Plastic is ubiquitous. It’s in our clothing, our shoes, our phone, our furniture. We store food in it, we eat and drink from it, we sit on it, we brush our teeth with it. It comes in all colours, shapes and sizes. The reason plastic is ever-present? It’s cheap, it’s convenient, and it lasts. But plastic comes at a cost: plastic pollution.
On average, a plastic bag is used for 12 minutes before it’s thrown away, but it takes anywhere between 400 to 1,000 years to degrade. That’s plenty of time to wreak havoc on our marine life – 30% of the world’s turtles and 90% of seabird species have now ingested plastic debris.
Plastic-free July highlights problems associated with single-use plastic, and challenges us to avoid plastic for a day, a week, or even a whole month. Unsurprisingly, going without plastic even for just a day can be a struggle. Many things we buy are wrapped in or made of plastic, and it’s difficult (and expensive) to source an alternative.
To combat this, here are five tips on how to reduce our plastic waste.
1. Sign a petition to stop plastic pollution
Pull up the problem by its roots and help bring about legislative change. Banning free single-use plastic bags from grocery stores is crucial for ending plastic pollution. The good news is: we have successful plastic bag bans in parts of Australia already. Let’s get our four biggest states – New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia – onboard as well. Sign our Ban the Bag petition!
As an alternative (or supplement), why not write directly to your local MP, or start campaigning against plastic pollution yourself? Check out this blogpost to help you get started in your local area.
Single-use plastic bags are free of charge, but they do come at a high cost to our environment. Bringing your own bags when shopping is a simple but effective way to reduce your plastic bag consumption. Muslin bags are a great alternative for bread, loose salads, fruits and vegetables, etc. – they are light, reusable and perfect for storing food in the fridge or the pantry.
3. Use a non-plastic drink bottle
Invest in a reusable drink bottle and never buy expensive, single-use water bottles again. There are options to suit everyone – from stainless steel to wood to ceramic.
Another good tip is to bring your own cup when buying a takeaway coffee. It’s often cheaper and will taste better. If you’re in need of a coffee fix but don’t have a cup with you, consider ‘drinking in’ (and take a well-deserved 10-minute break), or ask for ‘no lid’ and save some plastic that way.
Banish plastic in your bathroom. Buy a bamboo toothbrush. They are inexpensive and some places offer bulk buys and free shipping to make them even more attractive.
5. Buy loose fruit and vegetables
Whenever you get the option to buy loose fruit and vegetables, do it. There’s no need to buy apples or carrots in plastic bags or packets – pick and choose instead!
Some shops offer loose nuts, beans, rice, dried fruit, etc. as well – a great alternative to buying them packed in plastic. Take your muslin bags along and shovel in exactly as much as you need.