Here are five ways you can go plastic free for July and hopefully beyond. As School holidays are coming up we’ve included some fun school holiday activities.
Did you know that almost every piece of plastic ever made is still around? – YES even the biodegradable plastic. Plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade, leaving a huge impact on our environment. That is why we’re inviting you to take the challenge of going plastic free this July, because positive change starts with you! Start with a few actions and build on from there, every small change makes a difference.
Plastic Free July began as an initiative of the Western Metropolitan Regional Council (WMRC) and was developed by the Earth Carers staff in 2011. It challenges participants to avoid using single use plastics wherever possible, and encourages users to change their habits.
- Plastic bags – it’s time to bag the plastic bag! Although it may be seen as a necessary convenience, it certainly isn’t convenient when it comes to the huge environmental issues caused by plastic bags that end up littered and in our waterways and ocean.
Avoid single use shopping bags and choose reusable shopping bags made from jute, bamboo, cotton or PET instead.
TIP: Store your re-usable enviro bags in your car so that you don’t forget them on your next visit to the shops. There are also compact, foldable options that can fit easily in your handbag and also come in key ring sizes.
If you forget your bags, ask the shop assistant for a cardboard box to store your groceries in.
- Avoid using plastic produce bags for your fruit and veg. There are many reusable produce bags now available such as Rethink fresh produce bags, Onya Reusable Mesh Produce Bags or ChicoBag. You may even consider making your own. Remember to place them with your reusable shopping bags so they are ready to use again.
- Polystyrene – expanded polystyrene includes cups, meat trays and packaging cannot be recycled through kerbside recycling. For more information on how you can avoid polystyrene click here.
- Pre-packaged fresh fruit and vegetables. Choose loose, save waste and usually money too. You generally will be paying more, by weight, when you buy pre-packed fruit and veg. A prepared package of cut up fruit, for instance, usually costs at least twice as much as whole fruit you can cut up yourself. If you buy produce from a farmer’s market, you will probably save 50% more.
- Individually packaged/wrapped food items. Bring your reusable containers and purchase food from a bulk food store, or the bulk food section at your local supermarket or fruit and veg store. Why not make your waste free, healthy and delicious snack food, get the kids involved and they will be more likely to eat them too. You will save waste and money too!
- Purchasing items with excess packaging. Source items with minimal packaging that is recyclable or made from recycled materials.
- Personal care products that contain microbeads. In December 2016, an official meeting of environment ministers (MEM) from federal, state and territory level across Australia endorsed a voluntary industry phase-out of microbeads by 1 July 2018.
- Pre-packed meat and fish – Support your local butcher or fishmonger and bring your own reusable container or request cuts to be wrapped in paper.
- Plastic straws – Politely refuse them at the counter when purchasing a drink and encourage your local café to stop supplying plastic straws or provide alternative paper or even pasta straws. Purchase reusable stainless steel straws and keep one in your bag for when you go out. Like reusable bags, there are compact foldable versions available that can be clipped onto your keyring, such as FinalStraw.
- Takeaway coffee cups – Avoid drinking from a takeaway cup as well as the takeaway queue and treat yourself to a barista-made coffee, at a table, in a warmed ceramic cup. Why not have that work meeting that you’re rushing to, at the coffee shop so that everyone can enjoy the experience of drinking from a warm cup and some time out of the office?
- Takeaway plastic cutlery, use reusable or compostable alternatives made from PLA/corn-starch or bamboo.
- Plastic takeaway containers – choose takeaway items that don’t come in a plastic container eg. Pizza or other cardboard or paper wrapped items that can be composted (if soiled) or recycled (if clean). Take your own containers to your takeaway shop or restaurant to bring home any left-overs in.
- Plastic cling wrap – use reusable containers or beeswax wraps. Make your own beeswax wraps, a great school holiday activity to do with the kids.
- Using coffee pod machines. Pods are made from plastic and aluminium and are difficult to recycle. It is estimated that 3 million pods are ending up in landfill every day in Australia. Click here for more information on how to kick your coffee pod habit.
- Bottled soft drink – save on cavities and calories as well as waste. If you can’t do without your bubbly sugary fix, consider making your own with a Sodastream or only choose softdrinks in cans or glass bottles.
- Plastic bin liners, use newspaper to line your bin instead. Click here for instructions on how you can do this. You may also consider using compostable bags instead such as Biobag or Compostapak brands. Beware of biodegradable bags as these are usually still plastic and simply break up into tiny pieces of plastic.
- Bottled cleaning products. Purchase products from bulk stores using your refillable containers, use soap bars including shampoo bars instead. Make your own cleaning products – another a great school holiday activity to get the kids involved in! Choose products in cardboard, paper or glass packaging instead.
- The amount of things you buy – especially plastic, by making a list and planning to buy only what you really need.
Choose to re-use
- Use a refillable water bottle. You will be saving a considerable amount of money as well as plastic! Australian consumers pay almost 2000 times more for bottled water than for tap water.1
- Use a re-usable, non–disposable coffee cup. Some cafés (check out responsiblecafes.org) offer discounts for using a re-usable takeaway cup.
- Choose re-usable, washable cleaning wipes instead of disposable wipes.
- Store food in reusable containers.
- If you have a young child, become a member of a toy library where you can borrow quality toys and books. Purchase wooden toys instead of plastic.
- Recycle your rigid plastic containers and packaging. Most hard plastics coded 1-7 can be recycled in your yellow lidded recycling bin except for expanded polystyrene foam #6. Click here for more information about what plastics can and cannot be recycled.
- Purchase products that use recycled plastic eg. a recycled plastic mobile phone cover.
- Encourage your Council and school to purchase outdoor furniture and play equipment made from recycled plastic.
Compostable items are made from plant based materials such as corn-starch and offer a great alternative to plastic. In order to be classified as compostable they must meet the Australian Standard for compostability AS4736 and will have this symbol.
- Use compostable bin liners. These are commonly used to line kitchen caddy/food scrap baskets and are available through most local Councils. You can also purchase them through some Supermarkets. Look for the Biobag brand available in some Foodland stores, with different sizes available. Compostable bags are also available online through Biobag and Compost-a-pak.
- Use compostable dog poo bags, the poo and compostable bag can be placed into your green bin. Beware of biodegradable bags as these are usually still plastic and simply break up into tiny pieces of plastic.
- Use newspaper to wrap your pet poo before placing it in the green bin.
- Use compostable takeaway food containers, plates and cutlery at your next party or event. There are lots of options now available made from bamboo, recycled paper and cornstarch. These are available at most supermarkets and online through Eco Party Box, Biopak, and Vegware.
So now you are have a list of ways to do it, why not register your committment on the Plastic Free July website! Click here to register and learn more about Plastic Free July on the Plastic Free July website.