Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)
Proposed bag bans from supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, together with the ABC’s popular War on Waste TV series have put the spotlight on the single-use plastics problem here in Australia. Find out how to swap disposable plastics for reusable alternatives and make it add up for your household budget.
Wherever you live and wherever you shop, chances are you’ve become aware of the perils of single-use plastics. And there’s no doubt that getting free, disposable plastics products – from shopping bags to straws – seems like the convenient, budget-friendly option. But ditching single-use plastics could end up being easier on your pocket, as well as the environment.
Here are five ways to make the transition away from single-use plastics. You might be surprised at the savings you’ll make by investing in a few items that make sustainable living more affordable.
Think the cup you’re drinking takeaway coffee in is recyclable because it’s cardboard? Most takeaway cups are lined with a thin plastic film so they can’t be recycled along with other paper and cardboard waste. And that means our national caffeine habit is making a huge contribution to landfill – around one billion disposable cups a year according to a 2016 feature from ABC news.
Thanks to the first series of ABC’s War on Waste TV show, this issue has received a lot of publicity, which has sent reusable coffee cup sales through the roof. One of the most popular on the market is the Keep Cup, available in three sizes in glass and plastic. There are many alternative versions now available in major supermarkets and independent stores, so look for one to suit your budget and colour preference.
But where’s the dollar saving if you’re buying a cup instead of getting free disposable ones? Many vendors are now offering discounts on takeaway coffees if you bring your own cup. A handy interactive map from Responsible Cafes can help you find one of 4,400 cafes across Australia who will sell you coffee for less when you bring a cup with you. Get your daily brew from these baristas and you’re likely to recover the cost of your reusable cup in a matter of weeks.
Buy in bulk
While some food packaging can be recycled, much of it still ends up in landfill. Although it might seem like something that’s hard to avoid, the rise of bulk food shopping is increasing families budget savings on groceries, as well as reducing waste. Reusable jars, plastic containers and bags can all be suitable for buying and storing dry goods, such as pasta, rice and cereals as well as spices, oils, sauces and more. And there are now many household cleaning and laundry products available in bulk too.
Investing in as many airtight jars as you need can be a significant cost, but you can reuse old jars instead of buying them. It’s often the case that products from bulk stores are cheaper by weight and volume than the supermarket equivalent. So you should find your weekly shop costing you less