The war on waste in Australia has hit fever-pitch and for good reason. Australians alone use over 9.7 billion single-use plastic bags annually, which along with plastic straws, water bottles and take out containers, contribute the most to our plastic waste. If we continue to produce plastic at such a high rate 9.8 trillion kilograms will be in the natural environment or landfills by 2050. (1)
Not only is plastic damaging to our earth but it can also be damaging to our health. BPA and phthalates found in plastics pose some risks to our health. They are called endocrine disruptor as they interfere with the body’s endocrine system, producing adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune health effects. Endocrine disruptors can mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like oestrogen (female sex hormone), androgens (male sex hormones) and thyroid hormone. When absorbed in the body, an endocrine disruptor can decrease or increase normal hormone levels, mimic the body's natural hormones, or alter the natural production of hormones. (2)
Keeping that in mind let’s have a look at how you can play a part in reducing plastic usage.
1. Get yourself a reusable water bottle.
So simple! There is a huge range of bottles out there to choose from to suit your personality and flair, ranging from kid size to family size. Plastic bottles contribute a huge amount to our waste, clog up our waterways and harm our environment. We love the new Joco reusable drinking flasks.
2. Start using glass or stainless steel containers to store your food
They last longer and are much healthier for you as they don’t leach chemicals into your food. Recycle glass jars as an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to store food. It’s also all the rage with the hipster cafes to serve food in jars so you’ll be uber cool too. Check out Cheeki’s lunch box range for leak proof containers.
3. Bring your own bags to the grocery store
This one has become essential as our major food retailers have now banned single use plastic bags. Embrace this change! Keep some extras in the car for the times you are doing an unexpected dash to the shops and haven’t packed your bags in. You can also buy foldable compact bags that can easily fit in a handbag or work bag. Ever Eco have a great range of reusable shopping bags to harness your inner hippy.
4. Invest in some reusable kitchen wraps
Made from beeswax and available in some funky designs, these wraps can replace kitchen plastic wrap to cover and store food. They are not only healthier for our environment but also healthier for our bodies too. We love Apiwraps range of different sized reusable beeswax wraps.
5. Ditch the straws
Plastic ones that is. These are a huge problem for our marine life and incredibly harmful to our environment overall. You can now get re-usable stainless steel, glass or bamboo straws as an alternative. Ever Eco even have an on-the-go straw kit.
6. Bring your own coffee cup
If you don’t already have a re-usable coffee cup then it’s time to get one. Disposable coffee cups leave a huge environmental footprint and it’s estimated a whopping 500 billion are discarded to landfill every year. You might even get a discount on your coffee for using one! Our faves are Joco reusable coffee cups.
7. Reusable produce bags
Next time you’re picking up fruit and veg, think about all those single use plastic bags holding your apples and broccoli. This is an unnecessary addition to plastic waste. There are some fabulous reusable produce bags that can easily replace the plastic ones. Get a couple of packets so you have plenty to cycle each week. Make sure you keep them with your reusable grocery bags to take to the supermarket with you.
8. Ditch the packets
A short stroll through the supermarket it becomes apparent there is an abundance of plastic packaging that is completely unnecessary. It’s time we campaign to food manufacturers to stop these practices and become part of the solution rather than continuing to contribute to the problem. As a consumer you can stop buying these products and chances are it will be healthier and you will save money. Buy fresh, unprocessed foods that are typically package free. Shop at bulk food stores where you can choose the amount you want and put them in your own containers or paper bags. Experiment in the kitchen and make your own food, then you’ll know exactly what you’re eating too. Onya have brought out a range of bulk food bags.
9. Switch your plastic sandwich bags and wraps
Again, this is plastic that just ends up in the bin after one use. Use paper bags instead of plastic or get some cotton sandwich bags or wraps, they come in some really great colours and designs and will keep your food healthy and fresh. We love the gorgeous designs from 4myearth.
10. BYO cutlery, plates and cups
If you’re having a picnic, party or BBQ think twice about disposable plastic cutlery, plates and cups. There are some great bamboo or stainless steel options out there. If you are buying takeout food keep some on-the-go cutlery with you so you can avoid using the plastic ones, just like these ones from Ever Eco.