10 Ways to Reduce Plastic in your Life
So why would you avoid single use plastic?
Well, the main issues are:
* plastic hangs around in landfills for a very long time
* recycling plastic is inefficient and expensive
* it affects the environment, particularly marine life
* manufacturing of plastic makes a huge, negative impact on our environment.
* some plastics are known to be harmful to our health
“Think about it. Why would you make something that you’re going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever, and you’re just going to throw it away. What’s up with that?” Jeb Berrier
It can be quite overwhelming trying to avoid plastic. It has become such a pervasive commodity in our homes and our lives. My advice is to start small. Just choose one type of plastic you can avoid. Work on that. Then move to another type. Any small change you make, makes a difference.
Here are my top tips for reducing single use plastic:
1. Ditch the plastic grocery bags. Get yourself a stash of good cloth bags and get into the habit of putting them in the car. They are preferable to the ‘green’ bags from the supermarket that are made with petrochemicals. Cloth bags are biodegradable, durable and easy to wash. Check out these reusable bags.
2. Avoid plastic produce bags. When you buy fruit and vegetables, you have other options than using a plastic bag. You can use a paper bag or even better, a reuseable produce bag. Buying bread or meat? Take a reusable bread bag with you to the bakery or butcher.
3. Give up the plastic straw. Okay you could just forgo the straw and use what you were born with – your lips! Or if you need to use a straw, you can get stainless steel, bamboo or glass straws these days. They are funky and they are easy to wash using the little brushes.
4. Don’t buy water in plastic bottles. Glass or stainless steel water bottles are so much better for your health and the environment! Make it a habit to fill one up and take it with you every day.
5. Refuse plastic cutlery. I carry a bamboo spork in my handbag for those occasions when I am out and about and need to eat! It’s super cute. You could easily use some cutlery from home as well. Keep a stash in the car for family picnics and outings. Catering for a party at home? Head to the opshop and stock up on cutlery – it only takes a small effort to wash it up. Check out this great post Jo at Down to Earth Mother wrote about our disposable society.
6. Don’t buy plastic wrap. We gave up plastic wrap and it’s was surprisingly easy to do! Just get yourself set up with some reusable food covers and wraps and some glass storage. It soon becomes second nature to do without it.
7. No more plastic coffee lids or cups. Did you know that the lining of paper takeaway cups is also plastic? Take your own reusable coffee cup in to cafes and fill it up. There are so many great ones around these days to make it easy to find something perfect for you.
8. Rethink takeaway food containers. Hot food in plastic always freaks me out as the heat can cause toxins to leach into your food! Eeep! If you eat takeaway a lot, you might consider an alternative. Take in your own glass or pyrex dishes and get them to fill it up. Madeleine at NZ Ecochick does it!
9. Say no to the plastic toothbrush. Okay so maybe not a ‘single’ use product, but 700 million toothbrushes are manufactured each year. That’s a lot of plastic! Bamboo toothbrushes are a great option.
10. Swap garbage bags. This is one area we still struggle with! However in doing a little research, I discovered that there are some good options out there. You can use newspaper to line your bins – find out how here or try a compostable bag.
11. Bonus Tip! Get a waste-free lunchbox for the kids! There are so many great ones with separate compartments so you don’t need to use any plastic wrap or buy food in portioned plastic bags or containers.
Did you know? Australians send 1 million tonnes of plastic waste to landfill each year!
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