Easy tips to reduce your waste

Recently we have all become a little more aware of how much waste humans are producing and the damage it is doing to our environments. Australians generate about 41 million tonnes of rubbish every year, where it is either dumped in our environment or it is sent to a landfill where it cannot be recycled.

One of the worst offenders when it comes to our waste is plastic. Plastic is non-renewable, and will never break down completely. Plastic can slowly degrade due to sunlight, oxidation and biodegradation from bacteria, but this just produces smaller particles that we call microplastics. These microplastics make their way into the ocean, where animals mistakenly feed on them and ingest the toxic pollution. The plastics leach out toxins like BPA as they continue to degrade, further causing harm and damage to the marine life. We have all heard stories of animals mistaking plastic bags for food, and dying from suffocation after eating them. This also extends much further than just the ocean, everywhere you look there is rubbish ruining the beauty and purity of our nature! This should be a loud wake-up call that we need to stop contributing to this and stop our use of these unnecessary plastics.

Top ten tips for reducing plastic use:

1. If you are a coffee drinker, invest in a reusable cup or even bring your own mug or jar! Disposable coffee cups appear to be paper but they are actually lined with plastic, which isn't biodegradable. You can also take your own drink containers when going to get any other sort of takeaway drink such as a juice.

2. Buy a nice reusable water bottle and refill that instead of buying bottled water.

3. Buy reusable produce bags for fruit and vegetable shopping. If you forget them, you can always use the paper mushroom bags in the shop.

4 Buy reusable bags to carry all of your groceries. Keep some in your car, and by your door so you never forget.

5. Avoid using plastic wrap and instead store leftover food in containers, preferably glass. You can also buy reusable hemp wraps as a substitute to plastic cling wrap.

6 Make your own natural cleaning products. Microfiber cloths are a good option, as they can be used for all sorts of cleaning just with water and can be washed and reused when needed. You can also purchase multi-purpose products such as Dr Bronners which can be used for dishes, household cleaning, laundry, as well as personal care.

7. Buy a bamboo toothbrush. As we know, plastic doesn’t degrade, and as you are meant to change your toothbrush every 3 months, that means sending 40 plastic toothbrushes to a landfill every decade!

8. Say no to straws and plastic cutlery! You can buy stainless steel or bamboo straws, as well as cutlery to take out with you.

9. Try making your own personal care items such as body scrubs and toothpastes, and store them in glass jars.

Natural toothpaste recipe

2 Tbsp. baking soda

1⁄2 cup coconut oil

15 drops of peppermint essential oil

Soften coconut oil, and mix in all other ingredients. Mix until well combined. Place in glass jar, and use as regular toothpaste.

Flaxseed exfoliation scrub

1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

2.Tbsp. coconut oil

2 tsp. sugar

Mix well and place in jar

Apply a small amount to your face and gently scrub. Rinse off with warm water.

Also, choose natural menstrual products. On average, a woman uses up to 16,800 tampons in her life. This waste is polluting our world, making their way into beaches and waterways worldwide. There is so much plastic involved in all of these conventional products. Scarily, manufacturers of pads and tampons don’t have to disclose the ingredients of their products, despite them being a major source of toxic ingredients and plastics. Alternative options include menstrual cups which can be reused for many years, as well as reusable cloth pads.

10. Shop at bulk food stores for staples such as grains, legumes, flours, dried fruit etc. You can bring in your own jars or containers instead of purchasing these items from supermarkets in plastic packaging.

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