So you’ve mastered the basics of going plastic-free: choosing to refuse takeaway coffee and cold drink cups, carrying a reusable straw and drink bottle, and always remembering to take your own reusable shopping bags.
Wondering what the next step on your plastic-free journey could be? A quick look at what we put in our rubbish and recycling on a weekly basis can give some great ideas on things we can change that will make an impact.
Councillor Penny Hulse, Chair of Auckland Council’s Environment and Community Committee and long-time environment advocate, says her current focus is on eliminating plastic packaging that is labelled with the numbers 3–7, like squeezable plastic bottles that we use for tomato sauce and plastic household cleaning containers.
“These types of plastics are much more difficult to recycle. I avoid buying them at the supermarket whenever I can.
"I look for alternative packaging – items packaged in things that are easily recycled like glass, tin, and cardboard or clear PET (number 1) or frosted HDPE (number 2) plastics. Where I haven’t been able to find replacements, I now try to reuse or refill my 3-7 plastic containers, wherever possible.”
While Auckland Council still accepts all household plastic containers in its kerbside recycling collection, some plastics are easier to recycle and the raw materials are worth more on global plastic recycling markets.
Here is a room-by-room guide to take your plastic-free journey to the next level.
In the Kitchen
- Use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.
- Avoid plastic dishwashing detergent bottles by hand washing dishes with baking soda or a solid bar of soap.
- Try natural, beeswax-coated cotton fabric wraps instead of plastic cling film.
- Check out Love Food, Hate Waste New Zealand for tips on the best way to store your food to keep it fresher for longer (without plastic).
- Rather than throwing plastic containers in your recycling, repurpose them for storage.
- Choose glass or stainless steel food storage containers and reuse what plastic containers you already have.
- Take your own reusable container to the supermarket, bulk store or local farmers’ market.
- Avoid soft-plastic and single-use packaging by baking your own biscuits, muffins, and breads, or making your own dips.
- Opt for stainless steel or bamboo cooking utensils and pots and pans without a non- stick coating.
- Try lining your rubbish bin with paper and rinse it out when dirty.
- Find an alternative to putting food scraps in your rubbish bin so you don’t need to use a plastic bin liner. Forty-five per cent of an average Aucklander’s rubbish bin by weight is food scraps. Reducing food waste can save you money and your rubbish won’t be as soggy.
- Find an alternative to synthetic fibre and plastic-based dishcloths by using a natural fibre cloth. You can even knit or crochet your own.
In the Bathroom
- Eliminate plastic containers from your bathroom and replace with a bar – hand, body, and face wash, hair shampoo and conditioner, and shave soaps all come in bar form.
- Choose toilet paper not wrapped in plastic.
- Switch your plastic cotton buds for a sustainable alternative like bamboo.
- Bamboo hairbrushes are not only plastic-free but also anti-bacterial.
- Bamboo Toothbrushes are also widely available.
- Swap your plastic razor for a stainless steel razor.
- Ditch the single-use, plastic dental floss for an alternative such as beeswax floss or silk floss that comes in a glass jar.
- Make your own toothpaste and store it in a glass jar.
In the Laundry
- Use laundry powder in a cardboard box or take your liquid laundry container to be refilled.
- Try making some homemade cleaning solutions - Baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar are powerful cleaners and can be used in a variety of ways.
- Switch to a stain-remover bar, instead of a spray plastic bottle or powder in a plastic container.
- If you’re looking for a new laundry basket, check out plastic-free alternatives.
- Replace the plastic clothes pegs with pegs made from stainless steel, wood, or bamboo with a stainless steel spring.
Plastic Free July Aotearoa
Plastic Free July is a worldwide challenge with millions of participants in more than 170 countries. It empowers individuals, communities, and businesses to choose to refuse single-use plastics in their lives. It’s a personal challenge that’s part of a global effort for our oceans, for cleaner streets, and for the planet.
We’re supporting the global challenge and encouraging all Aucklanders to take simple, daily actions to create long-lasting habits that minimise the use of single-use plastic for good.
Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Action Framework
Our climate is changing and the time for action is now!
Tell us if we are heading in the right direction by having your say on Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Action Framework.
To read the framework and have your say, visit akhaveyoursay.nz. Consultation closes on 6 September 2019.