Like diamonds, plastics are forever.
– Your go-to guide for plastic alternatives –
By Rose O’Donnell
It is Plastic Free July and that means I have an excuse to research eco-friendly and single-use-plastic free alternatives to almost all everyday items and bombard you with the information I find! So, what are you already doing to minimise plastic waste in your day to day life? Are you in need of a little inspiration or a place to start? Keep reading and I promise you’ll find just the motivation you are after.
Plastic Free July. Why choose to refuse?
Plastic does such damage to our planet, particularly our oceans, every single day. It is estimated that anywhere from 8-12 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans EVERY YEAR. A massive 80% of that is from land based sources. Have you ever actually stopped and considered how YOUR actions are affecting the world we live in? Plastic is all around us and unless you’re making a conscious effort to minimise your plastic waste already, it is likely that you buy, use and throw out plastic every single day without thinking twice about it. (Source https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/plastic-end-ocean/)
Do you buy shopping bags and use produce bags every time you’re at the supermarket? Those bad boys take an estimated 1,000 years to break down, provided they aren’t eaten by sea life first. Water bottles and sports drinks will break down in 450 years or so if you don’t recycle them. Bread tags and milk bottle tops are unlikely to ever break down properly, instead they become microplastics which fish and birds see as a tasty snack. Plastics do so much harm to our environment, from appealing to ocean animals as a source of food, to polluting our own food and water sources, and it’s time we did something about it and Plastic Free July is just the beginning.
Just last month, a male Pilot Whale was found in a canal in Thailand unable to swim properly. It vomited up 5 plastic bags just before it died. An autopsy later showed another 80 bags weighing a total of 8kg inside the whales stomach. If the story itself isn’t enough to put you off buying any more disposable plastic bags, the following images might be.
Sorry about that but it’s the hard truth. Luckily, if you’re going to start changing your actions in order to save a whale, there are so many plastic-free alternatives available, companies intent on making a positive change to our environment, and more people than ever eager to live more sustainable lifestyles. After some easy research, I found a variety of businesses who make everything from shopping bags to sneakers out of recycled plastics, and whose goals are the same; to improve environmental awareness and reduce plastic pollution.
Baiia. Pronounced “bai-ah”. Meaning: one who has the capacity to change the world for the better.
This eco-friendly Australian swimwear company pride themselves on their ability to create swimwear using only rPET (a fabric fibre produced from recycled plastic water bottles or recycled materials). Their reversible, stylish bikinis and one piece swimsuits are developed from industrial and post-consumer waste such as carpets, fishnets and plastic bottles, which would otherwise end up in landfill or be polluting our oceans. The rich and vibrant colours of their swimwear are achieved using water based inks, a proven eco-friendlier approach than the usual plastisol inks containing PVC and phthalates which are harmful to us and the environment.
Baiia’s method of production conveniently reduces their carbon footprint by 50% when compared to using organic cotton and by 90% compared to using nylon. If these facts aren’t enough of a reason to switch your choice of swimwear brand, know that with every purchase, 10% of profits are donated evenly between two charities: “More than Me”- a charity providing education for girls and women in underprivileged communities, and “Cool Earth”- a charity dedicated to helping preserve rainforests around the world.
Summer is just around the corner. Consider how your choice of swimwear effects you, our environment, and the wellbeing of others. Consider Baiia.
Images sourced from: https://www.baiia.com.au
“A cup that is made from waste, helps recycle waste, and reduces waste.”
Image sourced from: https://www.rcup.co.uk
rCup: The world’s first ever reusable coffee cup made from recycled disposable paper cups. How. Good.
“Ashortwalk” are an award-winning design company based out of Cornwall in the United Kingdom and are the brains behind the creation of rCUP. The company “don’t believe in waste, so make lots of unique products through recycling,” with this reusable coffee cup being one of their most successful creations to date.
Many individuals believe they are doing the right thing by the environment when they buy takeaway coffee in a paper cup. It’s paper, so it can be recycled right? Wrong. Although paper coffee cups are made largely of paper, they have a thin plastic polyethylene lining which is tightly bonded to the paper in order to make the cups waterproof, and therefore able to contain liquid. This makes them difficult to recycle correctly.
