OK. So we're back in lock down, which sucks, but we're already planning for when parties are back, and for when we can invite all our friends over again, have a wild time and barely notice the sun rising by the time we hit our NIDRA pillowcase. AWESOME. ;)
In the meantime we'll be back to what we do best in lock down... making numerous cocktails, playing zoom trivia and throwing epic house parties for one. But this time more than ever we need to be conscious about the decisions we are making when it comes to single use plastic.
Let’s do the math:
The plastic straws you bought for the cocktails? Used for maybe 10 minutes, will take 200 years to break down. The plastic containers your sushi takeaway arrived in? 400 years. The plastic toothbrush you’re vigorously using to scrub away the sins of the night before... yeah, that is going to take 500 years to disappear. Plastics will outlive us and our children.
According to Greenpeace, every year, 500 billion plastic bottles are produced worldwide. The World Economic Forum says by 2050, our oceans could contain more plastics than fish. But there is good news. We can urge manufacturers to change the way they produce, simply by changing the way we consume.
Here are five ways you may not have considered yet (especially if you like to party):
1. GET A SODASTREAM
Yes, we may drink water out of a stainless steel water bottle, but we’re still storing bottles of soda water to mix with our spirits, and reaching for the orange juice bottle to flavour our mimosas.
Sodastream soda makers are perfect for any time you need a little fizz. Even though the soda maker itself is plastic, the carafes are glass, and the soda maker replaces hundreds of disposable bottles. What’s more, the reusable CO2 cartridges are returned to the manufacturer for refilling. If it’s the juice you’re after, juice your own fruits. Bonus: your hangover won’t be half as bad without all those additives and preservatives.
2. CLEAN CONSCIOUSLY
Waking up to the post-party mess hurts. But not as much as it hurts the planet. To clean, well... make cleaner, try a mixture of 1 vinegar with 3 parts water as an all-purpose spray. You can continue to store the mixture in a reusable spray bottle it in a reused spray bottle as it doesn't have a use-by-date.
One of the many uses of baking soda is that it makes a scouring powder that leaves dishes squeaky clean. If there are just too many dishes to hand-wash, make sure to use powdered dishwasher detergent that comes in a cardboard box instead of those pesky individually wrapped gels or powders.
To wash dishes without any plastic, opt for compressed natural cellulose sponges sold without packaging, natural fibre brushes, and good old rags that will replace a tonne of paper towels.
3. LEFTOVERS NOT LEFT-FOREVERS
If there are pizza and barbecue leftovers hanging about (still good!), skip the plastic wrap and look to beeswax wraps or aluminium foil to store them consciously. Alternatively, storage brands like Seed and Sprout are devoted to creating practical, innovative, and ethical products that lessen the impact on our world. Their storage essentials for the kitchen are not only eco-friendly, but will add a beautiful, streamlined look to your pantry and fridge.
If you are going to treat yourself with the odd takeaway during lock-down, try to order food which you know will arrive in less plastic, such as pizza. YUM!
4. NO BAGS
For bread, before, during, and after the good times - forget the Wonder White. Other than clogging your insides, the plastic bag it comes in just won’t do. Seek out your favourite bread from artisanal bakeries and take a cloth bag to pop your loaf in, and keep it fresh by storing it in an airtight tin. Fresh bread is a little more expensive than its plastic-packaged cousins, but with all the money you save scrapping single-use plastics, it all works out.
Cheese and wine. What’s a lock down without cheese and wine? Source a local deli that sells wheels of cheese without the plastic wrap, and choose wine bottled in glass with natural cork stoppers over plastic stoppers or metal screw caps (which contain BPA in the lining). Both these options just happen to be much more aesthetically pleasing, too.
5. RECYCLE PROPERLY
Although recycling can help reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills, waterways, and ecosystems, only a few types of plastics can be recycled by most municipal governments. The fraction that does get recycled still requires a lot of energy and water which just isn’t a good proposition when it comes to single-use items.
Jump over to the City of Sydney website, to learn how to discern your soft from hard plastics, and to make sure you’re dumping your recyclables in the right bins.