It is estimated around 90% of seabirds are eating plastic. It end ups in their stomachs, can burst intestines and slowly, or quickly, kills them. An analysis of waters around Australia found on average there were around 4,000 microplastic fragments per square kilometre, with some places having concentrations of around 15,000 to 23,000. The vast majority of the microplastic fragments came from plastic packaging such as cups, bottles, bags, as well as fragments of fishing gear. So we have to make a change; we simply don't have an option.
We are always trying to improve what we do to have the least impact. We use recycled paper boxes made here in Australia for minimal footprint, we don't use plastic, we have the minimal packaging option at checkout and we have our recycling initiative amongst many other things. But what are some of the things we all can do on a daily basis to minimise your waste?
The Top 5 Must Have's
Tick this list as these are some of the biggest contributors to plastic.
Coffee Cups - we throw away millions of coffee cups and lids every day. But there are options which are better for the planet and your pocket. Use a reusable coffee cup and fill up at home or in the office saving money. If you go to a coffee shop find one that takes reusable coffee cups.
Water Bottle - 2.5 million plastic bottles are used every hour in the US. Not only is this damaging for the environment but for you too, and once again, water is expernsive! Plastic left out in the sun can cause leaching of toxins into the bottle and into you. Grab a stainless steel bottle like our Honua bottles, Fearsome bottles or BBBYO and look stylish as you drink.
Toothbrushes - In Australia we throw away over 30 million plastic toothbrushes into landfill every year. And we don't need to. Bamboo toothbrushes are a great way to clean your teeth and they are biodegradable so pop in the compost and off you go. We have a great range of bamboo toothbrushes incluing our own Flora & Fauna toothbrushes and Green + Kind toothbrushes where 50c from each one is donated to Sea Shepherd Australia. If you don't like bamboo we have upcycled and recycled toothbrushes so we reuse what we already have on our planet.
Plastic Straws - Straws are one of our biggest problems. In the US they use over 500 million a day! The plastic ends up in our waterways and landfill. They don't break down easily and either sit there for years or, if they get in our waterways, end up in our marine life effectively killing them. I am sure you've all seen the photos. So stop the plastic and don't use straws. If you do need to use straws we have some fantastic steel straws from Sprocket & Steel and Ever Eco which fit the bill and even come with a brush cleaner. Also we have bamboo straws from Green + Kind and compostable straws which are really popular for entertaining and kids. See our straws.
Quit the plastic bags - they are literally killing our planet. If you know Melbourne or VIC you'll know the gorgeous Little Penguins at St Kilda and Phillip Island. They are beautiful but their main predator is us; we are killing them with all our waste so please stop using plastic bags. Take a box or one of the hundreds of bags sitting in your house (we all have them). We also have an awesome coconut bag made by a community of women in Sri Lanka and lots of other shopping bags. We also have produce bags made from recycled plastic bottles and also organic cotton. It looks like a ban will come in in NSW in 2018 but this is only for shopping bags and there will probably still be a loophole around thicker plastic bags. Let's just not use them at all.
It doesn't stop at the top 5. What else can we do? There are so many things around the house, and at work, we can swap out (once they are at the end of their life). Here are a few of our thoughts.
Bin Liner and Trash Bags - We use these everyday and they go straight into landfill so there has to be a better way. Some people use newspaper in their bins and others split the trash so effectively that there's little need for bags. But you can buy bags for composting and general waste. See our Eco Waste bags.
Tea Bags - There is a lot of waste around tea where the outer packet might be plastic and the bags themselves are plastic particularly when Pyramids are involved. We've introduced Love Tea, an amazing Melbourne Tea brand. All of their packaging is biodegradable, even the pyramid bags.
Reusable Coffee Pods - We use 3 million coffee pods in Australia every day so over 1 billion a year. Unless these are recycled, and most aren't, they go straight into landfill. There are options if you do have an Nespresso machine and these reusable pods are not available.
Hairbrushes - There's plastic in hairbrushes but we have alternatives and it's wood. Not only do they look beautiful but there is absolutely no plastic in them with a timber brush, rubber pad and timber pins. See our hairbrushes.
Sanitary Pads - There is often a lot of plastic tied up in sanitary bags and there are alternatives. There are JuJu and Lunette Menstrual Cups which are silicon but they will last years saving you money and saving the planet friendly. Also hannahpads are reusable, washable pads that are both comfortable and will last a 2-3 years at least.
Toilet Paper - yes your toilet paper is paper but how does it come...in plastic. We love, and use, Pure Planet. Made with bamboo and sugar cane, wrapped in paper and delivered in a box as often as you want it. We're on a subscription so never have to buy loo roll again!
Grow Your Own Veggies - lots of plastic and harsh chemicals are used when it comes to fruit and veg so grow your own. Whether you have a full blown veggie garden or a window box there's nothing like groeing your own.
Composting - Composting is the ideal way of feeding the earth and responsibly getting rid of your compostable waste.
Storing Food - Evertime you go to use single use plastic find a better alternative like the Wrappa Vegan Food Wraps perfect for storing sandwiches, fruit and veg.
Around the House - there are many alternatives to cleaning the dishes, using plastic scrubbers and washing your laundry by using soapnuts. And you can also use dishcloths made of cotton and cellulose that are biodegradable. Lots of household options here to look at.
If you look around your home, desk or car there is single use plastic everywhere and we are not going to change the world quickly. But small changes lead to big changes so start today.
You could try and convince your work to invest in TerraCycle Recycling boxes to recycle things like stationery, snack wrappers and more. These are available at Flora & Fauna.
We have a large Eco Friendly Category at Flora & Fauna and we split products into biodegradable, plastic free, glass packaging, reusable and more.