5 Easy ways to reduce plastic waste
Date Posted:28 February 2023
Each year the waste we generate in Australia is growing at twice the rate of the population. That’s a lot of plastic waste. Luckily there are some simple swaps we can all make to help do our bit. Here are just 5 simple ways you can help reduce plastic waste.
Plastic waste is a huge problem. It's estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish! And the effects of plastic pollution are felt all around the world. But it doesn't have to be this way. There are plenty of easy ways for you to reduce your own contribution to this global problem. Here are five easy things you can do today to start fighting back against plastic pollution.
1. Switch to a reusable water bottle
If you're looking for a simple way to reduce your plastic waste, one of the most effective things you can do is switch from disposable water bottles to a reusable bottle.
Plastic bottles are one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in our oceans and landfills. Around 373 million plastic water bottles end up in waste each year. Many of these will be single use, plastic water bottles. If you’re lucky – like so many of us in Australia are – to have drinkable tap water then switching to a reusable water bottle is the way.
Taking a reusable water bottle wherever you go will help you stay hydrated and save on plastic waste. There are countless different designs of reusable water bottles. An insulated water bottle is great because it keeps your water cold for longer, which is what you want on hot days. An insulated water bottle can also be used as a flask – to keep hot tea and drinks hotter for longer.
If you want to shop a more classic style then a stainless steel water bottle is for you. A stainless steel water bottle will also, naturally, keep your water cold and fresh. Plus, a stainless steel water bottle is naturally BPA free and easy to clean and keep hygienic. Looking for something sleek? A glass water bottle is great for those that like something simple and stylish. A good glass water bottle will be non toxic, stain and odour resistant and thick enough to resist breakages.
Reusable bottles are better for your wallet too! A typical reusable bottle costs around $15 compared with $1-2 per single use disposable bottle depending on where you live; this means that over time it'll save money while also reducing how much trash goes into landfills as well as oceanic gyres like The Great Pacific Garbage Patch which contains millions upon millions of pounds worth (or more) discarded plastics floating around aimlessly without being properly disposed of, before getting eaten by fish or seabirds who mistake them for food.
2. Use reusable bags
Reusable bags are better for the environment.
It’s well known now that plastic bags are terrible for our planet. To start with, the greenhouse gases emitted to produce plastic bags have a massive impact on the environment. Plastic bags are made from petroleum, which is a non renewable resource. To get one bag, we need to use up all of its energy content and then throw it away.
But beyond that, plastic can take up to 1000 years to fully decompose. And plastic that winds up in the ocean never fully decomposes – instead, breaking up into tiny pieces, ultimately being consumed by marine life.
It's estimated that approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used each year worldwide - that's about 1 million per minute! Most of these end up in landfills or as litter on our streets or waterways - where they take up space for thousands of years before breaking down into tiny pieces called microplastics, which can be harmful to marine life and humans alike.
The good news is, we can all play a part in reducing this burden to our environment by opting for reusable shopping bags. The best type of reusable bag is a cloth shopping bag, which can be used and washed over and over again. While you can reuse plastic bags at most major supermarkets, they don’t last as long as reusable shopping bags. Bringing your own reusable shopping bag is not only more sustainable in the long term but also more stylish.
Reusable bags are also better for your wallet: You're saving money by not having to buy another set of grocery bags each time you shop. When choosing what kind of reusable grocery bag(s) would work best in your life situation consider both form factor (how big/small do I want them?) as well as function (how many times will each one get used?).
3. Buy in bulk and use a reusable lunch box or container
The first thing to do is buy in bulk. This will reduce the amount of packaging that you need to throw away, as well as save money on your grocery bill.
Eating out or buying pre packaged food on the go is a major cause of single use plastic waste. Although it can be hard to avoid this sometimes, bringing your own food with you is a great way to not only reduce waste and single plastic use but also money. There are so many reusable lunch boxes to choose from. A bento style lunchbox is perfect for eliminating the need for plastic wraps and zip lock bags by keeping food separated yet contained in one stainless steel lunch box. A stainless steel lunchbox is a great choice as it is naturally BPA free and works to keep food fresher for longer. Plus bento box lunch boxes are a great idea for a kids lunch box as you can separate their snacks without excessive plastic wrapping.
Another option is investing in an insulated lunch bag - these are especially great for transporting hot foods like leftovers from home or hot chocolate from your favourite coffee shop! You can also use these bags for carrying ice packs for sports injuries, food storage containers when camping or hiking...the possibilities are endless!
4. Sip in style with a reusable coffee cup
It is estimated that Australians consume more than 50,000 cups of coffee every half hour, and an estimated 1 billion takeaway hot drink cups every year. If we lined up all the coffee cups used each year in Australia they would stretch around the world…twice! That’s a lot of coffee cups.
While the hard plastic lid can be recycled, the coffee cup itself has to be put in the regular waste bin. There are so many reusable coffee cup styles out there, you’re bound to find one that suits you. Glass coffee cups are a stylish and sustainable reusable coffee cup option with double glass and regular glass options to choose from. Glass coffee cups add sophistication to your morning coffee run. Another great reusable coffee cup option is a Huskee cup. Made of recycled materials and completely natural, they feel amazing to hold and come in three sizes, depending on your caffeine needs. Plus, many coffee shops take some money off your order when you bring in your own reusable coffee cup!
Reusable coffee cups are better for your wallet because you can buy a reusable mug once, then use it over and over again. Plus, if you get your drink at a local cafe that offers discounts for customers who bring their own reusable mugs, then those savings will add up!
And finally, reusable cups offer another benefit as well - they keep hot drinks hotter longer than other types of containers do!
5. Swap plastic straws for reusable straws
Due to their small size, plastic straws can’t be recycled. Plastic straws in Australia represent 7.5% of all plastic in our county, with that figure growing each year. Plastic straws can be dangerous to our planet and wildlife. With so many plastic straws winding up in landfill, waterways and in nature, our wildlife is vulnerable to ingesting this plastic. Being sharp, plastic straws can cause harmful lacerations to animals’ internal organs.
Luckily you can still enjoy all your favourite drinks without the environmental damage thanks to reusable straws. There are so many reusable straws to choose from. Metal straws are a great option as they are easy to use and wash. You can shop metal straws and stainless steel straws in straight, bent and even rose gold designs. If you’re looking to use eco friendly straws for your little ones, then silicone straws are a great option. Silicone straws are easy to bend and use to help little ones sip safely. Glass straws are great to drink from and they are our favourite. Bringing environmentally friendly straws with you when on the go is a great idea to help you say no to single use plastic.
In this article, we've explored the problem of plastic pollution and how it can be reduced. While there are many ways to reduce the amount of plastic one uses, including recycling and buying products with less packaging, these five tactics are simple and easy to implement. We're not saying that reducing plastic waste is going to be easy, but it's definitely worth it. The planet will thank you for it, and so will your future self.