Planet

Up Your Green Game With This First Timer’s Guide To Going Plastic Free

By Urban List Writers
7th Jul 2020

a woman has a reusable bag slung over her shoulder, filled with colourful fruit and veg.

It's 2020 and here's what we know for sure—plastic of any kind is seriously bad for the environment. And yet shamefully, Australia and New Zealand rank up there as two of the most wasteful countries in the world according to an international survey of countries that produce the most municipal waste. We use an estimated five billion plastic bags a year and they take zillions of years (true, scientific data) to break down.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Luckily, there are small steps you can take to lead a more plastic-free existence. And you can incorporate these little steps starting from today—which is fortunate as we're in the currently in the middle of Plastic Free July. Read more about the global movement here.

So, listen up, here's our first-timer’s guide to going plastic free.

Ditch Single Use Coffee Cups For Good

This one’s kind of a no-brainer but with COVID-19 stopping the use of reusable coffee cups in cafes some people have slipped back into old, bad habits. But it turns out that most Australian state and territory health departments have confirmed there’s no benefit in switching to single use items. So, grab your cute keep cup—like this ombre cermamic one—and check out the contactless coffee method being used by over 5,000 responsible cafes around Australia. Head to here for the deets.

Swap Plastic Straws For “Naked” Drinks

Plastic straws suck—seriously. They’re single-use plastics that accumulate in our waterways, and wreak havoc on our sea life. So, on your next happy hour cocktail sesh, go straw-less. Sure, your lippy may need re-applying, but the planet’s worth it, right? Plus, your G&T will taste so much better sipped straight to your mouth, rather than through a synthetic plastic tube. 

Or, Slurp On Metal Straws

Did you know it takes up to 500 years for plastic straws to decompose? Yep, makes you feel a bit sick about the post-mix Coke you just slugged in the car after driving through Maccas. The good news after the reusable cups, a metal straw is the perfect addition to your beverage-related eco-warrior arsenal. Trust us, milkshakes taste doubly icy-cold when slurped through a metal straw. Pro tip: make sure you also buy a tiny straw-pipe-cleaner to make washing up a breeze (and to avoid any manky build-up)!. We dig these rose gold metal straws from Tropeaka.

Swap Plastic Bags For Reusable Bags

This is the quickest and easiest pro-enviro change you can make from today—say no to plastic bags and we don't just mean the obvious ones at the supermarket. Whether you’re at your favourite boutique, the chemist or newsagent, it doesn’t take much to politely turn down the plastic bag. If you’ve just bought a single item pop it in your handbag or even better, get in the habit of bringing an extra cotton bag with, like this beauty from Orangic Basics. They’re sturdy AF so you can fill it to the brim with goodies and transport them home safely. 

Commit To Naked Groceries

Hey, give that kale some breathing space! It isn’t natural for your greens to be sweating behind a layer of plastic wrap. Here are some quick tips for your next grocery trip: pop your green beans into one of those paper-bags-for-mushrooms. Choose the loose zucchini instead of the ones suffocating on the polystyrene trays. Swap your packaged salad mix for a whole, plastic-free head of lettuce. If you really can’t give up your loose-lead spinach, invest in some re-useable produce bags like these.

Swap Cling Wrap For Reusable Food Storage Containers

Scrunchies, Sea Monkeys, lava lamps….trends come and go, right? But Tupperware, invented in 1946, is still going strong. So we think society is onto a good thing here with food storage containers. Unlike nasty cling wrap, food storage containers are airtight, can be easily stacked in the fridge, keep your leftovers for longer, and can be washed, rinsed and repeated for future use. If you're starting your plastic free storage kit from scratch check out Seed & Sprout's Eco Stow set or these silicone pouches.

Switch Your Plastic Toothbrush For Bamboo

The average person goes through 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime. That’s a lot of plastic ending up in landfill. Unless, of course, you swap to bamboo toothbrushes. Bamboo toothbrushes breakdown so easily you can simply bury them in your garden (remember to remove the bristles) and they’ll be gone in a year or so. Bamboo is also naturally antibacterial, so you can feel good about your germ-free toothbrush. Even better? They're super afforable. Grab this PearlBar bamboo and charcoal toothbrush for under a tenner. 

Now it's time to overhaul your wardrobe. Start with these epic sustainable sneaker brands.

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

Image credit: Ivan Gener 

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