Katie Irwin from the Waste Not Collective rethinks single-use plastic around the home and offers some simple alternatives.
‘On average, Australians produce 3 billion tonnes of plastic each year, but only 12% is recycled. More frightening still, up to 130,000 tonnes of that plastic will find its way into the ocean.’*
If reading the quote above from a World Wildlife Fund report makes you want to break-up with single-use plastics, here are some easy swaps you can make around your home to start your own war on waste.
Challenge yourself to start reducing single use plastics around your home. You don’t have to do everything at once, just start where you can and make mindful, sustainable changes. This journey can be overwhelming, but remember that every decision you make has an impact, no matter how small.
1. BYO bag
This is a no brainer really, especially since new laws have come in to place. However, there is much more you can do then just avoiding large shopping bags.
Challenge yourself to avoid the small, soft produce bags in the fresh food section by bringing your own reusable bags. These plastic bags are very light and thin which means they easily travel and pollute waterways where animals mistake them for food. If you’re handy, you could sew your own reusable produce bags with scraps of material, sheets or curtains. Alternatively, purchase produce bags from an Australian company like Onya or Ever Eco. I personally love my organic cotton produce bags from Bare and Boho as I prefer to stick to natural fibres if possible.
If you forget your produce bags when you leave home, just place larger veggies straight into the trolley or basket and you can wash them at home. In a pinch you can use the paper mushroom bags and reuse them next time you shop.
2. Bulk is beautiful
In addition to avoiding plastic food packing in the fresh food section, it is also possible to create a relatively plastic-free pantry.
We are lucky to enjoy a huge variety of bulk food stores in Brisbane. Reuse old jars to store your pantry goods or find some for cheap at op-shops or on Facebook Marketplace. You can take your jars to bulk food stores to fill up with what you need, or I prefer to take my cotton bags and transfer to glass jars when I get home. This prevents breakages and carrying multiple kilos of glass around the shops.
With bulk shopping you can not only avoid excess plastic packaging, but you can choose how much or how little you would like to buy, thus reducing food waste.
3. Rally your containers
You probably have heaps of containers lying around the house that you can put to good use.
It doesn’t matter if they’re plastic – just use what you have. All that matters is that they can be reused. If you need to purchase new containers, buy second-hand or opt for stainless steel or glass over plastic. We use containers for everything: to store our leftovers in, to freeze meals in and to transport homemade lunches and take-a-way food. This avoids glad wrap, zip lock bags, food packaging and single use plastic containers.
4. Overhaul your bathroom
The bathroom is a huge source of excessive plastic and synthetic chemicals, some of which are tested on animals.
As your products run out, do some quick research. Over the years we have been able to completely switch over our bathroom so that we now use all plastic free, cruelty free and synthetic fragrance-free body products. Our favourite switches have been safety razors instead of disposable razors and shampoo bars instead of bottled shampoo.