The War on Waste has inspired many Australians to start recycling, but could you refuse single-use plastic altogether? Yet it’s everywhere. If you want a takeaway coffee, there’s plastic lining in about 99% of disposable cups. If you want a sandwich at a deli, it’s more than likely going to be wrapped in plastic. Even when you’re doing your very best to be healthy, milk comes in a plastic container and most major supermarkets produce is wrapped or bagged in plastic.
For some inspiration to join the challenge of reducing our dependence on plastics, head over to plasticfreejuly.org and don’t do it just for July, make this your start date!
Choosing to be part of the solution, you can act by:
- Avoiding products in plastic packaging (choose alternatives)
- Reducing where possible (opt for refills, remember your reusable shopping bags)
- Refusing plastics that escape as litter (e.g. straws, takeaway cups, utensils, balloons)
- Recycling what cannot be avoided
Here are some suggestions from the Guardian. You can read the full article here.
Stop eating junk food
So we all know junk food is the pits for our health, but it’s also the pits for the environment. How many Mars and Snickers bars have you seen wrapped in recyclable paper? Not only do the wrappers break down into tiny bits of plastic that can easily get lodged in the guts of a perfectly healthy seabird, but just take a look along your local highway and what’s the litter you see? Junk food wrappers. Plus they’re expensive. Turf junk food.
Take your own cutlery and tea towels
Often when we’re eating takeaway, we’re given plastic knives, forks and spoons. And, be honest, how often do you use them again? Approximately never? Take the knife, fork and spoon that doesn’t match the rest of your home set and wrap it in a tea towel. And, if you don’t have a spare set, pop into your local op shop. And there you have it, cutlery and a serviette harming nothing.
Figure out what to do with leftovers
As you probably know, food waste is one of the environment’s worst offenders. When trapped inside a plastic bag and put into landfill, it releases methane into the atmosphere. To save money, make sure you always have a glass container with you (an old instant coffee jar or the like) and take the food home with you for dinner or breakfast the next morning.
Use your own cup
Do we really need to go through this again? The coffee cup thing? Disposable coffee cups are environmental Devils, with a thin film of plastic on the inside. Occasionally you’ll see businesses with fully biodegradable cups, but do you have time to shred it and add it to your compost? I don’t. So, if you can’t afford a reusable cup and you must have coffee, drink it inside, or bring your own mug and ask for it to be filled just enough so you can walk with it. Or don’t have a coffee.
Hunt through your cupboards
There are so many things you have in your cupboards that will negate having to use cling wrap and plastic bags. If you’re adept with a needle or sewing machine, turn your old tea towels into vegetable bags. If you’re not, use your old pillow cases. Look through the cupboards and find every empty jar or empty container and put it to use – packing the kids lunches or making your own cheese or yoghurt, not contributing to food waste by chucking out that little bit of soup or leftovers.
So, the first thing you should do is stop using coffee cups! Take a mug with you on the road as well as keeping one in the office, and support the coffee shops that give you a discount for brining your own cup by tweeting their willingness to do so. #waronwaste