Easy tips for using less unnecessary plastic (and save money) in 2020Naturely Shop
Say Goodbye to Single-Use Plastics. Here is how to join the anti-plastic revolution and save our beloved blue planet.
Plastic is polluting our eco-system, our water, food, and air. The food chain is becoming attacked by an accumulation of microplastics, not only killing off planktons, marine life but also humans. According to a study by the University of Newcastle, an average person consumes about 5 grams of plastic weekly (WWF, 2019).
Experts predict that by 2025, our seas will contain up to 1 tonne of plastic waste for every 3 tonnes of fish (Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2017). If that continues, by 2050, the oceans could have more plastic than fish! To safeguard the picturesque beaches and coastlines, we need to use less plastic and look for eco-friendly alternatives.
Plastic in nature
The world releases over 1 million plastic bags per minute and amounts to over 500 billion annually (Condor Ferries, 2020). The infamous “trash island” (The Great Pacific Garbage Patch) is a floating patch of plastic waste that is twice the size of Texas and still growing!
For decades, humans have used non-biodegradable plastic as throwaway material – here are just some more depressing statistics.
- Over 75% of plastic becomes waste (Science Advances, 2017)
- Approximately 87% leaks into nature
- An average Australian uses 130 kilograms of plastic yearly and up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste end up in our waterways and ocean (WWF, 2020)
Top tips to achieve “almost zero-waste” lifestyle
Many things we put in the recycling bin do not actually end up being recycled. They include things like disposable tableware, clingfilm, and lids. Therefore, the best way to contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle is to develop routines that minimize plastic usage.
Ditch the clingfilm – there are so many better alternatives. Beeswax wraps are ideal for wrapping sandwiches and cut vegetables. Reusable silicone food covers, Tupperware boxes and glass containers are good to store and refrigerate leftovers. Reusable silicone food pouches are great to store veggies, meat and saucy foods too.
Home-cooking is healthier, more environmentally friendly, and cheaper than ready-made meals and takeaway. It is more economical to cook and bake in large quantities, then keeping them in jars or Reusable Silicone Food Pouches for later. If you just can’t find the time to do so, many local bakeries and most supermarkets are beginning to wrap pastries and deserts in paper bags (so look for those).
Substitute the non-biodegradable sponges and scourers with natural material alternatives. The Kitchen Scruber sponge for example is a great way to clean cookware whilst preserves your sponge use for longer. Another tip is to find a washing-up liquid brand that allows refill.
With personal care products usually packaged in plastic, many people are turning to homemade toiletry items and cosmetics. Of course not all of us have the time or as nifty so here are some other options.
Go for bamboo. Since the handle and packaging are biodegradable, you can throw old bamboo toothbrushes into the compost or reuse them as decorative plant stakes. The only caveat is that you need to remove the nylon bristles before disposal.
There are shampoos, conditioners, and shower gels available as bars in non-plastic packaging. Many people exfoliate using plastic shower puffs which need replacement every 3-4 weeks. For a good-morning scrub, try alternatives made from natural fibers or recycled materials.
By switching from liquid soaps to the eco-friendly bar soap cousins, plastic bottles are out of the picture. Bar soaps are generally cheaper, last longer and have a smaller carbon footprint than pump soaps.
Billions of disposable razors arrive end up in landfills every year. Although the blades are recyclable, the plastic handles are not. There is now a variety of sustainable handles made from bamboo, stainless steel, rosewood, chrome, silicone, or recycled plastic.
We recommend swapping out tampons and pads for a money-saving and waste-saving menstrual cup. A big bonus is that you can leave a menstrual cup in for up to 12 hours, so travelling long distances will not be such a hassle. If unable to get on board with this game-changer, try ‘environmenstrual’ alternatives for plastic-free periods.
Always check the ingredients for microbeads, especially cleaning products that claim to polish. Australia has banned tiny plastic particles in all cosmetics and personal care products, but not cleaning products and paints. Alternatively, try making DIY cleaning solutions from vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. This way, you know for sure that you are avoiding harmful, fidden chemicals and reduce plastic waste.
3. Out and about
Refillable bottles, reusable straws, cutlery, coffee cups, and carrier bags are the bread and butter for eco-warriors. Sturdy bottles can last for several years and can also keep your water hot or icy cold. Many vendors are beginning to encourage customers to bring their own cutlery, food containers, and even food tray – the most common of course is the coffee cups. You can now find utensils of natural materials such as bamboo too.
Try asking restaurants whether you can skip the single-use cutlery and sauce sachets. Then ask whether they will package your good in a plastic container or paper bag. A high volume of eco-conscious inquiries can often push businesses to consider more sustainable options. Don’t forget to bring a coffee cup in the morning!
Stash a few shopping bags in your reusable bag and car so that you will always have a few handy.
Some supermarkets offer a “bring-your-own container” option at the fresh produce, cold deli section, fishmonger, and butchers. Certain fruits and veggies are cheaper without packaging, so you can cut plastic use while saving money, but it varies between supermarkets.
Your eco-friendly, plastic free journey is not only beneficial to our Earth, but also a massive money-saver. Cut costs of excess packaging and opt for refills – it is a lifestyle that has so many perks. There are so many tips and tricks to help you on your way. If you are new to all of this, try making small changes here and there. Here’s one tip to start: buy loost tea instead of packaged tea bags – sometimes brands weave sneaky plastic into the filter paper.