5 Easy Ways You Can Ditch Single Use Plastic – A Beginners Guide to Going Plastic Free

Kira Simpson

Did you know that 95% of plastic is used just once before being discarded? Or how on average, Australians use 130 kg of plastic per person each year, and only 12% of that’s recycled.

According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a staggering eight million tonnes of the stuff enters the ocean each year and is set to double by 2025 and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Pollution from single-use plastic is an environmental disaster and we need to do something about it now.

best reusable coffee cups

Going zero waste and completely eliminating plastic can be a challenge and does require quite a bit of research and planning. But, when it comes down to it, reducing your plastic use is actually really easy. Most of it just involves just making different choices and simple swaps.

Some tips to make the challenge easier

Work out what types of plastic you’re going to refuse, eg coffee cups, straws, takeaway containers. Then plan how you’re going to survive without them, such as investing in reusable coffee cups, bringing your own containers, carrying around a zero-waste kit.

1. Carry a reusable coffee cup with you

Did you know that most coffee cups are NOT recyclable, even the biodegradable ones? Most takeaway coffee cups have a thin plastic coating on the inside to prevent the hot liquid from seeping through. We send 50,000 disposable coffee cups to landfill, every hour. EVERY HOUR!! There are so many amazing reusable cups available now to suit every coffee lovers taste and style.

2. Use a reusable water bottle

There is absolutely no need to buy disposable water bottles when there are so many great options available for reusable cups. I personally like stainless steel bottles to keep my water cold. Most cities have cold water refill stations now or you can simply refill your bottle at a tap while you’re out.

3. Bring your own food containers when getting takeaway or when taking lunch to work

I’m shocking for this one. My favourite takeaway sushi is the main culprit. This Plastic Free July I am committed to taking my own container with me for my takeaway food. The few times I have brought my own, the people in the takeaway shop had no issues with using my containers for the food.

4. Say no to plastic straws and cutlery

BYO straw and cutlery kit like these ones or simply say no straw, please. If you’ve ever watched the video of the sea turtle having a plastic straw pulled from its nose, I guarantee you’ll never use one again.

5. Take your own shopping bags and produce bags

Even if you reuse your plastic grocery bags, they eventually end up in landfill where they only start to degrade after 700 years. Unfortunately, plastic bags don’t always stay in landfill; they often find their way to our parks, bushland, rivers and oceans where they pollute the local environment and kill animals that consume or become trapped inside them.

This awful cycle will continue for over 1000 years during the bag’s degradation process. You can stop this just by taking your own reusable bag and produce bags when you shop.

Keep some by the front door, in your car, your office desk and foldable ones in your handbag.

Ready to take plastic free-living to the next level? Check out our other guides here. 

Kira Simpson

Kira Simpson is an environmentalist and sustainability expert. She started The Green Hub as a blog in 2015, which has since grown to become one of Australia’s largest education sites dedicated to helping people live a more sustainable lifestyle.