Cutting Down your Plastic Waste is LITTERally This Easy
Plastic is officially a world-wide environmental disaster.
In Australia alone, we have produced more plastic in the last 10 years than we did in the whole last century. We use over 9.7 billion single-use plastic bags annually and over one trillion world-wide. Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die every year all over the world from ingestion or entanglement in plastic litter. Adapting and finding ways to reduce the plastic in our everyday lives is more vital than ever before. We’ve found some fast, affordable and effortless ways to reduce the plastic in your life as soon as possible.
Saying goodbye to plastic bin liners
Approximately 50 million of the nearly 10 billion plastic bags we use every year end up discarded on beaches, streets and parks. While we may think buying plastic bin liners specific for rubbish or using the single-use plastic bags to put our rubbish into is responsibly reusing the bags, it’s the opposite. Plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to decompose so placing rubbish straight into the bin is the way to go. Separating food scraps into a composting bin or alternatively, joining a community composting group or lining your bin with newspaper will avoid the smelly garbage juice that makes us want to put bags in our bins in the first place and keep your waste plastic free.
[Photo credit: Girls Going Green]
But what about my kitty litter?
People with cats often use plastic bags to dispose of used kitty litter. It’s a tricky one, but there is a more sustainable alternative. Natural litter is made from waste plantation sawdust that would otherwise be dumped and is the perfect replacement, with its natural eucalyptus oils it kills any lurking bacteria and keeps all nasty smells under control. From here, it’s straight into the compost (ensuring it’s not used for food producing crops), used in the garden for mulch or into green council bins. Alternatively, wood pellets or recycled paper pellets are also an option with the same disposal method.
Avoiding plastic packaging in supermarkets
The ultimate solution to avoiding plastic whilst food shopping is going to stores that allow you to fill up your own reusable containers and bypassing the packaging altogether. While most stores don’t have the range and variety that supermarkets do, cutting down some plastic waste is better than none at all. Check out Sustainable Table’s bulk food directory to find your local store. In regular supermarkets, buy meat and cheese at the deli counter with your own reusable container and look for paper over plastic packaging or even better no packaging at all! And remember to carry all your plastic free products in your own reusable bags, even the ones for the fresh produce.
[Photo credit: Lia Griffith]
Recycling for plastics
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options available for recycling plastics and controlling how they get recycled, but saving soft plastics can give them a second purpose in life. Save up all your soft plastics (anything that can be scrunched into a ball) and drop them off into your nearest REDcycle bin so the rubbish to be transformed into long-lasting outdoor furniture, signage and bollards.
[Photo credit: Materia Exhibitions]
Taking away the plastic from takeaway food containers
Discarded food containers made up nearly half of the 15,552 ute loads of rubbish collected from last year’s Clean Up Australia Day. Trashless Takeaway is assisting Australian eateries in cutting down plastic container wastage by allowing consumers to bring their own reusable containers to take their food away in. For places that use minimal waste, head over to Fair Food Forager or Responsible Cafes to search for your closet location.
Australians are currently disposing of 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes. Our addiction to buying into ever changing fashion trends has resulted in us throwing out clothes left, right and centre. The easiest way to avoid this is donating and shopping at second hand stores, turning your unloved clothes into something new and organising a clothes swap. Perhaps one of the worst parts about our addiction of fast fashion is the cheap materials we buy. According to WWF, it takes a shocking 2,700 litres of water to make only one cotton t-shirt, that’s enough water for one person to drink for 900 days. Then there’s fabrics like polyester, acrylic, lycra, spandex and nylon that all create microfibre pollution when laundered, going straight into rivers and oceans. Guppy Friend filter bags are an emerging solution that catches these microfibers when washed. Buying clothes made of only organic or natural fibres is also a solution.
[Photo credit: War on Waste]
Everyday reusable and biodegradable items
Many of our everyday use items may seem harmless, but can cause long term damage to the environment. In Australia, over 30 million plastic toothbrushes are consumed every year with each one taking over 200 years to degrade. 500 million plastic straws are thrown away every day in the U.S. alone and cling wrap is used every day by people all over the world but can take 25 years or more to decompose. There are waste-free alternatives to all these products and they’re just a click away. Biome is an Australian owned company and is the one stop shop for all your zero-waste items, from beauty products and cleaning products to food storage, their store has it all.
[Photo credit: The Environmental Toothbrush]
Just say no
For many of us, using plastic products and packaging is a matter of convenience. It’s less effort to grab a pre-bagged kilo of tomatoes than it is to choose your own; it’s much easier to use the supermarket plastic bags (if your state still has them) than remembering to bring your reusable ones. Whilst no one is perfect, everyone can make small changes and even simple things like simply saying no to plastic bags or straws – or refusing to buy vegetables unnecessarily wrapped in plastic – will train your brain, protect our beautiful ecosystems and send a message to others that our plastic addiction has to end.
[This article was inspired by: Bin Liners to Takeaway Containers – Ideas to Solve Your Plastic Conundrums]