Mass production of plastics started about six decades ago. Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment, and only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled.
1. Know your soft plastics and recycle them
Do you know what plastics can be recycled and how? Hard plastics such as cleaning detergent bottles, milk bottles, fruit boxes; are moulded and hold their shape when scrunched. They can generally be recycled through your household recycling karts. On the other hand, soft plastics that are flexible and can be scrunched into a ball or broken by hand need to be recycled through specialized services and diverted from landfill. Soft plastics that are commonly found around the home include bubble wrap, mailing satchels, netting citrus bags, bread, pasta, rice packagings, silver-lined chip packets etc.
Soft plastics are often thrown out with general waste because curbside recycling carts do not accept them. However, soft plastic recycling through specialist recycling is available in most countries which makes it relatively convenient. It is primarily available through supermarkets or other facilities.
United Kingdom – Recyclenow – what to do with plastic film
Australia – RedCycle – what to recycle?
New Zealand – Recycling soft plastics store-locator
To prepare your soft plastics for recycling: first, scrunch them up and place them in a bag. Ensure all food scraps are removed, and the plastic is dry, remove any receipts or non-soft plastics items. Then once the bag is filled up, take it to your local recycling drop-off spots—easy!
Pro Tip: Collect your soft plastics in a bigger plastic bag so you can place the whole thing into the recycling bin when it’s full.
2. Reduce the use of single-use plastics
You may have already swapped out disposable coffee cups for reusable ones, and you remember to bring your shopping tote to the shops every time. Good on you! Every small action makes a difference. Try to level up by refusing single-use cutlery when eating out and bring your own instead. Getting a takeaway smoothie or boba? BYO reusable straw and say no to the disposable one. When ordering takeaway, opt out of cutlery in your app or ask the restaurant to exclude them. If you must use disposable items, choose biodegradable ones made from bamboo or cornstarch.
Pro tips: Takeaway coffee cups are not recyclable! There’s a thin, plastic coating inside the cup that makes it extremely difficult to separate it from the paper cup itself, which means the cups can’t be recycled as paper and will sadly end up in landfills.
3. Avoid individually wrapped products
Avoid buying food in pre-portioned packaging; buy in bulk instead and portion them into reusable food containers. Visit your local bulk food store or farmer’s market for pantry items—often, it’s more economical to buy flour, rice, grains and nuts in bulk.
Opt for fresh, loose fruits and vegetables instead of frozen or pre-packed ones. Some stores also allow you to BYO containers to fill them up. When possible, buy refills instead of buying a whole new product each time. This applies to cleaning supplies, detergents and even olive oil. Always refill empty bottles rather than throwing them away!
Pro tip: You can store fruits and vegetables in produce bags made from muslin cloth or hemp to help them stay fresh for longer in the fridge. Our reusable drawstring bags that come with your CleanBamboo bedding work like a treat too!
4. Reduce plastic in your home
It’s worth investing in some quality reusable storage solutions for everyday use in your home. Swap out cling wrap and freezer bags for beeswax wraps, silicone lids, glass and stainless steel containers; not only do they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are also often microwave and freezer safe.
Traditional plastic sponges are one of the main contributions to microplastic pollution in the ocean. Every time you use the sponge, you are accidentally washing tiny particles of plastic into the sea. Synthetic sponges are also not biodegradable. They often ended up in landfills. Luckily, there are many affordable eco-friendly alternatives made from coconut fibers, hemp, and bamboo.
For grooming, try swapping out bottled shampoo and body wash with soap bar and shampoo bars. The average bottle of liquid shampoo or conditioner can be made of up to 80% water; it doesn’t make sense to pay for a big plastic bottle full of water and fragrances. Depending on your hair type and how often you wash your hair, a shampoo bar will outlast two to three bottles of shampoo.
Clean teeth do not equal a clean planet. Toothpaste tubes are impossible to recycle because they are made from a mixture of aluminium and plastic. Over 20 billion toothpaste tubes are discarded into landfills every year. To avoid adding to that statistic, you can go plastic-free by switching to toothpaste tablets.
Don’t forget about the bedroom when completing your zero waste home. Choose bedding made with biodegradable or natural fibers such as bamboo. Avoid synthetic materials such as polyester, lycra and nylon as they all contribute to microplastic pollution. Look for bedding with plant-based buttons such as tagua nut buttons as they are entirely biodegradable.
Pro tip: Australian residents can recycle preloved bedding and towels with our Loop Program and get a $25 ettitude gift card as a thank you gift.
5. Reduce plastic when travelling
Saying yes to plastic is convenient, but small changes to our travel habits can make a massive impact on our planet. In the process, you can also save money, time and use products that are better for your wellbeing and the environment.
Pack your favorite healthy snacks to stay nourished on the road, bring a refillable bottle and avoid plastic-wrapped food.
Pro tip: Pack shampoo bar and soap bar instead of bottled ones as they don’t count as liquid. Hence, more space in your carry on!
At ettitude, we are committed to removing all virgin plastic from our products and packaging in 2021. Read more about our commitments in our Impact Report.