Did you know that plastic never goes away? Literally every piece of plastic, big or small, that has ever been produced is still existing somewhere today. It doesn't degrade, it doesn't compost, it lives on.
Hopefully the plastic that comes in and out of your house is disposed of appropriately and recycled to become something new, but there is already too much plastic in the world and while it's great to buy recycled and recycle again, it's even better to eliminate the plastic all together.
Here are 5 simple ways that you can reduce your plastic use and create a healthier environment.
1. Bring your own grocery and produce bags.
Probably the easiest, most convenient way of reducing plastic. Keep your re-usable calico or cotton bags in your car or by your front door so you don't forget to bring them with you. If you live in an area like mine that charges for plastic bags, considering that the average price is 15c and the average weekly shop uses 6 bags, bringing your own bags saves an easy $50 per year. Take it a step further by also making or purchasing fabric produce bags. Instead of pulling a plastic bag off of a roll to keep your apples in, put them into a reusable bag. I made mine out of some cheap cotton and a very old sewing machine, before that I used laundry linen bags. You can find produce bags at various retailers, I've linked a few here and here.
2. Shop in bulk stores
Everything in my pantry is stored in jars, so it makes sense to shop in jars as well. Find a bulk store close to you and take in your own jars or produce bags to shop with. That way you're only buying what you need and there's absolutely no waste. Your bulk store will weigh your jars before you shop so that they can subtract the weight from the total. It saves a decent amount of money too!
3. Ditch the plastic wrap and zip lock bags
Not only are they bad for the environment because they can't be properly recycled, they're also made with bis-phenol A (BPA) which is bad for your health. Store your leftovers in glass containers or jars and wrap sandwiches in paper bags or resuable sandwich wraps. If you can't resist a snap lock bag, buy reusable ones that will last you for years.
4. Buy a metal, glass or BPA-free drink bottle
Australians buy more than 118,000 tonnes of plastic drink bottles every year. That's more plastic than recycling plants know what to do with. Save money by investing in a reusable drink bottle and filling it up at home or when you're out. Bottled water can cost $2-3, even if you only buy two bottles a week that's still taking more than $300 out of your savings each year. Cafe's will happily fill your drink bottle for you free of charge!
5. Reduce your single-use consumables
Plastic forks, take away coffee cups, plastic take away containers, plastic straws, all of these single use items don't go away when you throw them away, they live forever. Think twice before accepting them. Ask for no straw, keep a metal fork in your handbag, keep a reusable take away coffee cup in your car or at your desk and if you're feeling super eco-friendly, bring your own container to your take away shop of choice and ask them to use it. A lot of cafes offer a discount of 50c to $1 for bringing your own take away cup (putting an easy $200 back into your pocket each year) and I've received plenty of free coffees from baristas who were impressed by my eco-friendly coffee purchase. I promise you'll feel like mother nature afterwards!