So Plastic Free July has officially ended. With some of us taking part, we wanted to discuss what’s with all the fuss about attempting to be plastic free and adapting to the single use plastic bag bans.
Last year, I decided to start making my way towards a plastic free life. Minimising my plastic and carbon footprint so to speak. I admit I still have plastic bags in my house….. and plastic containers and plastic cups and many plastic household items, because let’s be realistic plastic is everywhere and it’s just not within mine or most people’s budgets to go out and replace every piece of plastic they’ve ever owned…
However, single use plastic items in my house are now, after 12 months are basically no-existent! It is an achievement I’m totally happy with! I started small and took baby steps. I’ve listed some great tips you can follow along with from my journey and try them out too.
My first step for reducing my plastic footprint was I stopped accepting plastic bags when I am out. I use reusable cloth bags for all my groceries, I always try to remember to bring my own by keeping them in my car or having a small one rolled up in my bag for emergencies when I forget. I take a bag to go shopping too. Cloth bags aren’t just for your groceries so I still try not to use the plastic ones at the supermarket or department stores as yes most of these can be red-cycled but still require precious resources to manufacture.
With plastic bags off my list, I then looked into more single use plastics in my home. I stopped buying bottled water and invested in some stainless-steel drinking bottles. Glass bottles are another great alternative but if you are a little clumsy like me and tend to drop things I went with metal to be safe.
Now when it came to straws I knew the struggle would be difficult. I use straws to drink everything. Soft drinks, water, milkshakes, iced drinks. You name it. Most straws today are made from a petroleum-based plastic called polypropylene. Which basically means straws represent yet another product that requires fossil fuel extraction. You don’t need to be an eco-warrior to know how that affects climate change. And because of the type of plastic used, straws can’t be recycled or red-cycled. So making plastic straws puts an undue strain on the climate not to mention their inability to degrade and ending up in our oceans AND puts our sea-life and turtles in danger. Safe to say I now carry a metal straw with me in my bag… I actually have a few stashed in my car, at work and at my parent and friends houses so I know I won’t forget to use them instead of their plastic alternatives.
Red-Cycling works with all your hard plastics and basically, Red-Cycling can help re-use a lot of those soft plastics you can’t throw in your normal recycle bin. Those red or green bag bins inside your local Coles and Woolworths are actually RED-cycle bins and you can put a whole lot more into them than just plastic bags. Think chip packets, frozen vegetable packets, chocolate wrappers, biscuit wrappers (here’s looking at you Tim Tams), muesli bars, plastic bags and all those soft plastics you would usually have to throw away!!
Since their launch in 2011 Red-cycle bins have collected enough pieces of soft plastic to circle Australia 2 and a half times. Which works out to about 70 million metres of plastic. WOW!!! And your red-cycling once collected is processed and turned into bollards and barrier fences, deckings, footpaths, exercise equipment, agility tracks, playground floors, outdoor furniture, benches and seats and signs.
Sometimes it’s as easy as sorting your rubbish to be more mindful of what you are throwing in the bin. Which leads me to my last tip of working towards a more plastic free footprint. Compost Bins! These bins were amazing in limiting what I now needed to throw in the bin! Almost half of my rubbish could be added to a compost or worm farm and between recycling and red-cycling I ended up with very little I actually needed to throw away into landfill each week!
These are my main tips to help you guys along the way of minimising your plastic footprint. Start as small or as big as you like and you will feel a whole lot better for doing your part!
The List of Top 10 Items to Swap When You Go Plastic Free
Our Brisbanista team have put together a list of the TOP 10 items we loved to use most during plastic free July, and all year round!
1. Re-useable Drink Bottle.
We like the large 850ml Stainless bottles by Boomerang bags with a big mouth piece perfect for adding ice to your drinks. Or if you prefer glass an Aussie company BBBYO make this one (and stainless too) which includes a stylish neoprene cover with a handle that fits around the wrist, making it perfect for staying hydrated on the go.
2. Keep Cup
For coffee and drink lovers on the go. These bad boys also support Sea Shepherd so that’s like 2 times the planet help in one cup!
3. Produce Bags for Fruits and Vegies
These handy produce bags are available in 4 different colour choices!
4. Reusable tote to keep for emergencies in your handbag
Boomerang Bags are handmade from recyclable materials
5. Reusable sandwich bags for snacks
These cute dino bags can be washed, reused, frozen and are even leakproof!
Or this bag set is completely plastic-free and also dishwasher safe!!
6. Stainless steel pegs
No more replacing cracking sun damaged flaky plastic pegs when you own these beauties! These have been a favorite of mine since I bought them!
7. Stainless Steel Straws
For the solo traveler
Or a bargain 10 pack to use everywhere and share with friends
8. Bamboo toothbrush
It’s hard to imagine the toothbrush you used as a child is still sitting in landfill as they take 100’s of years to decompose! Turns out our plastic toothbrushes will live longer than us! We prefer a more natural bamboo brush which can decompose in your compost in about 3 months!
9. Reusable Grocery and Shopping bags
We are a fan these sets which fit right into your shopping trolley and can be carried in and out of your car easily!
And we love using baskets for local markets and greengrocers!
10. Compost or Worm Farm
Brisbane City Council & Moreton Bay Shire residents get 40% off RRP from this site:
Don’t forget to tell us how you go and what successes you have along the way. How have you gone plastic free all year around?