Plastic pollution: five easy tips to reduce how much plastic you use

26 July 2016

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.

Defending Our Oceans Tour - Hawaii Trash (Hawaii: 2006)

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.

World Plastic Bag Free Day in Manila2. Bring your own shopping bags

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.

Greenpeace volunteers head from Sydney's Botany Bay up the Cooks River to pick up rubbish. The initiative is driven by the Sydney Greenpeace Local Group and takes place on the first Sunday of each month at various locations around Sydney. Most of the rubbish collected consisted of plastic bags, plastic beverage containers and other plastics.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.

Defending Our Oceans Tour - Hawaii Trash (Hawaii: 2006)4. Replace your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo toothbrush

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.

Vegetables and Fruit in GermanyMarktstand mit Vielfalt an Obst und Gemuese

 

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https://www.greenpeace.org.au/wp/go-green-at-work/