How to go Plastic Free
I tried and I failed. I had the best intentions to live a life with NO plastic but what I soon realised is I needed to reframe my thinking and live a life with LESS plastic because living 100% plastic free in a modern world is near impossible.
Living a life with less plastic means you’ll more than likely be choosing the least convenient choice BUT only until you form new habits such as being prepared and planning your purchases and shopping. In the end what seemed the least convenient choice will turn into a blessing with you consuming a lot less and in turn saving money – it’s a win win for you and the environment.
Credit where credit is due
Credit to those who have succeeded in only filling 1 bin of plastic for a whole year, I haven’t quite filled a bin in the first week but I can already confirm I will overflow one bin in 52 weeks. I am trying though, I really am.
When I think about it, the changes I have made over the years include:
Always carrying reusable shopping bags
Not just for groceries, carry all of your purchases such as clothes, books, electronics, shoes you name it, if you can’t carry something in your hands, always use a reusable shopping bag. But hey, we have arms and hands let’s start using them for something other than texting!
Saying no to bottled water
Surely by now drinking from a plastic bottle seems almost as offensive as smoking. Purchase yourself a plastic-free reusable water bottle and fill it up before the leaving the house – you just need to remember to keep refilling it!
Using own containers for bulk and left overs
Whether that be jars, tupperware or stainless-steel containers you don’t see much new plastic containers in my cupboards. My lunch is transported in a reusable container or wrap and any bulk food items that I purchase are in reusable bags or jars if I have been super organised.
Using an environmentally friendly food wrap
Stop using gladwrap and other plastic wraps instead use air tight storage containers or even better reusable food wraps such as Wrappa (available in both beeswax and plant-based versions).
Avoiding single use bottles and bulk refilling instead
Refusing to take the ‘easy option’ of buying multiple 500ml plastic bottles monthly for cleaning and the like, find your local independent retailer who offer cleaning products, laundry detergents and fabric softeners even shampoo and conditions in bulk. All you need to do then is bring in your container and refill….this could save you up to 12+ containers a year!
Swapping my toothbrush
When you visit the dentist every 6 months refuse the dental pack the dentist or hygienist thrusts upon you instead look out for the plastic alternatives such as a Bamboo toothbrush or try an electric toothbrush which can be once past its use-by date be recycling through a Terra Cycle recycling program.
Invested in a soda stream
I like carbonated water from time and time and despite a litre bottle being less than a dollar at the shop, for me the use of an appliance such as the soda steam makes much more economical sense. I haven’t invested in any of the fancy flavours, just the initial plastic bottle in which when the content is poured into a glass, I add flavours such as lemon, lime, cucumber or berries. This could save you thousands of bottles each year.
Stopped using plastic produce bags
Completely unnecessary; generally single use and why do you need to use a separate bag for each of the produce items – don’t they like each other? Forget worrying if it is more work for the cashier or might hold up another customer a minute or two try putting the produce directly into your trolley/basket and then transfer to your reusable bag or even better eco-friendly cloth options when paying for the goods.
Replace plastic bin liners with compostable and biodegradable bags
The thing about compostable and biodegradable bin liners is; if you add anything that has moisture to you bin the bags start to degraded immediately – this can be messy when removing the bag from the bin. However, this is a small inconvenience I am willing to deal with knowing my rubbish bags are not seeping micro plastics into our mother earth.
Made the eco switch for laundry & dishwashing powders
Look for brands that come in cardboard with little to no plastic wrap; they are out there and its better for your clothes and water ways.
Replaced plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges
Sourced natural fibre bushes and sponges which despite naturally breakdown over time, are the welcomed addition to my Planted kitchen
Started using bar soap instead of liquid soap
I stopped being so precious about the mess in the bathroom and replaced the plastic pump with a soap on a rope or a soap bar on a wooden soap holder. There is nothing unsanitary about a soap bar.
Made a habit of making my own condiments
Time to head back into the heart of the home, the kitchen and create your own goodness that is packaged in anything but plastic. Fermented foods, chutneys, sauces and mayonnaises these can be stored in glass jars and once you get the hang of it, are so easy to make.
Adopted back to basics cleaning
No bright colours or bold statements just century old testimonials that using products such as baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean, disinfect and wash dishes. Both are sold in either a cardboard box or glass bottle.
Started using a deodorant balm
I never thought I would roll goodbye my Rexona sports deodorant but not only did we become mindful about the aluminium warnings we realised this was another beauty item sold in plastic that I could do without. Introducing the world of pit pastes, it’s a game changer and yes they really work.
Switched from a plastic razer to a recycled plastic razor
Using a razor that is still produced from plastic did make me question the product and brand but the Preserve razors are made from recycled ocean plastic…meaning this company is cleaning up our oceans and creating a product based on this material. There hope is they won’t have a business in 20 years but for the moment, we are proud to support a company cleaning up our oceans and saving our sea life.
