Choose to refuse single-use plastics

Here are ten tips for living a fantastic, plastic-free life:

dog waste composting

1. Plastic free dog poop solution

With more and more of us bringing fur babies into our lives, disposing of dog poop is becoming a plastic problem. If you have a garden, a simple way to reduce your pup's plastic footprint is to use compostable bags and compost at home. (Remember, compostable bags don’t break down in landfill.)

Dog poo compost bins are available to purchase, or you could build your own:

  1. Grab a large plastic garden pot or old garbage bin, or bucket.
  2. Drill a dozen or so holes in the sides and cut off the bottom.
  3. Dig a deep hole (away from your veggie patch and food compost pile) and submerge the bin ¾ into the ground.
  4. Place the lid on top.
  5. Pop in the poop and add soil every so often.

Cleaning up after your dog will be a breeze! (Compostable bags will break down in this system.)

home made bread

2. Plastic free bread

Bread is one of those staples that we all consume and can be a significant contributor to our plastic footprint. To be plastic-free, when heading to the bakery take your own bread bag or choose a bakery that supplies their bread in paper bags. Or make your own, there's nothing better than freshly baked bread! Bread is best stored in a cloth bag to allow it to breathe slightly, but if you're baking your own ensure that it is cool before placing in a cloth bag.

tea setting with loose leaf tea brewing in a tea pot and poured into a tea cup

3. Plastic free loose leaf tea

Did you know that most tea bags contain plastic? Even the paper looking ones! (It helps the bags to keep their shape in hot water.) But no one wants to eat or drink plastic! The plastic in tea bags also makes them impossible to compost. What’s the plastic free solution? Choose loose leaf tea in plastic free packing, team up with your favourite tea pot or tea strainer and enjoy a guilt-free cuppa. Loose leaf tea is available at the supermarket, won’t break the bank and feels a little decadent.

plastic free waxed baking paper and silicon baking sheets

4. Plastic free baking

Baking paper is another one of those sneaky plastic items. Luckily there are a couple of alternatives. There are many companies now producing plastic free baking paper, also known as parchment paper, look out for them in the supermarket or online. Or if you prefer a reusable option, silicone baking sheets are great too, which are becoming more readily available where you buy your baking supplies and they aren’t single use!

small containers containing snacks like chips, cheese, biscuits and nuts that have been decanted from bulk container

5. Buy in bulk to reduce plastic

A great way to reduce plastic is to buy in bulk. This isn’t just limited to the bulk food stores where you bring your own containers, but you can apply a similar approach to the supermarket shop. Think about buying rice in 5/10/20 kg bags, or chips, biscuits and cheeses in large sizes and decant into containers for school lunches or serving size. So much plastic is used in snack multi-packs and it's a high contributor to the waste we see in our waterways.

child and woman selecting fruit to put in cloth bag and packaging that's either recyclable or reuseable such as glass jars and paper bags

6. Pay attention to packaging

Being mindful of the packaging that products come in, is a great way to reduce your plastic footprint. Choose brands that sell their products in glass, aluminium or paper rather than plastic and choose the product with the least amount of packaging. Look for products where the packaging can be reused, e.g. jars with straight sides make great drinking glasses or are useful for storing items in the fridge or pantry (so easy to see the contents!). This nifty approach also reduces the need for purchasing speciality storage containers.

sushi fish soy sauce containers

7. Reuse sushi fish and take away containers

Sushi fish! We see too many of these littered along the waterways of the Georges River. Take away can be difficult to do plastic free but here's one way to reduce your plastic when eating sushi. Next time you eat sushi, keep the little fish soy sauce containers and refill them at home. It's easy. Simply pour some soy sauce into a small bowl or large spoon. Squeeze out all the air from the fish and suck the soy sauce back into the container. Pop into your bag or lunchbox for your next plastic free sushi feast!

coffee beans, coffee grinds, coffee in an expresso machine, no coffee pods in sight

8. Plastic free coffee pods

Coffee pods are notoriously bad for the environment. They are very wasteful and exceptionally difficult to recycle. There are so many ways to brew a plastic free coffee. Swap to reusable stainless steel pods, available online for various expresso machines, or change to a plastic free expresso machine, French press, stovetop percolator, aeropress, moka pot or single cup pour over. If your local cafe also roasts their own coffee beans, why not BYO a container for them to fill, to make it a truly plastic free brew. There is no need to miss out on the perfect coffee just because you're plastic free!

newspaper folded into the shape of a bin liner to use instead of plastic bags in a bin

9. Paper bin liners

Ready to ditch the plastic bin liners? With all the refusing, reducing, recycling and composting you’re doing, your landfill bin is probably looking pretty empty at this stage. So, have you considered going without a bin liner in your kitchen bin? If you're not quite ready to refuse the liner just yet, another great plastic free option is to line your bin with newspaper. (Remembering that compostable bags do not break down in landfill.) There are lots of ways to line your rubbish bin with paper but we have found this one to be the easiest.

Place newspaper sheets (use two to create some thickness) around the walls of the bin, folding the excess over the top of the lip and across the bottom, overlapping the next sheet you add, and continuing around the bin. Once you have covered all the walls, place a few more sheets on the bottom. Once the bin is full, fold over the newspaper around the lip and pop in the landfill bin.

empty reusable containers and compostable bags

10. Reusable containers for meat, fish and berries

Another great way to reduce plastic consumption is to take your own reusable containers to the butcher, fishmonger, deli or farmers market. As long as they are clean and dry there is no health and safety reason for the container not to be accepted and it's a great way to start a conversation! Alternatively, you could also take your compostable bags for items like meat and fish, and compost at home when you're done. The farmers market stalls love it when people bring their own containers. And, be sure to take down an extra container for your berries.

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Take the Plastic Free July challenge!

Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July® is a global movement helping people be part of the plastic pollution solution – so we can have cleaner streets, rivers, oceans, and communities. Be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics.