Shaking free of plastic: is going plastic-free for you?
There’s been a big push in 2018 to reduce our impact on the environment, and one key area for that is going plastic-free. There’s been a lot of hype about it over the year and a fair bit of confusion as to what it means and why we should do it.
Why should we reduce our plastic use?
The average Australian produces 1.5 tonnes of waste a year. It’s a big number, and one that may feel disproportionate when you think about your waste on a day-to-day basis, but this builds up throughout the year. One of the causes of the problems are certain plastics that can’t be recycled because of their chemical composition. It’s because of these pesky plastics that there has been a push lately to go plastic-free.
Soft v hard plastics: what’s the difference?
Soft plastics can be scrunched into a ball, think bread bags, biscuit packets, cling wrap, zip-lock bags, pasta and rice bags, frozen veggie bags, plastic bags, cereal box liners. Soft plastics shouldn’t be put into the kerbside recycling bin as they can get caught in the recycling machinery.
Hard plastics can’t be scrunched into a ball. They are what we commonly associate with being plastic like bottles, containers and strawberry punnets. These can go into the kerbside recycling bin intended to collect plastic.
How to recycle both types of plastic.
Soft plastics should be taken to specific collection points which are at most major supermarkets. There’s also an organisation called REDcycle that have collection points. Visit their website for a list of locations.
Hard plastics can be recycled as normal, but soft plastics require some special consideration. There are organisations which are providing options for recycling soft plastics.
Jumping on the plastic-free bandwagon.
Going plastic-free isn’t just ditching the single-use plastic bags at the supermarket, it’s also avoiding unnecessary plastic wraps, water bottles, bathroom accessories, the list goes on – which makes the concept quite daunting.
Here are some tips on how to get go plastic-free.
1. BYO bag
After the initial mayhem from supermarkets banning single-use plastic bags, it seems the water has settled and it’s become common practice. You can take your reusable bag to more places than the supermarket: take it when you go to a department store, to the library, even to the hardware store: the list is limitless. The trick is to always have one in your car so you’re more likely to use it and won’t be stuck without it.
2. Say no to fruit and veggies wrapped in plastic
Either buy fresh produce in bulk or select from the loose section (don’t use the clear bags for them either!).
3. Buy in bulk and separate portions yourself
Instead of buying the packets with individual portions already packaged, buy in bulk and portion them out yourself.
4. Say no to straws
Either say no to a straw completely, or opt for a reusable one instead. There’s heaps available now so lots of colours to choose from!
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