Single-use plastics have taken over our lives again lately (sad face). I'm using more plastic, you're using more plastic, we're all using more plastic. In doing our part to stop the spread of those nasty germs we've changed our daily habits. And in our haste to bulk-buy, having to use disposable cups, and those takeaway containers from dinners bought to support local businesses, we've gone back to plastics more than we'd like. And unfortunately, plastics aren't a problem that goes away, According to the BBC, scientists last week identified the highest level of micro-plastics ever recorded on the seafloor off the coast of Italy.
Plastic is bad. We've written about how we can all go plastic-free before. And also here. Look, we've written about it a lot. Everyone's trying their best at the moment. But let's get real, we need to start setting up the world as we want it when we come out the other side of this. Because what we start doing now (especially as countries are easing lockdowns), will help or hinder the world we want to create after. It might seem like this is all bad news but it's not! Because we always have the ability to look at our habits and behaviours, asses the situation and find solutions! Let's have a look at how we can slowly get back on the environmental bandwagon as lockdowns are eased around the world and figure out how we can still reduce plastics during the pandemic.
If you need some inspiration, I spoke with our 1 Million Team and compiled the below suggestions.
The humble farmers market and veggie box deliveries!
I still get confused with what plastics can be recycled from my weekly shop (although this slider from NPR is a pretty good guide and we've put together this basic graphic for people in Australia). But I'm going to do one better, and try and cut all plastics out of your weekly shop. We've heard that some stores have banned reusable bags, some prefer not to use them and others don't mind at all. If you're struggling to use your trusty reusable bags (make sure you wash them!) you could try shopping at farmers markets if they're still open (one team member has been going every Saturday to her local market, it's almost the same as before but with marshals and social distancing rules in place). If you're lucky and live near a few different grocery stores you could also try going to different stores or using self service counters when it's just you touching the reusable bag and they're easy to manage.
Another team member suggested a veggie box delivery, and if you're in NZ or Australia, check out Ooooby boxes! These kind of boxes are great, they source local produce and deliver a box full of goodies each week or so to your door. Try searching online to see if something like this exists in your area!
More planet-friendly takeaway!
Another suggestion was to try to order from takeaway places that don't use plastic! This might make it a bit trickier when you're feeling a Pad-See-Ew (Thai noodles) craving, but ordering from places that have cardboard takeaway boxes can help us cut out plastics. Pizza is an easy (and delicious) go-to that's almost always in cardboard. If you're not sure whether a restaurant uses plastic or cardboard you could call them up and ask or do a bit of detective work on Instagram or Google and look at the photos people have posted of food from the restaurant!
On lots of delivery apps you can also choose the option of whether you need cutlery or not, so make sure this isn't selected and just use what you have at home! If you're calling the restaurant directly just request no cutlery with the order.
I thought I'd give you an insight into my life, just as a treat, but I also cut up the cardboard boxes after I'm done and heap it in with my compost. Savvy!
Also, I can't believe I'm writing this but get a keep-cup. Before all of this, I was at the stage that when I saw someone without a keep-cup, I gave a generous amount of side-eye. Honestly, an inappropriate amount. And don't come after me, I know shops aren't accepting them at the moment. But they will again shortly and when they do, be ready! My brother's birthday is coming up. Guess what he's getting.
Embrace the veggie scraps, baking bread craze
While we've been locked up at home, we've been busy! The Internet is overrun with people baking sourdough, and pretty focaccia, they're growing food from their veggie scraps and starting new veggie gardens! While these hobbies are extremely satisfying they're also very good for our planet (and for us). By learning how to bake bread and growing our own food, we bypass plastics completely and have 100% all natural homemade goodness. So get on the DIY hype train and get baking and growing! And if you can get neighbours on board you can organise to grow different foods and swap with them.
Let's talk toiletries
It's time to test out things like shampoo bars and soaps. You're likely new to the world of shampoo bars, so it's going to take some trial and error to get one that works for you. And now really is a perfect time, since if one doesn't work for you, only your housemates are going to be around to see it! I've only just started using a soap bar, so this will feed well into my weekly waste-free shop. You can also find shampoo bars online easily.
These are just some of the easy ways we can start cutting plastics out of our life again. We've shown we can change our habits so let's get back in the right headspace. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention there is an array of content out there with people giving great tips for living waste-free. Amongst a wide array of others, we love Bea Johnson (@zerowastehome), and Anne-Marie Bonneau (@zerowastechef). Check them out!
Any others that you'd like to share? Let us know below.