DID YOU KNOW… That 1/3 of plastic packaging (roughly 26 million tons) ends up in the ocean every year? Yes you probably do, because these kind of statements are turning up everywhere. The question here though, is even though we know we are becoming surrounded by these very concerning statements, are we doing much to help the situation?? How many items in your shopping trolley are enclosed plastic (a.k.a. a 99.9% bacteria free capsule, to make sure no buglies have touched your precious bananas, even though they have a natural protective coating that you peel off anyway)?
Yes yes, I know many of you are opting to plastic free grocery bags, (which is WONDERFUL)! however, that was the first baby step, and now it seems we need to follow our parents advice and “learn how to grow up”, and come to terms with the fact that there are various other means that allow plastic to sneak into our lives.
Below I’m going to outline some small changes I have made/am making with regards to increase my ‘eco-friendliness’. This is by using other products that don’t primarily consist of plastic or that use less plastic as sometimes (let’s be real) it can be very inconvenient and annoying to try and find a plastic-free alternative for everything. I will also include other areas of my life where I have made small little changes that can make the world of difference.
1. Make a pledge to op-out of buying packaged fruit
There’s two parts to this one (come on stay with me, this is the easiest one). For this, simply opt for the fruit that is not already in plastic and buy your own reusable fruit and veggie bags to hold them in. You can buy these from multiple stores these days including some discount stores, or if you’re crafty, you can make your own from fabric lying around the house (thoroughly washed beforehand or course). (If these are too hard , another option (not as good of course) is to just reuse the plastic bags you have already used from previous shops)
2. Buy in Bulk
Now this is one for those of us who can spend a little extra on groceries. I’m not saying it’s extravagently over-priced, but when compared to the no-name brand at your local supermarket, it normally is a little more expensive. However, shopping this way can dramatically decrease your plastic consumption.
With the health trend on the rise, more and more bulk food stores are popping up all over the place (they might be a bit more difficult to find in lower density areas). A bit of planning has to be involved when doing this kind of shopping as not many items come prepacked, the idea is you bring your own container, however if you forget, they provide paper bags which you can fill up (or jars for liquid products that you can buy at an extra cost). The two I shop at most frequently in Brisbane are The Source Bulk Foods and Naked Foods (just to give some examples), these have everything you could need, from food essentials to laundry detergent.
3. Come prepared for days out
About 6 months ago I purchased a reusable cutlery set, and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve made. These are great as they usually come with a fork, knife, and spoon (mine even has chopsticks which I love using), and comes in a container that can easily fit in any bag. It’s a great thing to have if you are going to an event with food trucks or you are getting take-away, as having it ready will mean you don’t have to grab those crappy plastic knives, forks and spoons (that multiple other people have already touched while getting a pair themselves).
4. Try to go for products packaged in cardboard
This one is a little more difficult at times, but if you have the 2 options of the same product, but one is packaged in plastic and the other is in cardboard, go for the latter. The fish will thank you.
5. Buy less processed food
This is beneficial to not only the planet but also your health – less processed = better nutrients for the body. If following the first step above and buy mostly fruits and vegetables, you should also end up with less plastic packaging. win, win!
6. Don't buy any products that contain microbeads!!
I want to emphasize that you should run as far away from these as possible. Even if you are not sure what these are, you have definitely seen them before. Microbeads are the tiny little coloured beads (which are ever so enticingly cool looking) and are in products such as shower gel. These are deadly little buggers that don’t dissovle and end up in the ocean, from which fish ingest them, which if enough, can kill them. (Also, not to mention, if you eat fish, those little beads will be going straight into you.) A good little read here.
7. Buy second-hand/op shop clothing
If your someone who reads second-hand, thrifted, or op-shop (as we aussies call it) and think ‘YUck!’, fear not! For it is actually a super fun activity and you can find really cool outfits that have a high chance of being one of a kind. Buying some of your clothes this way is great on the environment as there is less clothing material (that is still stylish and wearable) thrown away. To give some reassurance, at least 50% of my wardrobe is thrifted (woah, bit scary hey) yet I get multiple compliments/ people asking where I got items, that I bought from op shops. Even more so, I got my Prom dress (right) from one for under $50! (This is a great option as many formal dresses are only worn once before the owner gives it away, so it’s basically new, and buying new can cost hundreds of dollars)
However, be careful, even though op-shop volunteers try to make sure every item is in good condition, always be wary and give every item a once-over, as some might have stains or rips, which definitely should be avoided. (And always give everything a good wash when you get home :).
I hope you enjoyed my little list, there’s not many times I stop at a odd number on the list but I felt like this was enough for now. Please comment below if you’d like another list of other ways to make small sustainable changes in your life. Also, please stay tuned for my next article on whatever takes my fancy. 🙂 – Moi x
(P.s. I still have to get my email subscription up and running, so please check in now and again till then. Thanks!!)
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