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June 10, 2023 4 min read

A Plastic (Not So Fantastic) Future.


Single-use plastics are without a doubt one of the most annoying aspects of everyday life.

Nowadays, almost everything is wrapped in a soft plastic of some form and the only redeeming factor is that we could recycle them and do our bit for the environment. Now that’s all changed.As of November 2022, the recycling scheme used by Woolies and Coles,REDcycle collapsed.

In a statement, they said “What the future holds for REDcycle remains to be seen, but I know my team and I will always be dedicated to the cause, one that sees our waste become a resource and helps create a better environment for our children.”

Now thatREDcycle has ceased operation, no viable alternative has been presented to Australians who care about the environment anddo not want plastics to go into landfill

So what can we do?

Unfortunately, given the news about REDCycle, the future is not looking great for recycling soft plastics. However, what remains constant is that landfill shouldn’t be an option. With this in mind, the responsibility now falls onto the consumer, YOU, to make conscious decisions about what you buy and how much plastic you consume. Often making small and long-lasting changes is good not only for the environment but for your conscience as well.

Here are a few ways to make more conscious decisions to reduce your consumption of soft plastics: 

1. Buying Fruit & Veg

Most fruit and vegetables are packaged in soft plastic bags with plastic produce bags being offered at most supermarkets. There are ways to limit your use of these items and before you know it you won’t even think about needing them anymore.

  • Bring reusable produce bags to the grocery store
  • Buy from local farmer’s markets or smaller grocers to limit purchasing of packets and opt to buy produce per weight or individually
  • Buy fresh and what you don’t use can be frozen such as bananas for cakes and muffins or berries for smoothies
  • If you need to buy large quantities of small fruits or vegetables try to buy them in hard clear plastic that can be recycled or use the paper mushroom bags available in the store that can also be recycled 

 

2. Buying Packeted Foods



Buying foods that come in packets is unfortunately unavoidable. However, there are small steps you can take to reduce the amount of plastic you buy, rather than unrealistically eliminate it completely. 

  • Buying fresh meat, seafood and salad from the deli rather than prepackaged is a much easier way to purchase meat and seafood. Often deli prices are better and fresher as well. 
  • Foods such as pasta and raw whole grains like lentils and beans usually come in plastic packets, so opt for purchasing these from bulk whole foods stores that allow you to bring your own containers such as glass jars and bottles and pay per weight. These ways of storing foods look way better in the pantry too and you get to make fun labels which is always a treat. 
  • Buy pantry staples in tins, cardboard boxes or cans that way they can be recycled in the regular bin and you don’t touch a smidge of plastic!

 

3. Buying Clothes Online


When purchasing clothes online, think about how much plastic is going to be sent your way, most items of clothing are wrapped in soft plastics that
now cannot be recycled.

Thinking about what you really need versus what you actually want to buy is an important step when it comes to online shopping. If the items you want to buy have a store close by you, opt for a click-and-collect where you can bring your own bag and take them home rather than be sent all of the plastic. Also, check local clothes swap stores, charity shops and second-hand clothing markets before you buy more clothes.

Often you’ll find one-of-a-kind quirky items that are more unique than the latest fast fashion trends. Plus being that person at a market with a tote bag filled with bargains is so satisfying. 

There are loads of local markets and secondhand shops around Australia, here are some of our faves:

  • SWOPNSW, VIC & QLD
  • Glebe MarketsNSW
  • Rozelle MarketsNSW
  • Goodbyes ACT, TAS, VIC
  • Camberwell Sunday MarketVIC
  • Round She Goes MarketVIC
  • Reloved MarketTAS
  • deadlysisu.TAS
  • Monday MarketSA
  • Mekko MarketSA
  • Pre Loved MarketWA
  • Second Life MarketsWA, VIC & NSW
  • Sister BuffaloNT
  • Too Much Stuff?NT
  • Love Me Again MarketQLD
  • Fab Finds MarketQLD


When Can We Recycle Again?

Unfortunately, there has been no set date given for whenREDcycling’s recycling scheme will be up and running again and their last mid-2023 target was not reached.

The good news for NSW residents however, that localcompanyCurby is still able to recycle soft plastics (but only across four councils within the state).

We hope that brands like Curby set the tone for all states to follow in suit, as each state really needs to begin to pull their weight in finding a solution for this. To do this in your area,you could advocate for change by writingto your local council to get them to support the program in your local area, power of the people!



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