Our dependence on single-use plastics is staggering. The consequences of our throwaway habits are even more staggering: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy report predicted that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish by weight. Dianna Cohen, co-founder and chief executive of the non-profit organisation Plastic Pollution Coalition, has dedicated the past 10 years to making the world plastic-free, which is a lofty goal; Americans alone discard more than 30 million tonnes of plastic a year, Cohen said. For her, it’s not a partisan issue, and it’s not an issue for the elite; it’s an issue that affects all of us. “We are producing instant garbage and instant waste,” she said. “We need to shift our thinking to reusable over disposable. It’s pretty clear we can do that.” But how do we start? Go back to the old days How we do that, Cohen says, is a matter of going back to our old ways. “We need to do things the way our grandparents and great-grandparents did,” she said, “like store leftovers in a ceramic bowl and then use a saucer or plate to cover it when you put it in the fridge.” Another option for leftovers, Cohen says, is to cover them in reusable beeswax-coated cotton cloths. “I wrap cheeses in them, use them to wrap up half an avocado, or lay them over the tops of baking dishes or bowls.” It won’t be as snug and tight as plastic wrap, but it’s a similar effect. To clean the cloths, just rinse them in cold water with an eco-friendly dish soap and allow them to dry. Typically, they last for one year and then can be composted. The obvious one: bring cloth shopping bags with you, whenever you head to the supermarket, and paper bags and containers if you head to a zero-waste store. Cohen saves glass jars from pickles, jams and spaghetti sauce to store leftovers, and she hunts for old Pyrex at charity shops and yard sales. She buys milk and yogurt in glass and buys as much food as she can in bulk, always bringing her own containers or cotton bags to fill. To cut down on plastic in the bathroom, Cohen forgoes plastic hand soap pump bottles in favour of old-fashioned bar soap. “People say that it’s more sanitary to use a plastic pump bottle of soap, but the way I see it, every time you run the bar of soap under water to wash your hands, it gets cleaned.” Cohen also recommends trying bar shampoo; she admits it’s tough to use if you have long hair, but there’s an added benefit to most bar shampoos: they tend to be free of paraben and phthalate. As for toothpaste, Cohen makes her own. “It’s so easy. There are lots of recipes online, but it’s basically just baking soda, coconut oil and whatever essential oil you like.” Her preference is classic peppermint flavouring. While you’re at it, why not consider a bamboo toothbrush? The handles are biodegradeable. Change your on-the-go habits When it comes to her on-the-go habits, such as her morning coffee and her lunch, Cohen carries around an entire kit, with bamboo utensils, a spork and stainless steel containers. “My friends and I like to think of ourselves as urban backpackers,” she said. If the camping vibe isn’t for you, try a ceramic lunch bowl with a silicone lid. For drinks, Cohen used to carry around a glass bottle, but after she broke her third one, she switched to metal – stainless steel, not aluminium, which she says leaves an aftertaste. She also takes a stainless steel tumbler when she travels, and hands it to the flight attendant, and has three coffee mugs from her morning brew. To replace plastic straws, buy a reusable substitute; steel, glass and bamboo are both great options, and often come in a set with a nylon travel bag and a cleaning brush. This article was curated by Young Post .