Plastic free July is here!
In the hospitality industry we see an insane amount of plastics in the form of packaging. As consumers it is very difficult to cut out all our contact with plastic. But by using environmentally friendly alternatives it helps let out money speak for us.
It’s not just a fashionable thing, a political statement or something that should only be practiced within certain areas of society. It is at the point where we need to make conscientious decisions to create a sustainable life or quite literally face extinction. It is more than an environmental decision as well (even though that is a pretty fucking fantastic reason to care). The people who bare the brunt of our poor choices are those who live in poverty, all around the globe.
The best thing about going plastic free? It probably won’t cost you any extra, but it will definitely save you money. We have put together a list of 7 of (in our opinion) the easiest things to switch to permanently instead of plastics. You can also check out a more comprehensive list online here
- Use a bamboo toothbrush.
The average person in New Zealand will use around 284 toothbrushes in their life. When you multiply that by the population of New Zealand (assuming that we remain static on population growth – which is not going happen), that comes to 1.3 billion toothbrushes, or 20 million kilograms of plastic toothbrushes in our life time. The good news is you can easily replace your plastic one with a bamboo one! We purchase ours at New World. You can also get them online, and you can get them with charcoal bristles to help whiten your teeth. Best of all, at $3 they are a comparable price to a regular toothbrush so they won’t break the bank.
- Make the switch from shampoo and soap bottles to bars.
Liquid soaps always come in plastic packaging, but it is so easy to ditch the plastic for a bar. There are also so many choices now available to go to! We love Ethique , they are a Christchurch business, established by a Christchurch woman, that has gone global. You can purchase online or at Farmers. At $22 a bar they last for as long as four bottles of shampoo. They do more than just shampoo though – you can get conditioner, soaps, shaving creams, deodorant, pets, laundry, moisturiser and body scrubs. Their packaging is also 100% biodegradable! We do recommend you get one of their eco friendly shower containers to help keep them safe from the water though.
- Shopping bags and reusable produce bags.
Reusable shopping bags have been around for ages, and you probably already use them. Reusable produce bags are an extension on this and are now available at pretty much every supermarket and vegetable shop. At a one off cost of between $3-8 per bag there is a little initial outlay for something you don’t usually pay for. The perk though is that they are breathable and help extend the life of your produce. They don’t just stop at being used for produce though. You can get cotton ones that can be used for all loose bulk foods. We recently got some more as part of a school fundraiser with Vita Bag , so you can help sustainability and raise some funds for your school or group!
- Plastic straws.
Did you know that globally we produce and use 500 million plastic straws a day. A DAY! Can you even imagine what that looks like? You can swap a plastic straw for paper, or a reusable metal one, or just go for no straw. Reusable straws cost from $1-5 ish each, you can buy them online or in lots of stores (including ours!). They last forever. They make your smoothies taste extra cold – which is delicious. Not to mention they look freaking cool and you can get them in all sorts of colours – including black, gold, copper and silver. For businesses, in the long run it saves you money in two ways. One, you aren’t buying straws to throw away and two, it isn’t taking up needless space in your rubbish.
- Reusable coffee cups
It will cost you a little bit in initial outlay, usually between $15-30 but the perks make that up. Plenty of NZ businesses offer you a discount for using a reusable cup, at around $.50 on average you can make up the cost in 60 visits. For those of you that drink coffee once a day, that’s 12 weeks, or roughly 1/4 of the year. Which means from then on you are saving about $130 a year. They also keep your drink warm for longer, and are available in a massive variety of colours and designs. You don’t need to stop with the coffee cup either. If you are a smoothie or juice person you can recycle an old glass jar, drill a whole in the lid, add a reusable straw et voila.
- Menstrual products
It’s one of those things we don’t really like to talk about (but why… half the population has to deal with this, and the other half is often very aware of what is happening, and when to buy chocolate), which is insane because this is one of the options that will save you a bunch of money, and is crazy convenient. There are also so many options available as well. You can purchase a reusable menstrual cup from Christchurch brand My Cup for about $45, and for every purchase you make they donate one to a New Zealand girl who needs one. With proper care they can last up to 10 years, in that time saving you around $1000. They are insanely convenient because you don’t need to carry round a box of tampons or worry about disposal either, you can just take it out, empty it and pop it back in. You can also get ‘period panties’, (underwear that is designed to absorb your period) and reusable pads.
- Reusable drink bottle
We have been using these since we were kids, so why stop now? From $5-30 for a bottle you can save yourself a bunch. With free tap water there is no reason why we should be purchasing it. Especially when 90% of the cost is in the packaging. If you are out and about and need a refill check out Use Your Own Cup, a New Zealand site which lists cafes and restaurants who will refill your water bottle for free (it also tells you where you can get a discount for using your own straws)