15 Ways to Reduce Plastic Use and Plastic Free July

I have written about plastic in the past but I only came across the movement of Plastic Free July on my social media feed today. Since it is July, the plastic free month, I have decided to write this piece as a reminder to be aware of and reduce plastic use in our everyday lives.

This has led me to be more aware the extent of plastic use in our everyday lives and the availability of plastic when I am out.

Sadly, plastic is a convenience that leads to serious consequences. Plastic is still very widely seen even though we all know that plastic is harmful to animals and sea-life, as well as the wider environment.

However, don’t be disheartened. We can create change by enforcing small changes in our everyday lives. You may already be doing some of them without thinking about it. Businesses are also making changes such as Boost Juice introducing paper straws.

 

Below I will list some items that are commonly made of plastic and 1 or more solutions or alternatives. Some are quite obvious and you may be already doing them (if so good job =) ) but you may notice something new:

1-Plastic bags–It is good that many of the larger supermarkets have banned the thin plastic bags and not many people are buying the thicker bags that they need to pay for. However, smaller stores and fruit and veg shops still use plastic bags. Keep reusable shopping bags in your handbag and in the car

2-Straws–Refuse plastic straws and drink without a straw. Alternatively, bring a reusable metal or bamboo straw with you

3-Coffee cups–If you drink coffee regularly, bring a reusable coffee cup with you

4-Plastic water bottles–Bring your own reusable water bottle

5-Takeaway containers–Bring your own reusable container or choose to eat in

6-Cutlery (forks, knives)–Refuse plastic cutlery and those wrapped in plastic packaging (e.g. chopsticks). Bring your own set of reusable cutlery with you that comes in a kit

7-Glad wrap–For work or school lunches, wrap your lunch using an eco-friendly wrap (made of organic cotton coated with plant waxes such as soy) and place it in a reusable container. Reusable wraps can also be used to cover leftovers. Or use dishes that come with lids for leftovers.

8-Overly packaged items at the supermarket–Avoid these as they use an unnecessary amount of plastic. Bring your own reusable produce bags (made of cloth or net) for fruits and vegetables

9-Bulk-buy shops–You can bring your own containers for rice, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds

10-Plastic toothbrush–Use a bamboo toothbrush

11-Haircare products (and other beauty products) in plastic bottles–Try using solid shampoo or conditioner bars. I want to try out solid haircare products sometime. There is a brand called Ethique at Priceline. They are plastic free, vegan, cruelty free, sustainable and palm oil free.

12-Balloons for parties–Avoid these. A fun alternative is to blow bubbles

13-Cotton buds–Many have a stick made of plastic. Cotton buds are often unnecessary and are bad for your ears. You can use tissue paper made into a pointy shape. If you really need to use cotton buds for something you can use ones made with a bamboo or recycled cardboard stick.

14-Plastic tape–Replace with masking tape (make of paper) so it can be recycled

15-Plastic gloves–Instead get a pair of reusable rubber gloves

 

Advertisements

5 Ways to Help Animals That Don’t Involve Consumption

I have realised that some of my recent posts are too product focused. The best thing we can do for the environment is to buy nothing. This post will list ways to help animals that do not involve purchasing cruelty free and vegan products.

 

1. Volunteering at a local shelter

Give your time to care for the animals at your local shelter.

You can choose a direct animal care role: The animals may have been abandoned for various reasons, and shelters need volunteers to care for and interact with the animals.

Or an indirect role such as working at their op shop. Theses are not-for-profit organisations, but they need money to provide food, equipment and toys for the animals.

 

2. Handling out leaflets and postcards for animal organisations

Helping to distribute content for animal organisations is a great way to spread awareness. For example, you could distribute postcards or booklets for Choose Cruelty Free. Last year I distributed some CCF lists in my area after I saw a post by CCF on Facebook asking for volunteers to hand out the booklets.

 

3. Using social media to spread awareness 

You can follow ethical organisations and like posts about cruelty free living on social media sites. For example Animals Australia, Choose Cruelty Free, Cruelty Free Kitty etc. If you like, you can also post thought-provoking content about animals along with your usual posts.

 

4. Writing about issues online

I write about issues of animal cruelty and how to live a animal cruelty free lifestyle on my blog. You too could make a blog or website and write about the animal ethics issues you are concerned about.

