Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018: Reducing single use plastic

I am unashamedly frugal, sometimes to the embarrassment of Mr Fork. I take great pride in being eco conscious and reducing the impact that I personally have on the environment. Now that I have children, it's important to me that they learn to be respectful of our planet as well. Two years ago, I put up a list of ten things I do to help the environment (and you know, also save money). This year, I'm going to step it up a bit and try even harder to reduce my household waste and single use plastic items.

There are so many things that are simple to do, and don't even have to cost much, if anything at all. Here are some more of the things I already do, and some ideas that I'm working toward as well.

Say no to consumables. Who needs plastic straws, paper napkins or utensils when there are awesome glass or metal straws, fabric serviettes, and cute reusable utensils out there? I've had my glass straw for years, and I love it. I've been reading a lot about beeswax wraps and I really want to find a good source of local beeswax so I can start making my own (and you know, maybe use up some of my fabric stash while I'm at it!).

Avoid plastic shopping bags. Similar to the above, but it needs saying again. Our two major supermarkets have plans to phase out plastic bags this year, which I think is a great idea. It's easy to put cloth bags in the car boot, and I always have a small fold up bag in my handbag for incidental purchases. I've also embraced bringing along mesh bags for my produce shopping so I can avoid those thin plastic ones they offer. If I have a choice between pre-packed produce, or picking my own and using my own bags, it's a no brainer.
I got these ones as a Christmas present, and they come with their own handy little bag to stash them in when not in use. They're so simple to make though that I'm going to whip up a few more with some of the mesh material I have in my stash.
When I get my produce home, I can also prolong it's life by storing it in my fabric Swag bags (which are awesome by the way!)
I'm also lucky enough to have some bulk health food stores near me. These stores let you scoop and weigh your own produce (like nuts, flours, salts, beans etc) from bulk bins and either use the brown paper bags in store (which are compostable) or bring your own container to hold them. 

Use reusable bottles and cups. It's important to stay hydrated, but not at the cost of all the litter it generates. A friend of mine recently moved to the beach and has been telling me horrifying statistics about the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean and on the beach. There are so many bottle options out there - foldable ones for the space conscious, insulated ones to keep your water cold (or hot!), glass, and ones with super cute covers like my beloved BBBYO ones! (the 'bits' below are barley from when I brewed up barley water to soothe a chest infection)
I'm also a huge fan of reusable coffee cups - I have one at home and one at work for ultra convenience. Many of the coffee shops near where I work even offer a small discount for bringing your own cup. I've heard statistics that it can take more than 500 years for a plastic coffee cup to break down, which is horrifying.
I've noticed a huge shift in awareness when shopping, and many shoppers now bring their own reusable bags as a matter of course (could be that some shops have started charging for terrible quality plastic bags as well). Where I used to get odd looks for bringing my own coffee cup to a cafe, now I'd say from my own observations that there are more BYO cups than not. This is definitely a movement I'm happy to get behind and so pleased to see individuals and businesses taking up.

Do you bring your own bags and cups when out and about? What are your tips for reducing plastic consumption?


  1. Good on you for reducing. I sometimes am aware that I try to take reusable bags to the supermarket but then put produce in plastic bags. I have seen some yesterday that made me think of alternatives.

    1. I think every little bit helps though. Often I shake my head at some of the supermarket packaging - they certainly don't make it easy with all the prepacked fruit and vegetables. I've even seen gladwrapped bananas which just makes me cringe... if only they had their own natural wrapping... :)

  2. Best purchase I ever made going on 2 years old now is this shopping trolley bag

    We always get such good comments about it at the store and the checkout people love us because we are in an out so quickly even with a trolley full of shopping.

    1. I've often seen these being used, especially at Aldi, and I've wondered where they came from! It certainly makes checkout and carrying everything out of the car so much easier!

  3. What a good, and important, post. Hurray to all of it!

  4. ooh yes the packaging of fruit and veg really bugs me at the supermarkets. such a waste. all that plastic just thrown out. grrr. good on you for doing your bit. cheers S



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