Here’s a familiar pattern: you feel guilty about using plastic and for a few days you do a stellar job avoiding it, you even go ahead and buy a tote bag, but soon enough you’re back to your old ways, leaving your head spinning.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one – that’s the story for a lot of us. Plastic has crept into every corner of our lives and to help kick this habit, we can take easy steps to make a solid start.
Here are our top tips to help you go plastic-free:
BYO or dine in
If you find yourself buying takeaway coffee or bottled water every day, try taking your own KeepCup or other reusable coffee cups. Many stores have embraced these and will even give you a discount! Or take a few minutes out to dine in – cafés and the environment will both thank you. Using a reusable water bottle is a no brainer. Clean water comes out of the tap for free, so why on Earth would you pay for it?!
Buying fruit and veggies wrapped in plastic is a big no-no. You know the kind – cling-wrapped capsicums and tomatoes on foam trays – absolutely wasteful. We’re not in the game to make you feel guilty so instead, choose from the loose section and put them straight into your basket or a reusable mesh bag and straight into the fridge when you get home. The best part about this is you can do the little squeeze and sniff test of your fruit and veg before you buy it – after all, there is nothing more disappointing than cutting open a piece of unripe fruit!
Buy bulk and BYO
Sick of having to buy everything; flour, nuts, rice and even spices in plastic? You’re not alone. There are many places now offering self-service for these essentials and many other products. Bring your own jars and you don’t even have to repack them when you get home! They just go straight into the cupboard, how neat is that?
Did you know that you can also BYO containers to the deli? Pre-packaged meat and cheese are usually sold in plastic or Styrofoam trays, but if you buy direct from the deli, you can ask them to fill your container instead.
Bag and wrap
This one is possibly the most important, with the removal of plastic bags at your local Woolies and Coles! But it doesn’t have to be a drag. Canvas bags come in many sizes and with so many amazing designs they can be useful and fashionable.
Cling wrap is another plastic item that’s used a lot (think packed lunches) and thrown straight into the bin after one use. Instead of using cling wrap, try making your own Beeswax wraps! There are heaps of easy tutorials online for both beeswax and vegan wraps. We are looking at making some in the Powershop office this Plastic Free July and we will let you know how we go!
Swap to multiple use
There are tons of reusable sanitary items on the market that have huge positive environmental impacts. For example single-use nappies can be replaced with reusable ones, sure it’s a bit more work to wash but according to Sustainability Victoria, “3.75 million disposable nappies are used each day in Australia and New Zealand, and it takes about one cup of crude oil to make each nappy. This is a lot of landfill, with conventional disposable nappies estimated to take up to 150 years to break down.”
Sometimes perspective is an alarming thing, and while we never want to get on the wrong side of exhausted parents, there are many benefits. Beyond the environmental impact, they’re also cheaper in the long run too!
What we are doing at Powershop
Around the Powershop office, we have introduced initiatives including reusable straws, chopsticks and reusable containers to reduce waste at lunchtime. We’ve added ‘borrow bags’ at the lifts to remind staff to take a tote to the supermarket and started asking for sushi in BYO containers.
We’ve conducted education sessions with current staff and added it as part of our onboarding process. We’ve also put up posters around the office about bio-plastics and waste management.
Thanks to this education, we can make more conscious decisions and separate waste streams and reduce what we put into landfill. Since we started, we are diverting around 5-6kg of food waste from landfill every day! It might seem small but together we can make a difference!
Check out some photos below of what we are doing in our Melbourne office:
After some more information?
Read the “Bio-plastics” blog
Read “The Great Rubbish Debate”
Sign up for Plastic Free July
Head to the Plastic Free July website to take up the challenge!
This post was originally published in July 2018.
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