An Easy And Hilarious Guide To Reducing Single-use Plastic

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I’m going to start by offering you a huge congratulations. Whether it be Plastic Free July or a new leaf, you want to know how to reduce single-use plastic. So, bravo! I’d also like to let you know that I’m not going to rant about the impossibly big problem that we face with plastic. From overflowing landfills, microplastics in our oceans to the harm they cause to human health, you know, you care and that’s why you’re here.

We’ve established you have a conscience, but you’re also human. This problem is panic inducing and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and think that nothing you do will make a difference. But know you’re not alone, because small changes implemented by lots of people have the power to make a big impact. If you’re wondering where to start, we’re here to help. This blog covers how to reduce single-use plastics in 8 ridiculously simple ways.

how-to-reduce-single-use-plastic

Opt For Glass Bottles

Other than making husbands in the 50s question their paternity, the milkman actually got one thing right. Glass bottles. And the glass bottles are making a comeback. For one they don’t leach harmful chemicals and they’re also 100% recyclable (some plastics aren’t or degrade with each cycle).

We buy our milk in glass bottles from Windy Ridge. Based in Clutha this company sells their milk in glass bottles and have a re-use scheme, just like the good old days. If you’re not a local, there are a lot of similar companies popping up all over New Zealand, so have a Google.

If plant mylk is more your thing then why not try make your own and eliminate those pesky plastic containers. I understand that sometimes you just don’t always have time to be a domestic goddess and whip yourself up some almond milk, so give your empties a second life. Drop them in to Let Them Eat Vegan on Albion Lane who use them as takeaway containers for their delicious sweet treats!

We are a firm believer in a circular economy, so not only are all our bottles glass we also have a bottle reuse scheme in place, and with every bottle you return we donate to the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital.

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© Dunedin NZ

Have A Keep Cup (Or Two) On Hand


Being a slave to coffee, doesn’t mean being a slave to plastic. An easy way to reduce your single-use plastic is by swapping out your early morning caffeine fix with a reusable cup. You can even eliminate the need for a purchase entirely and use a jar. An ex-chutney jar is the perfect size for your morning espresso.

Another handy tip is to have more than one. More often than not I’ve arrived at my local coffee shop to find I’ve either left my keep cup at home or have one that’s got the pungent curdled dregs from last Friday (so trust me the barista will thank you). This also means when you’ve got an extra for a friend. The more people on the bandwagon the better.

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Ditch The Straw

This one’s easy and pretty much every conscious establishment has switched to paper straws anyway. But here is the thing, you don’t need a straw… of any kind. That’s what your mouth is for.

Reusable Produce Bags


We kicked up enough of a fuss that the government listened, and in 2019 New Zealand phased out single-use plastic shopping bags. Who knew that what once overflowed the second draw in your kitchen would become a hot commodity? We adjusted and adapted and now I bet you hardly remember a time when you didn’t have a boot full of reusable bags.

The only thing left is the produce bags. Add some reusable produce bags to that collection in your boot and you’ll never have to bag it in plastic again. If you’re wondering how to reduce single-use plastic at home and DIY a solution, then grab some old net curtains and whip up your own!

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Refill Rather Than Replace


The next time you demolish a jar of Raglan coconut yoghurt (the first New Zealand yoghurt company to become Carbon Zero certified, might we add), save it. These jars are the perfect size for taking to your local bulk food store. Here all you need to do is take some containers (or jars) to be weighed and then fill them up with all the sunflower seeds, lentils, sugar or herbs and spices your heart desires. You can then proceed to walk out of the store plastic free, with a heavy load and a light conscience. Our north island stockists like Fill Good and Earth’s Pantry, or local Dunedin organic store Taste Nature, all offer this service.

I understand that doing this takes organisation and time, and you’re human, so you’ll be forgiven if you’re lacking in either (or both). So, another great option is to buy in bulk. Things like flour and oats store well, so rather than getting it by the kilogram, why not get 5 or 10? Have a look at NZ Biograins where you can order bulk organic goods and get them delivered to your door!

🌿Related: Why We Love Organic Products And Why You Should Too

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Cut Out Plastic Cutlery


If you’re someone that likes to grab a quick takeaway lunch on your break, then you’ve most likely come across the cutlery dilemma – ‘do I take the plastic knife and fork or somehow eat this salad with my fingers?’ The latter is never a good idea. But what is a good idea is a reusable cutlery set. I use the Bamboo Cutlery Set from Moana Road, which includes a knife, fork, spoon, straw and cleaner for all sorts of takeaway emergencies. But how do you reduce single-use plastic without making a purchase? Just bring some cutlery from home, and chuck in a container for good measure too. You’ll never know when you might need it.

Go To Your Local Farmers Market

Supermarkets in general are a minefield of polymers, from the plastic pyjamas on your telegraph cucumber (why!?) to the mesh bag for your kiwifruit. How do you reduce single-use plastic when this is what you’re faced with? This is where your local farmers market comes in because it is the perfect place to pick up some produce. Not only is it locally grown or made, its usually plastic free.

The Otago Famers Market even has a ‘cup library’, so if you forget yours at home, no problems! Choose from a grand selection of mugs and wander the market in true eco-style. You can find us down there every Saturday. If you have that cup on hand you can try a hot tonic!

otago-farmers-market

© Dunedin NZ

Plastic Free Period

Ladies, if you haven’t joined the plastic free period revolution, it’s about bloody time! It’s a game changer. Our friends at AWWA have both period cups and underwear on offer which is the perfect alternative to tampons and pads. Tampons and pads come wrapped in plastic and many tampons as well as having a plastic string actually have an internal plastic layer. So, if you are wondering how to reduce single-use plastic in this department, AWWA is your answer.

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