Alternative Materials to Plastic

Plastic was invented in 1862.
Plastic was invented in 1862. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Plastic, that very versatile of materials, includes a wide range of synthetically produced organic compounds that can be molded and hardened into countless shapes and forms. Plastic is made from polymers, which are everywhere in nature, and even though most of us couldn't live without some form of plastic, alternatives do exist.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a good alternative to plastic and isn't supposed to stain or rust, but this is determined by the quality of the product. Elements like iron, chromium and nickel are added to the steel and these determine its grade. Stainless steel is durable and recyclable as is plastic but plastic breaks down much faster. Stainless steel can be substituted for plastic in food storage, water bottles, tableware and cookware.


Glass is a viable alternative to plastic when it comes to food storage. It can be used to store any kind of food, from kitchen staples like flour and sugar to last night's leftovers. Some glass containers are even stackable to better fit into your cabinets and refrigerator. Glass is also transparent, making it easier to keep track of what you're storing, and glass is 100 percent recyclable.


Lacquerware consists of a substance, such as wood, covered in lacquer, a clear or colored varnish like material that dries into a hard, long-lasting surface. Lacquer comes from the sap of the urushi tree; the sap hardens when exposed to heat, forming a hard film known as lacquer. Lacquerware can be an alternative for many different plastic objects, like tableware, boxes, vessels, trays, purses and toys.


Porcelain is a form of ceramic. It's very hard and durable and is also known as 'fine china'. A good alternative to plastic, porcelain is made of glass, granite and feldspar (rock forming minerals), ground up with fine white kaolin clay and fired in a kiln. Porcelain has many uses around the home including storage, decorative hardware, trays and lamps.

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