There’s no doubt plastics pollute the environment but we seem to keep this fact at arm’s length given our continued reliance on plastic products. But considering its Plastic Free July, there’s no time like the present to try and rectify our actions.
The stats from WWF are upsetting. On average, Aussies use 130kg of plastic per person each year and only 9% of it’s ever recycled. In fact, up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic ends up finding its way in our waterways and into the ocean.
Given these figures, there’s no doubt in our minds we have to take steps, both big and small, to tackle this problem together.
Earlier this year, employees from Adidas and Reebok teamed up to create an “Ultimate Guide” to avoiding plastic. It contains handy tips on reducing plastic use in our daily life which is a great first step in the right direction.
Here are a few of our favourites.
In the morning
Mornings are filled with plastics you may not think about, from your milk bottles to your toothpaste tube and toothbrush. The guide recommends changing out your usual toothbrush with a bamboo one – and if you’re feeling really creative, you can even create your own eco-friendly toothpaste with baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint essential oil.
Likewise, you can make your own face wash, shower gel and shampoo from natural ingredients – or purchase them from Lush, which avoids packaging. Other skin products you can swap out for organic alternatives include sunscreen, which often contains harmful chemicals.
Purchasing sustainable fashion made from recycled or natural materials is also a great way to kick off a plastic-lite day, as is swapping mass-produced cereals with the loose muesli, cereal and oats available for your local supermarket.
Bringing a reusable coffee cup with you to work is another great way to reduce the amount of plastic you use – depending on your local café, it might even save you some money.
At work or at home
You should always keep a bottle of water handy with you – but consider swapping out your plastic supermarket bottle with a refillable water bottle. Other essential ‘green’ office tools you can add to your arsenal include recycled paper, an eco-friendly phone case, reusable containers instead of plastic Tupperware and a set of cutlery rather than plastic alternatives.
If you’re hankering for a midday snack, a DIY energy bar might come in handy, as well as loose-leaf tea over heat-sealed teabags, which usually contain plastic.
In the evening
When you do your daily shopping trip, it’s important to bring reusable bags. Canvas tote bags are available widely at the shops and won’t cost a fortune to keep around – plus, it’ll stop the mid-shop panic when you realise most supermarkets don’t stock plastic bags anymore.
Similarly, when you’re gathering your fruit and vegetables, you don’t need to bother with a bag – most vegetables have hard, protective skin around them anyway. On the way out, you can also refuse a receipt, which are usually coated in harmful chemicals.
Cooking your dinner with homegrown herbs, fruit and vegetables can be a great way to save money, and avoid excessive plastic use. While the process takes time, it is extremely rewarding, and great for the environment.
It’s not easy introducing changes to your daily routine but take it one step at a time. You may not realise it but every little bit counts.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’re doing something for Plastic Free July or if you have any of your own tips to share.
This article has been updated since its original publication.