April 15, 2014

Plastics are made from non-renewable natural resources such as crude oil, gas and coals. If this in itself isn’t detriment enough for our environment, it also takes about 1000 years for plastic to breakdown.

Globally we are producing and using plastic at a debilitating rate.

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It is estimated that in Australia alone we use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year, which equates to 429,000 bags being dumped in landfill every hour.

But of course this is only a drop in the pool of our demand for plastic; you only need to look around to realise how wide spread our use of plastic is.

Plastic is not only a hazard to our environment, it may also be a hazard to our health.  Plastic containing BPA have long been suspected of causing cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes and many other plastics are similarly suspected of leaching chemicals which may cause the same ill health.

Due to increasing consumer concern over these risks many products are now labelled BPA free however we should also look out for the recycle numbers 3 (PVC), 6 (polystyrene) and 7 (other – including BPA). These plastics are also suspected of leaching dangerous chemicals, are generally not high temperature heat stable (so should not be used to heat food), and do not recycle well. Plastics labelled with the recycling number 1 (PET) should also only be used once and may not be safe for use multiple use.

Don’t completely panic as many plastics are still considered safe.

Look for the recycle numbers 2 (high density polyethylene), 4 (low density polyethylene) and 5 (polypropylene), these are not suspected of leaching but always follow manufactures instructions for use and cleaning and where possible reduce your plastic use, after all it’s good for the environment.

Simple steps to reduce your plastic:

  • Switch to glass: glass jam or coffee jars can be re-used to store food or you can pick up ball jars in most supermarkets. These also have a fantastic vintage look.
  • Ditch the cling wrap: instead of covering leftovers in cling wrap store it between to ceramic plates
  • Opt for Stainless steel: heaps of great stainless steel lunchboxes, containers and water bottles are now available
  • Go Green: Green  bags are a great way to reduce plastic bag use – keep them in the car so you don’t forget them
  • Re-useable food pouches and vegetable storage bags are available online for use at home and to take to the supermarket
  • Ditch the straw: from 6 months babies can drink from a cup, so I don’t see why adults can’t too

Many of these strategies will not only help you to reduce your plastic but also help you eat less processed and more whole and homemade foods.

glass bottle” image from Shutterstock

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  • Take your bread bags back to the supermarkets as apparently they can now be recycled there into plastic furniture. Every bit helps :)

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  • Have you seen how much plastic is on the supermarket shelves these days? We often buy something and go ‘hey, didn’t this used to come in a glass jar/bottle?’ A lot of the time we no longer have the choice to buy non plastic products

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  • Plastic reduction will be really difficult to follow through with. Everything us switching from glass to plastic :(

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  • I’ve had numerous conversations with people at the checkout admiring some of our green bags. There are some pretty ones out there, but I’ve even made my own and personalised them for the kids. And no more dropped groceries when the plastic bag tears too. I also up-cycle our plastic milk bottles into pot plants by cutting off the top (into the recycling bin), putting a few knife holes in the bottom for drainage and planting my seeds in them. Saves me buying plastic pots too.

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  • Some great point here. Something to think about. Though I find the reusable vegie bags a pain to wash and dry but I do still use them.

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  • Great ideas. Plastic may seem convenient but, if we continue using it, we are not helping our environment!

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  • All great tips I can definitely do.

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  • Always consider if there is another way for using something beside plastics and disposables things. Re using is better, so buy in bulk and supply my own containers when I can,

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  • Some things we buy that are only ever packed in plastic are containers that you can wash and re-use a few times. When shopping bags were plastic we used to keep re-using them until the split beyond repair. Only then did it go in the rubbish bin containing other small things that weren’t recycling so they didn’t all blow everywhere. That way there was less risk of things ending up in storm water and ending up on the beach and injuring or killing birds because they tried to eat them.

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  • Thanks again for sharing this article. I have ditched the plastic wrap!

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  • I love recycling, teaching the children from an early age that wastage is not a good thing.

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  • Storing food between 2 plates doesn’t seal food containers.
    If you have a head injury you may not be able to open your mouth wide enough to drink from a cup. Glass sometimes breaks if dropped. I have plastic containers that we have been using for about 40 years. We bought them in the 70s. When plastic shopping bags were good quality we re-used them until they split beyond repair. Only then did they go in the rubbish. One family owned Supermarket group offered incentive to re-cycle plastic shopping bags or use others. They issued cards that were stamped when you provided your own bags. When it was full you got $1.00 off your shopping bill.

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  • this was really informative. there’s heaps of great tips that a lot of us should do. thank you for sharing this post with the mums!

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  • I love recycling my jam jars.

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  • I love glass as it is easy to use, clean and store. Thanks for this informative article.

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