastic from the ocean. $24 at United by Blue

By Humankind shampoo bar

This shampoo bar comes in recyclable packaging and destroys itself as you use it. It also smells fantastic. $15 at By Humankind

Bathing Culture Refillable Rainbow Glass Mind & Body Wash

Bathing Culture's body wash comes in a glass bottle, which you can recycle when empty. But if you live in San Francisco, Novato, or Venice, you can also go to a few select stores to get your bottle refilled. The company plans to make these refills available to people in New York, Atlanta, and Cleveland later this year. $35 at Bathing Culture


Via GQ