BY SOPHIA GOLOVANEVSKAYA
Australians have been revealed to be the second highest producers of waste, per capita, in the world. Approximately 20,700 TONNES of plastic are dumped in Australian landfill every year.
What does a life without plastic look like? For a lot of us, it’s pretty inconceivable. We’ve become so accustomed to everyday plastic products and their ‘single use’ convenience, that it’s genuinely become difficult to track our consumption, let alone quit it altogether.
These days, plastic can be found in almost everything: clothes, stationary, technology, food, furniture and facewash, are just a few of the ‘under-the-radar’ plastic products that most of us rely on, on a regular basis.
The reality of our current situation is, if you look around your immediate environment, you’ll probably find almost everything is made up of, or contains plastic (unless you’re sitting in a beautiful, untouched-by-man forest, in which case, well played).
Although most of us buy, use and engage with plastic products on the daily, we know that it’s not great for the environment. We (hopefully) know that plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, and in the mean-time, contributes to landfill and environmental degradation. We (hopefully) know that plastic waste endangers wildlife and greatly detriments our health, too.
So, because we’ve agreed that cutting all plastic out of our lives can seem like a daunting— and at times, impossible— task, I’ve compiled a beginners list of the five easiest and most influential ways to cut plastic out of your life. It’s a win-win!
1. Plastic straws…
Are one of the biggest plastic polluters. The McDonalds Franchise alone contributes 3.5 million plastic straws to waste in a single day. Luckily, plastic straws are also one of the easiest habits to break. Just ask for the straw to be left out when eating out or getting takeaway. Purchasing trendy stainless steel or glass straws is also a fantastic alternative. Additionally you can settle for paper straws, but I think we can all agree that really shouldn’t be a thing.
2. Your toothbrush…
Will probably outlive your grandchildren. ‘The Human Footprint’ estimates that the average person goes through approximately 156 toothbrushes in a lifetime. Over 30 million plastic toothbrushes are used and disposed of by Australians each year, amounting to approximately 1000 tonnes of annual landfill. Yes, it’s time to buy a bamboo toothbrush. Although I’ll admit it takes a couple of days to get used to the feeling of wood in your mouth, bamboo really is an excellent alternative to plastic.
3. Plastic bottles…
Okay, while buying and using a reusable water bottle is easy, sometimes life just finds you thirsty, stranded, and without your reusable bottle at hand. In these cases, always try and purchase glass water bottles instead of plastic. Although this can be more expensive, glass bottles can be easily re-used time and time again, whilst plastic starts expelling toxins in as little as four days. For the soda enthusiasts out there, who ever said there was anything wrong with filling your #reusablebottle with Fanta at Subway? (Note: check serving sizes with staff first).
4. Plastic Bags
Only 3% of plastic bags are currently being recycled in Australia. Sometimes plastic bags can be difficult to avoid altogether, however, getting used to carrying a larger bag, or just a second empty bag with you, can make all the difference. When I first started cutting down on plastic bags, I realised that most of the time I didn’t even need them. Remember that you also have your hands, pockets and (depending how game you are) your pants.
Do come completely plastic free, and can be purchased online. However, for the majority of the shaving population, plastic razors are the norm. To reduce your plastic waste, avoid disposable razors altogether. Try and opt for a razor with detachable razor heads instead. Even though you’re not completely voiding your plastic waste here, you’re still reducing it. The detachable razor heads last longer than disposables, which provides a cheaper alternative as well. You can even prolong the razor’s life by sharpening the blades! But be careful— this can be fidgety work.