Let’s talk about breaking a dirty, little habit. No, we don’t mean your daily 3pm chocolate binge (never give that up), we mean using and abusing plastic for just about everything. The time has come to give it all up. Don’t be scared. This won’t involve growing your own food and sewing your own clothes from a hessian sack. You won’t have to give up any creature comforts because there are plastic free alternatives for almost everything.
That said, this article comes with a warning…once you consider going plastic-free, you cannot un-see the tonnes (yes, tonnes) of plastic you throw away. Lovers of cheese and cracker snack packs should read on with caution.
We all know that using and throwing away enormous amounts of plastic is catastrophic for the environment. There are convenient alternatives that work just as well (or better) without destroying the Earth. Cutting down on waste can also simplify your life, help your diet and even save you some cold hard cash. They seem like pretty good reasons to us.
Become A Bag Lady
Carry a reusable bag with you everywhere (yes, everywhere). Tote bags that fold into a tiny pouch will become your best friend. Stock up on reusable shopping bags and also pick up canvas produce bags to hold fruit and vegetables. Save those glass jars for more than just cute cocktails and use them to store food as well. If you, like us, can’t function without your morning caffeine hit, then a reusable coffee cup is non-negotiable. Choose glass or steel containers and water bottles—they’ll keep your food fresh and last forever.
Embrace your inner foodie and shop more at your local farmers market, bakery, deli and butcher. Not only will planet earth love you for it, but your body will get a bonus health kick as well. Check out our favourite Auckland Markets To Hit This (And Every Other) Weekend to find your local. Ask the shop assistant to pack any meat or deli items inside your own reusable containers.
For other food items, BYO jars to a bulk food store and stock up on everything from dry foods, to oils and spreads (hello, peanut butter). Good options are the new GoodFor store in Ponsonby or Bulk Food Savings in Mt Eden. Bonus: no more unpacking groceries into jars when you get home.
Don’t stress, you can still shop at your local supermarket. Just look for products packaged in recyclables like cardboard or glass. And be sure to only buy food that you know you will eat. Cutting down on food wastage is not only better for the environment, but will help you save that valuable cash money.
Take It To The Next Level
We’ve come this far and I don’t want to alarm you, but getting your bathroom plastic free isn’t quite as easy as it is in the kitchen. Cosmetics, cleaning products and even your all-important toothbrush are plastic. We know, no one wants to stop washing their hair and leave people wrinkling their noses on the bus, but there are solutions. Use bars of soap instead of bottled body and hand wash (ethique do some pretty good ones) and consider using a bamboo toothbrush( find these both at GoodFor!). Some bulk food stores offer refills on shampoo and conditioner and a few other cosmetics. While ecostore offer biodegradable sugarcane 'plastic' packaging that actually reduces your carbon footprint. Finding plastic free options for makeup is tricky but MAC’s ‘Back-2-MAC’ program will recycle your used cosmetics. Make Nan proud and go old-school with cleaning products by swapping out the harsh chemicals for the bicarb soda, vinegar and essential oils.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. You don’t get any extra points for giving up plastic cold turkey. Instead, start with one part of your life where you’d like to cut out plastic (maybe disposable coffee cups) and work your way up from there. Check out the Facebook group for useful tips and local know-how. And if all else fails, skip the grocery shop and take it as an opportunity to eat plenty of plastic-free meals at your fave restaurants (we know we have).
Want more green tips? Here are 29 Ways To Make Your Home Greener.
Design credit: Gabby Stjernqvist