Plastic Free Living – Towards Zero Waste
Just last year I truly didn’t think I’d progress further towards creating less waste, to be better and to do better. Despite already having made many changes for the planet, I didn’t see myself giving up all plastics and although while writing this, I still haven’t completely given up all plastics in my household, I am still so happy and proud of how many further changes I have been able to make. Probably the best switch that I made was to using the Ulu Hye mylk bases (available on my site https://www.plasticfreepassion.com.au). I was purchasing soy, almond, & coconut milks in those mixed material tetra packs, then rinsing them and placing them in the recycling bin, hoping that they were being recycled, but truly not knowing. From this change alone I am saving money and waste as I re-use every empty jar, saving 10 cartons per fortnight from going to landfill via my recycling bin. This is in no way a sales tactic! Just pure honesty and complete transparency. I am offering advice that I feel has value and can help make a difference.
I remember a few years back when I working at a health store, a young woman came in looking for essential oils without plastic lids (which we did not stock), so she went on her way with the goal to make her own and I thought, “Wow that’s dedication and so admirable, but too hard to try for me.”. I have realized this year how very important it is to make positive changes towards zero waste, for the wildlife we reside with on earth and nature itself, in particular the oceans. The amount of waste floating around and being consumed by marine life is truly scary, sad and sickening. I started following @plasticfreemermaid on Instagram as she has been super inspiring, along with @MaxLaManna.
I know that I can always improve, we all can, but truly it is a process. For example I am about to make my own Australian grown, bulk store bought, soy milk, making it fresher and with less food miles and no wasteful packaging at all. Baby steps, but I am certainly proud of each step.
At the moment these are the items I am still purchasing, (with internal guilt!) that contain plastic:
- Pana vanilla ice cream
- Follow Your Heart shredded mozzarella
- Coyo coconut yogurt
- Biopet kibble
- frozen raspberries
- and bread (although I do purchase 2-3 x package free sourdough loaves per week, so the plastic packaged bread is about once a month, so I guess that’s not so much).
I enjoy admiring the nude foods stocking up inside my fridge and on the bench, which mainly consists of seasonal organic fruit and veg like; eggplant, carrots, potatoes, mangoes, cucumbers, paw paw, broccoli, onions, garlic, capsicum, sweet potato, pumpkin, green beans, tomatoes, asparagus, bananas, avocadoes and heaps more.
I hear a lot of people saying its too hard to go vegan and plastic free, but it’s truly not my experience. It just takes planning and adapting. Let’s be honest, we all need to eat more fruit and veg and we can purchase these all without packaging, as foods from nature already have their own skin.
I love shopping at farmers markets on the weekends, so if you haven’t ever done so, it’s a great place to start buying locally grown foods, to get to know the farmers of your food and best of all, to purchase nude foods. Unfortunately a lot of foods at farmers markets do come in net bags/other soft plastic bags and hard plastic punnets etc., which makes me sad, but the movement will get there slowly. I hope! So what do we do? We avoid the plastic wrapped foods and we ask the person serving if they have any of that product available loose. Or we can ask if they could save some loose produce for your visit next time and to sell them by the kilo. You may find that some people don’t know what you mean and will suggest that you take the foods out of the plastic, but this simply isn’t the point and doesn’t help the Zero Waste movement. You could kindly mention you’d love to see them sold unpackaged next time or in the near future (for example tomatoes) and show that you have brought your own carry and produce bags &/or containers (part of being prepared!) as a solution. Some market stalls offer cherry tomatoes or potatoes as an example in compostable plastic free lid less tubs & you can not take these home and bring them back for the farmer or stall holder to re-use but you can take your own container and tip the loose foods in yours (lid less or not) and hand them back theirs straight away to be re-used. We cannot replace everything we use plastic for with new paper or card from cut down trees. anyways be positive, but communicate that you do want to see change and that you are trying to avoid the plastic waste issue for the environment. We can only encourage their transition and show that we will be back with full support, when we can buy those foods unpackaged.
This advice can also apply to supermarkets. We need to encourage all food stores to make environmentally friendly food packaging changes. You can contact the manager or owner of the store, email them or simply ask a staff member to pass on the message that, for example, you weren’t prepared to purchase the apples today because there were no loose ones available, only pre-packaged.
I personally like to take action through writing letters to businesses and companies to inspire change, regarding their use of plastic. Most of the responses I receive say that they are working on it for the future, which always brings me a smile.
I tried two weeks of Plastic Free July and then caved! I had a visitor who wasn’t vegan and I wanted to stock vegan versions of what he ate. I purchased burgers, bread rolls, and other items to ensure he had similar food items he would usually eat but at the same time not supporting Non Vegan food industries and hopefully showing him some vegan alternatives. I certainly did feel guilty, but I realized that I was doing my best and that it was my first Plastic Free July. I can only learn, change, grow and become inspired to make improvements from those feelings.
Other items made from plastic that I now have in my possession to dispose of from this year include; postal bags, tag attachments for clothing (sea shepherd hat and singlets), some labels on jars like from the pesto I purchase and some cans, that I am unsure of whether they contain plastic liners or not.
I don’t know why we humans went so far with plastic! We really wrap everything in it, (including ourselves with plastic fibres in clothing). However, we can all make simple choices daily, to commit to refusing single use plastics for good.
If you are struggling with your journey towards refusing single use plastic and creating less waste, please don’t hesitate to send us a direct message on Instagram for more tips and advice, and check out the Quitting Plastic book available at www.plasticfreepassion.com.au
The image I have used for this post shows some of the jars/containers I re-fill all of the time with foods from the bulk stores I shop at.
Thanks for reading and good luck!