Life without plastic! It’s a shock to realise that every piece of plastic ever created is still here on the planet causing damage to our natural world.
It was invented in 1907 but it wasn’t until after World War 1 that improvements in chemical technology led to an explosion in new forms of plastics with mass production beginning in the 1940s and 1950s.
Plastic was considered a wonder material as it was cheap and brilliantly robust - so robust unfortunately it is virtually nondegradable.
However, a huge tide of global interest in reducing our use and dependence on plastics has seen much needed change but there is still a long way to go.
Many people are wanting to become as plastic free as they can but struggle to find non-plastic alternatives.
Most supermarkets in NZ no longer provide single use plastic bags and the NZ Government is to phase out all single-use plastic bags in 2019. Here are some tips for becoming plastic free at home.
At the supermarket … Take reusable cloth bags instead of plastic bags.
Opt for fruit and vegetables without wrapping, and if you can, choose products with less packaging.
If you get fresh meat from a butcher they can usually wrap it in paper, which is biodegrabeable. At the supermarket you might get fresh meat or fish wrapped in tin foil. You can wash and reuse the tinfoil e.g. as a cover for leftover dishes of food.
At home … Swap tissues for a handkerchief.
Use cotton facecloths instead of disposable wipes.
Use newspaper to collect food scraps or an unlined bucket and simply wash it more often.
Instead of plastic wrap use wraps coated in beeswax such as those from Bee Wrapt. If you find they crack under cold temperatures in the fridge, adding jojoba oil makes them more supple. Available in various colours and designs, Bee wraps don’t just reduce waste but perform much, much better than their plastic counterparts. There is no build-up of condensation so food doesn’t sweat but can breathe instead.
Never drink bottled water.
Buying bottled water in New Zealand is absurd, especially when you consider that bottled water is less regulated than tap water; it’s usually just filtered tap water; it’s very expensive; and it results in unnecessary plastic waste that’s usually not recycled.
Carry a reusable water bottle and travel mug wherever you go.
Pack your lunch in glass, stainless steel, cloth sandwich bags, a wooden Bento box, etc.
Let baking soda and vinegar become your new best friends. Baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean, scour, and disinfect the house and wash dishes, replacing plastic cleaning bottles.
Use natural cloths instead of plastic scrubbers.
If you need something with scrubbing power, go for copper instead of plastic.
Use a cotton dishcloth or a coconut coir brush for dishes, instead of a plastic scrub brush.
Don’t underestimate the versatility of old rags!
Glass or plastic bottles can often be refilled or repurposed.
Keep your laundry routine plastic-free Use soap flakes instead of conventional laundry detergents that come in plastic-lined cardboard with plastic scoops or thick plastic jugs. Along the same lines, use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap. Bar soap works as a good shaving cream alternative, too.