A Plastic-Free-Plea

Our earth is drowning in plastic. That’s how National Geographic describes the global plastic waste crisis 1.

It’s a sobering thought. 

But rather than feeling helpless as we watch the world flounder in amongst bobbing straws and food wrappers, it’s encouraging to know that something can be done to make a difference. Each one of us can respond to the emergency by sharpening our earth rescue skills. Similar to CPR, RRR (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) must be implemented and taught as an ‘earth-saving’ practice 2. In prioritising our response, Reduce should be step number 1 2. This is because, whilst helpful, recycling cannot solve the problem and we have to begin by limiting the plastic that we are generating on a daily basis 3,1.


So how do we practically go about reducing our plastic use?

Shop “packaging-free”

If you’re shopping in conventional supermarkets, opt for fresh goods with the least packaging – this might mean buying a whole cabbage, pumpkin or butternut and cutting it up at home, but what a way to work on your upper limb strength! Freezing any excess will mean you have some wholesome veg on hand when stores run low 4.

Using nifty reusable mesh bags to hold and weigh your loose fresh items, is another way to limit consumption of single-use plastics 4

Alternatively, opt to shop at packaging-free stores or farmers markets, where you can scoop up delish fresh produce in your own reusable containers. Here you can support the environment and small, local businesses at the very same time – such a win! 

Packaging-free need not only apply to food though – next time you’re buying toiletries and household cleaners, explore the option to convert to shampoos, body washes and detergents that come in bar form rather than in containers 3,4. Choosing items that are not individually wrapped, will further reduce the plastic-problem 2. And while you’re at it, why not replace those make-up wipes, disposable nappies, and sanitary products? Luckily there are now plenty of cloth, washable and reusable products out there for you to try 2,4 !

Buy in bulk

Whilst out shopping for your toiletries and cleaning agents, go big and consider buying in bulk. That extra-large bottle of conditioner might seem like a splurge in the short-term, but it uses less raw materials to produce and thus is actually cheaper to manufacture, costing you less overall 5. If it seems extreme to weight-lift the whole bottle every time you wash your hair, decant it into little, recycled containers for ease of use 2,3,5.

Be prepared

Whether its grabbing your morning coffee; treating yo-self to a smoothie; or making use of a convenient takeaway meal, go prepared! If you have a reusable coffee mug, container, straw and cutlery on hand, you can give a firm “No thanks” to that offer of a plastic fork or polystyrene cup. And while you’re on a roll, think twice about the saucy sachets 2,3,5!

You can also prep for dining at a restaurant. If the burger-special-the-size-of-your-face doesn’t fit in your tummy, take the leftovers home in your own lunch-box 2. Your handbag might start resembling a picnic basket, but you’ll be master of the eco-friendly game.

Carrying a reusable water bottle (aim for glass or good quality plastic) which can be refilled with safe, drinking water; is another eco-savvy move. This will not only save you from spending on bottled waters or cooldrinks, but also help decrease your use of disposable plastics 2,3.

(If you want your “picnic kit” to look extra fab, have a squizz at the new Macro Mixes range of flasks, mugs, and transportable thaaaangs.)

And let’s not forget those reusable shopping bags! Having these on hand will help you cart your goods without destroying the planet 3,4. Yay!

Convert your kitchen

While you’re exploring possibilities for plastic-free-livin’, have a look at ways to make your kitchen more eco-friendly too. Rather than reaching for aluminium foil, plastic wrap or single-use sandwich bags; why not make use of reusable storage solutions? Stasherbag SA has a variety of durable pouches, and many wellness stores and markets are now selling fabric food bags, beeswax-wraps, stainless-steel canisters, glass containers and more 2

Turning to glass or stainless-steel storage containers, will also give your pantry a revamp and get it looking glam. These containers could be bought new (Macro Mixes has some real cute options), or you could up-cycle that old gherkin jar and give it new life 4.

Brewing your favourite cuppa? Try and opt for reusable coffee filters and loose-leaf teas to minimise the plastics you’re tossing 2. Then think about wiping up any spillage with a washable dishtowel; or dabbing your chin with a fabric napkin 2. There really are so many options – oh what a time to be alive!


The beauty of the above solutions is that most support you in your second ‘line of defence’ i.e. Reuse

This is because most are durable and reusable in nature, and lower your consumption of single-use goods. For those plastic items you already have, look at ways that these can also be safely put to re-use. Plastic packets for example, can be used to line your bins or pick up after your dog 2. Other plastic tubs and containers could be added to your ‘picnic-pack’, helping to cart chow to and from work, or to store leftovers in the fridge. Nothing shall be wasted!


If, having implemented these tips and strategies, you still find rogue bits of plastic around your home, turn to Recycling as a fab third option 3

This can be done by collecting and then carting your cleaned plastics to your local recycling depot, and popping them in the appropriate bin. Alternatively, you could try your hand at “eco-bricking” and turn that rubbish into a building block for a home or piece of furniture. (The internet is a-plenty with Ecobrick guides, but here are some links to start you off https://www.aquarium.co.za/blog/entry/how-to-make-ecobricks-reducing-waste-at-home and https://www.ecobricks.org/how/. Peruse the web for Ecobrick collection points in your area). 

It is empowering to know that there are things that we can all be doing to save our earth. We are all responsible for limiting the plastic that finds its way into rivers and oceans. We’re committed to trying some of these strategies and we hope you’ll join us! 

Wishing you well as you kick plastic to the curb (not literally … that’s called littering).

Written by: Claire Frances Willows 


1. Parker, L. (2018, June). Planet or Plastic? We made plastic. We depend on it. Now we’re drowning in it. National Geographic. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-waste-pollution-trash-crisis/

2. Denchak, M. (2018, July 31). Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Most of all, Reduce. Retrieved from: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/reduce-reuse-recycle-most-all-reduce

3. Parker, L. (2018, June). Planet or Plastic? You can help turn the tide on plastic. Here’s how. National Geographic. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-solutions-waste-pollution/

4. Cleanipedia. (2019, June 24). Plastic not fantastic: Plastic-free food storage ideas. Retrieved from: https://www.cleanipedia.com/gb/sustainability/plastic-not-fantastic-plastic-free-food-storage-ideas.html

5. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2019, November 25). Reducing and reusing basics. Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-and-reusing-basics6

6. Two Oceans Aquarium. (2019, February 25). How to make an EcoBrick: The first step in eliminating non-recyclable waste at home. Retrieved from: https://www.aquarium.co.za/blog/entry/how-to-make-ecobricks-reducing-waste-at-home

7. Global Ecobrick Alliance. (n.d.). 10 step guide to making an Ecobrick. Retrieved from: https://www.ecobricks.org/how/