Plastic Free July is now firmly in the rear view mirror, and with that some old habits may have started slipping back into the daily routine. With Christmas on the horizon, a period typically marked by excessive purchasing and consuming, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight a few simple swaps we can all make in our daily lives to reduce our waste output and overall contribution to landfill. We’ve chosen not to focus on the super obvious swaps we can all make - such as reusable water bottles, stainless steel straws, reusable cutlery and reusable shopping bags to name a few. Instead, we’ve chosen to highlight products that many of us use on a daily basis without giving too much thought about waste-reducing alternatives.
Plastic Bin Bag Liners
Many Australians give their plastic shopping bags another life by re-using them as a bin bag liner. While this goes some way to lowering the embodied energy-per-use of plastic bags, it doesn’t do much for reducing the number of bags entering landfill. What about the plastic bag ban you ask? Well, while figures aren’t available for 2018, a survey of the 2012 South Australian plastic bag ban found sales of plastic bin liners grew from 15% to 80% post-ban. So what’s the solution? For starters, invest in a compost bin or worm-farm. This will drastically reduce the amount of waste entering landfill. And with wet food scraps taken care of, your bin can simply be lined with newspaper. Alternatively, if you don’t mind washing your bin out more regularly, just put your waste straight into the bin sans-liner.
Dog Poo Bags
This was a hard one for us. If you follow our stories on Instagram, you’ll be familiar with Winston the Boston, an all-in-one eating, snoring, pooping machine. Prior to Kappi, we were using between 2 and 3 plastic dog poo bags per day - over one-thousand per year! The numbers get even scarier when we consider there are approximately 3.4 million dogs in Australia, creating over 1200 kg of waste per day, leading to around 1.3 billion plastic dog poo bags going to landfill per year. In light of those statistics, we’ve simply switched to bringing toilet paper to the park with us. At our local, there is always a bin close by, so we simply make the smelly walk of shame as quickly as possible and continue on throwing King Winston’s ball, lest he throw a tantrum. Obviously toilet paper works for us as Winston is a smaller dog. For those with larger dogs, and thus larger problems to deal with, the convenience of plastic bags is hard to argue with. If that’s the case, please check out Oh Crap. They’re an awesome company making dog poo bags out of PVA which will break down in landfill within 6-months. A pretty good compromise we reckon.
We used to love a bit of cling film before starting Kappi. But you know what? When you think about it, cling film sucks! You can never get it to stick properly and if you tuck into the leftovers later, you can never get it to stick again! Let’s not even mention trying to rip off a piece neatly without ending up with a ball of sticky, plasticy mess. We’ve since invested in a set of awesome glass tupperware containers with airtight lids. Leftovers go straight into these containers ready for our lunches the next day. These tupperware containers are easier to stack in the fridge and food stays fresher for longer. In the interim, if you can’t quite kick your cling film habit, go buy a set of reusable beeswax cling film sheets (there are vegan options available on the market). These do the same thing as cling film, but they’re reusable and washable.
Milk (Dairy and Plant-based)
With China’s ban on accepting 24 types of solid waste, disrupting the export of more than 600,000 tonnes of recycling material out of Australia each year, the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the contents of our recycling bin has never been higher. So, what can you do to combat this? Easy. If you love you milk, keep an eye out for milk packaged in glass containers. They’re starting to crop up more and more in Australian supermarkets as consumers make their demands for more sustainable packaging options heard. The glass containers can be recycled or reused as water jugs, vases, water bottles and for storing produce. If you’re plant-based like us, it’s never been easier to make your own plant-based milks. A quick google search will yield a heap of different recipes. Some of our favourites are Oat Milk, Almond Milk, Cashew Milk and Soy Milk.
According to the South Australian Government’s Zero Waste SA, about 800 million disposable nappies end up in Australian landfills each year. Once in landfill, the plastics in disposable nappies can take anywhere from 200 to 500 years to break down, so they’re not going anywhere fast. The solution? Reusable nappies. There are a heap on the market at the moment, and while the initial investment may be daunting, studies have shown that parents of young children can save up to $1000 per year by making the switch.
Shampoo and conditioner bars are an absolute saviour. No more fumbling to open the latch with wet soapy hands while lather creeps ever closer to your eyes. While Fred may be being a sook, he has a point. Shampoo bars are sooo easy to use, they last ages and if bought from your local bulk food store, there is often no packaging waste to contend with. Easy on your wallet, easy on the planet. That’s a win-win in our books.
Sanitary Pads and Tampons
There has never been a better time for women looking into reusable alternatives to traditionally disposable sanitary items. If you currently use disposable pads, check out Hannah Reusable Pads (organic cotton and pretty patterns) or Thinx Period Proof Underwear. If you use tampons, consider a menstrual cup. Both JuJu and Diva are two of the most popular on the market right now. By making the switch you’ll be personally helping to divert the one wheelie bin worth of sanitary products per women per year from entering landfill. Oh, and you’ll be saving a LOT in the process, with the average woman spending over $2000 per year on sanitary items.
Don’t worry, we are definitely not recommending going paperless! Rather, we’re suggesting looking into alternative toilet paper companies than those found in supermarkets. Our favourite by far is Who Gives a Crap. They’re an Australian social enterprise company that produces toilet paper from 100% recycled paper, donates 50% of their profits to help build toilets in third-world countries, offer a subscription based service, and their packaging is plastic free! Plus, each roll is wrapped in a sheet of paper with awesome graphics, so the rolls won’t look daggy all stacked up in your toilet.
Plastic toothbrushes seriously suck. Over 30-million plastic toothbrushes are thrown away each year in Australia alone. Plastic bristles we understand - there are currently no truly viable alternatives on the market. However, plastic handles are completely unnecessary. Plastic is used simply because it is cheap and can be made in a multitude of colours. We may be biased, but we love our Kappi Bamboo Toothbrushes. The bamboo is sustainably sourced and looks simply beautiful. The four-pack provides a year’s worth of toothbrushes, and once you’re done with a brush, simply snap off the head and throw it in the rubbish bin. The handle can then be placed in the compost, used as a seedling stake or simply buried in the ground. This is a really simple swap than everyone who uses a toothbrush can make.
So, what did you guys think of our list of super easy eco swaps? Is there anything you think we left out? If so, let the Kappi community know about any great tips you have by commenting below!