5 Simple Swaps to Significantly Reduce Single-Use Plastic
Since I learned how much of a problem plastic pollution is, I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of disposable plastic in my life. One of the first things I did was try to swap out some disposable single-use plastic items for reusable items that are better for the environment. Here are some suggestions for you to try too.
1. Swap disposable plastic bags with reusable bags
Try to remember to take your reusable shopping bags everywhere you shop, every time you shop. Get in the habit of saying “no bag thanks” and having your reusable bag handy or being prepared to carry your purchase. A really environmentally friendly way to get yourself some reusable bags is to make them yourself from old clothing and other pieces of fabric from around your home.
Supermarket fruit and vegetable bags are another type of plastic bag that can be replaced with a reusable version. You can buy them at markets or online stores but I like to make my own from mesh-like material I might have at home or find at an op shop. Old lace curtains are great for repurposing into reusable produce bags.
A third type of reusable bag is the bread bag which is a cloth bag you can take to a baker to have your bread and baked goods put into. Again, you can buy bread bags or make them yourself.
2. Swap disposable cups with a reusable cup
Coffee cups aren’t only made of paper, most are lined with a coating of polyethylene which is a type of plastic. This makes them hard to recycle or compost, and most end up in our environment or in landfill. Instead of a disposable cup, use a reusable travel cup, or a jar with a lid, or consider sitting down to enjoy your drink rather than getting takeaway.
3. Swap disposable bottles of water with a reusable bottle
Get in the habit of having a reusable water bottle handy at all times. Apart from the plastic pollution problem, bottled water is much more expensive and uses a lot of resources in the harvesting, packaging, transportation and distribution of water than refilling a bottle with tap water.
4. Swap plastic cling wrap with reusable food covers
Plastic cling wrap has become something we consider essential in the kitchen, but I have found it to be completely unnecessary. Instead of using cling wrap, try using plates on top of plates, containers, tea towels, shower caps, or beeswax wraps. Read more here.
5. Swap disposable plastic straws for a reusable straw, or just use your lips
You may not have given straws a lot of thought but straws are in the top 10 items picked up at beach cleanups in Australia. If you don’t need to use a straw, make sure you refuse them when you buy drinks. If you really like to use a straw, get yourself a reusable one with a cleaning brush.
For me, refusing single-use plastic is a protest against the misuse of plastic. It is a material designed to last for hundreds of years, yet we consume it and throw it away after just a few seconds with devastating impacts. It’s about being the change I want to see in the world.
WARRAGUL Ambassador and founder of Gippsland Unwrapped - A Blog about Maximising Resources and Minimising Waste