Take Action

Personal Actions:

  • Reusable alternatives

    • Ex. Water bottles, utensils, plates, bags, straws etc.

  • Using water bottle filling stations

  • Bringing reusable grocery bags and reusable produce bags to stores

  • Bringing reusable containers to restaurants for leftovers

  • Ask to use your own reusable cup at fast food chains, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

  • Get your meat products fresh and placed directly into a reusable container

  • Buy liquids (milk, juice, etc.) in glass bottles

  • Avoid snack foods in single-use plastic packaging

  • Buy fresh products without plastic wrappers

  • Go to a local farmer's market for fresh produce

  • Carry reusable utensils and straws with you on the go

  • Use plastic free every-day products

    • Example: bamboo hair brushes, stainless steel containers, metal razor, etc.

  • Check products for microplastics (such as sunscreen)

  • Use plastic-free toiletries

    • Example: shampoo bars, soap bars, bamboo toothbrushes, etc.

  • Make your own cleaning supplies or shop for powdered cleaning products

  • Use beeswax wrap, reusable containers, or reusable sandwich bags instead of Ziploc plastic bags

  • Make your own food instead of buying process, packaged snacks

  • Locate and use a local plastic free refillery or zero waste bulk store

  • Influence your peers and community to reduce their single-use plastic consumption

Single-Use Plastics and their Reusable Alternatives

Starting with the Basics

Single Use Reusables

Plastic and paper Reusable cups (coffee) cups

Plastic water bottles Metal/reusable bottles

Disposable utensils Reusable to-go cutlery

Plastic straws Metal straws

Shopping bag Reusable bags

Produce bag Cotton produce bags

Disposable masks Fabric masks

Cleaning Supplies

Single Use Reusables

Dryer Sheets Wool dryer balls

Laundry detergent Zero-waste detergent packs

Disposable (wet) wipes Homemade fabric wipes

Plastic gloves Rubber gloves

Cotton buds (Q-tips) Reusable swabs

Bathroom Supplies

Single Use Reusables

Disposable razor Metal razor

Toilet paper Bamboo toilet paper

Makeup wipes Washable cotton pads

Makeup Recycled-plastic packaged makeup

Emery boards Glass nail files

Feminine products Washable and reusable products

Kitchen Supplies

Single Use Reusables

Saran or plastic wrap Beeswax and cloth wraps

Sandwich bags Silicon sandwich bags

Paper napkins Cloth napkins

Paper towels Cloth paper towels

Tea bags Loose leaf tea

Drink cartons (paper cups)

Glass bottles

Aluminum cans

Single-serving containers

Multi-serving containers

Common Household Items

Plastic Eco-friendly materials

Hairbrushes Bamboo hairbrush

Toothbrushes Bamboo toothbrush

Phone cases Organic materials or recycled plastic phone case

Plastic food storage containers Stainless steel containers

Sponges Silicone sponges

Shampoo and conditioner Hair care bars

Soap Bar soap

Loofah Natural loofah

Hair ties Fabric hair ties

Bed sheets Organic bedding

Electronics Chargers Recycled plastics cords

Sunscreen Reef safe sunscreen

Common Single-Use Items

Plastic disposables Eco alternatives

Dental floss Silk floss

Balloons Tissue paper pom poms

Glitter Paper confetti

Tape Washi tape or painters tape

Ribbon or plastic string Twine

Plastic garlands Paper streamers

Pet waste bags Compostable pet waste bags

Chewing gum Plastic free chewing gum

Quick Guide to Recycling

Recycling systems, especially in the United States, are flawed, which is why the best practice is to reduce your consumption rather than using plastic and trying to recycle.

A 2017 study found that, as of 2015, only about 9% of all plastic waste in the world has been recycled, while 12% has been incinerate and 79% ended up in landfills or the environment

    • Always check to see what plastics are accepted by your local recycling centers

    • Make sure the plastic you’re recycling is properly washed out- any food debris on the plastic could result in it ending up in a landfill

    • Typically, compostable and biobased plastics cannot be recycled and should not be placed in recycling bins

    • Plastic bags cannot be placed in recycling bins, however some stores near you may have places to recycle plastic bags

Other materials have higher recycling rates. In 2018, glass waste in the US had a recycling rate of 31.3% and aluminum 34.9%, according to the EPA

See the Personal Actions section above to see what you can do in your daily life to reduce your single-use plastic consumption


Marketing tactics prey on the widely-known importance of preserving our environment and advertise to an audience of, largely, uninformed consumers who are easily misled—this is called greenwashing. The definition of greenwashing is when “ads or labels promise a more environmental benefit than they deliver.” Corporations are starting to feel obligated to respond to consumer concerns and demands for a “greener” planet. Consumers attempting to support green companies can be misled into purchasing products that are not eco-friendly.

