THE QUEEN'S HAD ENOUGH PLASTIC & SO HAVE YOU
Ever dreamed of what it might be like to be a royal? Neither have I, but it turns out the Queen and I have a few things in common. We both don't use our last names (we're extra like that), we both celebrate our birthday's twice a year and we both hate single use plastic.
That's right, the Queen is a eco-hippy just like me. She recently made a executive order to completely ban single use plastics from all of her estates. She is specifically targeting plastic straws and bottles which is a great place to start, but a bad place to stop. So, readers and Her Majesty The Queen, I'm going to give you a little helping hand by pointing out a few easy swaps to reduce your single use plastic, recycle properly and save money (even the Queen likes a little penny-pinching).
Ditch tea bags
The Queen likes to start her day with a cup of Earl Grey, but did you know that your tea bags aren't only non-compostable, they're not even recyclable? Most tea bags are made out of plastic fibres that are too small to recyle and won't degrade when composted.
Easy solution: Switch to loose-leaf tea (it saves money too) or research brands that offer tea bags made from natural fibres so you can compost them.
Take away cups? No thank you.
Coffee cups are one of the biggest producers of single-use consumable waste in the world. Not only are the plastic lids unrecyclable, the lining inside the cup is too. The only part of the cup that can be recycled is the outside cardboard - and that's only if you're willing to separate the cardboard from the lining and put it into a recycling bin.
Easy solution: Buy a resuable travel mug and pass it to your barista when you order your coffee. Plenty of baristas will give you a discount for bringing your own cup. Alternatively, or for the days when you forget your cup, scout out a local coffee bar that used compostable bio-cups and dispose of them appropriately.
Three bins inside, three bins outside.
It's constantly surprising me how many people don't know that unless you sort your own waste, it all goes to landfill. No one sorts it after it's been collected which means that if you put a non-degradable but highly recyclable tin can into your garbage bin, it will go to landfill instead of being recycled.
Easy solution: Have a waste bin, recycling bin and compost bin inside and outside. That way you can sort it out as you're throwing it away.
BYO Shopping Bags
I live in a state that charges you 15c per bag if you don't bring your own shopping bags, but even with the additional cost so many consumers still don't bring their own shopping bags. Remember that the thinner the plastic, the less recyclable it is. Shopping bags are pure waste with no purpose.
Easy solution: Spend $10, buy 10 shopping bags and keep them in your car so you always have them with you. If you're feeling really earth-friendly, purchase some produce bags for loose items such as apples and potatoes. If you can't find any, use laundry bags.
No straw please
Straws are one of the most ridiculous waste products there is. You use them for five minutes and then they're land-fill for no reason.
Easy solution: Say 'no straw please' when ordering your drink and raise your glass to your mouth. If you absolutely must drink through store (I get it - we all have our quirks) then put a metal straw in your handbag so you can use it over and over again.
Take a shopping break.
Most zero-wasters will vouch for this - the time that you create the most shopping waste is during unplanned shopping trips when you're less likely to have your reusable shopping bags on hand and no produce bags to put your 30 mushrooms in. Or you forgot you needed an ingredient for dinner so you resort to having to buy it in plastic instead of from a bulk bin.
Easy solution: Decide when you're going to grocery shop, plan your meals for the time between shopping trips, and then stay out of the grocery store. You'll also have the added bonus of saving money without the temptation of spur-of-the-moment purchases.
Think about your wrap.
Cling film and baking paper are trash and can't be recycled. Cling film is too thin and baking paper contains plastic fibres and coating. These are three regular household items that we all use without thinking, they're cheap but they're harmful. Aluminium foil is actually highly recyclable but the small pieces we tear off an use are often send to landfill because of their small size.
Easy solution: Think about how you use these products and what you could use instead. I use silicone mats on the bottom of baking trays instead of baking paper and wrap sandwiches in reusable sandwich pouches or wax wraps. I keep leftovers in containers or place a wax wrap over a bowl. If you absolutely must buy cling film, make sure it's biodegradable and if baking paper is something you can't live without, buy a plastic free version (trust me, you don't want to be heating that plastic into your food anyway). Aluminium foil is recyclable but only in large quantities. If you can't live without it then keep your used foil in a container and when it's big enough to roll into a ball about the size of a tennis ball, roll it up and put it into your recycling bin.
Eat the food you buy.
Australians throw away just over a quarter of all of the food they buy. That's insane! If you spend $150 a week on food, that's $2000 a year in the bin!
Easy solution: There are a few simple things you can do here to cut your waste. First, store your fresh produce properly. I keep produce in damp cotton bags in my refrigerator and all of my food lasts weeks longer than it would if it was just on the shelf. Second, plan your meals, buy only what you need. Third, save your leftovers, you can and will use them. If you want leftover inspiration, follow me on Instagram where I regularly post pictures of my leftover creations.
Cancel your junk mail
Junk mail is a waste of paper, a waste of money and a waste of your time. You either chuck it straight in the bin, let it sit on your counter for days until someone gets rid of it, or you end up buying something you didn't really need.
Easy solution: First, go to your local hardware store and buy a 'No Junk Mail' sign for your letter box, this will get rid of all the generic mail outs. Next, if you're on a subscription list for a company you've bought from before, log into your account online or give them a call and either cancel the marketing material or switch to email flyers instead.