Top 10 Worst Single Use Plastics And How To Replace Them

Plastic bags, soda and water bottles, coffee stirrers, most food packaging: these items are examples of single use plastic that are put to waste after only one use.

As we know the destructive effects of these plastic products to the environment is alarming, and reducing consumption is a must. There are several ways to reduce single use plastic consumption. One way is to replace them with alternatives.

Here are the top 10 single use plastic alternatives.

1. Plastic Straws

If you didn’t know, billions of plastic straws end up in landfill. They are lightweight, so once dropped and discarded, they get easily blown away to great distances and possibly into waterways, and eventually into the oceans. Once they reach the oceans, plastic straws become dangers to marine wildlife. 

For alternatives, we can use: Stainless steel straws, bamboo straws, pasta straws, and rice straws. If you like flexible straws, there are other eco-friendly alternatives like paper straws and reusable silicone straws. But the best way, if possible, go straw-free.

2. Plastic Drink Stirrers

Drink stirrers are fun and convenient, but they are definitely made for one-time use. Once done with them, they end up in trash, on beaches, in the ocean. Again, a danger to marine life.


For replacements we can use: Reusable glass or bamboo stirrers, or spoons. You can also try a stick of celery, cucumber or carrot.

3. Balloon and Balloon Sticks

While balloons are nice decorative items for celebrations, they are one of the highest- risk plastic debris items for seabirds. Not only the balloon itself is deadly, but also the plastic sticks that come with them.


For alternatives we can host a planet-friendly party. We can use: eco- friendly decorations like paper lanterns, recycled bunting, confetti made from dried leaves, or DIY flowers and bubbles.

4. Plastic Cotton Buds

These are very common in every household but sadly, they also commonly end up in the waterways and into the oceans and are ingested by marine wildlife.


For plastic-free replacements, we can use: bamboo cotton buds, organic cotton make- up pads, or reusable silicone swabs. 

5. & 6. Coffee Cups and Lids

We all love our morning coffee! But most takeaway coffee cups can’t be recycled as they are made with plastic lining. 


For a plastic-free alternative, we can use: reusable glass or aluminum keep cups, porcelain mugs, or if possible, just have your coffee dining in.

  1. Plastic Cutlery

Takeaway foods don’t only come with the food itself, but also the plastic cutleries and plastic bags. These types of cutlery are definitely made for one time use. And most of them are not recyclable due to their shape.

For alternatives, we can: If it’s not possible to avoid takeaway food, request it without cutlery, and instead bring your own reusable cutlery set.

  1. Plastic Cups

Billions of disposable cups are consumed every year. While they are lightweight and convenient, they mostly end up in landfills.


For alternatives, you can: bring your own reusable cups or a mason jar, if you’re going on a trip. You can also help encourage your favorite cafes and food outlets to use eco-friendly and compostable alternatives.

  1. Plastic Food Containers

The packaging industry is the largest converter of virgin plastics. And most of them are used only once, for food packaging and grocery bags and beverage bottles.


For alternatives, you can: avoid pre-packaged meals, bring our own reusable glass containers, stainless steel lunch boxes and mason jars for your takeaway food. Try shopping at bulk stores where you can also bring your own jars and containers to fill.

  1. Plastic Plates

These may be cheap and convenient for parties and picnics, but most of them end up in landfills and cannot be recycled due to their shape.

For alternatives, you can: use regular porcelain plates, palm leaf, or bamboo pulp plates.

We can help save and preserve the planet and our oceans by reducing our consumption, using replacements for single use plastics, and switching to eco-friendly alternatives.