Every plastic bottle, straw, disposable razor, plastic cup, bag or container counts. Let's minimize single-use plastic daily.
The problem with plastic is that it never ever really breaks down.
Small changes can go a long way, especially when we consider it can take up to 450 years for a plastic bottle to break down. Even then, it doesn't biodegrade back into nature, it can break up into over 10,000 pieces of micro plastic.
1 in 3 fish caught for human consumption contains plastic
There is now 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic in our ocean and 46,000 pieces in every square mile of ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.
There are plenty more alarming statistics but the small changes we make each day is what matters as this can make a real difference.
1. Be a conscious shopper
Buy plastic-free fresh produce
Supermarkets use plastic around fresh produce to extend shelf life, for convenience and to gain profit. Choose plastic-free produce instead and put them straight into your reusable shopping bag. Or seek out alternatives like buying direct from a local farm, market or join an organic fresh food collective.
Local markets, farms and collectives are a great way to support smaller food growers. Look around your area for preferably certified organic or biodynamic farms, they often have farm tour days to learn and buy fresh from the farm.
Organic farmers don't use herbicides, pesticides or GMO and biodynamic farming goes one step further to heal the earth by replenishing the soil and giving vitality back to the plant, soil and livestock in a holistic way. And best of all, the fresh produce can be transported plastic-free from farm to fridge.
Bulk-buy and refill
By pooling orders with others, bulk buying not only brings a great group discount, it also eliminates packaging. Dry goods can be transported in paper bags to be stored in glass or metal containers at home.
Bulk food stores have become more popular and accessible in recent years and they stock a wide range of dry goods including tea and coffee, superfoods and snack bars. Liquids like oils, shampoo, hand wash and dishwashing liquid can be bulk purchased too so you can keep refilling your bottles.
Discover new plastic-free and environmentally conscious products
Sustainability is the key driver of innovation today with plastic-free alternatives appearing on the market each day from kitchen scourers to natural dental floss and zero plastic razors plus more.
Spend a little more time to discover new products at the supermarket or online to see how many ways you can reduce single-use plastic from your day, you may be surprised.
Choose products that are packaged without plastic or offer plastic-free refill solutions.
The toilet paper wrapped in plastic may be on special but when we rethink the long-term consequence, it's a small price to pay to choose the one packaged in paper instead.
Packaging from personal care and cleaning products contribute large amounts of plastic waste but thankfully, there are plenty of sustainable options.
Shampoo and conditioner bars have eliminated the need for a bottle. Deodorant bars can be bought to refill a reusable aluminium case and toothpaste comes as chewable tablets in refillable glass jars.
Cleaning products have also become a whole lot more innovative with some coming in compostable sachets to just add water and laundry detergent as tear-off tabs.
Just make sure the refills don't come in plastic packaging.
2. Smarter food storage
Reuse glass jars to store left over food
Got half an onion, salad dressing, or leftover smoothie? These store perfectly in glass jars your strawberry jam, pickles, honey or pasta sauces have come in.
Buy products in glass jars and recycle them by removing sticky labels (soaking in warm water, then rubbing eucalyptus oil helps), give them a good clean, then dry and keep with their lids on. This saves you time spent matching lids in future. Glass jars are the best reusable item as you don't need to pay extra for them and they keep on giving.
Use reusable beeswax food covers instead of plastic cling wrap (or even bioplastic cling wrap)
Beeswax food covers aren't just better for the environment, they actually store food better than plastic cling wrap. They keep food fresher for longer as it's breathable (being a natural material) as opposed to plastic which is non-breathable and works similar to how the skin of a fruit protects the flesh with antimicrobial properties.
They are biodegradable, last for ages and save you money. Perfect for wrapping sandwiches, half avocados and covering leftover bowls. Beeswax food covers can be bought pre-made or DIY , they also make great practical gifts.
Use metal lunch boxes (or beeswax wrap for sandwiches)
Plastic lunch boxes break down over time and some have silicone seals that tend to go mouldy. Metal lunch boxes are pretty much unbreakable, lightweight and easy to clean. A big range of metal lunchboxes with various shapes, compartment and tier options can be found in-stores and online. Metal thermos containers are perfect for warm winter soups.
Best of all, metal is infinitely recyclable and packing lunch not only saves money, it reduces a great deal of waste.
Don't leave home without your reusable coffee cup or water bottle
Contrary to popular belief, coffee cups are not compostable as long as they have a plastic film lining that makes them waterproof. Along with single-use plastic water bottles, throw away coffee cups are a major equivalent culprit to the global plastic problem.
The reusable coffee cup and water bottle are important items to never leave home without along with the reusable shopping bag.
Plastic or bioplastic bin liners add to the plastic problem and there are ways to minimize this.
Compost food scraps at home
This may seem like an impossible task if you live in an apartment but options like ShareWaste offers a solution. This directory aligns you with neighbours who have a compost bin, worm farm or chickens and are willing to take additional food waste. Alternatively, try a Bokashi Bin and tee up with your local community garden to empty it.
30% - 40% of waste in the average household is food waste. Food takes up more space in US landfills than anything else.
- Environmental Protection Agency
If you have a garden, try composting at home. It's easy and does wonders for your garden.
It also removes all the smelly things from your trash so you don't need a plastic bin liner.
Use newspaper instead of plastic to line your bin
General household waste is far less icky without food waste, making newspapers a great alternative to line your bin.
There are also certified home compostable bin liner options on the market, which are better alternatives to those labeled degradable or biodegradable. Biodegradable bags don't break down in the ocean at all, so they are just as harmful to marine life as plastic bags.
Certified home compostable bin liners have been tested to ensure they contain no polyethylene and will degrade in the right temperature and conditions (temperature above 58° celsius / 136° fahrenheit and exposed to UV light) between 10 - 45 days.
Choose certified home compostable dog waste bags
Although dog waste is not good for the compost, choosing certified home compostable dog waste bags are a step towards reducing plastic bags.
An extra bit of awareness goes a long way to support the recycling chain. Did you know that recycling contamination is a huge problem? Contamination occurs when the wrong materials are disposed into the wrong recycling bin, which then contaminates the whole batch, making it unusable. The environmental protection agency says the contamination rate is 25%, further adding to landfill.
What can and cannot be recycled is confusing as it differs from state to state and not all plastics can be recycled. It is best to check what your local council recycles and also do a little homework on what types of plastic can be recycled.
4. Raise awareness and share sustainable options with others
Is your favourite local takeaway still using plastic containers? They won't change unless the consumer brings awareness.
There are more alternatives for certified compostable takeaway containers and cutlery making single-use plastic for takeaway unnecessary. Discover more here.
Help them by sharing your knowledge of sustainable alternatives as sharing is caring to support their business and the planet.