According to WWF data, an Australian uses 130kg of plastic every year. Unfortunately, only a fraction of that is upcycled. That means the rest of the pile ends up either in the ocean or in landfills.
The trash that we mindlessly throw in the garbage can endanger marine and forest wildlife, even the farm and sea animals that we harvest for consumption.
That’s why in September 2020, South Australia passed a law that bans the production, distribution and sale of single-use plastics like straws, cutlery, and polystyrene cups, bowls, and plates.
South Australia began the implementation of the law last March 1, 2021, subsequently becoming the very first state to ban the selling and using of single-use plastics.
While the law is only necessary for us to eliminate plastic in our lives entirely, the million-dollar question is: can your business and household keep up with it?
In this piece, we’re giving out some tips on how you can do your part in reducing Australia’s plastic usage.
When it comes to eco-living, practice the 7 Rs
1. Refuse single-use plastic in the first place
If you ever find yourself in need of plastic cups or plates, keep in mind that there are better alternatives out there. You can opt for reusable coffee cups or recyclable paper plates if you need one.
2. Reduce your dependency on plastics
Do not rely on single-use plastics as much as possible. Keep in mind that the goal here is to eliminate plastics in our lives.
3. Reuse single-use plastics
If you’ve bought plastic cutlery and plates before the implementation, the best thing to do is to reuse them. Most of these items are washable so you can use them again instead of throwing them in the bin.
4. Repurpose the items
If you think you can’t use them anymore, repurpose them. You can use these items as arts and craft materials or use the items like plastic bottles as alternative pots in your garden.
5. Recycle plastics you can’t avoid
If you have recycling centres in your area, the best thing to do is collect the unavoidable plastics first in your backyard then call the facility for pick-up or you can bring the plastics by yourself.
6. Rot your food waste in a compost pit or bin
If you have a space in the yard to spare you can dig a pit where you can throw all your compostable items like your food waste or fallen leaves. This way you don’t have to throw them in the trash that ends up only in landfills.
7. Rethink your lifestyle
If you think about it, living without single-use plastics is not impossible. Especially now that there are better alternatives compared to the early days.
All you need is an ounce of commitment in shaking things up in your lifestyle. You might want to rethink your eating and shopping habits if you want to pursue a plastic-free living.
Learn the difference between compostable, biodegradable, and degradable
Believe it or not, these three terms are not synonymous with each other. Here’s how they differ:
Degradable – degradable items are normally made of plastic with heavy metals added into the mix. These metals allow the plastic to break down when exposed to extreme heat and sunlight. Given that, you can’t bury these items to the ground hoping that they will rot away. Instead, you have to put them in your general waste bin.
Biodegradable – these items, on the other hand, are still plastic bags but microorganisms will have to do the work in breaking down these plastics. Usually, if they end up in landfills, they naturally break down. The problem is that it takes an awfully long time for them to be completely disintegrated.
Compostable – these are bags that are made of plant starch. You can simply throw these items in your backyard compost for them to rot away since they’re made of natural material.
Always bring your reusables
When dining out, especially in restaurants that use disposable plates and cutleries, don’t forget to bring your reusable straws, containers, and cups. Most of these restaurants allow customers to bring their own containers so don’t be shy to ask!