repurposed jars with lentils, coffee and flour in a kitchen cupboard

Simple Swaps to go Plastic Free July

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The COVID-19 Level 4 restrictions meant 20 million coffee cups did not get consumed and thrown away after being used just once. Hooray! However, it also meant an increase in the use of disposable items. Let’s make Plastic Free July 2020 a time to return to a new normal, adopting good practices that are also good for the environment!

Reassess and refuse > reduce > reuse > recycle > rot!

Plastic Free July is a good opportunity to reassess how much single use plastic we consume and make some simple swaps. The waste hierarchy reminds us how easy it can be! Get your reusable coffee cup and water bottle back out of the cupboard. Find out where your nearest bulk bin store is and start shopping packaging free. Last but not least, on your next grocery shop, see if there are any items you buy in plastic that you can swap to buying in glass, cardboard or in a can.

Be creative with glass jars

Jam, peanut butter, mayonnaise and simmer sauces are all sold in either plastic or glass jars. Choose brands sold in glass jars, which are often also NZ brands, to support local and do good for the environment at the same time. When you have scraped the last bit of peanut butter out of the jar, work out how to reuse the jar as many times as possible before it goes in the recycling bin. Here are a few ideas.

You could:

  • Donate them to groups around the country  who make jams and marmalades for foodbanks, or try your local op shop,
  •  Create your own reusable coffee cup with rubber bands and a jar; ask your local café if you can create a box of them for their customers buying coffee on the go,
  • Use the jars to store your bulk and homemade food,
  •  Make your own beauty or cleaning products and package them in glass jars. These can make great gifts too,
  • Use the jars to sort and store miscellaneous household item such as drawing pins, small toys, pens, etc.

Before they go in the recycling bin, don’t forget to remove the lid. The latter can be brought for recycling at Sustainability Trust for example.

Cleaning products and containers

It is also easy to make a simple swap for cleaning product containers. Look for brands that offer refill stations so you can use the bottle over and over again. Or buy laundry powder in a cardboard box with no plastic scoop included. Those brands that don’t include a scoop include instructions on tablespoons of laundry powder needed per load.

Soft drinks

If soft drinks are regularly on your shopping list, tap water with some (homemade?) flavouring could save you money while reducing your plastic bottle use. Syrups for flavouring can be made from lemon, feijoa or even rosehip! A kombucha or ginger beer bug are also a steady supply of refreshing fizziness.

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