Single-use plastic shopping bags and other plastic waste is finding its way into our waterways and oceans, harming our sealife and contaminating a valuable food resource.
Remember years ago when we realised that our overuse of paper products was destroying the rainforests? Well, it seems our Plan B was a dud. The introduction of plastic, most notably in the form of shopping bags, whilst being convenient, has resulted in an ecological disaster.
Whilst the act of recycling has been ingrained into our daily routines for quite some time now, it is estimated that only around 9% of plastic is recycled, so environmental organisations are concentrating efforts on the importance of reducing our reliance on single-use plastic.
With the banning of single-use plastic shopping bags in New Zealand from 1st July 2019, what better time to look at what you and your family can do to reduce the amount of plastic that we dispose of. Here’s 7 ways to get started.
Reusable shopping bags
Supermarkets have been phasing out the use of plastic shopping bags to encourage shoppers to bring along their reusable bags for some time now. Now I’m sure we are all aware of what a “Bag for Life” is (unlike Simon Cowell in the video below), but remembering them is a different story. Now that retailers no longer supply plastic shopping bags, it is essential to get into the habit of popping your reusable bags back into the car boot after you’ve unpacked your purchases so you don’t caught short next time you shop. A small bag that rolls up into a pocket size is ideal for keeping in the handbag for smaller shopping items whilst you’re out and about – try craft or dollar shops.
Our Pick: The Ministry for the Environment has some ideas on how you can make your own reusable shopping bag from old clothes – a win win!
Eco-friendly produce bags
So you’ve got your reusable shopping bag but what do you do when you enter the fruit and veg aisle at the local supermarket and you want to purchase something like tomatoes or grapes? You need to keep them together for weighing purposes (and so they’re not rolling around in the trolley), but you don’t want to use the small plastic bags. Luckily, reusable produce bags are now quite commonplace. Throw a few in with your reusable shopping bags and you’re on your way to being plastic-free.
Our Pick: Purely Natural NZ has organic cotton drawstring bags that are a great size.
Ditch the bottled water
Drinking bottled water may give you a clean and clear taste but at what cost? Plastic water bottles are a huge environmental problem. Opt for a drink bottle that you can refill with tap water and you’ll be helping the environment and your budget. If you don’t like the taste of tap water than try refrigerating it before filling up your drink bottle, use a filter or infuse with fruit.
Our Pick: Double-walled stainless steel drink bottles keep your water cold for up to 8 hours. We love this easy-open sipper design from Eco-friendly Water Bottles & Lunchware.
Bring your own coffee cup
Billions of disposable coffee cups are used around the world every year. We don’t look like breaking our takeaway coffee habit anytime soon and mixed messages over what is recycleable, compostable or biodegradable is causing confusion. Some cafes have started mug recycling – you use a ceramic mug for your takeaway and return it the next time you visit. A great option is a reusable coffee cup that still gives you convenience without the waste.
Our Pick: Because rugby and coffee are life! Check out this cool Rugby Road Code Cuppa Coffee Cup from Not Socks.
Reusable drinking straws
Cafes and restaurants are starting to get on board the plastic-free juggernaut by no longer supplying plastic straws with drinks. Some offer the paper version but we prefer the BYO waste-free option of stainless steel drinking straws. You will get some strange looks from the fast food outlets when you tell them they can keep their straw but somehow they even make the drink taste better!
Our Pick: Add some fun to your drink with rainbow coloured stainless steel straws from Purely Natural NZ.
Better lunch boxes
Bento-style lunch boxes are great for giving kids a range of foods for their school day breaks without the need for plastic wrap to keep things from getting jumbled up together. There’s a huge variety to choose from so consider how much food your child devours to find one that suits. Leak-proof styles are even more versatile.
Our Pick: NZ business, Eco-friendly Water Bottles & Lunchware, have a fantastic range of stainless steel bento-style lunch boxes that will last and last!
Wrap it up!
It’s easy to ditch the plastic wrap or plastic sandwich bags with some clever product ideas. Beeswax wraps are not only reusable, they shape around your sandwich or snack easily and stay put. There are also reusable snack and sandwich bags like these Rainbow styled Bumpkins lunch bags.
Our Pick: For sandwiches, snacks, leftovers or cheese, beeswax wraps from Messy Moments are very versatile.
Written by Julie Scanlon
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”