If you are keen to start thinking about ways to become more eco friendly, then it can be tricky to know where to start.
The truth is, when you start to see all of the plastic, you just can't un-see it. It is all around you - literally EVERYWHERE. I understand this can be overwhelming and you’ll feel like you can’t escape it. Don’t worry! We’ve been there too. This is a very normal part of the process and it just takes a little bit of time and patience. As crazy as it makes you feel, it’s also important to remind yourself that change does not happen overnight and you don’t have to do everything all at once.
Here are some steps that will help get you started!
Assess what you have:
After deciding to go plastic-free and starting your journey, it can be easy to get caught up in it all. The beginning stage is actually the most important part as it sets the course of the nexts steps and stages in your journey. It’s crucial to remain mindful during this time.
The best thing you can do is identify the problem areas around you or within your home first. Assessing your current trash is the best way to understand what you are throwing away and what you should cut down immediately. It helps to figure out where you stand and make a plan from there. You'll be surprised with how many disposable and plastic items you own when you really take the time to go through what you have.
Although, everyone’s situation and journey is different, don’t be afraid to reach out a seek advice.
Don’t throw it out:
Now that you’ve identified where you stand, do not, and I repeat, do not throw everything out just yet! While it’s perfectly normal to have that frantic impulse of needing to get rid of all your plastic when you first start your plastic-free journey, it’s not the most sustainable step. More so if some of those items are unused. Throwing out something unused is a pity as well as a waste.
If we purged all of the perfectly useful items from our lives to buy new, that would completely defeat the idea of zero waste. We want to unlearn the throw away culture!
Instead, try to use up the products that you already have – as long as it does not compromise your health, of course.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Use your old plastic toothbrush for cleaning your keyboard or to take the mud off your shoes
- Keep the plastic containers away from your food and move them into your closets! They’re perfect for organising things around your house.
- Get creative! Turn your old plastic into something new. And if you struggle, a quick search online will help you get that ball rolling.
Learn to recycle and compost:
Teach yourself how to recycle properly and get really familiar with recycling in your area. Recycling reduces the need for raw materials so that the rainforests can be preserved.
Most supermarkets accept plastic shopping bags for recycling, look for the plastic bag recycling collection bin at the front of the store.
Check with your local council! Most councils in Australia collect rigid plastic packaging for recycling. Almost all Australians live in a council that collects rigid plastic packaging for recycling. Check what your council accepts.
While you're at it, dive into the interesting world of composting! It’s very easy to begin composting at home and you don’t need to invest in a lot of fancy equipment either. There are many online tutorials available.
Before we can become eco-warriors, we like to think we start off as eco-babies. It’s okay to dip your toe in waste reduction first. Yes to going slow! We’re all about the baby steps, baby steps, baby steps! We are in this for the long haul after all.
We recommend that you start with these 5 very simple swaps that you can do outside of your home. The key is to actually remember to bring your reusables with you when you walk out the door.
- Ditch the plastic bags and bring your own reusable shopping bags instead!
- Remember to take your own water bottle, too! One giant kick in the pants for single-use plastic water bottle consumption.
- Say it with us: No more plastic straws! Simply say, "no thanks!" And if you really need one, pull out one of your gorgeous stainless steel straws.
- On your coffee runs, simply bring your own cup. Get that much needed boost completely plastic-free!
- When eating out, keep a few food containers handy. Nobody likes the taste of plastic in their food, am I right?
"Refuse what you do not need. Reduce what you do need. Reuse what you consume. Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse. And rot (compost) the rest" - The 5Rs by Bea Johnson, ZeroWasteHome
While consumerism isn't the point of zero waste living, buying something you're super excited about using can be really helpful!
You have to agree that going plastic-free is also aesthetically pleasing. The amount of pantry and fridge porn going around is nothing short of inspiring!
If you've just had your eye on a set of glass jars and containers or a beautiful canvas bag, go for it! We’re all about supporting eco businesses who are trying to make a change! Splurge a little if it will help you reduce overall.
Plastic has become an integral part of many people’s daily lives, so choosing to start living plastic-free is a big change. Mindful motivation is encouraged!
We hope this guide helps you start living with less plastic. If you have any tips for other eco-babies, let us know!