Tuesday, 25 October 2016

No Excuse For Single Use


I grew up with the 3R's:

Reduce
Reuse
Recycle

Recycle is LAST and yet we continue to believe that it's enough.

I encourage you to update your 3 R's to 6

Refuse
Reduce
Reuse
Repurpose
Repair
Recycle

Notice Recycle is still last.

LAST.

Our priority must be refusing and reducing.

Walking around my house I can see so much plastic. 

There is a DVD in a plastic sleeve on my desk, next to it a tin full of pens, all plastic, none refillable.  A packet of envelopes in plastic, a USB packaged in plastic.  Into the bathroom - shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, all in plastic bottles and tubes that will empty and be thrown away.  Plastic toothbrush, disposable heads for my razor.  Toilet paper packaged in plastic.  Tissues in a plastic sleeve.  Plastic, plastic, plastic.

It seems impossible to escape.

But we can REDUCE the amount of plastic we consume.  And we MUST.

Let's talk about how

Make your Motto for 2017 "No Excuse for Single Use"

Here are four easy(ish) ways to reduce your consumption of plastic.

1) WATER BOTTLES

These are my pet hate.  

I remember when bottled water first became a "thing" in Australia, back in the 80s.  No one wanted to pay for water.  What a ridiculous concept!  But look at us now!  In Australia alone we are spending billions of dollars a year on bottled water.  BILLIONS.  We consume this water from 118,000 tonnes of plastic water bottles every year, most of which end up in landfill or our water ways - less than 40% are recycled.

And they are so unnecessary.    I mean, I live in Indonesia and I don't buy water in bottles…

If you are lucky enough to live in a country where the water isn't a health risk, drinking from the tap will not only make a huge impact on the environment, it will make a huge impact on your wallet.  If you don't have good tap water, there are still other options.

* harvest rainwater - YUM 
* invest in a dispenser and purchase water in refillable 20 litre bottles.
* invest in a filtration system 

Outside the home:
* ask for a glass of water instead of a bottle
* carry a refillable bottle - many towns have refill stations these days
* ask in restaurants and bars if they will fill your bottle for you

I take my drink bottle everywhere I go.  I have refilled it at refill stations, drinking fountains, restaurants, bars, hotels, airplanes, peoples homes…. everywhere.   The only time my request to fill my bottle has been rejected was on a flight in Australia.  It is possible.  Start by making the effort to reduce your consumption in one area - for example, have a reusable cup to refill at work, or filter tap water at home.

2) STRAWS

Each day we use 500,000,000 straws.  That's enough to fill almost 47,000 school buses EVERY YEAR.  Straws are made from polypropylene - a petroleum biproduct.  Petroleum plastics are designed to LAST FOREVER.

Unfortunately, putting a straw in your drink is automatic at most bars, restaurants and cafes so the hardest part of cutting straws out of you life is remembering to ask for "no straw"

But start making the effort.  A little bit really does go a long way!

*** I know that sometimes a straw is necessary - I've seen kids trying to drink straight from glasses at a cafe, I get it.  The great thing about straws is there are many sustainable options these days - glass, stainless steel or bamboo straws.  Get your kids involved - let them choose their very own straw and teach them how they are helping the environment by making a more sustainable choice.

3) DISPOSABLE CUPS

I'm not a big one for take-away drinks these days - there's nowhere to take your drinks away from when you live on an island in the middle of the sea, and when I'm off the island it means I'm on vacation and therefor, generally, have all the time to sit and have my coffee (or smoothie) in a real cup in the cafe.

If you don't have that time, and need to take your drink on the run, the best option is to have your own, reusable, "to-go" cup (or glass jar for a juice or smoothie).

In a situation where you forget your own cup and can't bear to forgo that coffee (I get it you guys - COFFEE!!!) at the very least ask them to keep their lid.  You don't need it, right?

4) PLASTIC BAGS

Ahhhhhhh…. The plastic bag.  For years we've been hearing about how plastic bags are the devil.  We've been encouraged to take our own bags shopping and major supermarkets offer reusable bags as an alternative.  Lots of places have already banned the bag.  Others are heading in that direction.

Plastic bags last between 20 and 1,000 years. It is estimated that "world wide a trillion plastic bags are used and discarded every year".  Plastic bags are recyclable and yet it is estimated that only 3% of bags in Australia actually get recycled. "Australians dump 7,150 recyclable plastic bags into landfills every minute". 

7,150 every minute.

That is a staggering amount.

"Never accept a plastic bag" went on my bucket list years ago and it's been crossed off for quite some time.  But plastic bags are harder to refuse completely, aren't they?  Because unlike a straw or a coffee cup, a plastic bag, after it has served its initial purpose as a vessel in which to carry your purchases home, can actually be useful.  We don't put our plastic bags in the trash, we put them in the cupboard for later.

We use them to put our muddy shoes in, or our wet swimwear.  We use them to carry anything that might leak in our bags when we travel.  But the thing I hear the most is that people are using their plastic bags from the supermarket to line their bins.

I don't use a bin liner.  I also don't work, have no children and have domestic staff who do the laundry, most of the cleaning, and cook for us when we want them to.  So, you know, I've really got no excuse - I can clean out a bin.

But for those of you who aren't ready to give up your bin liner, lets talk about how to use less of them by creating less waste.  There are a gazillion things you can do - ranging from annoying to super difficult (let's face it - the reason we're in this mess is because we have taken the route of convenience.  If it were easy to reduce our rubbish we wouldn't be having this conversation).  Here are a few suggestions.

* request no junk mail
* donate gently used magazines to a school or  hospital
* Buy cleaning products in bulk or in concentrate
* Look for items packaged in paper, cardboard or glass
* Separate your recycling
* Separate organic waste - Compost is awesome, you guys!  But if you're not a gardner you can still separate your organic waste - wrap it up in newspaper and put it in the green bin.  Less waste in your bin, and, most importantly you're cutting out the gooey stuff that requires the cleaning of the bin.  Maybe you don't need that liner after all???

How can you reduce your plastic consumption today?

Get in touch, I'd love to hear what you're doing - let's hold each other accountable!

Resources:
thelastplasticstraw.org
www.plasticoceans.com
cleanup.org.au
www.allaboutwater.org



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