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It’s used to store food, make toys, and package just about everything, but plastic has found its way into quite a few items you may not have expected.  It’s a plastic invasion, and knowledge is power so here are 10 things to look out for when fighting the the good fight against plastic waste!


Tea Bags

You may associate tea bag with your favorite sleepy time beverage, but did you know almost all store-bought tea bags seal in those natural tea leaves with very unnatural polyethylene.  If you’ve been throwing these in your compost, quit while you’re ahead, as they won’t break down any time soon. Consider switching to loose leaf tea and a reusable tea bag like these ones from Teasenz!



It has a special way of making everything happier, but the cosmetic powerhouse and holiday essential is in fact a microplastic that can invade our water systems and oceans.   Switch from your typical craft glitter to an eco-friendly glitter like Eco Stardust!


Chewing Gum

Queue the Ooompa Loompas!  Your favorite Chocolate Factory character was actually chewing on a big wad of plastic.  Nearly all gums contain plastic, and double that up with their packaging and you’re rolling in it.  Try an alternative like Simply Gum for a more natural chewing experience and eco-friendly packaging!

Tetra Paks

Most think they are recyclable, but due to a sneaky layer of polyethylene between layers of paperboard and aluminum, Tetra Paks are not recyclable at all facilities, and separating these layers can be incredibly difficult!  Be conscious of the packaging you pick when trying to go green and always try to go for the material you know will recycle.

Tin and Aluminum Cans

To keep the metal from corroding, beverage manufacturers line the inside of cans with a resin called epoxy.  Plan ahead and keep your favorite beverage handy in a reusable bottle!


Produce Stickers

Try as you might to avoid plastic at the grocery store, most produce will include a sticker made of just that.  Some grocery stores are now looking into laser marking product to get the same end result, but in the meantime, do your best and bring your own bags for produce.


Glass Jar Lids

Many people use glass jars in an attempt to be environmentally conscious, and while the jar itself is, the metal lids contain a layer of plastic to create a seal and prevent rusting.  Reuse your jars when possible and be sure to recycle when it’s time to part ways!


Disposable Coffee Cups

Coffee cups might seem like things that are recycled with ease, but did you know these cups are lined with plastic to keep your hot bean water from seeping through?  See if your favorite coffee spot will fill a reusable thermos, and if not, make your own coffee at home. Your wallet and planet will thank you!



Do you know what your clothes are made of?  Check the label! If you see the words, acrylic, microfiber, polyester, or nylon your clothes are not only made of plastic, but are releasing microplastics into waterways with every wash.  While some companies like H&M are working to offset clothing waste through recycling, stick to natural fibers such as cotton, wool, and hemp!  


Paper Milk Cartons

If there’s something you might have gathered from the previous items on this list, its that if it’s holding a liquid, it more than likely has a plastic coating, and paper milk cartons are no exception.  A typical shelf-stable carton averages 74 percent paper, 22 percent plastic, and 4 percent aluminum, making it difficult to recycle.  If your grocery store offers it, try glass milk bottles!

[Photo: 5 Gyres, Rawpixel]


  • One big one many people don’t know about: most receipt paper has a layer of plastic over it. If it’s thermal printed (ie your receipts from Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, the gas pump, etc) it’s got a layer of plastic.

  • Honestly the amount of plastic in all our products is so disheartening and overwhelming.

  • I was dismayed to read somewhere that many a stainless steel thermos contains a thin film of something not stainless steel – do you have any information on that?

  • Thank you for this information. Even the windows in envelopes are plastic and manufactures should stop making them.

    Naomi Theisz
  • Some of these I knew about already, but chewing gum, tetra paks and tea bags really surprised me. Thanks for publishing this list and making us more aware of all the hidden plastics in our lives.

    Karen Bowman

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