Consumer awareness towards their everyday decisions and their effect on the environment has driven the recent demand for and popularity of reusable coffee cups. Many are made from durable plastics and will be convenient and long lasting for the buyer, but once damaged and disposed of, still take hundreds of years to break down. The team at “Ashortwalk” have successfully invented a way of recycling disposable paper cups by cleaning and shredding the cup, and blending the cups strong fibres into a recycled plastic polymer. They combined this polymer with other recycled materials, and wham, the rCUP was born. Their product is the only reusable cup being made from the single use cups still being used in cafes today. Who knows, if you’re in the UK, maybe the takeaway cup you used for your morning coffee will be recycled tomorrow! Finally, as the cherry on top of what is an already successful invention, when the rCUP reaches the end of its predicted 10 year life, it is recycled into a new one. Fantastic.
Maybe you have recently been inspired to switch to a reusable coffee cup, or maybe you’ve been considering it for a while but didn’t know which one to choose because there are just so many. Now you have no more excuses because here is one of the most clever, sustainable options out there. Stop hesitating! This Plastic Free July, make the switch.
Specialising in reusable products for your everyday life that can easily be kept “On You.”
ONYA is an Australian based company that prides itself on creating high quality, useful and reusable everyday products. They have successfully created reusable alternatives for items commonly made from single use plastics, including shopping bags, produce bags, backpacks, coffee cups and bottles. Wherever possible, ONYA products are made out of recycled materials such as rPET, a fabric produced from recycled plastic water bottles. Their products are also 100% recyclable at the end of their life.
The company’s goal is to offer their customers “a well thought out quality alternative to single use plastic,” encouraging individuals to involve themselves in the protection of the environment and “make the change we want to see happen.”
Their range includes:
Produce and Shopping Bags – made from recycled plastic drink bottles.
Portable Coffee Mugs – made from 100% food grade silicone, can be recycled at the end of their life.
Sandwich Wraps – made from BPA-Free recycled plastic and fully food safe PEVA lining.
Drink Bottles – made from food-grade, 304 stainless steel, aluminium and BPA free.
Bread Bags – made from up to 10 recycled plastic drink bottles, designed to replace single use paper or plastic bread bags, plastic toggles and ties.
Packaging – made from post-consumer recycled materials, printed with water based inks, suitable for recycling or composting.
ONYA products have been met with popularity and five star ratings worldwide, highlighting the company’s success at an environmentally friendly approach to minimising plastic waste.
ONYA helps their customers to begin the much needed first step of reducing their single-use plastic consumption, so if you are starting to consider how you can help to clean up the world, look no further than products from ONYA.
Images sourced from: https://www.onyalife.com
Adidas x Parley. Your environmentally friendly footwear alternative.
After some new kicks? Want to reduce plastic waste while you’re at it? Look no further than Adidas’ new line of sustainable footwear. Since 2015, the German sportswear brand has partnered with “Parley for the Oceans” to repurpose millions of pounds of plastic currently polluting the world’s oceans. Together, the companies raise awareness for the protection and preservation of our oceans, and more recently have converted plastics and netting recovered from the sea into footwear. The newest creation “Ultra Boost x Parley” shoes “are a great idea from an ecological standpoint,” finding a use for plastic waste that not only removes it from oceans worldwide, but also provides the usual revenue boost which maintains a healthy market. This particular line comes in colours chosen specifically to mimic the moods of the ocean.
Images sourced from: http://www.businessinsider.com/adidas-parely-ultra-boost-womens-review/?r=AU&IR=T
Adidas x Parley shoes knitted upper consists of 85% Parley Ocean Plastic, and each pair of shoes is made from approximately 11 plastic bottles. That means every pair of shoes prevents 11 plastic bottles from entering the ocean! The shoes also come with an integrated NFC chip in one shoe, providing the wearer with access to exclusive learning experiences about plastic pollution and plastic alternatives via their smartphone.
Adidas aim to be making all of their shoes from recycled plastic by the year 2020. That is less than 2 years away! This is good news for the health of our planet and good news that their first attempt at sustainability has been met with success.
“Our mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Patagonia is probably one of the most successful companies worldwide in regards to eco-friendly approaches, recycling efforts and sustainability. For decades, the company considered the impact that disposable plastic water bottles were having on the environment. Even though a small percentage was being recycled, what was actually happening to them at the end of the recycling process? Patagonia made the decision to turn recycled plastic into polyester fabric for clothing and apparel, finding a way to upcycle plastic bottles and turning this waste stream into higher-value good.
