Plastic Free July is happening right now and in this episode, we’re going to share some pretty scary statistics on plastics! We as humans have the power and ability to change the plastic waste situation, rather than burying our heads in the sand and taking an out of sight out of mind approach. It’s so important to focus on how it’s going to be for the next generation and the one after that. Ultimately they are the ones that will truly suffer if we continue the way we are going.

These days it seems everything is in plastic! weather it is contained or wrapped in plastic from fresh fruit to conveniently chopped vegetables and more. The keyword is convenience! All of the below tips will help you to be a better influence on your children, to teach them the importance of recycling and what actually happens to that plastic item once used.

Scary stats

  •  Since plastic was invented in the early 1900’s, 8.3 trillion tonnes has been produced! If we continue in the next 30 years to use plastic as we are, it’s going to be near 10 trillion tonnes of plastic in our landfill. That plastic isn’t breaking down, rather it’s filling up our earth with plastic. That’s around 1.8 billion African elephants or the size of Argentina in landfill to put it all into perspective.
  • Imagine all of the toxins coming off that landfill. In terms of plastic items that are in our landfill by the billions, think water bottles, drinking straws, takeaway containers, grocery bags (which Tasmania banned 3-4 years ago and is finally spreading to other states), lids off coffee cups and all the things we could really get away without using.
  • Only 40% of Australians actually recycle.

Beach clean-ups

We did a clean-up at our local beach a few weeks ago with Sea Shepherd, with another clean-up held at Sandy Bay in Hobart on the 7th of July 2018. The thing that blew our mind was the number of straws, dome plastic lids for iced coffees or Slurpees and coffee cup lids everywhere.

At the end of the clean-up, they get you to separate out all of the rubbish so you can see exactly what you’ve picked up by category. This goes towards their stats for the year of how many particular items are going into landfill each year.

It’s all about stopping and thinking consciously before you take that plastic bag, or pick up that straw. You can find ways to repurpose that single-use plastic or avoid it all together where possible.

Tips for reducing your plastic load

  • Do you really need that straw? Are you able to drink it out of the bottle or cup without it? Say no to plastic straws or buy some metal straws you can use over and over. We have a discount on our website using “zeroplastic” as a coupon code valid for 7 days (13 July) giving you a 15% discount. We sell the metal straws, lunch boxes and all 4myEarth range.
  • Get into the habit of reusing things! Tracey makes her kids reuse their zip lock bags, by washing them out and using them until they can’t possibly use them anymore! This reduces a lot of plastic load across the year.
  • Lunch boxes help to reduce so much plastic, with the ones on our website being leak proof. The Slurpee style yoghurt pouches or fruit pouches are not needed as you can buy a whole tub of yoghurt and scoop it into one of the compartments of the lunch box without any worry about spillage.
  • Same goes for biscuits, popcorn and chips, don’t buy those snack size biscuit bags, just buy the whole box! You can also buy a whole tin of fruit, rather than the snack size plastic fruit cups. That way you’re not only saving a heap of money, but you’re also helping to save the environment.
  • Water bottles are a huge problem! Buy a glass or aluminium drink bottle as all the cool branded plastic bottles are reused at a much lesser amount. Of course, you want to do everything you can to avoid the single-use plastic bottles in the bulk packs. There has to be another option! If you must buy mineral water say for a camping trip, then buy it in the bigger drums or bottles and pour into cups to share.
  • Again saving money! There are a few universities around the world that have now introduced a no bottle rule which we love! If you do end up buying the smaller plastic bottles, think of the ways you can re-use them, like cutting the top off and using it as a bird feeder, grow some seedlings in, lots of crafts ideas or even donating a bunch of them to a daycare centre nearby, if you don’t have recycling options in a rural area.
  • Meat trays can be washed out and re-used for freezing meat, or again donated to a daycare centre too, as they make great trays for paint and craft days.
  • Where possible avoid using the produce bags at the fruit and vegetable aisles, as you can likely get away without using them when you bring your own bag. If you do buy them, there are so many reusable options. Tracey buys her meat in bulk, so she saves the bags up and uses them when she separates out the meat for the freezer.
  • If you’re having even a coffee a day, it’s well worth buying a reusable coffee cup as there are so many options out there these days.
  • With toothbrushes, these are on our sale list on our website, which is completely recyclable. In the US alone, there are around 850 million toothbrushes that go into our landfill. Plastic toothbrushes are not biodegradable so they just sit there in the soil. 30 million toothbrushes (1000 tonnes of landfill) sit in our landfill every year in Australia. From an additive point of view, most toothbrushes are made from crude oil!
  • Before your children go to the dentist for a visit, they are usually given the chance to brush their teeth before they go for their appointment. They’re offered a one-time use toothbrush, so get them to take their own, or simply brush their teeth at home before they go in. It’s all too easy to buy those small travel toothbrushes on the run as well, but it’s all about trying to be conscious of your choices and reducing your load.
  • Cling wrap is a massive one! We have a sale on our 4MyEarth food covers using the above coupon code. They are so handy! There are four different sizes in a pack of four. We also have a huge platter one. When you have a lunchbox with compartments, there’s no need to use cling wrap either. The food covers are also great for wrapping sandwiches or pizza slices. We know that this is a huge thing to transition away from, as we are so used to using cling wrap.
  • For birthday parties it can be so easy to buy plastic plates, knives and forks but there’s now a lot of options for bamboo ones and environmentally friendly options that are well worth spending the extra $1.

When you live additive-free, you automatically reduce your plastic load as you’re not purchasing nearly as many packaged food or drink products. Generally, you take your own home-made products, which reduces your contribution to plastic rubbish. If you can find a way to eliminate your use of particular plastic items or repurpose that one plastic by using it a second or third time, then you’re well on your way to doing your bit for the environment. We’re not asking you to be perfect, but to take a bit more of a stand on recycling plastics and making simple swaps!

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