6 simple ideas to reduce plastic use

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.


Switch to a safety razor

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!


Scrub smarter

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:

  • Seek out an eco-friendly alternative such as a face scrub that uses crushed walnut shells.
  • Invest in a reusable facial scrubber or brush to use with a plastic-free face wash.
  • Why not go DIY? Give this organic brown sugar scrub recipe from Bellatory a go.


Brush your teeth with (mostly) bamboo

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.


Party hard, not plastic

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:

  • Opt for paper and wooden decorations that can be re-used or recycled.
  • Ditch party bags of plastic trinkets for a different memento. How about a photo booth, a tasty treat or a plant seedling to grow?
  • Use real plates, cups and cutlery whenever possible.
  • When it comes to confetti, rice and recycled paper is best.
  • If you must sparkle, seek out “bioglitter” made from plants instead of plastic.


Don’t plastic-wrap your produce

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.


Switch to mints

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.


Image credits


  1. kevin Redman says:

    May be plastic can be compressed and used like concrete. under road culverts Or someday bridge construction etc.

  2. Leslie Nicoll says:

    I object to every bit of fruit having a plastic sticker stuck on to it.,,Surely this is unnecessary?

  3. Anne says:

    I keep reusing those plastic veggie bags at the supermarket until they fall apart…and wash them if needed! I have never seen any of those cotton or mesh bags you talked about but I will now keep an eye out for them!

  4. Carol says:

    Love to get rid of those plastic milk and drink bottles too. Surely cardboard even if lined is better than the 1 or 2 litre plastic milk flagons

  5. Roy says:

    When going away for long weekends which I get every third weekend I used to buy loads of single use water bottles. But now I filter water and have a reusable water bottle with a pop top. To keep it cool I freeze the water overnight in the motel fridge and then I have nice filtered cool water to drink the next day. It’s cheaper too than buying individual water bottles.

  6. B11 says:

    I appreciate your efforts to have an iinet news, showing interesting articles like above. However, I would appreciate more your efforts for better sustainable practices. What about to use internet modems from recycle materials also give us the option to re-use modems in good condition (avoiding to buy internet modems from iiNet every time that a house moving is happening 🙁 please, the customers of the future want a healthy planet and we protect it. we are green warriors! Be a company of the future and re-use, recycle and reduce technology waste as much as you can. Thank you!

  7. Old hippy says:

    I bought a beeswax cloth to use instead of clingwrap. At $18:00, it isnt a throwaway product. I really like it. Recommended.

    I don’t buy gladbags with the zip. How does that hard plastic breakdown? I try to use pyrex with lids for food storage or bottles for muesli, spices, flour, sugar…. Almost everything is sold in throwaway bags with the hard plastic zip. They are inefficient. A bottle with a screwtop lid looks better, works better.

  8. Bette Devine says:

    Make your own net or light fabric bags to hold loose fruit and veg. No need at all to use those plastic supermarket bags. And definitely give their plastic bagged fruit and veg a miss! Buy only loose produce in the quantities that suit YOU!

  9. Lis Rio says:

    Why arent drinks sold in glass? 100% recyclable glass!

  10. Maree says:

    Our shire issues small compostable bags to use together with our compostable bins (lawn clippings, garden waste, food scraps, paper and cardboard). I take the compostable bags with me to the supermarket and use them. Then I can reuse them for my kitchen waste. Win/win.

  11. Phil Oneill says:

    Reusable Mesh bags for fruit/veg sre svailable from Shiploads stores

  12. Plastic products with Aus grade 4,5 and 6 are not recycled due to high costs and not cost effective. What happened to metals and glass ? Why not. Use materials that can be recycled. Consumers should stop buying products that cannot be recycled commercially. Stop buying if you do not easily see the Aust symbol or obscured by product labels.

  13. Ross says:

    Unfortunately Lis Rio, two many bottles were being smashed on footpaths, thrown around in sports stadiums, hence plastic bottles. Plastic is sometimes an ideal product if we recycle100%. Current problem I am lead to believe is that the plastic has a limited number of times it can be recycled. I like the idea of linen bag for fruit shopping. Just be aware that at supermarkets you would have to lay your fruit and veg out on a conveyer belt. Mmmmm not the best.

  14. Most plastics can be recycled into road making materials so let’s do it! Sadlly Australia is not very good with road making with recyclable materials.

  15. Genevieve Creedy says:

    Thank you iinet for bringing all this to the attention of the public. Nice to see someone else uses glass containers to store fruit and veges instead of plastic bags. In my opinion this topic re plastics is far more important than the emotive stuff about climate change. Thank you again for this information and reminder.

  16. Sue says:

    I have a medium size re usable plastic bag folded into a small square and tucked into a side pocket in my handbag which goes everywhere with me when I go shopping.It is large enough to hold anything from shoes,clothing,books,etc and even fruit and veg except maybe a watermelon or big bag of spuds.but at a pinch I’d give it a go.I try to recycle and reuse whatever I can when I can hence a cupboard full of jars,another with a stack of cardboard boxes,handy when I go to Bunnings,and a boxful of recyclable ribbons,wrapping paper etc.In other words I’m a hoarder,but a good one.

  17. Beth Smith says:

    When I was a young girl (primary school years), I remember my mother bringing home the fruit and vegetables from the independent greengrocer in newspaper – easily disposed of. Some people might give some reason against this, e.g. being unhealthy but I was born in 1937 and still around.

  18. Janet Souter says:

    I am pleased IInet has given all these sustainable suggestions.

  19. Robin says:

    Overseas someone has commenced compressing plastics into Besser block-sized blocks to use as walls in houses. It appears to be working well with good insulation properties.

  20. zolly says:

    Great idea Maree. I buy conpostable bags for green bin. I shall use them for shopping also now.

  21. Jeff says:

    No substitute for plastic toothbrush bristles? Brushes were around before plastic and they were probably pig bristles.
    Zip top plastic bags can be recycled as soft plastic at the 2 big supermarkets. OK, it is probably better not to use them at all but being recyclable is better than landfill.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Plastic is 100% recyclable, however it is peoples behaviour that makes it an environmental problem. Glass is not a better option if we are still to have poor behavioural practices.

  23. Andrew says:

    Iinet congratulations !.

    We All need to give voice to caring for our only Earth.

  24. Margaret says:

    I have been using keep cup for cafe coffee for 3 years. I have been part of See Change Wasteless group for some years. I like the brown sugar olive oil exfoliator. Thanks for your interesting input iiNet.

  25. My wife made her shopping bag from old cotton and 20 years ago and we still use them on shopping days.

  26. Christine Mackintosh says:

    Our politicians need to get on board and bring in legislations to forbid the manufacture of the plastic items mentioned above or make manufacturers responsible for the cost of cleaning up the mess that they create. They would then have to think of clean ways to package products. They could learn from other countries.

  27. Joyce Hutchings says:

    I rarely buy plastic bags for the kitchen bin. Anything compostable goes in the compost bin. Dry rubbish goes straight into the bin and I use the strong plastic or foil packets from things like chips, dog food etc, which I place in the bin for wet rubbish. It all then goes in the Wheelie bin for collection
    I have also purchased strong plastic, zip-lock, reusable bags in different sizes. These have a small valve and a vacuum pump which allows air to be removed. This helps the contents keep fresher for longer. They can then be stored in the fridge, freezer or cupboard.

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