You can start reducing your plastic consumption everyday by making a few simple changes and planning ahead.
It’s easier than you think and it doesn’t have to cost you extra. Here are a few plastic saving tips to help you get started.
If you’re shopping in-store, use a reusable shopping bag. Most of us know this one, I’m not sharing anything new. However, how many times have you been without your bags when that unexpected shopping stop happens? For these occasions, I always keep a stash of a few reusable bags in the car.
Reusable bags are easy to tuck away under a seat or in a door pocket. If you forget to replenish your stash after use, have a look around at the shop. Often you’ll find empty boxes on the shelves that you can use instead. If you can’t find a box, ask at the checkout for a paper option. Sometimes you do get lucky. More and more retailers are beginning to offer a paper option.
If all this fails, I have been known to stuff my pockets and my handbag and proceed to juggle the remaining items back to the car. I embrace it as a challenge and then make a mental note to put my stash of bags back in the car!
Purchase or make your own reusable produce bags and be sure to wash them often! I always shop with my reusable produce bags. With them I can opt for bulk carrots, potatoes, apples and even baby spinach and loose greens. Most fruit and vegetables that comes pre-packaged in plastic can generally be purchased in bulk. If you can, avoid the fruit and veg that has been bagged, portioned and wrapped. Melons, pumpkin, squash, celery and so much more can be easily transported home loose with no need of a bag to put in your bag.
Buy boxes instead of plastic bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
Choose products in glass containers instead of plastic. I always choose glass over plastic when buying sauces, oils & honey, to name just a few. As creatures of habit, we tend to reach for the products we know without much thought. Next time you shop, compare your usual plastic packaged brand with the others available. Choose the glass packaged product and try something new.
Avoid buying frozen foods whenever possible as the packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic and are non-recyclable (just like take-away coffee cups). Plus you’ll be eating fewer processed foods!
Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. This is easier said than done in Australia unfortunately. The major shops have been slow to adopt bulk product and only offer a limited number of products at a higher price. You’ll generally need to seek out a bulk food shop in your area if you want to enjoy a greater range of product and savings. If buying bulk is an option for you in your area, you’ll be rewarded by not just saving money, but by reducing unnecessary packaging as well.
Lastly, add soft plastic recycling at home. My family and I recycle all of the soft plastic packaging we are unable to avoid. By making thoughtful purchase choices and recycling soft plastic, my family and I have reduced our red bin to a quarter of its previous bi-weekly contents.
Remember, a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade so it’s worth the bit of effort to avoid using them whenever you can. Recycle and reuse the rest.