We’re over halfway through 2018, we shouldn’t really still be using plastic bags and plastic straws, right? But what else can you do to help reduce your plastic waste?
We all know that these things are killing hundreds of thousands of animals a year and that they will never break down in our lifetime, or our children’s’ lifetimes, or even our grandchildren’s’. In fact, plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to fully degrade. What makes this even worse, is that on average, plastic bags are used for 15 minutes. Every year, we are now dumping 8 million tonnes of plastic into our oceans. Yes, that’s right. It’s awful, but it’s fact.
The good news though, is that what you do can actually make a difference. And it isn’t actually that hard to start making a difference. Here are 5 really easy things that you can do, that will dramatically cut down your personal contribution to the 8 million tonnes of plastic.
- Use reusable shopping bags – this is so basic and so simple. Just leave them in your car and use them when you go shopping. And it doesn’t just have to be grocery shopping – if you are going clothes shopping, anywhere that would give you a plastic bag that you will use just to carry your shopping to the car, just use your reusable shopping bags. If you used your plastic shopping bags as bin liners – switch to using recycled paper as a bin liner.
- Use reusable produce bags – you might have the reusable shopping bag thing down, but what are you using when you get your fruit and veggies? Reusable produce bags are just as easy to use – and you can buy them in different sizes to suit all your produce needs. So simple right?
- Stop using disposable coffee cups – Investing in a Keep Cup was one of the easiest things I did. The cafe that I always visit, their default coffee container for every customer is a disposable coffee cup – because obviously, that’s convenient for them right? No washing up needed and you can recycle coffee cups so that’s all good right? WRONG! Disposable coffee cups can’t be recycled, and even the biodegradable coffee cups need to be commercially composted – so often just end up in landfill. Don’t use “takeaway” cups. It’s as simple as that. Either drink your coffee in a mug or invest in a keep cup.
- Stop using plastic straws – have you ever seen that video that was floating around Facebook a wee while ago with the turtle that had the plastic straw stuck in its nose? It’s absolutely awful. If you haven’t seen that video, be warned, it is heartbreaking to watch. Plastic straws are so easy to refuse because you can either use a stainless steel or bamboo straw, or just sip from the cup or bottle, and then there is one less plastic straw that is going to landfill or ending up in the ocean. Not using plastic straws doesn’t even cost you anything, so seriously, please stop using plastic straws.
- Reduce food wrap waste – this is a bit of a multi-pronged one, and you can come at this from a few different angles. First of all, stop using one use plastic wrap, plastic zip-lock bags, etc. There are a number of alternatives that you can use instead – glass containers, recycling or reusing plastic containers that you already have at home, Honeywraps etc. Secondly, if you live near a bulk food shop, you should shop there for as many things as you can. Good For in Auckland sells a wide range of things from dry ingredients to oil and vinegar to soaps. You can buy your goods in paper bags or glass jars. And more of these shops are popping up around the world.
This list doesn’t include every single plastic that you currently use in your day to day life. And I’m not saying go home right now and get rid of every single thing that you have that is plastic. The idea behind this list is to encourage you to think about reducing the amount of new plastic that you consume. Starting with one or even two of the things on this list will make a big impact on the amount of plastic that you personally use. So if you can, you should definitely start on your journey to reducing plastic, as our earth needs all the help it can get. If you have any great tips for reducing plastic use that I didn’t mention here, share it in the comments so that other people can use your pro tips!