Plastic Free July is all about reducing our plastic wastage and to avoid scenes like the photo below. Plastic bottles, bags and takeaway containers that we use just for a few minutes use a material that is designed to last forever. They break up rather than break down (becoming permanent pollution), and they are either unrecyclable or down-cycled (made into low-grade products for just one more use). When sent to the landfill they can escape from bins and trucks to end up in our waterways and the ocean.
The photo below was a display at the Waikato Museum that shows how much packaging the average New Zealand family sends to the landfill every month. Startling isn't it! Do you think your family uses this much packaging monthly? I think if you held onto your plastics for a month you would be surprised how much you used!
You can just imagine what this is doing to the environment with everyone adding their bit to the landfill each month. If we all did a little something to reduce the amount of packaging we use it will all help!
Tips for Reducing Packaging in Our Homes
- Grow your own veges and fruit
- Buy fresh, loose food rather than pre-packaged food, you can make or buy little cloth bags to put loose fruit or veges into
- Say no to the bags that shops give to carry your goods, see Limit Plastic Bag Use, and take your own cloth bags instead.
- Choose items in glass, paper, cardboard, etc as opposed to plastic
- Buy nuts, dried fruit, flour, legumes, coffee, rice, oats, etc from bulk bins using cloth bin bags (check out your local Bin Inn Store)
- Consider buying commonly used items like flour and rice in bulk and share with friends (bags are usually paper)
- Avoid over packaged products, go for products with the least plastic packaging
- Go for reusable options where you can, eg refilling containers, refillable toner cartridges, etc
- Purchase from a Farmers Market or farm shop and take your own cloth bags
- Store food in the fridge in a non-plastic container, in a bowl with a plate on the top or cover or wrap them in HoneyWraps or you make your own bowl covers
- Make or buy fresh bread from the bakery and pop into a cloth bag, you can make your own
- Wrap cheese in an old linen towel or HoneyWrap
- Learn the art of furoshiki gift wrapping, it's fun!
- Use reusable lunch boxes and wrap in HoneyWraps rather than plastic food wrap for lunches and snacks
- Use newspaper to line your rubbish bin instead of a plastic bag - check out this website for more details
- Instead of using plastic bags when walking the dog use newspaper to wrap up their business
- Use paper rubbish sacks
- Use glass or stainless steel drink bottles and reusable travel coffee mugs
- Don't use plastic straws; don't use straws at all or use stainless steel straws
- Use wooden toothbrushes and biogegradable dental floss
- Make the most of bamboo and other natural fibre products! You can purchase sustainable dish brushes, etc from EcoWarehouse.
- Save glass jars and containers for storing bulk food and leftovers
- When you have a crowd over and don't have enough for them to eat off make sure you use paper or biodegradable plates and bamboo cutlery or even better get them to bring some more plates and cutlery with them, less waste!
Sometimes it's just too hard to avoid plastic, and in these cases dispose of it wisely by recycling or you could reuse it. Every council has its own recycling scheme so check it out, also look for your local soft plastics recycling drop off area.