Plastic has become an environmental disaster. Microplastic pollution has been found in our waterways, fish stocks, salt, tap water and even the air we breathe. Reducing our reliance on plastic by refusing it wherever possible has never been more important, especially as Australia’s recycling system is in crisis, writes Koren Helbig for The Guardian.
Yet there are conundrums that continue to defeat even those dedicated to going plastic-free. From bin liners to takeaway containers, Guardian Australia has tried to solve them. And we want to hear from you: share your plastic conundrums and the solutions. We’ll round up the best ideas for a follow-up article.
What should I do about plastic liners for the kitchen bin?
Many people justify their continued use of plastic bags by arguing each one is reused in the kitchen bin. But that’s not actually recycling – it’s barely even reusing, as each bag is still destined for landfill. Others buy bin liners, spending good money on a product made to be ditched after just one use.
Skip the unnecessary plastic bag altogether and simply rinse your bin after emptying it into the council bin. To help cut down on smelly garbage “juice”, separate out food scraps for composting
How can I avoid plastic packaging in supermarkets?
The ultimate solution is filling up your own reusable containers at bulk food stores (check out Sustainable Table’s bulk food directory), but strategic shopping at major supermarkets also helps.
Skip plastic bags altogether – including the smaller produce bags – by taking your own reusable bags. Prioritise nude food: Lebanese cucumbers over plastic-wrapped continental versions, for example. Buy staples such as flour and sugar in paper bags, rather than plastic. Buy cheese and meat at deli counters, using your own reusable container. And if staff refuse BYO containers, or too much food is unnecessarily packaged, write to management demanding change.
Can I take my plastic somewhere to be recycled and transformed directly, rather than rely on nontransparent recycling systems?
What to do about getting takeaway food without plastic containers?
Discarded food and beverage containers made up almost half of the 15,552 ute loads of rubbish collected during last year’s Clean Up Australia Day. Opt out by taking your own reusable containers to the local takeaway. Trashless Takeawayhelps consumers find Aussie eateries happy to fill reusable containers, while Fair Food Forager and Responsible Cafes highlight low-waste locations. Boycott places that refuse to embrace sustainable practices – as zero-waste lifestyle advocate Tammy Logan explains, refusing BYO containers is most often a business decision, not a legal requirement.