A Beginner’s Guide to Reducing Plastic Waste

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Plastic is highly versatile, lightweight, flexible, strong and relatively inexpensive; and these are the qualities that have led us to our overconsumption of this material. It can seem a daunting task to eliminate our plastic use, seeing how a quick stroll down the supermarket aisle will see that most packaging is made out of plastic. However, we can still take small steps to reduce our plastic consumption, or at the very least become more conscious about how we use and dispose of this material.

Here are five easy steps to start reducing our plastic use:-

1.       Minimise single-use plastic bags

In July 2018, major supermarkets around Australia are taking steps to phasing out the plastic bag. Indeed, single use plastic bags are one of the biggest causes of our plastic pollution. Thankfully, reusable options are becoming easily accessible and even stylish to carry around. Choose alternatives such as cotton or canvas bags and carry one whenever you make your way to the shops.

2.       Say “No” to plastic cutlery and straws

Did you know, straws are one of the most picked up items during beach clean ups? And unfortunately, they aren’t biodegradable or recyclable, heading straight to our landfills. Simply decline plastic straws when ordering at a drive-thru or even at restaurants and cafes! There is a myriad of eco-friendly alternatives that are now available and easy enough to bring around. Purchased food on the go? See if you can wait until you get home to eat it, or better yet, carry your own stainless-steel cutlery with you when heading out.

3.       Be aware of food packaging

When you go grocery shopping next time, try to be more conscious about what you’re placing in to your cart. Pay attention to unnecessary plastic packaging and try buying loose fruit and vegetables instead of pre-packaged produce. You’re not only going to cut back on plastic waste, but it also encourages you to think about the amount that you actually need!

4.       Think durable instead of disposable

Look around your home – is there a way you can reduce disposable “convenience” and invest in long-term, durable options instead? For example, using glass containers instead of plastic ones, or swapping out cling wrap (which is non-recyclable) for beeswax wraps? You’ll end up saving in the long run because you won’t have to keep repurchasing these items!

5.       Swap out your plastic bottles for a reusable one

According to The Guardian, a million plastic bottles are bought around the world at each given minute, and this number is said to increase by 20% by 2021. And although most bottles used for soft drinks and water are made from polyethulene terephthalate (PET) which is highly recyclable, less than half of bottles bought were collected for recycling. Instead of buying water on the go, why not invest in reusable bottles like the S’well Stainless Steel Water Bottles or the frank green bottles, which come in various fun designs and colours!

Sure, it may not be possible at this stage to completely eliminate plastic use. However, every little effort to reducing our plastic waste footprint goes a long way!

Dominique Nguyen