Plastic: Say No to the Big 4

Plastics: Say No to the Big 4

Last year Ben and I tried our hand at Plastic Free July. That is, we tried to cut our use of plastics to zero for a full month, alongside tens of thousands of other counter-cultural, environmentally-minded souls. And… it was a bit of a bust.

We tried our best but the truth is that we were vastly unprepared. We hadn’t really thought through our daily needs or systems, and we hadn’t gathered the required replacements for many of our plastics, which meant we were left high and dry when time came to go food shopping. Or buying takeaway. Or grabbing a coffee. Or living, really.

We learnt a lot though and the past 12 months has seen us make vast improvements in our plastic reliance, to the point where our regular Monday morning garbage pick-up consists of one small bag of rubbish as opposed to the multiple big ones we used to throw away. There have even been a few weeks where we haven’t put our bins out at all because they’ve been empty. (And that is a damn good feeling.)

Over the next four Mondays we’re going to take a deep dive in to the issue of excessive plastic use and what small changes we can make – starting today – to reduce plastic use over time. In part this series is timed to coincide with Plastic Free July, but also because I can see that there is a mainstream desire for change that wasn’t apparent even this time last year. I think we’re all just overwhelmed at the enormity of the problem, unsure of where to start. And that’s where we want to help.

Inspired again by Plastic Free July, today we offer you some simple ideas to stop using the Big 4 single use plastics altogether, with just a few easy swaps and a couple of habit changes.

The Big 4 single use plastics we’re looking to cut out are:

    • drinking straws
    • takeaway coffee cups
    • plastic water bottles
  • plastic shopping bags

After listening to today’s episode, hopefully it becomes clear that these are four products we really, really don’t need to be using at all. Ben and I give you a few re-useable solutions for each of the above products, and also encourage you to flip the script when it comes to plastic. Sure it might feel a little annoying in the beginning, but nowhere near as annoying as oceans choked with plastic bags.

I’ve also created a list of resources below that should help you get a head start on saying goodbye to plastics for good.

Enjoy!

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21 Responses to Plastic: Say No to the Big 4

  1. Guys, “your mouth” as a substitute for a straw-joke was kind of ableist. As someone close to quite a few people with limited use of their arms, I can tell you that the straw is an aid – an essential one. You can get nice reusable ones, but the mouth-joke kind of implied that you don’t imagine any people with limited use of their hands as a listener to the podcast, and I don’t think that is what you meant to say.

    • Hi Ida, thank you so much for pointing out that mis-step on my part. As a poggie listener, you’d know it wasn’t intentionally offensive or ableist and was only meant as a joke, but it was insensitive and completely lacking in thought. I’m so sorry. (And thank you for taking the time to point it out. It’s not your job to make me more aware of these issues, but I appreciate it nonetheless.) Cheers, Brooke xx

  2. Fantastic episode as usual. I am loving the attention that plastic waste has been increasingly getting and appreciate that you’ve dedicated one of your podcasts to the topic. Thanks to today’s episode, I also learned about Plastic Free July and the ABC war on waste series which I will be checking out! Great work.

    P.S. I somehow only just now noticed Brooke’s picture at the top of this page. Was it taken at Lake Louise by any chance? I live in Calgary and love that spot. ;)

    • Thanks so much Isabelle. We’re becoming increasingly passionate about it ourselves and realise that these kinds of small changes are well within our own control. I love the feedback we’ve been getting about it already!

      (And yes! That photo is at Lake Louise a few years ago. You live in the best province in the best country in the world!!)

      • We do indeed live in a great part of the world, but I sure would love to live in Australia! Maybe we can home swap sometime ;P

  3. Long comment! A great episode, we are one of the 400% percenters still waiting for an order from Keepcup. – and thumbs up for the link to produce bags

    Coffee drinkers can go to this website http://www.responsiblecafes.org & put in your address to find the nearest cafe offering a discount if you bring your own cup. Cafe owners can go to the same website to register and print off an attractive poster.

    RE straws: bars and pubs are the worst – they put a plastic straw in every mixed drink etc – instead of just discarding it to the side tell them you don’t want one. There is a push in Bali to not use straws and only take one if you choose to. Can advise your cafes to obtain Kraft paper straws (normal & jumbo) from http://austraw.com.au

    Take a look at what these young girls from the *Green School in Bali have done to get plastic bags banned in Bali see their inspiring TED talk https://www.ted.com/talks/melati_and_isabel_wijsen_our_campaign_to_ban_plastic_bags_in_bali
    My grandson attended the *Green School last year we were so inspired by these young people and the sustainable message from the school.

