Moving towards a plastic-free life

Thankfully more & more celebrities are bringing to light the frightening impact of single-use plastic on our planet – to animals, our waterways, & the chemicals leached from them into our bodies. Sadly, I don’t understand why so many people will only follow an action once a ‘celebrity’ spruiks a cause. Don’t get me wrong, I think they should do it more!

I do not claim to be perfect but as a family of 5, we are slowly moving towards decreased plastic consumption & hope that we can encourage you to make these simple changes too

1. Loo paper – we use Who Gives a Crap – they are made from 100% recycled materials & wrapped in paper (not plastic like the supermarket brands)

2. Paper towel – while you’re ordering your loo paper, add in some paper towel from Who Gives a Crap – again it’s made from sustainable materials (sugarcane & bamboo) & comes wrapped in paper.

3. Coffee cups – sorry to sound harsh but if you’re not using a recyclable coffee cup by now, slap a big “L” sign on your forehead. There’s literally no excuse not to have a reusable cup – we love Frank Green (although my bestie hasn’t loved hers), KeepCup & I love my glass one from The Source. Single use coffee cups are not recyclable. They contribute to landfill. If over 300 cups per year are yours then it’s time to take your head out of the sand & buy one. Now.

4. Pantry staples – I started buying from Naked Foods about 4 years ago. Take up your own glass jars, they’ll weigh them, then fill ’em up. I also love The Source. Check them both out to see if there’s one near where you live. Honest to Goodness are also great – we visit them at Orange Grove Market most Saturdays – if you forget your jars, they will give you produce in paper bags.

5. Water bottles – again, slap that big ‘L’ up on your forehead if you’re still buying single use plastic water bottles. They contribute to landfill, chemicals leach from the plastic into your water then into your body & they cost a lot when you think about it! Buy a reusable water bottle. Now. My sons have glass water bottles w detachable silicone bases for home, we have 5 stainless steel water bottles too which are shared around. We never leave home without at least 3 of them (joys of 3 children – someone is ALWAYS thirsty).

6. Soap – I really dislike those plasticky (is that a word?) soap packets. We are loving the Ecostore soaps – you can even buy them in Woolworths. Ecostore get bonus points IMO as they are a carbon zero factory. How awesome is that?! We also love their washing machine powder (comes in a cardboard box). Their laundry liquids are also great & come in renewable sugarcane plastic. Big ticks all round!

7. If you have little ones, buy some corn starch nappy bags – we love Wotnot brand, they come in cardboard packaging & are about $8 a packet for 50 bags.

8. Produce bags – I love ONYA bags to take to do my grocery shopping, they are great for putting fruit / veg in, rather than doing the juggle of apples, pears & bananas rolling off the scales at checkout (we’ve all been there!). I’ve had mine for about 2 years & they are in perfect condition. They are made from recycled plastic drink bottles, giving those single use products a 2nd life – why not, seeing as they will never degrade?! I also have Ever Eco bags which I’ve had for a year & are in perfect condition. These are also made from recycled plastic drink bottles (also called ‘rPet’).

9. Organic fruit & veg bags for the fridge – we LOVE the Harris Farm organic muslin bags. They keep our herbs, veggies & even lettuce super fresh in the fridge. I can genuinely say (no sponsorship) that they have prolonged the life of many a veggie in our fridge.

10. Toothbrushes – you guys think about how many plastic toothbrushes you’ve had in your life & that not one of them has ever degraded. YUK. No excuse not to switch to bamboo now – my faves are from Harris Farm Markets (Bondi Beach Store) which unfortunately don’t seem to be on their website & Nourished Life. My older children (aged 6 & 8) use the bamboo toothbrushes & the 1 year old has a bamboo but also a Jack & Jill which are made from 100% corn starch & are biodegradable. Plus they won’t break the bank at only $5.95 each. Plus the legends at Nourished Life deliver to your door & I can honestly say I have to hold in my excitement when one of their gorgeous pink boxes arrives on my doorstep!

11. When you’re buying sushi, ask them to hold the soy sauce plastic fish. Even better, ask (nicely) your local sushi joint not to pre-pack them into the boxes. It will save them money & have a positive impact on the environment.

12. The last tip would be one that you hear from me ALL. THE. TIME. As a consumer, every cent you spend is like a voice to the companies you buy from – buying their apples in a plastic container wrapped in plastic rather than the loose ones tells them to produce more plastic. Purchasing parsley not wrapped in plastic sleeves (like the legends at Harris Farm) says we are cool with that – we all wash our herbs when we get home anyway. Refusing to buy single use plastic water bottles tells the producers we don’t want this rubbish (literally) in our lives. Supporting companies who utilise biodegradable corn starch based packaging & produce encourages these companies to produce more of the awesome products & hopefully eventually bring down their prices as a result of increased demand.

I still have a lot of room for improvement & am shocked by how much soft plastic rubbish we create. Being conscious is not enough & I am striving to improve all the time.

I’d love to hear your tips on moving to a more plastic free life – leave me a comment on Facebook.

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Giving up plastic for lent

My friend Lucy & I have given up plastic for lent. I’m not religious, but every year she gives something up for lent & this year when I asked what she was giving up, she replied that we were giving up plastic.
What does giving up plastic mean?
  • For me it means saying no to plastic bags always.
  • Having at least one recyclable bag in my handbag at all times (I recently did this on a month long family holiday in the UK & used it almost daily).
  • Being prepared when I go to the supermarket with bags in the car.
  • Buying more ‘unpackaged’ foods – I now buy most of my flours, nuts & pantry health foods from Naked Foods Organic Health Foods & take my own jars (which they happily weigh before I fill them & also there’s no double handling).
  • Taking a recyclable water bottle everywhere we go – the kids both have a Thermos drink bottle to keep water cool in summer & I fill my own before going out.
  • I’ve gone off caffeine (2 weeks, going strong with decaf) which means not buying take-away coffees & no plastic lined coffee cups, as I just make one at home in the mornings.
  • Saying no to soy sauce ‘fish’ bottles (I notice a LOT washed up on beaches).
  • Not buying anymore plastic storage units – I started purchasing glass pyrex containers for food storage last year but refuse to throw out plastic tupperware for the sake of throwing it out (our tendency for overconsumption or to upgrade is where part of the problem stems from)
Lucy has already had 2 situations where she clearly asked for no plastic – once to a straw & then to flowers just being wrapped in paper, but it seems that the people providing the products just did it out of habit.
We need to grow our consciousness about what can be recycled when we do purchase plastics; & what can be recycled. I found on a recent trip to the UK, it was much more clear as to what could be recycled on packaging.
Next level of minimal plastic consumption for me is:
  1. Not buying products wrapped in plastic.
  2. Not ever using cling film/snap lock bags in the boys lunchboxes
  3. Utilising biodegradable rubbish bin liners
  4. Not purchasing toys made from plastic, especially those that are poorly produced & likely to break quickly, ending up as landfill/in the ocean
  5. On the occasions I purchase take-away sushi, taking my own container & putting it in there, rather than the plastic take-away containers.
  6. Influencing friends, families & the broader community on how each of them has the power to make a difference – decreasing the amount of plastic they use & the strength of the consumer voice (if everyone stops buying poorly made plastic toys, they will not be produced anymore).

So I pose this question to you, what are YOU doing to decrease plastic usage? You may not realise it, but if you just action saying no to plastic bags, & get a few mates to do the same, you are making a huge difference.

Thank-you. From me. My children. From future generations. We’ve got this one with your help.