Don’t get me wrong, Reduce Reuse and Recycle is an amazing project that has helped enormously with waste management. But I believe that we are at the stage where there needs to be greater emphasis on reducing and reusing, because we are at the stage where the landfill is just too much to handle. In this post, I’ll mainly be talking about reducing the amount of single use plastic, because so much of this ends up in the ocean, where it is mistaken for food or entangles other animals.
I’m not sure if many people know this, but plastic doesn’t break down in the ocean; it just breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, until they become what is known as microplastics. According to the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, 96% of marine biodiversity ingests these microplastics. This plastic accumulates over time, which not only endangers the marine life, but also every human who consumes fish.
“What we’re going to do about 1.5 degrees rise in the temperature of the ocean over the next 10 years, I don’t know, but we could actually do something about plastic right now”- Sir David Attenborough
So now that you have a bit of background on the matter, here are my five best plastic alternative products, with links attached so that if you love the idea, you’ll be able to buy it straight away! You might be thinking, argh I’ve heard all of these before, but they are the easiest ones to implement into your life! A lot of these products are available online or in Biome stores around Brisbane.
1. Buy a reusable straw
In my opinion, straws are the most useless piece of plastic around, but are still used almost as frequently as coffee cups! Can you believe that 500,000,000 straws are used a day, most of which end up in the ocean! These amazing reusable straws come in glass, bamboo or stainless stele, and also come in different sizes and shapes. They start at around $4 depending on the material and size, so they are very reasonably priced. Along with the straw, you can also purchase a little brush to clean the inside! Leave them in your bag so you don’t forget it, and remember to ask the cafe for no straw in your drink
2. Buy a keep cup
It doesn’t have to be the Keep Cup brand, but reusable coffee cups are worth getting, especially if you love your barista made coffee in the morning. I would suggest getting a glass one instead of plastic, even though they are a little more expensive, they will last longer than the plastic ones, which tend to smell after a while, especially if you drink milk coffee. And I am a barista so I can tell you that coffee definitely tastes better in a glass. I don’t know how, it just does! Another bonus is some places actually offer you a discount if you bring your own cup, which is an amazing incentive if you like to save a buck or two!
3. BYO plastic bag
I am sure you’ve heard this one so many times before, but it really makes a difference if you bring your own shopping bag. They are more durable, so you can fit more in one bag without it splitting on your way to the car. You can also purchase little bags to put your fruit and veg in. These produce bags from Onya can carry up to 2kgs and are waterproof, so you can wash your vegetables in there and give them a good scrub with the bag. They are also made from recycled plastic bottles, so they help on two levels!
4. Ditch the liquid soap
This is one that not everyone thinks about, but changing to bars of soap can save a lot of plastic. Bars of soap often come in very little or no plastic wrapping, are made from natural or organic ingredients, and come in a wide variety of fragrances. This Beauty and the Bees soap is made from beeswax, coconut oil and other nourishing ingredients, it is mildly exfoliating, packaged in cardboard, and smell amazing!
5. Beeswax glad wrap
This amazing Honeybee wrap is the best alternative there is for glad wrap! It is a cotton sheet that is lined with beeswax, organic tree resin and jojoba oil. It can be washed over and over again so it is 100% reusable. All you do is warm it up in you hands slightly so the fabric is becomes flexible, wrap it around your food, and it will harden and hold it’s shape around your food. They come in different sizes, and generally a pack will come with a small, medium and large, perfect for covering plates of food, or that half of an onion you are saving for your next meal.
So hopefully this has given you some ideas about little ways that you can reduce single use plastic in your life! I know it might not seem like much, but replacing these five things can actually have such a big impact. When you think about it, if you get a coffee every day, you are saving 365 coffee cups per year from spoiling our beautiful world.
Do you have any other creative ways that you reduce your plastic? If so, let me know by email or Instagram @the_bluescientist