Alternatives to Plastic Bags

In an effort to help us all to ‘Do the Right Thing,’ I’ve decided to uncover some simple alternatives to using plastic bags. Two of which are home-grown!

It’s plastic free July!

Did you know that they are estimating that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than there are fish!

To help us curb the habit of living with plastic Plastic Free July was born to help raise awareness and to give people the challenge to go without plastic for one day, one week or for the full month! Visit Plastic Free July for more information and to sign up for the challenge! In the meantime read on for few ideas to help you curb your plastic addiction, and feel free to add your comments and links for alternatives in the comments section below. Let’s get this message out there!

Let’s start with the choices we make when we ‘purchase’ our groceries to bring them home. To replace those small plastic bags used for fruit and vegetables? . . . lightweight, reusable, mesh drawstring bags are the way to go and you can actually buy them in the produce aisle of your supermarket these days.

I did originally, however, came across Australian made Fregie Sacks back in 2009, which is when I made the switch. Fregie, (a combination of the words fruit & vegie) Sacks are little re-usable bags in a variation of sizes and colours made from a lightweight see-through fabric. This lightweight, see-through fabric means you can take them into the supermarket and put your fruit and vegies into them instead of the ‘tear-off’ plastic bags supplied. They don’t add to produce weight and checkout operators can also clearly see the goods inside. These durable bags which can hold up to 4kg+, come with biodegradable cotton drawstrings and are washable for re-use over and over again. They’re not only useful for the fruit and veg, but you can use them for a myriad of storage ideas or pretty enough for gift wrapping. Fregie Sacks also make calico bags as well and are available for purchase online at The Fregie Sack.

Fregie Sacks, an alternative to plastic bags in the fruit & vegie aisle Photo Credit:

So you’ve prepped and cooked your meal now where does the waste go?

Beside the obvious need for composting, what about the rest of the stuff or if your living in accommodation that doesn’t allow for composting or gardens?

What about plastic bin liners?

‘Biodegradable’ bin liners that state they meet Australian Standard AS 4736-2006 on supermarket shelves, are made from plant-based materials like corn and wheat starch rather than petroleum. While an option, they still take about six months to biodegrade ‘if’ composted. However, products on the market are improving all the time, so it pays to take time to read the small print. Having said that, while I doubt the plastic bin liner will ever be removed altogether from most homes, perhaps working from the source of our rubbish (us), is the way to go by having a ‘re-think’ on each thing we throw into the bin in the first instance, and do more work when separating our rubbish.

Once we separate the compostable and the recyclable, we are mostly left with packaging. So in essence we are plastic bagging more plastic. In days gone by, people would line their bins with newspaper, but even newspaper isn’t really a solution. It also takes time to biodegrade and comes printed with toxic inks. There is actually nothing wrong with household rubbish straight into an unlined bin or council bin, we just need to learn how to creatively dispose.

Re-use recyclable packaging such as larger cereal and other cardboard boxes and paper based juice cartons to hold rubbish such as meat bones and scraps and re-fasten the lids. Pop all these neatly into the bin. Invest in some large brown paper bags to contain other food scraps for composting. Kitchen foil can actually be recycled. If you do want to line a bin with paper, try to use brown wrapping paper which you can actually buy by the roll from places like Officeworks. If you’re really motivate or want to give bored kids a ‘craft’ project on a rainy day, why not check out this video by Organic Origami. 

Easy Origami Style Newspaper Bin Liner

For easy instructions on how to make an origami bin liner or bags to contain waste within your bin I’ve found a very easy video from Organic Origami. So easy, it’s demonstrated by a 6 year old.

Click on this link for a downloadable instruction sheet.

Boomerang Bags:
The Sustainable Shopping Bag

In the meantime if it’s a one of kind shopping bag you’re after, be sure to visit our friends over at Boomerang Bags where every bag created is your own personal masterpiece!

Boomerang Bags came up with such a wonderful and sustainable incentive with regard to replacing plastic shopping bags that their idea is spreading across the country and there’s bound to be a workshop near you. Another benefit with Boomerang Bags is the opportunity to meet some really cool people at their sewing bees while you’re creating or make it an outing or a fund-raiser with a group of friends where you’re not only helping yourself, you’re helping the planet.

And if you want to learn more about what happens once your garbage gets to landfill, check out my other post: Excuses, Excuses, What a Load of Rubbish!

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