Can you imagine how exciting it was when plastic was invented?! It must have been incredible to have a material with such a variety of forms and uses. Now, plastic is just part of our lives, but the single use plastics that are part of many people’s every day, such as shopping bags, water bottles and coffee cups, are not only unnecessary, but devastating to our planet, in particular our oceans. Yet all of these single use plastics can be avoided, and we must move to stop our reliance on them for so many reasons including these:
- There is an estimated 4000 tiny pieces of plastic per every square kilometre of Australian sea surface water;
- Up to 1400 seals are dying each year from entanglement in Victoria alone;
- Box tape (plastic strapping for boxes) is the worst offender, but there is also risk from hats, fishing line—any item that encircles;
- By the year 2020, 90% of our sea birds will have ingested plastic;
- Plastic has been detected in zooplankton (bottom of the marine food chain);
- Australians spend more than $500 million a year on water bottles;
- Less than 40% of water bottles are recycled;
- It takes 450-1000 years for a plastic bottle to break down;
- 10 million new plastic bags are used every day in Australia.
- Reduce your use of single-use plastics as best you can through reusable shopping and produce bags, reusable drink bottles and coffee cups – take your own when you head out for the day, refill your water bottle and ask your barista to make your coffee in your own cup
- Recycle, recycle, recycle – recycle as much as you possibly can – many plastic items can be recycled but you need to learn how. For example, any smaller pieces of plastic such as milk bottle lids, tabs and bread tags, can be placed inside a milk bottle and then sent to recycling, so they can easily sort them. Otherwise they get stuck on the processing belts and cause issues. The soft plastic bags can also be recycled but again, not in general systems. Check Redcycle here for how to recycled the soft scrunchy plastics
- Always use reusable shopping bags and look further than the main bags, for your produce bags. I use produce bags for all fruit and vegetables and you can find some of ours here
- Buy larger sizes of products, or buy in bulk, to reduce packaging – take your own jars and containers to a bulk store, or market for things like pasta, rice and grains
- Throw stray plastics into the bin if you see them when you are out and about to prevent them heading to the ocean and trapping and killing sea creatures
- Grow your own veggies and herbs – or at least some, to reduce the amount of packaging you need to use
- Refuse bottled water – just refuse it – there is no need and water is freely available in Australia. We have a water filter at home and fill our bottles at home. If headed out for the day I take more than one bottle and Mr Recycled likes to keep cold and ice bottles in the fridge/freezer
- Use containers and reusable food wraps for the kids lunches, there is no need for clingwrap. We reuse a container every day for sandwiches and wrap other items in food wraps and bags.
Planet Ark has multiple resources about reducing your reliance on plastic
As does Clean Up Australia
We have a great range of produce and shopping bags in our store and will be adding food wrappers and more produce bags very soon!
Do you follow these ideas and have you any to add?