A guide to living with less plastic
29 October 2018
The fight to reduce the amount of plastic we use is one of the biggest environmental issues this year. And for good reason.
Plastic poses serious dangers to wildlife around the world, with over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals dying as a result of plastic debris in the ocean every year, according to figures from UNESCO. The problem is that, as a species, we have become so used to using plastic that it's hard to imagine life without it.
Hard, but not impossible. At LGS we are committed to making our business sustainable, so we thought we'd share these tips on how to reduce, or eliminate, plastic from your life.
The evils of plastic bags
In Australia alone we go through over 9.7 million single-use plastic bags annually, according to Greenpeace. Used on average for just 12 minutes, plastic bags take at least 500 years to break down. Even then they never fully disappear, but instead turn into microplastics, continuing to absorb toxins and pollute the environment.
Plastic bags never fully break down, instead they become dangerous microplastics.
The solution is very simple: bring your own long-life bag when you go shopping. Around the world, governments are bringing in regulations to ban or heavily tax plastic bags, and many alternatives are now easily available. As well as lasting longer, and being made of recyclable materials, they're much less likely to spontaneously fall apart, meaning no more juggling your milk and tins on your way home from the supermarket.
Everyday common culprits
While plastic bags deserved their own section, there are plenty of other single-use plastics that are a common feature of most people's day-to-day lives. These items are also often used for very short periods of times and then thrown away, some of them taking thousands of years to break down. Fortunately, there are straightforward solutions to minimising, or removing, these plastic items from your life:
- Disposable coffee cups: Keep cups offer a great alternative to disposable coffee cups, which are often made with a mixture of plastic and cardboard that makes them nearly impossible to recycle.
- Plastic straws: We've all seen the distressing images of plastic straws being removed from the noses of sea turtles. Well, there are now plenty of turtle-friendly options out there. In a restaurant or bar, you can either bring your own reusable metal straw, or simply ask for your drinks to come without a plastic one.
- Stop buying bottled water: As well as saving yourself a bit of money, bringing your own refillable water bottle is an easy way to cut one of the worst plastic offenders from your life.
- Plastic cutlery: Many takeaway meals come with plastic knives and forks. Carrying your own means you can say no, and again reduce your plastic footprint.
Replace disposable coffee cups with a keep cup.
There are a number of long-term changes you can make in your home that will radically reduce your plastic use:
- Buy in bulk: As well as saving yourself petrol money going backwards and forwards to the shop, buying in bulk will reduce the amount of plastic package used to wrap your purchases. Alternatively try to shop at local markets; not only is the produce fresher, it's likely to use a lot less plastic packaging.
- Choose bar soap: Small changes such as swapping plastic soap dispensers for simple bars will make a big difference to your long term household plastic consumption. Another option is baking soda, which is just as effective as conventional soap for cleaning dishes.
- Use sustainable detergent: There are many substitutes for standard laundry detergents which are contained in plastic-lined containers, with plastic scoops. Some examples include soap strips, soap nuts or soap flakes. Similar practices can be adopted when cleaning.
It goes without saying that in addition to these tips, all materials that can be, should be recycled.
Small changes such as using bar soap over liquid from a plastic container makes a big difference.
For those wanting to take things a step further, there are plenty of choices relating to hygiene and clothing that can also help reduce your plastic use.
Every year roughly 30 million toothbrushes are thrown away in Australia, according to Cool Australia. More eco-friendly options such as bamboo are becoming increasingly popular, and present much less of a danger to the environment.
Baking soda makes a reappearance here too, as it can make an excellent deodorant when mixed with tea tree oil, or shampoo when combined with a cider vinegar rinse.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on cutting down your plastic footprint. Another important choice we all make every day is the organisations we do business with. If you want to talk about your super and investments with a fund who has a track record for supporting initiatives to reduce the impacts of climate change, get in touch with LGS today.
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