Let’s talk plastic: did you know that according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Aussies throw out over 2.7 million disposable coffee cups every day? Since plastic items can take hundreds of years to decompose, they pose a massive risk to our diverse range of wildlife, particularly those at sea. If submarine divers can find a plastic bag over 10km deep in the Mariana Trench, think of our local beaches!
The good news is that everyone can help make a difference. Thanks to a ban on lightweight plastic bags in most states and territories, plastic bag use has dropped by 80% across the country. As a nation, we’re all getting a lot more conscious about the impact plastic has on the environment, and items such as plastic straws and cutlery are falling out of fashion.
To help you make a change for the better, here’s six simple ideas to reduce the amount of plastic you use in your daily life.
If it ain’t broke, don’t make it plastic! Sometime in the 1960s, disposable plastic razors began to usurp the more traditional methods of shaving. We say it’s time to switch back. As long as you’re working in short, careful strokes, a safety razor delivers a great shave. And considering that some razor blades can be sharpened to prolong their lifespan, they may even deliver better value for money than their disposable counterparts!
Exfoliation is part of a good skincare regime, but some face scrubs may be using tiny beads of plastic to give you that scrubby feeling. These “microplastics” are particularly nasty because they’re very easily gobbled up by fish and shellfish, affecting their ability to reproduce. Check the ingredients label on your face scrub – if you spot anything like “polyethylene”, “polypropelyne” or “polymethyl methacrylate” or “nylon”, it’s time to ditch it and try one of these options instead:
How many toothbrushes have you used so far in your life? If you’ve lost count, you’re not alone – so that’s a lot of plastic sitting in landfill. While there isn’t a fully compostable toothbrush available on the market (no one’s found a sustainable source of bristles yet) you can get some eco-friendlier alternatives with a bamboo handle and nylon bristles. Less plastic is still better than no plastic! Just be sure to snap the toothbrush head off for landfill before you pop the bamboo handle in your compost or greens waste bin.
Parties create a lot of waste – and we’re not talking about that one weird salad that no one wants to take home. Glitter, party bags, the lining of “paper” disposable cups and plates – all plastic! Fortunately, there are alternatives. Here’s some tips for your next savvy celebration:
You may have already gotten yourself some tote bags for the grocery run so you don’t get slugged 15 cents each for a “reusable” plastic shopping bag of questionable durability. However, spare a thought for those smaller plastic bags sitting by the fruit and veg’ section. Those count too! To give those extra plastic bags the flick, invest in some durable, reusable produce bags made of cotton or mesh.
One of the reasons that chewing gum sticks around for ages on the pavement is because it’s actually made of plastic (that’s also why you don’t want to swallow it!). If you’re seeking that fresh-breath feeling, the humble mint is a greener way to go. That said, there are some chewy alternatives out there! Companies like Honest Gum have developed a 100% natural chewing gum using tree sap, so you can chew without a guilty conscience.
Do you have a tip to use less plastic in your everyday life? Share it with us it in the comments.