To limit being greenwashed, be sure to do research on new products you see on the market, but the best alternative is always to refuse single-use plastic and items and to use reusables. This not only limits the amount of plastic being produced and discarded, but also limits the potential of being greenwashed or supporting false advertising claims.

Busting the Myth of Bioplastics and Compostable Plastics

The word “bioplastic” is appealing to those looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to everyday plastic items. In reality, “bioplastics” are not an indicator of how well a product will break down in the natural environment. Bioplastics are a combination of plastic sourced from plants, feedstock, and fossil fuels. Using plants provides corporations with an opportunity to advertise the product as “green.” Oftentimes, the plant-based materials are sourced from corn, which has its own environmental impacts associated with it, including water use, chemical fertilizer run off, and often results in algal blooms.

Compostable plastics also greenwash consumers through their false or hidden claims of how compostable their products actually are. Many compostable plastics are only able to compost and fully break down in an industrial composting facility. These facilities are not accessible to all communities and often there is no organized pick-up system, like there is for trash and recycling, to bring the compostable plastic products to the closest industrial composting facility. Consumers can mistake the term “compostable” as being able to be composted in a backyard compost bin leading to their compost to be contaminated with plastic materials. Essentially, without a widespread system to deal with compostable plastics, they will still make it to the landfill with other single-use plastic products.

There is far too much confusion when it comes to single-use plastic alternatives coupled with misinformation about a product's ability to biodegrade, be composted or recycled. The terms “compostable,” “biodegradable,” and “bioplastics,” impress buyers, influencing their purchasing decisions, while being unaware of their inaccurate understanding of how it will break down. Consumers should not be expected to understand the complexity of all the competing “eco-friendly” alternatives on the market. Instead, companies, governments, and other institutions should encourage refusing single-use plastics to create a circular economy where almost nothing is wasted.

Conducting Cleanups and Brand Audits

Although the Reduce-Single Use Project largely advocates for reducing and refusing single-use plastic as it is harder to remove plastic once it is in the environment, conducting cleanups is also an essential process to remove plastics that have already made it into the natural environment. Cleanups can take place anywhere from the beach to a college campus, waterway, city, park, neighborhood, and any other location where there may be an excess of pollution.

Holding companies that are producing single-use plastic products accountable for the plastic waste they are creating and the plastic pollution crisis they contribute greatly to is key when working to create change in the plastics movement. One method of action is conducting brand audits at waterway and beach cleanups which allows consumers to put pressure on the plastic producers. Plastic pollution is not the responsibility of individual consumers, so brand audits serve as a citizen science initiative to quantify brands found on plastic waste at cleanups around the world.

Summer in St. Pete - Activities and Economic Actions

Things to do

Explore Tampa Bay to support activities that aren't based on plastic consumption:

  • Go on nature walks at the Weedon Island Nature Preserve, Clam Bayou Nature Preserve or Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

  • Explore the Tampa Bay waterways on a guided tour or rent your own equipment

  • Visit some local or state parks

  • Take a tour of the local botanical gardens

  • Mountain bike in the Alafia River State Park

  • Dine in at a new coffee shop

  • Have a cone at a new ice cream shop

  • Go manatee watching at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center

  • Try Goat Yoga at Hat Trick Ranch

  • Pick fruit or pick up fresh produce at a local farm or farmer's market

  • Take a sunset tour or go glow paddling in the night

  • Take a trip to the St. Pete Pier

Places to visit

Check out these places to economically support plastic-reduction efforts:

  • Sans Market

  • Black Crow Coffee

  • Truffula Eco Boutique

  • 15th Street Farm

  • Gulfport Food Forest

  • Rollin' Oats Market and Café

  • Kentwood's Organic Produce

  • The Merchant

  • The Yard Milkshake Bar

  • St Pete Brewing Company