How To Reduce Your Plastic Use

How much single use plastic do you use every day? For most of us, it’s not a question we’ve ever bothered to ask ourselves, but Plastic Free July is asking all Australians to do exactly that. Here are some easy ways to help reduce your plastic consumption.

Ever taken stock of how much plastic you bring home after a visit to the supermarket? It seems almost everything these days is wrapped in plastic – even twice or three times by the time we take it home in a plastic bag. It seems hard to remember a time when everything wasn’t packed in plastic – but it was only a few decades ago. In fact, in the first 10 years of this century, more plastic was produced than in the entire 20th century, and every piece ever produced still exists somewhere on earth.

Australian’s are responsible for sending over 1.5 million tones of plastic packaging to landfill, and we all know about the devastating environmental consequences of our plastic use. But the problem seems so huge, what can we do?

Finding alternatives to single use plastic can feel like a lot of work. But thanks to initiatives like Plastic Free July many are finding intelligent and ingenious solutions to living without plastic.

Beginning in Perth’s western suburbs with 40 volunteers three years ago, Plastic Free July has now grown into a major campaign – this year, 10,000 people, schools and businesses in 50 countries have pledged to have a Plastic Free July.

Not using any plastic for an entire month may seem like an almost-impossible challenge, but there are simple ways to cut down. If refusing all single-use plastic sounds too daunting , why not try the TOP 4 challenge (straws, plastic bags, plastic bottles &coffee cup lids)? Or perhaps pledging a day, or a week?

There are many other benefits to reducing plastic use by following the tips below –  you’ll be supporting small local businesses, eating better quality fruit, veges, meat and diary from your local farmers markets and making more of your own food. Plus, if you chose to start making your own beauty products, you’ll be saving money and limiting the amount of chemicals you’re using on your skin.

So how can you make small changes to help the bigger problem? Do your part to make a change by taking small steps.  It’s easier than you think!

Here are great ideas from reducing single use plastic in your life.

1. Take your own containers for deli and butcher items (it's a good idea to tell them first why you are doing it so they don't then put your container in a plastic bag!). Be brave, the first time is the hardest.

2. Use newspaper to line your bin rather than use plastic bags you can use newspaper to line your rubbish bin. This also helps if you compost/worm farm food scraps.

3. Buy fresh bread in paper bags, or buy your own bread bag and start buying from your local bakery.

4. When you buy your veges from the supermarket, take your own bags. Or sign up for a co-op that delivers boxes of locally grown fruit and vegs.  Or, buy from your local farmers markets.

5. Buy nuts, dried fruit, flour, legumes, coffee, rice, oats etc from bulk bins.

6. Choose items in glass, and chose wine with natural corks.

7. Swap your plastic drink bottle and single use plastic dishes for reusable containers.

8. Say no to plastic straws and instead use metal or glass straw – or just your lips!

9. Look for toilet paper wrapped in paper

10. Switch to wooden toothbrushes – you can find theses from Environment Toothbrush. There are also wooden bamboo hairbrushes available.

12. When it comes to personal hygiene products like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and sanitary pads, have you ever considered making your own? There are many benefits – you’ll be saving money, saving on single use plastic and also saving your skin - many people becoming concerned with the chemical ingredients that we are using on our skin on a regular basis! Lush sell hard bar shampoo that is a great alternative.

13. Give up chewing gum.

14. Consider buying commonly used items such as oats, flour and rice in bulk and share with friends (bag sizes usually range in size from 5-25kg and come in calico or reinforced paper bags).

15. Give up disposable coffee cups. If you must use a disposable cup, say no to the lid, or take your own mug!

16. There is really no need to purchase ‘wonder’ pre-packaged cleaning products. Try making your own with products you can buy in bulk, and usually in cardboard. You've probably got all the ingredients in your cupboard. Here are some great recipes

17. Wrap sandwiches in fabric or foil, or place in paper bags.

18. Save your glass jars and bottles for purchasing bulk food and for storing leftovers.

19. Store leftovers in a bowl with plate over the top instead of using plastic wrap, or use a clean shower cap! Wrap cheese in an old linen tea towel.

20. Collect or have gardening products such as mulches and manures delivered in bulk instead of purchasing in plastic bags. If you don't need a whole trailer load see if your neighbour will go halves.

21. Be a plastic free gift giver by giving an experience, such as a voucher, and wrap gifts without plastic tape by learning the art of fuoshiki!

22. Avoid plastic doggy doo bags and get a pooper-scooper so you can scoop it straight into the bin, or use a paper bag or newspaper.

23. Purchase bamboo pens, or use a laptop or an iPad when you want to take notes.

Are you up for the challenge?  For more great tips, recipes and everything else you need to get started, register for the Plastic July Challenge at

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