Quit these disposable plastic items today

Kiwis dump about 46,000 tonnes of recyclable beverage containers each year – enough to fill 700 jumbo jets.

Kiwis dump about 46,000 tonnes of recyclable beverage containers each year – enough to fill 700 jumbo jets.

Every bit of plastic that has ever been made still exists on the planet. Once it exists it will never fully biodegrade, only break down into smaller and smaller pieces. 

The Plastic Pollution Coalition says our consumption of disposable plastic has spiralled out of control and they may have a point.

We have free, plentiful and easy access to many single-use plastic items such as shopping bags, bottles, takeaway food containers, cling film, coffee cups, tooth brushes, cutlery, straws and more. Many of these items are used for just minutes before being thrown in the rubbish. 

Otago Polytechnic was concerned about how many takeaway coffee cups its Eden cafe was using each week, it chose to stop ...
JEN RODGERS/SUPPLIED

Otago Polytechnic was concerned about how many takeaway coffee cups its Eden cafe was using each week, it chose to stop the practice altogether.

The coalition says while most plastic goes into landfills a portion gets into the waterways and ends up in the ocean. Plastic pieces on the oceans surface now out number sea life six to one. 

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Plastic rubbish around Mangere Bridge, Auckland.
Sustainable Coastlines

Plastic rubbish around Mangere Bridge, Auckland.

Take charge of your own rampant consumption by saying no to these plastic things. 

STRAWS
Plastic straws are one of the easiest plastic items to give up because you don't need to buy a reusable replacement. Simply do this: sip your drink. If you still feel a burning desire to drink through a straw invest in a stainless steel one. 

WATER BOTTLES
Kiwis throw away about 46,000 tonnes of recyclable beverage containers each year – enough to fill 700 jumbo jets, according to a 2015 InCENTive to Recycle report, released by environmental consultancy firm Envision New Zealand. These bottles end up in the litter stream, waterways and landfills. Invest in a BPA free bottle and refill at home, work, cafes or public water fountains. 

COFFEE CUPS
You may think because takeaway coffee cups are much like paper cups they are recyclable, but they aren't. The problem is the cups' inner lining made of polyethlene plastic, or PE. PE is essentially a waterproof lining that stops coffee cups from going soggy. 

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Your daily ritual is hurting the environment because most New Zealand recycling centres don't have the technology to remove the PE lining from the cups, meaning they're thrown into our landfills. Someone who consumes five takeaway coffees a week can produce about 14kg of waste a year, according to the Sustainable Business Network. 

Grab a reusable coffee cup and leave it in your car or on your work desk. Many cafes now offer a small discount to those who supply their own takeaway cup. 

SHOPPING BAGS  
New Zealand shoppers consume about one billion lightweight plastic bags each year. These bags are often used for minutes, just to carry groceries to and from the car. Once in landfill they do not rot, decompose or biodegrade. To make matters worse when they're exposed to UV rays a lightweight plastic bag will photodegrade and break into small brittle fragments, which are toxic.

Statistics New Zealand says that in 2014, we spent $10.5 million on imported, lightweight plastic bags. Large retailers like The Warehouse introduced a 10 cent charge per bag in 2009, which saw a 73 per cent drop in bags leaving its stores, but Kiwis are still saying 'yes' to lightweight plastic bags.

Keep reusable shopping bags in your car or rolled up at the bottom of your handbag.

CUTLERY
Last year France became the first country to ban plastic plates and cutlery passing a law to ensure all plastic cups, cutlery and plates can be composted and are made of biologically-sourced materials.

New Zealand isn't as forward thinking as this exemplary nation with plastic cutlery given out at many fast food outlets. But it's easy to give it up because everyone already has their own reusable cutlery at home. 

 - Stuff

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