Be more sustainable with these easy eco swaps

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2020 has been a big year when it comes to plastic. So many more of us are now finally trying to use less, recycle more and just generally think about the planet. And it’s high time. But there’s always at least one extra change you can make.

“We believe that simple swaps, from plastic to paper and cardboard alternatives, could significantly reduce single-use plastic, says Alex Manisty, group head of strategy at DS Smith, a sustainable packaging company. “While there is no silver bullet, sustainable packaging has a huge role to play and – unlike plastic – paper and cardboard are materials that are recyclable not just in theory but in practice, achieving recycling rates of 85 per cent today across Europe.”

So, how can you do more? Try making these easy eco swaps at home.

1. Keep food fresh without using cling wrap

Beeswax wraps are all the rage at the moment, which can make them pricey. Use this tutorial to make your own at home.

Or if that’s too much like hard work, pop to your local farmers’ market to buy some. Reusable beeswax wraps are an excellent alternative to plastic cling wrap and ziplock bags. Wrap up cut up fruit and vegies, sandwiches and rolls, and cover plates and bowls just like you would with cling wrap.

2. Only use recyclable wrapping paper
Most of us are aware you can’t recycle all wrapping paper, but we often throw it in with the paper waste and hope for the best.

Non-paper gift wrap, such as foil-based wrapping paper or bags, cannot be recycled. You can check if your wrap can be recycled by scrunching it; if it springs back when you scrunch it, it’s not recyclable. Just buy lovely brown paper and decorate presents with ribbons or string, which can also be reused. When you are recycling wrap, remember to remove any bits with labels or tape on them, too.

3. Put your recycling in the right bin
It sounds obvious, but so many people put items in the wrong recycling bins. This Christmas, more than 90 per cent of us are set to shop online, which, according to DS Smith, means that 25 per cent more cardboard will make its way into residential collections. To make sure that all recyclable paper and cardboard is actually sent for recycling, residents need to make sure that it ends up in the correct recycling bin.

4. Bin the bubble wrap
Bubble wrap and plastic-lined envelopes are extremely difficult to recycle, so use paper versions instead. They’ll protect any goodies you’re popping in the post and can then be recycled.

5. Use a good old hankie
Tissues, paper towels and kitchen roll cannot be recycled once used – mainly for hygiene reasons. So why not go old school and swap these for a handkerchief or cloth, so you can wash them and reuse?

6. Treat yourself to a reusable coffee cup
If you frequent your local cafe for your morning caffeine fix, maybe it’s time to get yourself a reusable coffee cup. It is estimated Australians use one billion disposable coffee cups each year. That’s approximately 2,700,000 paper coffee cups thrown out every day.

The greenest choice is to bring along your own reusable cup. Some outlets offer a discount for bringing your own reusable cup. Bringing your own cup could save you around 50c on your coffee.

7. Don’t forget to recycle your pizza boxes
Pizza boxes are 100 per cent recyclable, even when greasy, as long as there is no food left in them and they aren’t heavily stained. The best way of ensuring your pizza box can be recycled is to remove any crusts, leftover food, and soak up any excess oil.

8. Think about the cards you buy
Greetings cards can be recycled, as long as they’re not covered in glitter or other non-paper materials, so only buy ones you can actually recycle.

9. Stop buying records and CDs
I know, I know, we love vinyl too, but do you really need any more stuff cluttering up your home? Sign up to a music streaming service and invest in a bluetooth speaker. That way, you can select and play pretty much any song you fancy listening to in seconds.

10. Shop with recyclability in mind

In 2018, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) launched the Australasian Recycling Label to overcome the confusion consumers face over knowing what to recycle. Although not every product carries this label yet, look for it and follow the advice it offers. If you really want to start making changes, avoid foods packaged in single-use plastics.

Find out more about the Australasian Recycling Label and what to look for here.

How much do you recycle at home? Do you have a reusable coffee cup or water bottle? Do you check recycling labels before you buy?

– With PA

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Total Comments: 4
  1. 0

    Well, beeswax wraps are no good for freezing meat or such in the fridge — I use vacuum packing — can keep food for 3 years safe — also as far as using HANkIES — NO way — I use tissues as I am not going to be boiling hankies also as far as reuseable coffee cups — cafes do not accept them these days and I do not blame them as to how do they know they have been properly washed.

    As far as those speakers go –do you really need it listening to everything you say?

    I go out of my way to try and recycle right — but every council has a different take on that —
    As far as buying in the right containers — well I think that is up to the maker

  2. 0

    If people vote with their wallet, food manufacturers will listen and substitute the plastics and unrecyclables. People power is evident…. just look at COVID and the changes we have witnessed in the last 12 months.

    We can only do our best to try to reduce, reuse and recycle. My local cafe takes eco mugs and a lot are going back to doing that. Ive used beeswax wraps and they work to cover food generally, so use it when you can, reduce clingwrap use and keep the bags/clingwrap for the freezer if you have to….. you can reuse them there too. You can reuse foil and baking paper too.

    Its up to us to find our what our councils want – its not that hard.

    Just do our best but we MUST reduce plastics…. the environment and oceans can’t take our rubbish anymore – we are already eating it in our fish and the toxic muck from landfills is leaching through our soils. Just remember people power……. may the force be with you!

    • 0

      Yes I agree MissP, we all have to do our very best — but I have seen the amount of waste of every type of material — just in hospitals and Doctors alone — that is used for seconds and has to be discarded

  3. 0

    Yes PlanB, it makes you weep to see what org’s chuck out too.

    I think the day is coming soon when we will all – citizens, organisations & countries – have to ACT. But right now we can start at home, and then by MAGIC it will percolate down through all our thick heads to our workplaces/orgs & pollies. Then, Hooray for the planet !!



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