Over the month of July at Vision Super, we tried to reduce our single-use plastic waste.
Many of us switched to re-usable cups, we stocked the tea room with reusable shopping bags, loose leaf tea and plenty of teaspoons (no more little disposable stirrers!).
Plastic litters our streets, our parks and our oceans. A plastic bag can take anything between 20 to 1000 years to decompose, and scientists predict there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
With those scary facts in mind, we’d like to reduce our plastic every day of the year, not just in July. We’ve put together our top ways to reduce plastic waste and we hope that they help you live life with less plastic too.
Bring your reusable plastic bags everywhere
Many of us have green supermarket bags lying all over the house, but we’re only human – so we sometimes forget them.Try leaving reusable bags everywhere you can – your desk draw, your hand bag, and your car boot.
We put a basket of reusable plastic bags in our tea room for staff to borrow when going shopping on their lunch break. People contributed any spare bags they had, and everyone returned the bags when they were back from their lunch break.
The little guys
You bring your big reusable shopping bags to the grocery store - but what about those little bags you put your apples or your loose leaf greens in?
If you do your grocery shopping at the market, you can also bring containers to get items like cheese, meat and dips in. Rebekka from our office completes a plastic-free shop (pictured) every week in her lunchbreak by walking down to Queen Victoria Market.
Drink your coffee from a reusable cup
Did you know coffee cups can’t be recycled? Although paper on the outside, disposable coffee cups have a plastic lining - meaning they need to go in the waste bin.
There are so many kinds of reusable coffee cups out there that coffee shops are happy to put your daily coffee in. If you have time, you can also take ten minutes to drink your coffee at a café (out of a ceramic cup) instead of travelling with it.
Try loose leaf tea
We discovered that tea bags have plastic in them! So we made the switch to loose leaf tea in the office (and many of us did the same at home). This involved buying a few tea strainers, but was easy to implement.
Ditch the plastic wrap and water bottles
There is almost nothing that plastic wrap does that can’t also be done with a container. Try storing leftovers or taking your lunch to work in a container or in a reusable wrapper.
Another obvious one would be to stop using single-use plastic water bottles, not only to save the planet, but also your money. Australians purchased over 726 million litres of water in 2015. With the average cost of the most popular bottled water in Australia is $2.75 per litre, Australians may have spent up to $2 billion dollars on bottled water in 2015.
Australia imports bottle water from all over the world, which is pumped from the ground, packaged, transported and chilled before we buy it from the supermarket shelf. This clocks up thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases, wastes thousands of barrels of oil and thousands of litres of water.*
Plastic free toiletries
Reducing your plastic waste from toiletries can require a little more effort, but we’ve found a few items and tricks you can try.
If you’re up for trying something new, consider a bamboo toothbrush. The Environmental Toothbrush is made from sustainably sourced bamboo and can be put in your compost or garden green waste bin. According to the creators of the Environmental Toothbrush, over 30 million toothbrushes are disposed of by Australians each year – adding up to 1000 tonnes of landfill each year.
Also consider ditching the disposable razor and trying a razor that can be reused (with blades that can be replaced).
When it comes to soaps and shampoos, you can pick up soap bars without plastic wrapping at specialty shops and markets. Some places (markets and specialty soap shops), are also happy for you to bring your old shampoo bottles and refill them.
Other ways to recycle in your workplace
In addition the container, paper and food waste recycling bins in our office building, we have collection boxes in the staff room to recycle a few other items. We send coffee capsules, toothpaste and toothbrushes and postage packaging that off to Terracycle. We collect old mobile phones to send to the Zoo and batteries to BatteryBack via their nearest drop off point.
If you think your workplace could participate in a similar recycling initiative, get in contact with these organisations or find their nearest drop off points.
Let us know your tricks!
Are you taking steps to reduce your plastic waste at work or home? If you have any tips for us, let us know via social media. We’d love to share them to help other Vision Super members live with less plastic!