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A practical guide to reduce plastic waste in Sydney during COVID-19

Let's be honest. No one, or only a handful of waste warriors are able to stick to their plastic-free routine during lockdown.

It is hard. You cook many meals at home, but you can't resist the delicious restaurant food out there. Following the satisfaction of eating is the guilt of cleaning the plastic containers and the plastic cutlery you told the restaurants so many times: no cutlery please. They still sneaked inside. 

So let's be practical and focus on two things: how do we live a life during these challenging times, and how do we reduce plastic waste as much as we can?

1. Fill up your fridge with beautiful fresh produce on a weekly basis

Your goal for the week is to cook and eat through everything in the fridge. If you hit your goal, congrats yourself for not wasting food global food waste is the third largest greenhouse gas emitter. It also means you completely avoid using any takeaway containers. It saves money too.

2. It's okay to order takeaway food

We all deserve to treat ourselves, especially in times like this. More importantly, every dollar you spend helps our local food businesses. They need our support to go through these times.

    Lots of businesses use compostable takeaway containers. On Uber Eats, these businesses are labelled with 'sustainable packaging'. 

    But don't throw these containers to the recycling. Reuse them if they are still clean. Shred and compost them if you can. They can also be used for planting seeds. We've written about bioplastics if you'd like to learn more.

    3. Clear plastics: do your research

    Even with compostable takeaway containers, most of the time the lids are made from clear plastic  some from bioplastic, it's just confusing. The best practice is to always check the recycling symbol and find out if it's recyclable from your local council.

    Generally, the ABC did mention, 'All plastic containers can be recycled including plastic fruit punnets and takeaway containers.' For smaller containers, put them inside a bigger plastic container.

    Shouldn't they be reused? Yes, they should. The safest is to reuse them for non-food storage purposes. When it comes to reusing for food, it's important to take precaution that the chemicals may leech into your food.

    4. Reject styrofoam

    I'm sorry, but businesses that use styrofoam are from the last century. They should be aware that styrofoam cannot be recycled and it will forever damage the environment. Educate these businesses to use other alternatives.

    5. BYO KeepCup and containers

    Needless to say, this is the best solution. But lots of businesses don't accept BYO when the coronavirus is around, which is understandable. One tip, just try.

    6. Wear safe, reusable masks

    When we were lining up at the Olympic Park Vaccination Centre, we were told our fabric masks didn't protect us from the virus. Even though we insisted we had a secret filter, they told us politely that we must wear their surgical masks.

    According to WHO, fabric masks should have three layers to protect you from contacting the virus:

    • Inner layer: absorbent material, such as cotton.
    • Middle layer: non-woven non-absorbent material, such as polypropylene.
    • Outer layer: non-absorbent material, such as polyester or polyester blend.

    7. Shop local to reduce delivery packaging

    Online shopping is quickly piling up delivery wastes globally. Two tips: 1. Shop local. 2. Choose businesses that use minimal packaging.

    There are lots of compostable delivery packaging around, it's important to understand how they will be composted. They don't simply disappear. Learn more from our article about bioplastics.


    We deliver refills in beautiful glass jars to your door.

    Yes, even our delivery is zero waste. We refill and deliver a laundry powder and a dishwasher powder, proudly made by SimplyClean from Lismore, NSW. SimplyClean has been committed to making truly eco-friendly products for more than a decade.

    Both products are loved by our customers, especially families with young children. We collect your empty glass jar and deliver your refill to help reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions. Shop here

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    Danling Xiao