Hi and welcome to my first post. Actually I began blogging three years ago - almost to the day weirdly enough - as The Coastal Creative. However now that I have an online store, to keep things tidy I'll blog from here rather than managing two websites. The original blog will expire in the middle of the year sometime. (If you followed my old blog you might want to sign up to the new one instead.)
As a starting point, I scrolled back through my early posts to the one that initially had the most views. As another coincidence this was a year later - almost to the day - and it was titled EASY WAYS TO REDUCE PLASTIC IN THE HOME. So I've summarised what I wrote then, and added in new info.
Photo by Denise Johnson on Unsplash
You'll probably know that REFUSE is now the fourth R in the old adage Reduce Reuse Recycle, and it's become extremely easy to access reusable shopping bags so that we can refuse plastic shopping bags at the supermarket and other stores. (The challenge for some people is remembering them, but once the habit is formed to put them back in the car after the shopping is unpacked, all is well.) Where huge progress has been made since my first post, is the phasing out of bags in supermarkets: *Countdown and New World by the end of 2018, FreshChoice and SuperValue are phasing out with no fixed timeframe given, and Pak 'n Save will continue to charge customers while providing free boxes for customers. Four Square will continue to offer free plastic bags. (*Information is correct to the best of my knowledge.)
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
A problem many people seem to have is what to line their rubbish bins with if they no longer have a plastic supermarket bag. I personally use bread bags - no better really - but it does mean I have no need for plastic shopping bags. How to eliminate the bread bag? Bake my own (I'm still trying to perfect homemade sourdough...), buy from a bakery, deli, or the bakery section of the supermarket and take a reusable bag (there are some designed specially for bread). I still haven't got this sorted but am working on it!
What works really well is creating a bin liner from newspaper, BUT we rarely buy one these days. I make them once the local papers are read, when I remember. I could definitely improve here. And if you compost or use a worm bin like we do, this really is a no-brainer because there are no food scraps to create mess.
What about the plastic bulk bin bags? In my original post two years ago I showed the image above, the bags I re-use to avoid getting new ones each time. It only took 15 minutes to set up, I keep them together with a giant magnetic clip, stick it on my fridge, and take the whole lot to the supermarket. It does work really well (providing you shop at the same supermarket each time!) Now we can buy reusable cotton drawstring bagswith sticky labels and I've bought a few of these (see them in the front of the image below). They're great! I am planning to stock some online - would you be interested? They come in a 3-pack for around $12-13.
What has really gained traction over the past two years is the availability and use of reusable fruit and vege bags. I have two types as shown above - some in a strong, fine mesh made from a synthetic material (look at the Onya website), and others in a more open weave, made from unbleached organic cotton. While both are amazing products, I prefer the look and feel of the latter and now stock them online if interested. See below.
Something I need to work on is taking my own plastic container to the butcher or sushi shop. The times I have remembered it has been no issue to the person serving me. Our family eat A LOT of crackers and these are double-plastic nightmares. I've made my own a couple of times - the sourdough ones were average (like my bread) but the Sunflower Sesame Crackers by Eleanor Ozich are great (find the recipe here). I also have a Seed Cracker Mix created by The Source that just needs water. Easy. (My teens prefer plain rice crackers so I'm yet to conquer this one...)
I haven't mentioned the recycling of soft plastics that I believe is now available throughout most of NZ. This is FANTASTIC but the issue here is that I can't see how we are going to deal with this quantity, and not all plastic is equal as you'll know. Some can be easily recycled into other products, some not so. China no longer wants our rubbish, whether it can be recycled or not! There is a factory called Flight Plastics in Lower Hutt where PET plastic (commonly used to make plastic bottles and fruit pottles), can be washed, chipped and made into new products. Brilliant! Still though, it comes back to refusing plastic where we can.
DIY Cleaning Products have been a game changer. Now that I make my own I no longer buy spray cleaners, cleaning pastes, toilet and general bathroom cleaners, or liquid soap. I make my own body moisturiser too. For ingredients I shop at Figgy & Co, Wendyls, Pure Nature, and Go Native. I found recipes from each of these places, and from Eleanor Ozich's new book The Art of Simple. I've trialled a few now and have discovered my favourites. If you'd like a list of the products I use and where the ingredients are from (you don't need many), then subscribeto my website and I'll send this out in a few weeks time. For natural hair products that are salon quality and come in biodegradable packaging I use Ethique, and totally swear by them. I've tried a few different plastic-free toothbrushes and prefer the ones by Grin. Love their natural toothpaste too and it is stocked in several dental practices.
On a final note, who carries a reusable bag in their handbag so that there is always one at the ready? It obviously needs to be one that folds or squishes up into next-to-nothing. I have one at prototype stage that zips up, has a sturdy base, and would be available in a cool pattern and a plain made from organic cotton. Watch this space!
Photo by Guus Baggermans on Unsplash
In an ideal world I would ride my bike to my local artisan bakery, butcher, fromagerie and florist, and swing my goods in paper bags from the handle bars as I coasted home. This is not my reality and it's likely not yours, so we need to make changes that can fit within our lifestyle. I think we also need to make the extra effort with some changes that aren't so straightforward. because this plastic issue is HUGE. While changes are happening and new habits are forming I think we still have a long way to go in NZ. I'm curious as to what the plastic landscape might look like in two years when I reflect back on this post...
Thanks so much for reading! If you have any comments please leave them below, and if there's anyone you think might be interested, please share.