In the year 1993, this fantastic company produced the first ever polyester fleece jacket from recycled bottles, and their recycling efforts have flourished ever since. Today, worn clothing and manufacturing waste join recycled bottles as products being transformed into new apparel, literally closing the recycling loop. Patagonia’s product line now includes a massive 82 different products made from recycled polyester including: beanies, insulated pants, swimwear, backpacks and down jackets.
As well as recycling plastics to create apparel, Patagonia began “Worn Wear,” a reusing and recycling initiative for the clothes they sell. Customers are encouraged to take the time to return their loved clothing to Patagonia when they are finished with it, to either be resold or recycled depending on the condition of the product. Since 2005, Patagonia has recycled 82 tonnes of clothing and often incorporates them into their own new clothes.
“Worn Wear celebrates the stories we wear, keeps your gear in action longer through repair and reuse, and recycles your garments when they’re beyond repair.”
Whether Patagonia is already one of your go-to clothing brands, or you’ve never heard of them before, consider their range of apparel the next time you’re after anything from a new polar fleece to a backpack for your next adventure. And while you’re at it, why not visit their Worn Wear website first and pick up whatever you are after at a discounted price! It will have already been loved, sure, but it’s Patagonia, so you can rest assured it will still be in the best condition possible.
Plastic/waste free Adventure Bay Charters
It is all very well for us to tell you what to do and how to reduce your use of plastic and waste but we need to highlight exactly how we are practicing what we preach. At Adventure Bay Charters, the waste management hierarchy of avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle and compost is strongly adhered to within daily operations across both the boats and office.
- Avoid – Four bin rubbish recycling program in the office and on the boat. Limited to no single use plastics;
- Recycle and reuse – Bottle and can collection and recycling. Money is used to purchase recyclable containers for food storage and drinks for the boat;
- Compost – Food scraps after tours are collected and composted or donated to chicken farms or local vegetable gardens. The eggs and produce is later purchased to form a recycling loop;
- Recycle – All printing paper that is purchased is recycled paper;
- Recycle – Printing cartridges are saved and recycled;
- Avoid – Gift vouchers, confirmations, booking details and tickets are all electronic;
- Reduce – Buying groceries in bulk to reduce plastic wrapping and packaging.
In addition to existing recycling best practice, Adventure Bay Charters has specifically targeted the single use plastics in a bid to reduce landfill, environmental impact and plastics in our oceans. Examples include: newspaper as bin liners, bread tags and bottle lids collected and donated to “Bread Tags for Wheelchairs” and sharing tips and information across our social media and on flyers in the office and boat. Impact: reduction in waste to landfill. Zibo remould our recycled tags and lids into seedling trays, donating sales to purchase of wheelchairs for the less fortunate.
We also consciously reduce soft plastic consumption at procurement by choosing suppliers that support the discontinuation of single use plastics and working with them to eliminate plastic wrapped items by requesting alternative packaging. For example: meat wrapped and divided by baking paper in cardboard boxes and cakes and muffins delivered fresh in reusable packaging.
The plastics issue is a strong social trend and change and something that we have been pushing for for years. We strongly support the discontinuation of single use plastics. Our tours are based on the natural, pristine environment and its inhabitants. For us, this is a huge issue and something all of our staff are passionate about.
If you weren’t already aware of the damage we are doing to our oceans with plastic, now you are, and it’s up to you to help make a positive change for their future. It’s so easy. Maybe you won’t make the choice right now to switch wholly to reusable alternatives to plastic, but if you do your bit to reduce and recycle your waste, you’ve made a decent start. Plastic Free July is a great time to start. Take a bucket or a bag to the beach with you and collect any rubbish you see. Take your soft plastics back to the supermarkets for recycling. Put any recyclable materials into the recycle bin so that they might get turned into a new pair of sneakers. Refuse plastic straws. Refuse plastic bags. Spread the word to anyone who will listen. Lead by example.
There you have it. Reasons why you should abort the single-use plastic train, and plunge straight into an ocean free from plastic. By starting this Plastic Free July & making that switch to reusable alternatives, and by supporting clothing brands who do their best to recycle plastics into wearable clothing, you might just save another whale from dying with 8 kilos of plastic bags in its stomach. It’s your decision. We can only ask one another to try our best.