The habit of using plastics has crept into our daily lives almost unnoticed. We buy plastic without thinking – often as a byproduct of another purchase. It’s time to start changing our habits for the better.
An important first step in learning to live sustainably is to make a decision to reuse what you already have in your home. If you’ve amassed plastic shopping bags and takeaway containers over time, reuse them rather than dispose of them after one use. Next, press into service all of the environmentally friendly purchases you’ve made over time to start changing the way you live.
Step 1: Commit to making a change. Draw a line in the sand for the whole family to find ways to use less plastic.
Step 2: Take stock. A good look in your drawers and cupboards at what you already have that can be used more effectively is a great way to get the whole family involved.
Step 3: Phase them out. Rather than buying to refill, replace what you have with reusable alternatives that will last a lifetime.
Here are five plastic baddies to banish asap:
Baddie 1: Dish brushes
Replacing your dish brush with a natural alternative not only looks more stylish in the home, but it’s also better for the environment. Choosing an alternative such as coconut fibre brushes means they’re made from biodegradable materials that are chemical-free. They actually last longer too and when you’re finally finished with them, they’ll go into your compost bin! Can your plastic model do that?
Alternative: Eco Max Coconut Fibre Dish Brush, $9.95, Enviroshop
Baddie 2: Cleaning scourers
Possibly one you hadn’t thought of, both the sponge and the scourer part of your everyday cleaning pads may be made from polyurethane, a petroleum-based ingredient. Worse still, many don’t last longer than a couple of weeks before you replace them.
Alternative: Safix coconut fibre dish scrubber, from $3.95, Going Green Solutions
Baddie 3: Take away coffee cups
This is a no-brainer. Disposable coffee cups, along with plastic straws and plastic shopping bags are one of the worst offenders in creating a non-compostable landfill. “Customers have to use their cup at least 15 times to make a difference to the landfill problem,” says Keep Cup founder, Abigail Forsyth. If you’re a coffee drinker and haven’t made the switch to a ‘keep cup’ yet, it’s time. Keep one at work, in your car and handbag if it suits you. If your local cafe won’t fill them, change cafes. Better still, sit down and take time out to enjoy a mindful moment as you drink your coffee.
Alternative: KEEPCUP ‘Brew’ 340ml Reusable Coffee Cup, $30.95, Myer
Baddie 4: Cling wrap
Replacing plastic food wrap is a great place to start at home as it’s something we don’t even think about. We wrap food in plastic when there are other ways to keep them fresh in the fridge, lunch boxes and to transport food.
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the dreaded opaque containers lurking in the fridge with lids that no-one bothers to open – when food can be seen it’s more likely to be used.
Find an alternative that works best for you – perhaps it’s as simple as slowly introducing containers for a specific use – the same Tupperware or bowl for leftovers, or perhaps always using the one small rectangular box for half an avocado. Other household members will learn to recognise the contents by the container you use.
Alternative: Reusable Clear Food Wrap Set, $25, Seed & Sprout
Baddie 5: Shopping bags
Once you’ve mastered the transition to a cloth or reusable shopping bag for groceries, it’s time to take the next step and banish all plastic shopping bags. We mean shoes, clothing, hardware, books – anything you buy really.
Keep a supply of rolled-up reusable bags in your handbag and glovebox all the time and get in the habit of re-rolling and returning them after each use so they’re ready for next time. For a small initial outlay, these bags can hold up to 20kg of goods, are washable and last decades!
When you’re caught out without a bag, take advantage of bag-borrowing initiatives wherever you go.
Alternative: Wanderlust Bag 3, $14.95, Envirosax