Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Plastic, Plastic, Everywhere

As part of our move to be more sustainable I am working on reducing the amount of plastic my family uses and throws away. Like all of the changes we are making, it has been hard because plastic is such a bit part of our modern lives. We automatically reach for plastic – glad wrap, containers, and packaging – and it can be difficult to find an alternative.

Difficult mainly because of habit. Only a couple of generations ago, there was no glad wrap (it was invented in 1953) and obviously people survived quite nicely without it. But to suggest not buying glad wrap and using a non-plastic alternative it kin to suggesting we should rip our toenails out because cutting them leads to kilos of land fill each year (most people wouldn’t believe either suggestion is serious).

Once again my solution to this has been to make small changes over time. The first obvious change is to use those green shopping bags instead of plastic bags. If you have little ones buy the funky Sesame Street or Wiggles ones (I started with these funky bags before little ones, how can I resist Shrek?)

My collection of shopping bags

Keep them in your car so you will always have them when you do your grocery shop. Don’t forget to use them for your fruit and veg, bakery items and meat (I have a separate one I use for meat). Once this becomes a habit, stop putting your fruit and veg into separate plastic bags (why do we do this?). You are going to wash them anyway, why not bung them in the one big bag? Don’t forget the grapes too – no need for a plastic bag for them either.

Once I was doing this all the time I became conscious of the other plastic bags I was using – my non-grocery shopping. Since the green bags are in the car, why not use them for all purchases? I have now learnt to say “don’t worry about a bag thanks, I'll just take the receipt”. Sometimes I forget and they put it in a plastic bag but as I said this is an ongoing process.

I think these steps are the easiest beginning steps to take in reducing our plastic use. From here you will become much more aware of how much plastic you are using and disposing of.

You might be asking: “What do you line your kitchen bin with?” This was Mr Berry’s question when I suggested we make this change. We don’t line our kitchen bin. We made this change at the same time we started our worm farm and compost bin so our waste was mainly dry. When we empty the kitchen in it gets washed and now there isn’t any wet waste or food scraps as they all get composted so the bin doesn’t get yucky. I will admit we are lining our council bin with a plastic liner but it is on the list to get rid of that too – baby steps.

Fake Plastic Fish - Beth has just written about a group of bloggers concerned with reducing plastic usage. She has links to their sites.

Jorth - Here is an Australian blog

Here are some articles of interest:
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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