We are all guilty of it and are all part of the problem. We do have the power to right this wrong that we, as a world-wide community have created; single-use plastics.
From plastic straws, cutlery and cups, to veggies and fruit that already have a natural protective layer being encased in clingfilm, we as a nation are addicted to plastic.
To put our addiction into perspective, we put approximately a whopping 3.5 million tons of plastic into our bins per annum… 3.5 million tons, only 11.8% of which is ever recycled Australia wide.
Before you start feeling like all hope is lost, we as a nation are starting to create real change, starting with Tasmania’s Hobart council. Just days ago, Hobart City council voted on a by-law that would result in the city becoming single-use plastic free by 2020; an Australian first if achieved. Of course, this was instantly met with the expected ‘it will cost more to use compostable packaging’, ‘it will make small businesses have to increase prices or close down’ arguments. Whilst small business is important, they do have time to start making those changes. If the change does not come now, it may be too late, and introducing plastic bans into law is a strong way to ensure businesses change their ways.
Hobart, however, is not the only Australian location making a move, with South Australia also proposing to ban many single-use plastics such as straws and cutlery by 2020.
Green Industries SA estimates that South Australians’ alone use a whopping 255 million straws each year… you read that correctly, 255 MILLION, from a place with a population of only about 1 million people! A ban on many single-use plastics in South Australia will be an absolutely fantastic step in the right direction.
How can you simply begin your journey to a single-use plastic-free life?
1: Stop using single-use plastic straws where ever possible.
When ordering a drink, ask for no straw. Even take a metal straw with you, they only cost a few dollars and are not only good for the environment but look great too (maybe even jazz it up and get a rainbow coloured metal straw, or even a gold one).
2: Eat-in where possible and try and use a reusable coffee mug.
It is estimated that Australians go through 2,700,000 reusable coffee cups EVERY day! Try to make 10 minutes or so a day to enjoy your morning coffee out of a ceramic mug in the café (gets you out
of the office and helps the environment too).
95% of plastic packaging, such as take away containers, is discarded after only a single use. If you do purchase takeaway (we all do), ask for no cutlery pack, and either pack your own utensils or take the meal home. Reusable cutlery will not only be better for the environment but make the meal easier to eat (flimsy single-use cutlery is always hard to use).
4: Take your own reusable bag to the shops
Even with some retailers such as Coles and Woolworths aiming to reduce the use of plastic bags by up to 80%, we as a nation still get through billions of them.
When shopping, remember to always take reusable bags, this will help cut down on the 3.9 BILLION plastic bags that Australian’s use each and every year!
There are MANY ways to begin your journey or to take it to the next level. These are just 4 simple ways to get you started.
Every little bit counts, so start your journey today to work towards a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future!