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22 Tips To Stop Using Plastic

Plastic is bad for the environment on every level. Not only does it pollute waterways and create excess landfill, but plastic uses a ridiculous amount of resources just in order to be manufactured. In fact, it takes about 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture 102 billion plastic bags.

Each year, thousands of tonnes of excess rubbish is created in Australia alone, let alone the rest of the world. Even with more people recycling now than ever before, there are still plastics that cannot be recycled due to their chemical composition. It’s these types of plastics that we should all aim to avoid wherever possible.

There are so many easy ways to reduce the amount of plastic you can use. Here are just a few simple practices you can begin implementing to keep your conscience at rest.

1. Put down the glad wrap

Invest in some good, air tight storage containers that are both microwave and freezer safe. It’s a good idea to have multiple containers in a range of sizes to accommodate for all the different types of food you’ll be storing, as well as snack sized containers for lunch boxes and storing liquids, dressings, and so on. Phthalates in plastic wrap are really bad for you, so you’ll be doing yourself, your friends, and family a favour too. You can also get reusable wax-lined cloths that work the same way as glad wrap, and look great too – check out Honey Bee Wraps.

2. Use a great shaver

The plastic in disposable razors isn’t recyclable and doesn’t biodegrade, so they’re very difficult to dispose of. When you invest in a good electric razor, you’ll actually save money in the long run from not having to buy shaving cream, lotion, and replacement blades quite so often.

3. Say no to straws

They may seem small and harmless, but they accumulate incredibly quickly over the space of a night out drinking. If you have to drink with a straw, try to reuse it over the course of your night. Even better, invest in a reusable straw, like the stainless steel or glass ones from Dharma Straws. We’ve found the stainless steel ones are best, as glass isn’t the safest thing to carry around with you.

4. Go loose

Like buying packaged food in bulk, avoid buying pre-packed or pre-weighed fruits and vegies. You know the kind – cling wrapped bananas on foam trays and the like – unnecessary and wasteful. Instead, choose from the loose section and put them straight in the fruit basket or fridge when you get home.

5. Hit the deli

If possible, shop from the deli section in supermarkets. Pre-packaged meat is usually stored on plastic or styrofoam trays, while you can re-use the bags that are used to pack deli meat. If you smile and ask nicely, the deli staff will even put your produce in your own container – yes, really!

6. Have a bottle on hand

Plastic water bottles are one of the most consumed items in the world. Don’t help perpetuate the market for this ridiculously wasteful product; take your own drink bottle when you’re on the go. Water comes out of the tap for free, so why on Earth would you pay for it?!

7. Just BYO

Always take your own shopping bags to the supermarket or shops. These don’t have to be the canvas, environmentally friendly kind if you don’t have any. Even just reusing plastic bags from your own kitchen cupboard can still help to reduce waste. Bonus Tip: Recycle any soft plastics you do accumulate in the collection kiosks in Coles and/or Woolies, if available.

8. Use a thermos or a KeepCup

If you regularly find yourself buying takeaway coffee, take your own clean thermos and avoid adding to the styrofoam rubbish pile. Cafe businesses usually appreciate not having to use their own stock, and the environment appreciates being cared for. Some cafe’s will even give you a discount!

9. Avoid individually wrapped products

Don’t buy food in pre-portioned packaging, buy in bulk instead! Instead of buying 15 mini packs of biscuits or chips for school lunch, buy a large single packet and portion it into those containers you bought back in point 1. Apply this theory to yoghurt, custards, and anything else that can be bought in a larger size. Every bit counts!

10. Natural scents

If you’re a big fan of the air freshener spray can, try to give it up and instead start burning scented candles, incense, or essential oils instead.

11. Grow your own!

Fresh herbs and salad leaves always come wrapped in plastic at the supermarket. Try growing your own herbs and salad leaves at home to enjoy fresh greens when you want!

12. Buy refills

Rather than buying a new product each time, start buying refills for your cleaning supplies. If you use one spray bottle a month then that’s 12 spray heads a year that you don’t need. Reuse your spray head wherever possible! This also applies to laundry detergents and fabric softeners. Always refill!

13. Choose glass over plastic

Glass is much more easier to recycle than plastic. If you have the option, buy products packaged in glass (or biodegradable paper or cornstarch) over plastic, which you’ll find is surprisingly common for food and drinks.

14. Ditch disposable plates

If you’re having a BBQ or party – don’t freak out – but avoid using disposable cups, plates, and cutlery. Use your glass plates and wash them. If you must use plastic plates, wash and reuse them as well.

15. Avoid disposable

In fact, just avoid disposable anything! If there’s a reusable version, always choose that one instead. And for the ladies – ahem – that means looking into beauties like the Juju cup or specialty underwear.

16. Don’t throw away old toys

Recycle old plastic children’s toys. If they’re not broken, don’t throw them away. Consider giving them to a local op shop, daycare, or kindergarten instead. Search for a toy library in your area to borrow from or donate to.

17. Don’t throw away phones

Don’t throw away old mobile phones. Most post offices have a special bin for recycling all mobiles and their accessories. If you can’t find one, look carefully in the box of your new phone – there should be a special recycling postage bag included in which you can place your old phone.

18. Be handy

Always try to fix broken electronics instead of just replacing them. If an item is unfixable, dispose of it properly rather than just throwing it in with your general rubbish. Contact your local computer repair store to see if they can make use of any of the parts first.

19. Step away from the microbeads

Stop using body and skincare products that contain microbeads. These tiny beads are made from a plastic based substance and contribute to a lot of extra work at water treatment plants.

20. Substitute gum

Stop using chewing gum. Yup, this delicious mouth freshener is made from a rubber-type of substance that is not degradable. Hence all those gross, sticky gum patches you find on the road…

21. Avoid lighters

If you really need a lighter, stop buying plastic lighters. Instead, purchase a packet of matches or a refillable lighter that can be reused again and again.

22. Invest in cloth nappies

If you have kids, get rid of the disposable nappies and invest in a pair of good cloth ones instead. Even if you have to use extra products for sanitising when compared to plastic, you do have the option of using nontoxic laundry powders (that come in a cardboard box) that are easier to dispose of than plastic nappies are.

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