Plastic sucks. There is no other way to put it. If you are reading this article, you probably know at least one (or one hundred) reasons why humans should wean off it. Once you start noticing disposables in your everyday life, you really can’t unsee it – from fruit section in supermarkets to airplane meals and online deliveries, it is everywhere. If you are new to the whole no-plastic thing, it can get overwhelming. This guide will walk you through some basic tactics you can use to help you get started:
Find reusable alternatives
It has never been easier to find reusable alternatives to disposable plastic items. Metal straws, clay takeaway cups, bamboo cutlery, beeswax wraps…the list goes on and on. When you choose to refuse single use plastic and find reusable alternatives instead, you:
- divert over 700 kilograms of plastic waste from going into our precious oceans every year
- send a message to companies that their contribution to plastic pollution will not be tolerated
- support green businesses that sell reusable alternatives.
It’s a win-win-win really!
And make sure they are available in convenient places
Have you ever forgotten to bring reusable bags when going grocery shopping? Join the club. We’ve all been there, you get to the
Find a bulk store near you
Bulk store is a safe haven for all your plastic-free pantry needs. Never been to a bulk store before? You are in for a treat. You will need to bring a bag and containers (you can use Tupperware or just repurpose the korma jar from last night’s curry). At the bulk store, shop assistants will weigh your containers and you can start filling them up with amazing goodies – anything from legumes to spices and chocolates! If you want to find a bulk store in your area, head to Zero Waste Home and use their bulk finder to locate one near you. Even if you can’t find one nearby, consider shopping for bulk goods online – The Source Bulk Foods has a great range available in their online store.
Plan, plan, plan
Plastic-free living often requires planning. Try to identify where you are most likely to encounter disposable plastics. Do you have a takeaway coffee in the morning? Make sure you keep your reusable coffee cup in a bag you take to work. Going to movies with a friend? Sneak in snacks you got from a bulk store or get supplies in a packaging that can be recycled from your nearest supermarket (PSA: Lindt chocolate comes in a foil + carton packaging). Buying second-hand clothes online? Ask the seller if they can post the item in a recyclable tough bag or a box.
Set a rule – no disposables unless you absolutely can’t avoid it
I know this seems obvious, but setting this simple rule really does work, especially if you are a person who prefers structure. It can be challenging at first – you might find that some of your favourite foods or products come in disposable plastic packaging and it can be hard to avoid. Good news is that most of the time you will be able to find an alternative. Buy loose veggies instead of pre-packaged, use your own container at delis, visit bulk stores when you can. Not ready to go cold turkey? Nothing wrong with starting small – make small switches every week and see how you go.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself or others
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of blame – not just towards others, but yourself. Remember, you are doing your best. You are making a difference. Even the smallest of actions can create change. And even if your roommate keeps using straws or throws perfectly recyclable goods in a waste bin, the best thing you can do is lead by example and share your tips and knowledge when possible.