Five Circular Alternatives to Plastic

Annie Clementine
2 min readMay 16, 2022


Today, we’re taking a closer look into the ‘Refuse’ principle of circular design. For those of you who are just joining our circular journey, the ten principles have been created by the work of the City of Amsterdam, as part of their Circular City Strategy. We are taking a deeper look into circular design from the lens of the consumer, choosing to challenge the traditional linear model, and view waste as a resource.

Refuse: Make a product redundant by abandoning it’s function or by providing the same function in a different way.

This principle is something we as consumers can practice today, and everyday moving forward. Take plastic for example.

According to Plastic Oceans:

“8 million of that 300 million is chucked into the sea annually — which is equivalent to dumping a garbage truck (1 ton) of plastic into the ocean per minute.”

With numbers this staggering, we’re destined to be eating more plastic than fish by the year 2050. So, how might we as consumers play a role in reversing these numbers? It’s as simple as refusing to use plastic products wherever possible. The most used example is plastic straws, but with a growing number of businesses supporting the movement to eliminate plastic, there are more options than ever for us as consumers to play a role. Here are only a few businesses that can help you refuse harmful materials like plastic:

Upfront Cosmetics
TruEarth Laundry Strips
Heyday Care

It takes a village, strength in numbers, and the more that we refuse these products, the quicker they become redundant. Now, you might be thinking “well what do we do with all of the plastic that exists?”, and while that question still requires lots of exploration, there is one innovator that comes to mind. This entrepreneur equips the everyday consumer (like you and me!) with resources to create brand new products out of plastic:

Precious Plastic is a combination of people, machines, platforms and knowledge to create an alternative global recycling system.”

We actually tried one of these tutorials and made brand new table mats out of old plastic bags. In a future post, we’ll cover more of the circular startups and brands that are viewing plastic waste as an opportunity. Stay tuned!

We hope this post was helpful and has inspired you to play your role in designing a circular world.