If you look around you, plastic is everywhere. It’s durable, lightweight and cost-effective, which means everything we use is either made out of it or comes in it.
So, what’s the problem?
First of all, most of the plastic we throw out doesn’t actually disintegrate for hundreds of years. You know those multiple coffee cups you have a day or those plastic water bottles? Yeah, they’re the worst. Some people don’t know how to recycle plastic, others are unsure about how to cut it down, and the majority of us don’t even think about the consequences of our plastic use. If plastic isn’t disposed properly and it’s just chucked in the general waste disposal, it ends up in the ocean endangering wildlife, polluting our waterways, and putting human health at risk.
Given how long plastic sticks around and the amount that is generated, it’s easy to see why reducing our plastic waste at home is important. Not sure where to start? Here are a few steps to get you started on your journey towards living a plastic-free life at home.
4 top tips on how to recycle plastic (and help our planet)
1. Get to know your plastics
When it comes to types of plastic waste, there’s a few big players you should know about. The first is PET (or polyethylene terephthalate for long). This is mostly used for soft drink bottles and most other plastic bottles and containers. Another is HDPE (high density polyethylene). This one is most commonly found in milk and juice jugs, as well as yogurt tubs and some cleaning product bottles. Lastly, there’s LDPE (low-density polyethylene) used for plastic bags, PP (polypropylene) used for straws, and polystyrene, which we all know about.
Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception that all plastic items are recyclable (which they aren’t). Despite this, there are definitely some easy recycling habits you can do everyday. Trash like plastic bottles, takeaway containers or plastic fruit punnets can all go in the recycling bin at home. Just ensure you’re giving these plastics a good wash or wipe. In Australia, there are also some locations that will happily recycle your soft plastics – just check in with your local supermarkets!
For the other plastics you’re not quite sure about, just take them to one of your local recycling centers! They can help you sort through your plastics easily. If you’re still lost on the recycling process and how to recycle plastic, you can find a guide on your council’s website about what can go in your recycling bin. Lastly, if you’ve been working on a big DIY project or some renovations and have a lot of plastic waste, a skip bin hire is your best bet.
2. Reuse, don’t dispose
Despite how widely used plastic is, everyone seems to just throw it away after they’re done with it. We live in a world where there are so many reusable options for everyday things, so here are just a few ideas to get you started.
- Stop using plastic straws: They suck! Swap out disposable straws with a metal one. Other variations include silicon and glass – or drinking straight from the cup/glass/can doesn’t hurt either.
- Ban the bottle: Pick a reusable drink bottle and stick to it. If you have to use a plastic drink bottle, recycle it!
- Scrap the cling wrap: Pack your picnic food, lunch or leftovers in paper bags or reusable containers instead.
- Opt for a reusable coffee cup: There are so many variations of coffee cups now – durable plastic, ceramic, glass – and all are reusable.
- Bring your own reusable shopping bags: These are great not only for your groceries but also for when you can’t resist that summer sale.
- Go for reusable or paper decorations: Have a birthday party coming up? Try to buy things that you’ll reuse or can dispose of responsibly instead of plastic balloons. You can also encourage your friends to use recycled paper as gift wrap.
- Avoid plastic packaging: This can be hard, but it’s not impossible. Where you can, try to limit what you buy that’s wrapped in plastic. If you have a great local butcher, go there instead of the supermarket! Love fresh fruit and vegetables? Bring your own produce bags and pick out everything yourself instead of the pre-packaged stuff.
- Create things with recycled plastic products: If you search the internet, there are hundreds of ways to reuse plastic at home. With some time and creativity, you can make home decor, pot plants, lanterns and more all with recycled materials!
See, adopting a kind of zero waste lifestyle isn’t that bad, is it?
3. Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk on your weekly grocery shopping trip is a simple way to reduce your plastic waste. Not to mention, it saves you money in the long run!
Instead of buying single packets of yogurt or biscuits, buy the bigger option. Then when it comes time to pack your lunch, just portion out what you need in a reusable container. There are also a lot of great stores that offer bulk buying! Find out where your local one is and bring those reusable bags we talked about earlier and fill it with goodness.
This works wonders in your bathroom too! Don’t buy a new bottle of hand wash or shampoo every couple of weeks, but buy the biggest bottle you can. This means that whenever you run out, you can simply refill your reusable bottle or soap dispenser. Who knew, that knowing how to recycle plastic could save you so much money!
4. Go vintage shopping!
You can also do your part by donating your clothes and picking up some vintage gems at your local op shop. A lot of our clothes are made up of synthetic plastic fibres, meaning it takes them a really, really long time to break down. So, trust us when we say that picking up some op shop finds is a great way to reduce plastic waste.
Donating your children’s old toys is also another great way to keep that plastic out of the ocean and landfill, and into the loving hands of another child.
Why the recycling process is so important & what else you can do
We only have one Earth. So, it’s important to reduce our plastic waste as much as possible to keep the planet healthy for both us and the next generation.
At Just Skips, it’s just as important to us that your plastic waste is disposed of correctly. When you hire a skip, you can be confident that we’re looking after both you and the environment. Get in contact with us today or check out our skip bin hire prices for more information about waste management.