The ban on single-use shopping bags seems to have garnered all of the media attention recently and not all of the publicity has been positive. I have already had my say about some of the ridiculous commentary here.
Tonight I want to talk about moving beyond simply banning one particular type of single-use plastic bag and look at other things we can do.
Plastic-Free July is just around the corner so now is a great time to focus on the many single-use plastics that are still part of many people’s everyday lives.
Here is a list of some of the single-use plastics which have combined to create enormous islands of floating waste in our oceans.
- Bottled water
- Soft drink bottles
- Single use cups – styrofoam and plastic
- Plastic plates
- Plastic cutlery
- Plastic straws
- Ziplock bags
- Plastic produce bags
All of these items have relatively cheap and easy alternatives/replacements.
- Stainless steel drink bottle refilled with chilled tap water
- Limit your consumption of soft drinks
- Carry your own reusable cup – Keep cups are suitable for hot drinks. Seek out cafes who will accept your own mug. Check out Responsible Cafes or just ask.
- At home – choose to use regular crockery. When eating out – take your own reusable plate.
- At home – choose to use regular cutlery. When eating out – take your own reusable cutlery.
- Skip the straw – ask for ‘no straw’ when ordering your drink. If you really need to use a straw, consider buying a stainless steel or bamboo one.
- ‘Message’ balloons – consider a card or practical gift. Decorative balloons can be replaced with paper decorations. Balloon releases are just mass littering. They do not go to heaven, they end up harming wildlife on land and in the oceans. Plant trees or scatter wildflower seeds in memory of a loved one.
- At home – replace clingwrap with a lidded container, plate on top of a bowl or beeswax wraps. Refuse to purchase produce wrapped in clingwrap. Buy it unwrapped.
- Ziplock bags – use lidded containers. If you have ziplock bags, use them multiple times – they can easily be rewashed.
- Plastic produce bags – buy or make your own produce bags for buying fruit and vegetables. Tulle or mesh curtains work really well.
As with any change, it is probably best to start with a couple of items and work from there.
What will you commit to changing for Plastic Free July? Make it a new habit that you can carry forward into the future. Then build on your achievement with other changes.