How to reduce plastic packaging in your house

Have you ever seen those giant plastic recycling bins at the supermarket? The ones that you put your soft plastic packaging in. Had you noticed recently that they have disappeared from New Zealand stores? That’s such a bummer, right!?

I had been so pleased to see that someone was making an effort to collect the soft plastics and turning them back into useful stuff, so we didn’t need to feel so guilty about putting them in the bin! BUT, at the end of 2018 these soft plastics bins were removed from supermarkets around New Zealand.  The reason for this is not because they were not being used, but because the demand was so great that there is now so much soft plastics being sent for recycling that the company that was processing them can no longer accept such great volumes. The collections may restart in April 2019, but from what I can see there is no guarantee that this will be a long-term solution to the massive amounts of soft plastic was are consuming.

Our family has always been pretty big on putting as much of the plastics, paper and glass that we can out in our recycling bin, and like I said we were collecting soft plastics too.  The advice on soft plastics now, however, is that until such time as the recycling regime restarts we should go back to putting our soft plastics into the rubbish bin! Noooo!

This got me thinking. What can we do to reduce the amount of soft plastics that we bring into our home. I know we should and could do better, but it is often not convenient to make such changes.  We’re all so busy that sometimes it can seem like too much to try and do these extra things as well. But there are a few simple little things that we can do to try and reduce our plastic consumption, so I thought that I would share a few of the things we are doing in our house to try and do our part for reducing plastics making their way into our bins.


1. Buy yourself a reuseable drink bottle/coffee/smoothie cup and take it with you when you go out

Lots of the plastic that makes its way into our homes and offices is in the form of disposable bottles and cups. Make a practice of taking a reuseable cup with you if you are going to grab a takeaway coffee. I have a cool one that I was given which has a positive affirmation on the side, which kills two birds with one stone!           

If you’re looking for a reliable cup option that doesn’t leak then a Keep Cup is a great choice!


2. Get some reuseable produce bags

I was given these amazing produce bags for Christmas. They are light weight enough that you and just pop them into your handbag and not even know they are there, so there is no excuse for leaving them behind! 

These ones came from Countdown, but there are a lot of different options available online and I’ve also seen similar ones at New World and Pak N Save.


3. Change your bin liners

Make the move away from plastic bin liners. Our bin has always been too big to fit in the old supermarket plastic bags, so we were buying plastic bin liners (big guilt factor here). I’ve recently started buying compostable bin liners, which I think are a step in the right direction.

I’ve seen other people in some groups I am in ditching the bin liner altogether and just tipping the rubbish straight into their wheelie bin, but I haven’t been brave enough to try this yet.

The other thing I thought I might try is to use these paper bags from our Countdown deliveries to line the bins. I think we might need to double them up, but I’ll give them a go and let you know how things turn out!


4. Get a little reuseable bag to pop in your handbag

I have been given a couple of these little draw string bags over the years and I always keep one or two in the bottom of my handbag. Again, they are light enough that you don’t even know they are there so there is no excuse to grab a little plastic bag every time you go shopping! These are great for places like the local dairy or bakery who haven’t yet made the move away from plastic.


5. Buy some reuseable straws

You will have noticed that many bars and restaurants are no longer serving drinks will straws. Big ups to them! But have you also noticed that some of them have these pretty nifty reuseable straws too?

Some drinks are just better with a straw (like your morning smoothie), and the kids love to have their milkshakes with a straw, but I find that the paper ones are just not really a very pleasant drinking experience.  

I was given a set of Honey Wrap drinking straws for Christmas, and they are so cool! They are nice and thick so your milkshakes and smoothies don’t get stuck, they are easy to wash and now we know that we don’t need to purchase the plastic variety. You can even buy some super affordable ones at Kmart, so don’t think that you have to miss out on these because of the price tag!


6. Get yourself some beeswax wraps 

I’m loving my beeswax wraps. They make such a great alternative to plastic food wrap, and they make your lunch box look pretty cool too! Available in a range of colours and sizes there is a wrap for pretty much anything (except meat – they recommend that you don’t use them to cover meat). You just give them a rinse under the tap when you’ve finished with them and hang them to dry.

The pictured wraps came from Lily Bee Wraps, and I also have some from Honey Wrap. They are both of great quality. The Honey Wrap ones I have had for about a year and they are still going strong. Plus it is nice to know you are supporting a small kiwi business.

7. Be a conscious consumer

One of the best ways we can stop plastic from coming into our homes is to become more conscious about the products that we buy. Some simple choices about the items we choose and the packaging they are wrapped in can massively reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Wherever possible try and choose items with minimal packaging, or at least recyclable packaging. For example, some meats come with a Styrofoam based which is not recyclable, but others come with a plastic tray which is.

I heard that New World is going to be trialing nude vegetables too, which is quite exciting. Hopefully more shops follow suit!


These small changes are a start towards reducing the amount of plastics that we consume, and hopefully over time the amount of plastics that are produced also. I know we can do more, and I will continue to look for ways to improve our family’s consumption of plastic.

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