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Beautiful plastic-less produce at the Adelaide Central Market
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Top tips to break free from plastic 

Going plastic-free might seem like an impossible challenge but tearing yourself away can open a whole new world of produce, products and people!

Plastic is an ever-present force in our lives, from our youth in plastic nappies, to our cling-wrapped school sandwiches, to our morning coffees consumed through a plastic lid. Plastic-free July challenges us to kick our life-long habit and give up single-use plastics for a whole month. Sounds difficult/ easy/ fun? It’s all three. Here’s how to prepare and why it’s important.

Why take the challenge?

Plastic-free July is an exercise in reducing; it’s not to say you can never use single-use plastic again. It’s a great way to test your problem-solving skills and challenge yourself to break a bad habit. When August comes around you might keep a handful of your new-found habits and be one step closer to joining the ranks of Captain Planet and the Planeteers.

It’s not breaking news that our environment is having a tough time with plastic waste. What might surprise you though is that these plastics, often in the form of microplastics, are ending up in our body through water, food and even air.

“Humans are being exposed to both plastic particles and chemical additives being released from the plastic debris of consumer society… What started as a marine environmental contamination issue is in fact very much a human health issue as well.”

A. Dick Vethaak and Heather A. Leslie, Plastic Debris Is a Human Health Issue, 2016

There are a lot of people working to make changes on a larger scale but if we all do a small part it adds up to make a real difference.

Choose bar soap instead of bottled soap

Five tips to go plastic-free

1. Take Tupperware everywhere

Yes, plastic containers are a-ok to use during the challenge. Single use plastic just means you’ll use it once and throw it away. Stash a selection of containers in your everyday bag so you can easily deflect plastic temptation. This is an easy way to avoid a takeaway container for lunch, leftovers or when grocery shopping. Most butchers will also be happy to put your order in a supplied container.

2. No thanks

If there’s no plastic-free alternative, you can sometimes say no. No straw thanks. No bag thanks. No coffee until I’ve run and grabbed my reusable cup thanks. The environment will say thanks to you!

3. Socialise selectively

When choosing a spot to catch up with friends, steer clear of places and events that don’t have sustainability in mind. The best way to find out is to give them a call or skim their social media for signs of sustainable practises. Lots of bars and restaurants are starting to make the switch with straws. The Stag uses pasta straws instead of plastic!

4. Swap

Not all products are created equal. When you can, swap a plastic-clad product for an environmentally friendly counterpart. A simple switch would be instead of using teabags that contain plastic (surprise – a lot of them do!), look for teabags that confirm they are compostable or switch to loose leaf tea.

5. Don’t be fooled

Keep in mind that biodegradable does not mean compostable. For example, compostable bags are made entirely of plant materials and will break down naturally. Biodegradable bags have limitations in how they can break down – if they’re in the ocean or under a pile of rubbish, they will not break down.

Scoop your grains and snacks into your own containers

Where to buy plastic-less produce in Adelaide

During the challenge you’re likely to find yourself in a plastic-pickle as it’s difficult to source an alternative for some products you buy on autopilot. Here are some of the usual suspects and where you can get a plastic-free version in Adelaide’s market district.

  • Grains, rice, nuts

House of Health and Whole and Some (formerly: Goodies and Grains) let you scoop your own cereals, flour and a nearly endless list of grains and nuts.

  • Pasta and oil

Lucia’s Fine Foods in the Adelaide Central Market sells fresh pasta which you can put directly into your own containers. They also sell olive oil on tap!

  • Coffee beans and tea leaves

Kappy’s Tea and Coffee on Compton street near the market, lets you buy exactly the amount of beans and tea leaves you want and will put it in your own container on request.

  • Herbs and tofu

Hong Kong Grocery on Moonta street Chinatown sells herbs without plastic – which is surprisingly difficult to find! They also sell tofu in reusable containers.

  • Cleaning products

The Honey Shoppe and Soap Box in the Central Market Arcade sells cleaning products that you can pour directly into your own containers. They also carry products without harsh chemicals and of course, honey!

Rice and grains can be bought in bulk at the Adelaide Central Market

Prepare your eco-toolbelt

It pays to be prepared so stock up on sustainable tools to save you money while you’re saving the earth.

  • Reusable produce bags

Leave the roll of disposable plastic bags alone! The House of Health in the Adelaide Central Market sells reusable produce bags for only a few dollars each. If you forget, repurpose a paper mushroom bag.

  • Lunchboxes for grown-ups

If you’re carrying soup or a juicy lunch in your bag you might like to use a plastic bag in case of a leak. Save the bags and invest in a lunchbox. Have You Met Charlie in Regent Arcade carries insulated lunchboxes by Kollab.

  • Reusable cups

As long as you use a reusable cup more than a dozen or so times, studies have shown it’s better than a disposable cup in terms of energy use. Some cafes even offer a nice discount if you bring your own cup. Relove on Ebenezer Place sells beautiful handmade ceramic cups – lid and all.

  • Beeswax wraps

Let your clingwrap become obsolete by switching to beeswax wraps. They’re available all over the city at places like E for Ethel on Melbourne street or you can make your own!

Express your artistic side while pursuing your environmental endeavours

Meet and make your own

You’re not alone on your eco-adventure. Take a workshop with kindred spirits and to learn how to make your own wraps or even a compostable pinata!

Bring us your plastic dilemma to solve session

Tips and tricks on how to live a life less plastic to prepare you for Plastic Free July.

July 3, 6.00pm to 7.00pm, The Joinery, Free, Book

Intro to Zero Waste

Session led by Niki of Almost Zero for easy tips on reducing waste in your home.

July 23, 6.00pm to 7.30pm, Adelaide South West Community Centre, Free, Book

Beeswax Wrap Workshops

Learn how to make your own reusable beeswax wraps to replace cling wrap.

July 8, 6.00pm to 7.30pm, The Joinery, $27.46, Book

July 9, 3.30pm to 4.30pm, South West Community Centre, $12.64, Book

July 12, 5.30pm to 8.00pm, Migration Museum, $40, Book

Fun Kids’ Parties with Less Waste

Great ideas for a sustainable kids’ party and how to make a compostable piñata.

July 11, 5.30pm to 7.00pm, Box Factory Community Centre, $6.36, Book

Produce Bags & Ideas for Reusing Materials

Learn how to sew your own produce bag with upcycled fabric and broken umbrellas.

July 29, 6.00pm to 7.30pm, The Joinery, $6.36, Book

Good luck on your journey and remember it’s ok if you slip up during the challenge. It is hard to make the shift, but each plastic piece avoided will give you peace of mind.  

Do you have a favourite plastic-free tip, product or shop in the city? Let us know who supports sustainable shopping in the comments.

Georgie Smith

Georgie Smith

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