Since completing plastic free July last year I’ve become a lot more aware of my plastic consumption. I was going to call this post ‘10 easy ways to reduce plastic consumption’, but quickly realised that this transition - although it was simpler than expected - certainly wasn’t easy for me and probably won’t be easy for you either. It will take some work, it takes some habit changing but it’s definitely worth it.
Reduce single use plastics
This is probably the most simple way to start because there are so many reusable alternatives. By eliminating the plastic that gets thrown out after one use, you’re going to see a big reduction of plastic in your rubbish and recycling.
1. Swap out plastic bags for reusable bags. Once you get into the habit it’s easy.
2. Bring your own reusable produce bags when you’re shopping for fruit and vegetables. Hot tip: if you forget to bring one and you really need a produce bag, grab a paper mushroom bag and fill that up instead. It’s a bit cheeky and I’ve gotten a few weird looks doing this in the supermarket before but I think it’s worth it.
3. Bring a reusable coffee cup instead of using a takeaway container, or even better, take the extra time and sit down in a cafe to enjoy your coffee. It will taste so much better and it’s an excellent opportunity for a bit of self care.
4. Bring a water bottle with you so you don’t have to buy one. It will save you lots of money in the long run too!
5. Refuse straws or bring your own reusable straw. There are plenty of great reusable bamboo and stainless steel straws on the market, but I’ve found that most of the time I simply don’t need one.
6. Say no to cling wrap and roll up your food in bee/vegetable wax wraps instead. Hot tip: store your cheese in the fridge wrapped in wax, it will store so much better and prevent mold from growing on the outside.
Reduce plastic packaging
I think of reducing plastic packaging as a level up from reducing single use plastics. It can take a bit of ingenuity to come up with plastic free solutions, especially for things like treat foods, toiletries and cleaning products. Ready to level up? Let’s go!
7. Try bringing your own containers when you’re purchasing deli items or takeaway food. Just make sure you ask first because some places are still quite new to the concept.
8. Shop at a bulk food store. You’ll be surprised at the amount of products you can buy at places like Eumarrah and Unpacked. You should be able to get the majority of your flours, grains, pasta, nuts and dried fruits from bulk food stores, just make sure to bring your own jars or containers from home. No need to buy specialty containers, I’ve collected my coconut oil, honey and peanut butter jars over the past year and they serve as a great container for bulk food shopping.Hot tip: Eumurrah have really delicious chocolate sold in massive chunks in bulk, which satisfies all my chocolate-y desires sans plastic.
9. Shop online. From bamboo toothbrushes, reusable produce bags and shampoo bars, there has been an exponential growth in plastic free items available online. If you can’t find it in the bulk food store or at a local specialty shop (which I encourage you to take advantage of first), chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for online. Just make sure you ask for plastic free packaging when it gets shipped to your place.
10. Make it yourself. It is surprisingly easy to make your own products like deodorant, multipurpose cleaner and face scrub. There are so many recipes and instructions online to get you started, or check out Rebecca Sullivan’s new book Granny Skills which is bursting with easy, plastic free DIY creations.
Going plastic free can take a bit more time and a lot more creativity, but it is possible to reduce the amount of plastic you consume. There are going to be times that you slip up, forget, can’t avoid it or opt for convenience. That’s life and that’s okay so don’t be too hard on yourself. My life isn’t plastic free by any measure but there’s a hell of a lot less plastic in my grocery basket than there was a year ago and I hope to reduce it further.