A few years ago, I started to realise the impact that our weekly shop was having on the environment. Since then, I’ve been making small changes towards living a plastic free life and along this journey keeping plastic out of our oceans and landfill. I’ve discovered that small changes to our attitude and what we do every single day can make a huge difference. Here are a few of my tips that have helped us reduce the amount of plastic we use and the amount of waste we throw out.
I walk to my local farmer’s markets every Thursday morning which are not far from my house, and if I can’t make it that day, I head to one on the Northern Beaches area on the weekend. I buy my fruit, vegetables, herbs, bread and eggs from here. I know that not everyone has a farmers market near them and I completely understand that this isn’t a viable option for everyone. However, you can still reduce your plastic usage at the supermarket too. Firstly, bring your own reusable shopping bag (it doesn’t have to be fancy or pretty, just functional). Invest in a few bags to keep in the car and next to your front door so you’re never without.
These produce bags from Onya (see image below) have cut our plastic usage for fruit and vegetables to zero. They are super light, strong, they hold a large amount and are see through. You can wash your fruit/veg while they are still in the bag, store in the fridge and then just give it a rinse when it’s empty. I never go shopping without them! I use them for beans, salad leaves (instead of buying packaged salad), apples, loose oranges (instead of the ones in netting) – any fruit or vegetable! You can buy them from here, or make your own. 🙂
Often we need to top up our groceries during the week. Harris Farm are my preferred option over some other major supermarkets, particularly with their recent efforts to reduce the plastic usage in their stores. They also stock a lot of the brands whose practices and ethics I support, that aren’t stocked at other supermarkets. I buy our milk, butter, yoghurt and extra fruit and vegetables from here. I try and avoid plastic packaging by buying our milk in glass or cardboard packaging (this type of packaging requires less energy to recycle it).
For dry goods, I love Scoop Wholefoods and The Source. These stores aren’t in my area yet, but because I’m often travelling around for jobs and meetings, it’s pretty easy to find the time to pop into one when I’m travelling around Sydney. Dry goods have a long shelf life, so depending on your budget and how much you can afford to stock up on, you can buy a little or a lot. Some examples of items that I buy from these stores includes nuts, quinoa, couscous, pasta, dates, muesli, nut butters, coconut oil, kombucha, dark chocolate, dried fruit and flour.
I find some people are a bit timid about bringing in their own jars. I was like this for a while too, but you shouldn’t be! All you have to do is bring in your jars (they can be empty or they can still have items in them) and get someone to weigh them for you before you fill them up. Alternatively the stores have paper bags to put your goods into if you don’t have any jars or can’t carry them.
Australians waste 1 billion coffee cups each year and coffee cups can’t be recycled. Let’s talk about KeepCups. Often I speak to people and they tell me that they are afraid of asking for their drink to be served in a reusable cup, because it’s not what their friends/work colleagues do. But trust me, once you’ve done it once, you will feel silly for putting it off for so long! Thermos bottles (I like the Fressko bottles) are also other good options if you prefer something that holds more liquid. For water, I love my S’well water bottle– it’s super durable and keeps my water cold all day long, which is perfect for when I’m shooting Summer weddings!
When ordering drinks, I always decline a drinking straw. Personally, I don’t feel the need to use a straw, and from what I believe it’s not great for our health either. There are some great glass, stainless steel and bamboo options available for those who can’t part with their straws though!
In our home we are slowly moving our food storage over away from plastic and towards glass jars and stainless steel containers. We don’t have cling-wrap in our house anymore. Instead I use beeswax wraps to wrap up avocados, bread slices, cover the top of salad bowls etc. (see image below). These wraps warm up with your hands to mould to the shape you want them to. When you’re done, just give them a rinse with some soapy water and air dry them. I’m slowly replacing our plastic Tupperware containers as they break over time (no point just throwing these out and adding these to landfill straight away) with stainless steel containers.
If we are travelling or enjoying a weekend away, we always taken a few containers with us in the car so that if we would like to grab some food from a local deli or shop, we give these containers straight to them instead of using a Polystyrene or plastic takeaway container. And of course a KeepCup for tea or hot chocolate on the road is a great idea. I also love picnics! We bring our own cutlery and avoid any single use plastics.
Toilet Paper/Paper Towel/Tissues
Have you heard of Who Gives a Crap? They are 100% forest friendly and 50% of their profits go to helping build toilets and improving sanitation in the developing worlds. They come in plastic free packaging, straight to your door. Order with a friend if the minimum order amount is too large for your budget. Personally it seems crazy that a product which we use for a few seconds and then throw away comes to us from the supermarket wrapped up in so much plastic. Also, you won’t notice the difference between their 100% recycled products and the supermarkets versions – trust me. 😉
I personally don’t wear a lot of make-up, but the products I do use have been purchased from Nourished Life. The products from this shop are all toxin free and arrive in minimal packaging. I buy our shampoo, soaps, household cleaners, sunscreen, make-up etc. from here or from a local health shop. I also love my bamboo toothbrush! It’s a great biodegradable alternative. 🙂
There will be a post dedicated to travel coming soon. Keep an eye out! 😉
A final note..
I’m not perfect and I’m not an expert. None of us are. For me, living sustainably is a journey, one that I am just starting. I would love to share this journey with you and hopefully this might inspire others to start on their own journey as well. I’m incredibly passionate about doing what we can to look after this incredible world of ours. I’m always adjusting what we do in our household and finding ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Often when I use my KeepCup or reusable produce bags, someone nearby will get curious and ask me about them and this always starts a positive and inspiring conversation. Lead by example and others will follow. Every small action makes a difference. 🙂 x