by Freya Wrigley

Signing up to cut plastics out of my life this July was exciting and overwhelming, particularly as half the time I’m not even sure whether some items contain plastic or not. Now 9 days into the adventure of Plastic Free July, I imagine some of us are on target while others may have hit a wall – of the plastic kind. I am a member of the latter group. But unlike my neglected New Year’s Resolutions, I am determined not to return to my normal plastic habits.

They say that it takes 21 days to build a new habit, here are some simple and sustainable ways of reducing everyday plastic use, not just during July but forever! I hope you will find them as valuable as I have.

A useful Californian study made a Plastic BAN List by cross-referencing popular plastic products and their polluting impact – revealing the most harmful plastic products used by consumers (that’s us). The top three categories were:

  • Single use food and drink packaging (such as the nets holding your oranges together or the plastic bag of Spinach from a supermarket).
  • Plastic bags (hopefully this one is a no brainer, who doesn’t like a nice tote?)
  • Take-away food containers (including coffee cups, plastic bottles and straws).

Reducing our use of these items may seem like a small change, but it can make a massive impact on our consumption of plastic.

Solutions: Single use food and drink packaging

  • Purchase at farmers markets and health food shops with bulk dispensing.
  • Take paper bags everywhere.
  • Bring your own reused containers to markets and stores for things like oil.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • For packed lunches use beeswax wraps or lunch boxes  – a simple swap away from glad wrap and pre-packaged snacks.

The CERES grocery is a great place to practice plastic free shopping with bulk, BYO and plastic free products. But you can also use this website to find bulk stores near you.

Solutions: Plastic Bags

The recent phase out of plastic bags by major supermarket brands this July and the promises by the Victorian Government to ban single plastic bag by 2019 might tick this off our list. Hurrah!  

Ditch the plastic bin liner if possible because not all biodegradable plastic bags a better option. Just remember to bring your cloth bags because the reusable plastic bags that you can buy are really bad as well, particularly when clothes shopping, this one catches me out.

Side note: Don’t forget that there are soft plastic recycling facilities at some Coles and Woolworths stores and hard plastic at CERES.