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17 September 2018
We all know that plastic isn’t great for the environment. Most plastics don’t break down: instead, they get dumped into landfills or the ocean, where they bob away for eternity. Right now, there’s a huge patch of plastic sitting in the Pacific Ocean. It’s twice the size of Texas, and scientists say that by 2050, there’ll be more plastic than fish in the sea. ☹
Every little bit counts, so here are some easy-peasy ways to use less plastic in your day-to-day life.
How many bottles do you have stashed in your fridge/pantry/desk drawer? When I started this use-less-plastic mission, I had 11 – for no reason! To cut back, invest in a stainless steel or glass bottle. Not only are these bottles eco-chic, but they keep your water cooler for longer – which is a godsend on a steamy summer day.
We wouldn’t dare tell you to go without your daily cup of coffee (because we can’t either) – just make it a feel-good one by sipping it from a keep cup. You can even buy collapsible cups that are easy to store in your bag. Otherwise, think about making your own coffee at home. You’ll save a ton of money, too!
Your drink will taste the same, promise. Plastic straws can’t be recycled. In the US alone, more than 500 million plastic straws are tossed into landfills each year.
If your budget allows for it, get your doughy delights from a bakery or farmers market. They usually put their loves into paper bags, while supermarkets stuff them into plastic.
From lunch to leftovers, stash your food into glass storage containers. For extra style points, add mason jars to your rotation, too. They’re better for the environment, and a lot easier to wash and maintain than plastic containers. Seeee ya.
Speaking of lunch (mmm), there are a bunch of benefits to bringing your own to work. Along with saving money, you won’t end up with the single-use packaging that comes with takeaway. Think little plastic containers, Styrofoam boxes and plastic bags to carry it all.
It turns out that some receipts are coated in a layer of plastic that – you guessed it – means they can’t be recycled. Email/text receipts all the way!
We all love a beauty haul, but some facewashes and toothpastes contain little microplastic beads. They’re meant to help with exfoliating, but our rubbish filtering facilities can’t break them down so they end up intact, in the ocean. No, thanks. Steer clear of prods with ‘polypropylene’ or ‘polyethylene’ on the label.
Did you know that Q-tips actually push earwax further into your ear? Yep, yum. That’s one common use scratched! If you need Q-tips, look for ones with paper sticks. They’re rare, but they exist, and they can be composted.
If you’re the queen of Uber Eats, you’ll have an idea of how cafes and restaurants wrap up their food. To do your bit for the environment, choose eateries that use sustainable packaging, like paper and cardboard.
Those flimsy forks are crappy, anyway.
Take it up a notch and bring regular cutlery and plates to BBQs. Sure, you’ll have to cart them home, but you can be smug about it. Tip: Bring a tea towel to wrap the cutlery in when you’re done eating!
Gladwrap is terrible for the environment, and it’s SO annoying when it sticks to itself when you try to put it on/take it off something. Ditch it for stretchy silicone lids like these or aluminium foil.
Permission to sneak an extra scoop! You may as well go all out and treat yourself to the chocolate-coated waffle cone…
How’s this for a shocking fast: a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to break down. YEARS! And before they do that, dolphins, whales, seals and turtles get tangled up in them. A lot of supermarkets are now charging for plastic bags, which is great. Do one better and buy a reusable bag for your grocery shopping. Have one, but always forget to bring it? I was the same – then I started hanging the bag on the handle of my front door as soon as I unpacked it. Boom.
Pop your fruit and veg in your tote or even just the basket and give them a good ol’ rinse when you get home (#adulting).
Rather than reaching for a plastic bag, swipe one of the brown bags that are meant for mushrooms. They’re great for lettuce, grapes and other goodies you don’t want to roll around.
If you can physically chop it yourself, do that.
So many food and beauty products are sold with excessive plastic. If there are two options, buy the one that’s sustainably packaged in paper or glass. For example, choose boxed almond milk, orange juice and detergent over plastic bottles, and soap bars over liquid handwash.
You’ll still end up with the same silky-smooth skin (is there a better feeling?!), and you won’t clog up your rubbish with disposable razors.
They’re probably way better than the cheapo ones the airlines use, anyway.
Not only does it bloat you like crazy, but most gum is made from synthetics, rubbers and plastics – and a lot of those wads end up on the street (or under some unlucky sod’s shoes). Instead, stash mints or mouthwash in your bag for the morning after. 😉
For an even sparklier smile, go eco.
Costco fans, this is your jam! Buying in bulk is weirdly satisfying, and it’s an environmental dream. Stock up on the biggest size of the product you’re looking for, and you’ll produce less waste. Plus, it’s cheaper.
These nifty bags can hold everything from fruit and veggies to meat and fish. And they last for years!
Forget the wipes and cotton pads (some of them contain plastic) and take off your face with reusable cotton pads like these. When you’re done, throw them in the washing machine and voila! Brand new.
Your tush – and the world – will thank you. For example, Who Gives a Crap toilet paper has plastic-free packaging and donates half its profits to organisations that improve toilets in third-world countries.
When you’re winding down with a bubble bath and a candle, use a match over a disposable plastic lighter. Too easy.
Words by Katia Iervasi.
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