If you’ve been flirting with the idea about going zero waste, the time is now! This month is Plastic Free July - a great time to look at ways to actively reduce your plastic consumption.
Choose to refuse single-use plastics. That’s what Plastic Free July wants you to do this month. The global movement has helped millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution by reducing or eliminating their use of single-use plastic during the month of July, and beyond.
And while we know small changes make a massive difference, where is a good place to start?
If you’re in Greater Sydney, chances are you’ll be spending plenty of time at your home right now in lockdown. Review your daily routines and you’ll find there are a few really easy ways you can reduce your plastic waste without making big changes.
Here are five simple ways to refuse plastic usage in the home as of today.
1. Refuse groceries wrapped in plastic
Our supermarket shelves are bursting with products contained in plastic packaging. When shopping for your groceries, opt for bulk and loose foods which don’t use single-use plastic. Take your own reusable produce bags, containers, and glass jars to store produce and items in. And choose to shop at your local bakery, butcher, deli and fishmonger to avoid packaging wherever possible. Refusing plastic packaging means you’ll not only reduce waste and pollution but you’ll also be protecting our wildlife who can mistake discarded plastic as food.
2. Refuse plastic-packaged bathroom supplies
Switch from shower gel to some of the amazing bar soaps available on the market these days, formulated for body, hair and face washing and shaving, and made using natural ingredients. Some can be purchased without packaging or come in eco-friendly compostable/recyclable packaging. Or you can opt for one of the handful of natural shower gel and hand wash products packaged in reusable bottles. We like Resparkle, which comes in bottles made of glass and silicon with compostable powdered refill sachets. In fact, we’re giving a couple of Resparkle packs away this month! See here for details. You can even make your own soap!
3. Refuse cleaning products in plastic containers
Swap your cleaning products in plastic containers for products which come in non-toxic, planet friendly receptacles with plastic-free refills, like Resparkle, Zero Co or Koh. Better yet, you can make your own chemical-free cleaning products housed in plastic-free containers at home, with just a few ingredients! Start with a hand wash and multipurpose spray, combining essential oils, castile soap (an amazingly-versatile vegetable-based soap), purified or boiled and cooled water, and an amber glass spray bottle. Most pharmacies sell castile soap, or you can buy it in bulk from suppliers such as Aussie Soaps Supplies or Dr Bronner's. Check out our blog with recipes here.
4. Refuse plastic food containers
Turf out cling wrap and zip lock bags, and instead go with the many alternatives to storing and packaging food, such as reusable containers, wax wraps, reusable washable cloth bags, and reusable silicone bowl toppers. And as many of us are upping our takeaway quotas during lockdown in support of our local restaurants, bars and cafes, find out if your favourite go-to for takeaway uses compostable, biodegradable takeaway packaging. Better yet, see if they’re happy for you to bring your own reusable containers from home. Always refuse cutlery and packaged sauces (like those little soy sauce fish and wasabi sachets) and stock up on these at home.
5. Refuse plastic pet bags
Avoid picking up after your pet using a single-use plastic bag, and instead opt for a shovel or poop scoop when at home, and compostable bags or even scrap pieces of paper, newspaper or paper bags when on a walk. And to make sure your pet’s business doesn’t end up in landfill, you can compost it (separately to the compost you will use for veggies!) or bury it in your yard. When feeding Fido, choose pet food which comes in paper bags or tins which can be recycled, or make your own pet food.
For additional tips, check out our blog on “6 Simple Swaps to Go Zero-Waste” for more practical tips on how to reduce your plastic usage and general waste.
And you should also take a look at the “It Only Takes A Minute” campaign fronted by climate activist Sarah Wilson, which aims to raise awareness of just how much plastic waste is produced in a minute… and that is a very scary one tonne - enough to fill a shipping container!
As Sarah points out, we ingest a credit card-sized amount of plastic (and other endocrine disrupting chemicals) each week via our food and water. Eeeeeeep.