    *the most sustainable school on the planet

  4. Loved your Podcast! I’m getting my family onboard with reducing our plastic waste and more importantly our over-consumerism and the inadvertent plastic that comes ‘free’ with other purchases. We’ve had keep cups for years , but have rarely used them, but we have now been reinvigorated to get using them again!! SA banned the bad years ago, but they are still everywhere! We ALWAYS have spare bags in the car/handbag to politely refuse plastic bags at the shops. I bought my kids stainless steel straws about 6 weeks ago, which they love, turned out to be the best purchase… I developed Bell’s Palsy 4 weeks ago and couldn’t drink from a cup!! I’m 95% recovered now, and can again drink from a cup,but that straw has been my best friend!

  5. I agree, dropping plastic is way more difficult than many people think. We use it for too many things in our everyday lives. But nowadays there are plenty of replacements we can take advantage of. We already started using replacements, and it’s a very good feeling to know that you’re doing your part to help the environment.

  6. Love these concepts and I’m all in for no-plastic July. My conundrum is what I can pick up the dog-poo with. So many plastic bags are wasted by dog owners picking up poo each day. I re-use my plastic bread bags and re-use any other type of plastic bag I can find for Rusty’s daily poos! Is there a good alternative? I am dubious about any ‘biodegradable’ dog poo bags.

  7. I don’t find it difficult to drop these things – I never use straws (at least in Germany it’s not common to use straws at home, only when going out and ordering a cocktail), I have a reusable bottle and drink tap water only and I have lots and lots of cotton bags! The only things I struggle with are the coffee cups. I have two reusable ones, but always forget to take them with me – need to work on that!

    xx, Eleonora my personal lifestyle blog

  8. Using keep cups is not that uncommon in Tasmania. I am usually by far not the only one enjoying discount for bringing my own cup. Also, it is always an option to sit down and have a coffee in a proper cafe from mug or just not to have a coffee.
    With regards to food waste reduction, may I suggest the film ‘Taste the waste’?

  9. using Plastics are very handy, it’s true but we definitely knows the bad impact in the environment and to ourselves as well. there are alternatives to plastics as well but these costs a lot but if there are high demand then certainly the cost will reduce and we may get these alternatives in very low price making environment better. hope for that day

  10. Every time I see someone leaving the supermarket with plastic shopping bags, I die a little inside! In Australia the main chains have banned plastic bags as of 2018 which should minimize our usage quite significantly.

    Love your suggestion of a KeepCup as well. I’ve seen a lot of people with those recently so I’m finally convinced to get one.

  11. Yes you are true ! We should stop using these Big 4 but it it possible in today’s life style. Most of the super markets give plastic bags to carry our things and they are used as branding elements for Super markets.

  12. That is correct, plastic has become a part of our daily life which is really hard to get rid off but we should do our level best to remove it from our daily life because not only it hampers the environment but also our health and life of other living beings around us also. Day by day microplastic is being consumed by us in different forms and also we are forcing it on other living beings that live around us such as fishes and stray animals who accidentally consume plastic from the garbage. I agree with you, we should start from these 4 plastics in order to remove plastic from our lifestyle. Your story is very helpful and motivating I will definitely share this with my family and friends.

  13. Plastic Bags are used for various purposes. The most common use of these bags is to carry grocery items. These are easily available in the market and thus used extensively. However, disposing of these bags is a big issue as these are non-biodegradable. They have become a major cause of land pollution. Plastic bags are harming our environment more than anything else. The use of these bags must be banned in order to save the environment from their harmful effects.

  14. Love these concepts and I’m all in for no-plastic July. My conundrum is what I can pick up the dog-poo with. So many plastic bags are wasted by dog owners picking up poo each day.

  15. Strongly agree with your point. As we are using plastic bags in our daily life to carry many things, we have also to think about our environment.

  16. Great thoughts. Plastics are not environment friendly and creating lots of bad effects. I am strongly agree your thoughts and we need to use plastic bags alternatives to protect our environment.

  17. This is on point. It is really possible to completely get rid of these plastics. We humans have found ways to make our lives easier and solved very complicated problems, so this plastic problem should be very easy for us.

    Cleaning has become a very big problem today because of this plastics. It is about time to get rid of it.

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