Changing to an eco-friendly toothpaste/powder/soap
I take my dental hygiene very seriously so seriously I stopped drinking my much love Earl Grey tea a few years back because I noticed it was staining my teeth. Using the tooth products not recommended by a TV dentist, my eco-friendly dental hygiene products are sold in jars not plastic.
Being plastic free every month (sanitary wear)
Despite not using washable cloth liners, pads or menstrual cups, I do use tampons that are certified by the soil federations and the outer wrap is 100% plastic free. One day I will make the leap to a menstrual cup but small steps.
Choosing paper not wrapped in plastic
From toilet paper in the bathroom to paper towel in the kitchen find a brand that doesn’t wrap the contents in plastic or use micro plastics in the paper.
Feeding my pets from stainless steel bowls
Did you know animals can get ‘acne’ from plastic bowls? Another reason to make the switch and serve up your fur child’s food in an eco-friendlier way such as a stainless steel bowl.
Avoiding individually wrapped products
Buy bulk instead…buy larger portions and portion into individual containers or wraps.
Still a long way to go
Don’t think your one or two change of habits can have an effect? Think again. One voice turns into many and those many voices can help instigate change, these voices will eventually create a growing pressure that will be noticed.
I’m making progress within my household and I congratulate myself for that but I do recognise that I have a long way to go to being the poster girl for plastic free living. At the same time, I am not beating myself up nor seeing my lack of effort in some areas as a complete failure or reason to say I give up and surrender that my small changes are not making a difference.
Every small change does matter because without the small changes we wouldn’t begin to understand or work towards the larger changes; everything leads to something and that something does make change.
Shopping habits must change
The one area I can see the greatest change is my shopping habits or more to the point, the manufacturers need to change the way they produce and package products because if you look around your local supermarket; its plastic city baby. ARGH!
From the coconut yoghurt, nut cheese’s and muesli to dairy free butter and tofu all my favourite vegan organic foods are wrapped in plastic. So how do I stop buying these products? I don’t but what I can do is reduce my reliance on them. I can make my own coconut yoghurt, nut cheese and tofu, I can use tahini and/or oil as my spread and I can bulk buy and bake my own muesli. There are further changes I can make, I just need to be mindful, conscious and prepared.
Collectively if we become more conscious about our plastic use and how we can change our current habits things will change – it will change how we buy and how we make our purchases. We need to be the difference in order to make a difference.
After all of the above, I hear you ask “why is plastic so bad?” Plastic…
- Does not break down
- Pollutes waterways
- Has life threatening effects on wildlife (& humans eventually)
- Creates excess landfill
- Uses a large amount of resources to be manufactured
Many of the plastics that are created today are created for single use – with an estimated 50 per cent of plastic used once and thrown away. Currently only nine per cent of the world’s plastic is recycled which leaves 91 per cent in our water ways, oceans and land that never fully degrades.
As a conscious human race, we must focus our attention to our plastic use and yes this goes beyond a simple drinking straw or single-use plastic bag for shopping. The sooner we all become aware that we are contributing to the problem the sooner the detrimental effects of plastic on the world will be lessened.
Plastic Free Kitchen and Bathroom
Here is a selection of our favourite plastic free items for the kitchen and bathroom
Plastic Free Kitchen
- Safix Scrub Pad
- The Swag Produce Bag
- Wrappa plant-based food wraps
- 4Myearth Food Covers
- Redecker Pot Scrubbing Brush
- If you Care Aluminium foil
Plastic Free Bathroom
- Go Bamboo Cotton Buds
- Urthly Organics Shaving Balm
- Urthly Organics Soap Bar
- Geoorganics Toothpaste
- Physic Garden Deodorant Balm
- The Australian Natural Soap Company Activated Charcoal Soap
- Preserve Razors & Blades
We can always do more
One of the hardest parts of living a plastic free life is accessibility of the above items; we don’t all have an Eco store around the corner and we certainly won’t find them in a shopping centre so until it becomes mainstream and ‘normal’ shop online at these retailers or if you are lucky enough to live around the corner from these brick and mortar stores then please go in and support them.
- Flora & Fauna
- Wholesome Hub
- Eco Lateral
- Little Eco Shop
- Going Green Solutions
- Shop Naturally
- Zero Waste Store
Bricks and Mortar
- Shop Neutral – VIC
- Ecolateral – SA
- Biome Eco Store – QLD and VIC
- Wholefood Merchants – VIC
- Flora & Fauna – NSW
- EnviroShop – VIC
There is no end when it comes to learning about how you can live a more sustainable and plastic-free life; the start is just the beginning. I liken this lifestyle to a practice, you are always becoming more aware and growing as you look at all the areas of your life in which you can become more earth friendly.
Enjoy this journey, embrace it and together we can live a happier and environmentally sound life.