 

5. Become a monthly donor

You can choose to set up an automatic monthly donation directly from your bank account. This is a great way to help an animal organisation fight animal cruelty. You can stop the monthly donation at any time.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please tell me in the comments if you have any other ideas about ways to help animals.

 

Plastic Problem & Simple Ways to Help

We all know that plastic is bad for the environment & can be harmful to wildlife who ingest it (it kills turtles, penguins, dolphins, birds…). Australia alone produces 3 million tonnes of plastic a year of which <9% is recycled. Up to 130,000 tonnes will end up in the ocean each year. Unfortunately, this plastic never breaks down and only becomes smaller and smaller pieces over time.

Many of us are using plastic in our everyday lives without even thinking about it. In fact, a lot of the plastic used is used on the go or when travelling. The use of these single-use items are unnecessary and can be avoided with a little preparation beforehand.

 

Below are 5 simple ways to reduce your plastic usage:

Food/drinks

1-Always bring a water bottle with you

-This way you wouldn’t need to buy bottled water on the go

-In fact, 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles are bought each year

 

2-Refuse plastic straws

-Sometimes drink cups have another opening to drink from so a straw is unnecessary (e.g. T-mix in Melbourne)

-If you prefer to use straws you can bring a reusable bamboo or stainless steel straw

 

Shopping

3-Bring your own fabric shopping bags

-Fold 1 up and put it in your bag just in case you need to buy something outside your weekly shop

-Use reusable produce bags for fruits and vegetables rather than the plastic bags provided

-Or you can put large pieces of fruit or vegetables straight in the trolley without a bag

 

4-Buy less heavily packaged products

-Packaged food is usually processed food with added sugar and salt=Unhealthy

-Instead buy more minimally packaged or unpackaged whole foods such as whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits & vegetables=Healthier

-Bring your own containers to bulk food stores

-When you need to buy products in containers, choose glass containers over plastic ones. This also applies to skincare products. These containers can be reused to store things once the product is used up

 

Home

5-Use soy wax wraps rather than glad wrap

-Can be used to cover food bowls & wrap up sandwiches and snacks

 

Take it slowly, maybe start with 1 or 2 things you are not already doing, as every lifestyle change you make in reducing plastic usage will make a difference.

Thank you for reading.

Cruelty Free & Environmental Dental Care

Many of us have grown up using Colgate toothpaste and plastic toothbrushes. We used these without thinking, never considering that toothpaste can be tested on animals and the environmental impact of plastic toothbrushes.

Colgate is not cruelty free. It is currently listed as “working toward regulatory changes to reduce the number of animals used for testing”, but this does not mean that it will become cruelty free in the near future. The other well-known dental care brands Macleans, Oral-B, Listerine & Sensodyne are also not cruelty free.

I will provide some examples of toothpastes & toothbrushes that are kinder to animals and the environment.

 

Toothpaste

Grants

  • Natural toothpaste and oral care products. The mild mint toothpaste is available at Coles & Woolworths supermarkets. It is affordable at around $3-4 dollars and has a pleasant taste.

 

Red Seal

  • Cruelty free and vegan except for the propolis toothpaste. Available at supermarkets

 

White Glo

  • Vegan and cruelty free. Available at supermarkets

 

ecostore

  • CCF certified cruelty free and vegan (complete care & whitening toothpaste) except for the propolis toothpaste. Available at chemists & online

 

Zero Waste Beauty Australia (ZWBA)

  • One of their products is an activated charcoal & peppermint toothpaste. Activated charcoal is a natural whitening agent. This is more expensive at $16 for 65mL. It is in a glass jar with a biodegradable label and is available online.

 

Toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes contain no animal products, but plastic is polluting the environment. It is recommended to change your toothbrush every 3 months. In Australia, more than 30 million plastic toothbrushes are disposed of in a single year. And unfortunately most toothbrushes are made of plastic. Some prolong the lives of toothbrushes for cleaning which is good, but it is still plastic which is likely to end up in landfill or in the ocean…

 

Bamboo toothbrushes are a better option.

MOSO (or Mao) bamboo is sustainably sourced. It is fast growing, abundant and does not require pesticides. It can grow up to 1 metre a day!

At the end of its life, the handle can be thrown into the compost as it is biodegradable. The bristles which are made of polymer or nylon don’t degrade as well and can be removed and disposed of separately.

Usually there is a choice between a soft bristle or a medium bristle toothbrush, and there are toothbrushes with charcoal enhanced polymer bristles.

 

Thank you for reading this post.