I really hope you can start to be conscious of your impact on the planet. Any small change you can make is one small step. And if we all try and take just one small step together we can make a difference - Mikaela Overton of Refound Studio.
In the spirit of Plastic Free July, I chatted to sustainability blogger Mikki about how to get started on your plastic free journey. Spoiler: it’s easier than you think.
Hey Mikki! Great to have you here. Could you fill us in on what is the big deal about plastic?
Every single plastic item you have ever used is still exists somewhere on the earth today, and it will not break down for up to 1000 years or possibly end up in our oceans. Every plastic cup, straw, fork you have ever and will use will out live you. Single use plastic get used for about 10min and the thrown away and forgotten about instantly.
Plastic is something that is so ingrained in our daily life. It’s almost impossible to buy groceries from the supermarket without it being wrapped in plastic. It’s a convenience our society pretty much can’t live without.
How do you think we can make an effect on this issue as individuals?
Most people think what is the point? I’m only one person. I don’t think I can change the world but I can change what I as an individual does and that the best place to start. Refusing and reusing such items is one less going in to our environment and that’s one small win.
You don’t have to go around and throw out all plastic in your life. The most important thing is to use until it completely has no life in it, then try and look for a more sustainable option next time. This doesn’t need to be expensive nor does it need to be pretty. A lot of what we see on Instagram promotes a perfect pantry with matching jars and bags. This is not reality, the best thing to do is be resourceful with what you already have.
What are some practical pointers for the best way to go plastic free?
In the Bathroom:
I'm pretty low maintenance gal so reducing plastic here was not too hard, I almost never wear makeup and I barely use deodorant.
Best plastic free toothbrush? I use a bamboo toothbrush, I can buy this at Coles so you don’t have to go too much out of your way to find. A toothbrush is something you need to replace pretty regularly and it's just a solid hunk of plastic that gets thrown out. Bamboo is biodegradable and compostable, a great alternative to most things plastic.
I have changed from using bottled body wash and shampoo to a good old fashioned bar of soap and my new favourite plastic free shampoo - a shampoo bar! Before I buy soap I open the box to check it is not wrapped in plastic, that has got me before. For shampoo I ordered a sample pack from a company online, I will definitely order a full sized bar when the samples are all used up. It's great that they offer this as an option to try before you commit to a full sized bar. Using bar soap and shampoo has proven to be better value for money that the bottled alternate as is lasts so much longer and can sometimes be cheaper.
I have been using the same plastic razor handle for 5+ years now and do not need to replace it yet, it has replaceable blades. Throwing out just the head is disposing of much less plastic than the cheaper ones where you throw out the whole thing every time, and only get really one or two uses out of them. Definitely going to opt for a metal handle with the replaceable heads when the time eventually comes to put the old girl to rest.
I have started using a creme deodorant that comes in a little tin and plastic free packaging as an alternative to traditional deodorant. My current one is the sample I got just to try it out and the tiny little tub has covered me for such a long time, so even though it might seem a bit pricey compared to normal deodorant the longevity of just one tub should make up for many aerosols/roll ons.
I use a refillable soap pump for hand washing. The disposable pump bottle use so much plastic and I find that you can never get all the soap out when is running low.
In the kitchen:
I have a very limited Tupperware collection, but I do try and save a lot of jars from pasta sauce, coffee or pickles, and use these for storing leftovers and for transporting snacks in. I don’t buy ziplock bags or cling wrap and find that I haven’t really missed it.
Shopping for groceries is hard to complete eliminate all plastic, I just take it step by step and try and come up with a better way to buy things. I started with fruit and veg, I tried just having all my produce loose then also bring my own bags which I have made from a recycled tablecloth. Also buying snacks, nuts or dried fruit from the scoop and weigh using my own calico bag. Some other thing I could try is to go to the deli/bakery section and bring my own container/bag. But pretty much everything else is wrapped in plastic, which makes this so difficult.
Most people probably don’t know that at your grocery stores there is little bin near the front door to recycle your soft plastic waste. Soft plastic is not recyclable in your household recycling. But at these bins you can dispose of plastic bag, even green reusable shopping bag that is at the end of its life, the bags from pasta, cereal, muesli bar wrappers, frozen veg bag, cover you peel off your dip. I put any sort of plastic packaging in there.
I always try and use my own keep cup for takeaway coffee, if don’t have the cup I won’t get a drink. I love bubble tea but won’t buy it again until I invest in a reusable cup. If I’m at a cafe I always specify that I don’t want my coffee in a takeaway cup if I’m dining in, I hate seeing people sitting there but still getting their drink take away, it's really just not necessary. Water in plastic bottles is also frustrating, why would you want to pay for something you can get from the tap for free. If I’m out for the day I make sure I take a refillable bottle.
I love fast food, I try and pick something that comes in paper or cardboard. So mostly pizza or burgers, so no salad haha! A great idea is to take you own utensils but I always forget, I try and get things you eat with your hands. For drinks I have a metal straw but again I am forgetful, so I mostly try and go without.
Any final words to inspire?
I’m definitely not perfect and haven’t found a way to completely free myself from the plastic devil yet. I really hope you can start to be conscious of your impact on the planet. Any small change you can make is one small step. And if we all try and take just one small step together we can make a difference.