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Five swaps to change your habits from plastic to fantastic

Published: 2 July 2018

Our modern world is all about convenience – pre-packaged items that you can grab and go, and disposable products that mean you can simply throw something away rather than wash and re-use.

But plastic is destroying the environment, and we all need to act.

This Plastic Free July, try these five simple swaps to change your habits from plastic to fantastic.

Don’t be a sucker 

You might think these disposable little suckers are pretty harmless – but being so lightweight, too many of them end up in our waterways and the ocean.

Break the habit: Two options here. You can invest in a reusable straw – there are several kinds available – or, more simply, just say “no straw please” when you order a drink. You’ll find pretty quickly that you get used to drinking without one.

Bags not

New Zealand’s major supermarkets and retail stores are ditching single-use plastic bags, but many clothing retailers and smaller shops are still offering them. So how do you avoid plastic bags?

Break the habit: It can be a huge pain to carry a reusable shopping bag on you all the time, but for a relatively cheap investment you can get small, scrunchable bags that tuck down into a pouch. They’re handbag or pocket size, meaning you never need to get caught short.

That’s a wrap

Plastic wrap is something many of us have grown up with. It’s just a fact of life. You want to put something in the fridge? Put some plastic wrap on it, right? Wrong.

Break the habit: Thankfully, supply is catching up with the demand for effective alternatives to this environmental enemy. Beeswax and cloth wraps are now widely available in a range of sizes, or if you want to go a little more high tech, there are also silicone reusable wraps available.

Cotton on

Anyone active on social media will have likely seen the heartbreaking photo of a tiny seahorse with its tail wrapped around a plastic-stemmed cotton bud. It’s a striking reminder of how our little habits are having a big impact on oceans and wildlife. But what’s the alternative to this ubiquitous item?  

Break the habit: Thankfully, you’ve got options. Choose a brand with stems made from paper or bamboo instead – these will break down faster.

Don't take it away, folks

Who doesn’t love the convenience of grab-and-go foods – whether that’s a sandwich encased in a little plastic triangle, that pre-cut fruit salad in a plastic container, or a coffee in a disposable cup lined with plastic, and with a plastic lid. Plastic, plastic, plastic – you get the message.

Break the habit: This one is simply a matter of doing the best you can with the options presented to you. Try to choose a sandwich that comes in a paper bag, instead of that plastic triangle; pick up a piece of whole fresh fruit instead of something pre-cut and packaged; consider sitting for five minutes and drinking your coffee in, instead of wasting that un-recyclable plastic-lined takeaway cup.

Get involved with Plastic Free July

Are you ready to take the challenge? Head to plasticfreejuly.org to learn more about what you can do to help save our earth from plastic pollution.

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