How to Go Plastic Free
2. Reward a business you know!
Not every business can go 100% plastic free but we can still acknowledge the good work they do! Know a street seller who has real plates on hand? Or a coffee cart that gives discount for BYO cup? They should be applauded for doing what they can, every bit counts. So print out this poster (6 to a page fits nicely… so write several “love letters” for one place or a few!). Right click to download.
3. Start with these simple swaps
Grab a bag so you don’t have to juggle your groceries! You’ve probably got a reusable bag from a conference, or you bought it but never use it. It’s time to shake it out and get it working! If it will help you remember, buy a reusable bag that you think is super cute (look at second hand shops first), you can even make your own with an old t-shirt! While you’re at it, think about some reusable produce bags.
Plastic cups suck, so make sure you’ve got a travel cup or jar, there are lots of cups designed especially for cold drinks (even bubble tea), maison jars are good for this, or any bottle with a wide top so you can clean it easily when you’re finished.
It’s so easy to get drinking water on the go with water fountains and refills easily available. Get yourself a good drink bottle and hang on to it! My vote is for glass or food grade stainless steel. You can even get thermos bottles that keep your water cool!
Get a container from the pantry and start using it! We’ve all got lots of containers and tupperware or tiffins, we just need to practice using them. You can often buy second hand at yard sales or moving sales too.
Most of the time we just don’t need a straw, so ask to go without! Tell the wait staff or seller you don’t need a straw when you order. Many places are swapping to paper or bio-plastic but better and more eco friendly options such as pasta, tapioca and wheat are becoming popular too. If you’re keen get a reusable straw in bamboo, metal, glass, silicon or acrylic. Remember to take it with you when you leave – many a straw has been left behind in a glass, and you don’t want that to happen to you!
Coffee is a luxury! So don’t put it in any old throwaway cup! It tastes much better from a stylish cup or even upcycled jar! If you don’t already have one and want a fine vessel for your morning brew, take a look in second-hand or charity stores, or buy one you really love and will use for a long time (I’ve had mine 10 years and counting!). Check at your local coffee shop too; they’ll have them for sale and some let you borrow from their ‘mug library’.
4. Where can you refill?
Package free shops are becoming more common, take some jars and bags and buy products to refill your supplies. Bars of soap come in all types; shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, face and body bars and all can be bought for reasonable prices and last a long time!
5. Where can you recycle?
Plastic bottles and cans
Separate your waste! Bottles and cans are worth a bit of money, so even if you don’t redeem the money yourself, separate them from your other rubbish and recycling to make it easier for those people who do trade them for cash to grab.
Old newspapers and magazines
Can be donated, used to make plastic-free garbage bin liners or recycled in your yellow bin (Australia)
Used office paper
Remove any staples first. You can make your own recycled paper or create note paper to write on blank sides of used paper so it gets maximum use!
Say no to plastic bags as much as possible! If you are caught with a plastic bag on your hands, look for local upcycling projects, reuse it as much as possible, repurpose it to do a trash pick up on your street or drop it into the soft plastics recycling at Woolworths or Coles.
You can start a compost at home! Start with a box, put in all the waste from your veggies and fruit, what we call the “green stuff”. Then, add other items, like compostable cardboard, rice husk or any other “brown stuff” like old flowers and dead leaves from trees and plants. You can find more details on how to do it here or here.
Glass is so versatile it can be reused over and over, so reuse it as much as you can! It’s great for storage of dry foods in your pantry, as a travel mug, to take and refill at package-free stores or recycled in the yellow bin (Australia).
Are not recycled. Even though they say recyclable on them, they are not commonly recycled due to the multiple layers of materials in them.
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