One of the biggest contributors to landfill is plastics from single-use items. The planet pays a high price for our habitual relationship with these convenience items. However, I am going to run through some changes I have made, which have been quite easy and inexpensive to implement, that have made a dramatic difference to our household waste.
Although other beverages obviously come in plastic bottles, buying bottled water is the easiest to eliminate. Australians are estimated to spend $385 million each year on bottled water, despite having some of the world’s best-quality, and inexpensive, tap water. The key to ensuring I would take my own water out with me all the time was to invest in a good quality, stainless steel bottle that keeps my water cold even when it has sat in the car for hours on a hot day. Having to lug around a large water bottle all day while in and out of the car running errands, only for it to be lukewarm when I needed a drink would have me thinking, “Why bother when I can grab a bottle of cold water when I need it?” I also use a small cooler bag to carry around extra bottles in summer, so that cupboard full of plastic water bottles is still going to use! It has been well over a year since we have purchased a bottle of water.
Takeaway coffee cups:
Coffee cups are estimated to be the second-largest contributor to waste after plastic bottles. It is estimated Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year! I have tried so many times in the past to regularly use a re-usable coffee cup, but it was a habit that just didn’t stick. I either disliked the taste of the coffee in the plastic or stainless-steel ones or would forget to bring it altogether! So, when committing to a reduced-waste lifestyle, I sat down and researched the options that were available and ended up investing in a glass Keep Cup and it has been fantastic. There is no altered taste to the coffee, the sizing is spot-on with most café takeaway sizes, and the cups are designed to fit under all commercial coffee machines, so you don’t feel like you are causing an inconvenience by using your own cup. Just about every café I have used my cup at has also given me a discount for bringing my own cup. Once you have the cup you like it’s just a matter of making the habit of washing it and popping it straight back in your bag or car. Even if you forget it for your daily coffee half the time, that’s still over 180 disposable cups per year not going to landfill, so it’s definitely worth the try!
That little tube you use for about 30 minutes to make drinking a bit easier will sit in landfill for a minimum of 450 years before it begins to degrade. 450 years versus minutes of use. You can make a difference by simply saying “no straw please” when ordering a beverage. I will admit it took a little bit for me to start using this phrase. I did feel like I was standing out, or confusing the young kids at the drive-thru, but it is definitely worth summoning the courage to be different! I purchased some stainless-steel straws from eBay which I keep in the car — a very affordable switch to make.