As the apparentness of plastic in everyday life is being magnified during Plastic Free July, there’s never been a better time to start breaking bad. Bad habits, that is - those mindless morning routine habits that contribute to plastic pollution. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Devastatingly, there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean - and don’t even get us started on what’s happening to the land as we know it.
On average, Australians use 130kg of plastic per person each year. Less than 12% of that's recycled. 130,000 tonnes of plastic will find its way into our waterways and into the ocean. So yes, it’s going to take a lot of work, but if we each change our habits, more and more businesses with single-use items will start to get the message, and manufacturers will no longer have the demand to produce virgin plastic.
A fork to eat your lunch, a plastic mask to catch the train with, a plastic pack of tissues for those winter sniffles, coffee cup after plastic coffee cup - yeah, they’re good for the duration of the trip, but what happens next? A staggering eight million tonnes of plastic pollution enters the ocean each year and is set to double by 2025. So, if that much plastic is in the ocean, also think about how much is ending up on your dinner table. Food for thought…
Did you know 95% of plastic is used just once before being discarded? To start doing your part, read on for these 5 easy solutions to prep and pop into your work bag so you are never caught short asking for that plastic fork again.
Plastic Free Swap #1: Your takeaway coffee cup for a reusable option
With so many reusable options these days for your morning caffeine hit, there’s just really no excuse to be wondering around with a single use cup, even if it is recycled, compostable or whatever else it’s claiming to be. While you could always invest in making your own at home - we get it, there’s nothing quite like your favourite barista brewing your usual first thing in the morning. So, when you’re not hanging by the home or work coffee machine (and for some reason, you don’t love instant coffee…), a keep cup is a must. And yes, science says your keep cup is COVID safe!
Right now, we’re loving Huskee’s options for the minimalist, if you like to keep it chic and low-key, while Frank Green has an impressively bright collection, better for those who need a little visual reminder in the morning.
Plastic Free Swap #2: Smoothie to-go for smoothie cup or metal straw
So you’ve had your coffee in your fab new keep cup, and you’re onto a little liquid support for that brain function. Aka, it’s time for your go-to smoothie for brekkie on the run. Not only are plastic smoothie cups, you know, bad (see above), but they’re also flimsy, clumsy, and just unattractive. Get your local juicer to pour it into a Cheeki tumbler that’s double wall and vacuum insulated to keep your drink icy cold for up to 6 hours, and it comes with a handy stainless-steel reusable straw. Or, Seed and Sprout offer tumblers in earthy hues, with all the same benefits and a travel lid, so you can pop it in your bag while you leg it for the bus.
Plastic Free Swap #3: Single-use cutlery for a utensil kit
And it’s lunchtime. Whether you’re on the go with a walking lunch meeting (who does that?), stretched out in the park, or on the sand - no one wants to be that person who drops into the cafe just to ask for a plastic fork. The aim of the game here is to be prepared, and you can do so with Flora and Fauna’s bamboo cutlery pouch, which is actually so cute you’ll never leave home without it. It includes a knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, bamboo straw and cleaning brush(!). Or head to Retro Kitchen, whose stainless steel cutlery set comes in a compact carry case, perfect to keep in the car so you’re never caught short.
Plastic Free Swap #4: Plastic shopping bags for reusable bags
You know when you wish you had a grocery bag that looks like a regular bag but can fit all your snacks and is also durable? Problem solved! When you’re getting work lunch or study snacks for the day ahead, think green. Frank Green. Their reusable bag can be a shopping bag, a tote bag, and a backpack, and it is made from ecorpet® fabric. Winning.
Biome has a nifty solution for when you’re just taking your handbag with you. Their reusable bag made from recycled plastic, folds up into a small pouch you can slide in next to your wallet.
Plastic Free Swap #5: Work bag essentials for their eco-friendly counterparts
Your phone is probably near you for about 99% of your work day, and something that should be glaringly obvious by now - is what’s protecting it from your butter fingers. Introduce your little friend to sustainable and eco-friendly protective mobile phone cases like Mina Cases or try Pela, the world’s first fully sustainable cases that are also compostable.
Grimy pack of tissues hanging around in that bag of yours? It’s time to go hanky. Now, don’t be intimidated by a hanky when you should be intimidated by the amount of plastic pollution instead. Biome has pretty organic cotton patterned handkerchiefs, designed and made in Australia, while Hankys (you guessed it) makes just about every pattern you can dream up in 100% cotton.
If you’re into extra environmental credit (you should be), think about how it is you’re getting to work. Hopping in the car a little too much? Instead of burning calories and fossil fuels at the gym before work, take time in the morning to get those legs moving by walking (as far as your commute allows) and letting your mind clear before the day ahead. If walking is not an option, take your foot off the pollution accelerator and jump on public transport. Hey, you get to take the bus lane and listen to a podcast while you’re at it.
Now, go get that bread!