From coffee cups to plastic straws, shopping bags to packaged foods, single-use plastics is everywhere around us. Plastics unfortunately make up an important part of our daily needs. There is an overwhelming amount of reasons as to why you would want to transition to a "plastic-free" lifestyle. Small acts in our day to day routines can result in huge changes to our future lifestyle, economy and society.
“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
We are all familiar with the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. According to The Plastic Soup Foundation, these have recently expanded to become the 7 Rs: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Re-gift and Recycle. This new perspective allows us to make more informed and mindful decisions when it comes to our consumption and waste management.
1. Rethink: This step encourages us to take a step back and assess our everyday choices. Look at what plastic is already in our lives, what waste we are producing and think twice before making a new purchase or dispose of an item. This step encourages us to educate ourselves and our loved ones on the impact of our purchases and find creative solutions.
2. Refuse: Say 'No!' more often to the little things like plastic straws, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, single use cups for smoothies and coffees, etc. It can also include non obvious plastic made items such as synthetic clothing or plastic ingredient containing cosmetics and detergents.
3. Reduce: Buy less products overall and when making a purchase, try to avoid plastic items. This can be overwheling at first, but starting small with one item at a time is key in making a difference. When making a purchase, aim for products that are good quality and long lasting.
4. Reuse: Before throwing an item away, use your creativity and reuse it! There are so many objects that can be repurposed and reused around our homes from glass jars to tote bags, shampoo bottles to bread bags. Giving a new life to an item will not only reduce its impact on the environment but it will also save you from purchasing a new item. We need to value existing items in our life.
5. Repair: Give things a second chance before throwing them away! Fix them, make a project or create something totally new, this also relates back to rethinking what you are doing before you actually do it. Yes, it's easier to buy something new but repairing is something we have lost touch with as everything is at our tempting disposal.
6. Regift: Before throwing something away, consider gifting it to a friend, a charity, or someone in need. You might be surprised at how many items can find a new home if we take the time to offer them.
7. Recycle: When an item has reached its end of life, we recommend recycling it with your local recycling services. Most councils around Australia offer recycling options for electronics, batteries, spray bottles, gas bottles and more. If your local council does not recycle the item, look for companies or organisations such a TerraCycle or RedCycle who can recycle most cosmetics, office supplies or soft plastics.
Seven out of eight Australian states and territories have committed to ban of single-use plastics. This includes such things as lightweight plastic bags, straws, drink stirrers, cutlery, polystyrene food, drink containers, plates, bowls, cotton bud sticks and so much more. The actioned and yet to be rolled out ban on single-use plastics for each state can be found here.
Going "plastic free" is not as easy as it sounds and we understand that. We want to help you break this down to 10 simple steps so that you don't become too overwhelmed. Start slowly, remember your 7 R's and start to adapt your lifestyle.
Plastic Free In The Kitchen
Our kitchens are filled with plastic, there's no doubt about it. From food packaging, food storage, drink bottles or cooking utensils it really is a lot when you take a step back and look at this area as a whole. But this is not to say we can't make small changes like;
1. Reuse your takeaway container: If you are getting a takeaway meal and cannot provide your own container or the place you are ordering from uses plastic containers, keep them and reuse them. This may not be "plastic-free" but you're reducing your waste overall.
2. Stop purchasing plastic wrap: Plastic wrap contributes to the larger plastic pollution crisis, it’s difficult to recycle, and it’s made from potentially harmful chemicals, especially as they break down in the environment. Choose a friendlier option such was our Vegan Wax Wraps to cover, store or wrap your food with.
3. Use reusable cups and water bottle: Say no to single-use plastic bottles or coffee cups and always keep a reusable one of each handy so you are not tempted. Make it a rule that you cannot have a delicious takeaway coffee without your reusable coffee cup.
4. Choose biodegradable kitchen accessories: Be mindful of what you are using to wash your dishes, generally these are made of plastic. Choose a reusable, biodegradable and compostable option instead such as our Biodegradable Sponge Cloth.
Plastic Free In The Bathroom
Your bathroom can hold a variety of plastic bottled products such as body care, skin care, hair care or even cleaning products. You can approach this in 2 ways - be mindful of what you are buying and only buy things in glass bottles or get creative and make your own products that are plastic free & chemical free.
5. Use products with minimal packaging: You can be mindful of what you are buying and what packaging it comes in. For example, you can choose to use solid shampoo and conditioner bars. If this isn't an option, choose a recyclable containers that you can later reuse and refill.
6. Make your own products: Making your own products is really easy and there's so many benefits to it! You know what's in it, you can choose mindfully what you are making and storing them in and you are eliminating the need to buy more which naturally eliminates waste.
Plastic Free In The Laundry
Our laundry is a room which may also be filled with plastic bottles for cleaning products or laundry detergent. It can also contain plastic pegs to hang our washing out with. Simple ways we can transform to plastic free;
7. Choose non plastic options: Rethink what you're purchasing and reach for a non-plastic option if possible. You can also get your cleaning products in bulk and use your own containers.
8. Switch to stainless steel pegs: Plastic pegs are simply not good for the environment. Not only are they not biodegradable, they don't weather well which leaves them falling to pieces and hard to collect. This has seen to effect birds as they are attracted to the bright colours and consume the broken fragments. Stainless steel pegs last longer that you'll be able to pass them down to your children!
Plastic Free In The Living Room & Bedroom
Take a minimalist approach, while we love something new take a moment to see what it's made of and what it comes packaged in. It's fun to unpack new items but have you noticed what you're left with as a result of this? Usually a bin full of plastic or styrofoam. What you can do;
9. Buy secondhand: Search Facebook Marketplace, Op shops or antique stores.
10. Gift unused items: Opt for less clutter in these spaces, keep it minimal yet clean. You can also opt for more eco-friendly or sustainable gifts if you find these spaces fill up with thoughtful but junky gifts.
Other great starting places to going plastic free are;
- Grocery shopping - avoid the plastic fruit and veg bags, take your own or simply don't use one. They will only be in them for a short-time and end up in the bin anyway!
- Take your own containers to the butcher or deli for your cold meats to help avoid the plastic in which they are wrapped or stored in.
- Create your own travel set for your car which can have things like a KeepCup and Cutlery Set. This way you always have it on hand for when you're out and about.
You may feel your small changes aren't changing the world, but they are. The smallest action or change can impact significantly regardless of what it is.
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Author: Georgia Doherty
Georgia is the Campaign Coordinator at ECO. Modern Essentials. Georgia oversees the marketing campaigns, company's social media platforms, helps coordinate brand collaborations, is a leader for ECO.'s content creation + DIY recipes and manages ECO.'s affiliate program. She is a qualified Beauty Therapist with extensive Dermal Therapy qualifications, a Diploma in Training Design & Development with a Aromatherapy Practitioner Certificate. Georgia is passionate about leading a happy & healthy life and helping educate those around her.
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