Connecting our community to a more sustainable way of living.

Why be so concerned about plastics

Why be so concerned about plastics?

Why be so concerned about plastics

It seems everyone, even our national supermarkets, are passionate about reducing plastic waste at present, so we thought we would share the history of plastics, why nearly everything is now made of plastic, and why that poses such a risk to our environment.

A history lesson first!  The term Plastic comes from the word ‘plasticity’, which basically means a material which can be  changed or moulded without breaking. In theory ‘plastic’ can therefore be made from a variety of materials, however most is made from synthetic compounds derived from petrochemicals.

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The first completely synthetic plastic, was Bakelite, which was invented in New York in the early 1900 by Leo Baekeland. Cue memories of my Nana’s bracelet collection that I wore with her high heels as a young girl. Back then plastic Bakelite seemed so modern and glamorous!

However the relatively low cost of plastics, driven by the ease of which it can be manufactured, has resulted in an explosion of the use of plastics.

Today plastics have replaced many materials, such as wood, metal, stone, leather, glass and ceramics, and incidentally wiped out many traditionally trades. Indeed plastic is everywhere… it’s not just packaging but my keyboard, computer, car, indeed even our bright green warehouse is made of plastic (Approx 1/3 of the plastic used in Australia is used in buildings (Plumping, pipes etc)).

The prevalence of plastics in so many products, is a major environmental concern. There is only a finite amount of fossil fuels on Earth, and the extraction process, whether drilling petroleum or mining for coal, can have a devastating impact on the local ecosystem. This damage is expected to worsen, as the most easily accessible fossil fuel deposits are emptied.  In addition, burning fossil fuels as part of the extraction and manufacturing processes is linked directly to global warming.   

The low cost of manufacturing plastic has also lead to lower prices for many items, and as a result, an increase in seemingly ‘disposable’ goods. Today most of us have houses full of plastics, and we tend to replace rather than repair, as it’s often more convenient and cheaper. 

Single use plastic bags are the extreme example of this. So cheap to manufacture in bulk, these plastic bags are essentially ‘free’ when visiting retail outlets. Although convenient, this sense of being disposable has resulted in much higher use, and with no value the rates of litter are also significantly high. In fact, according to Planet Ark, we use 4 billion bags every year in Australia!

Such disposable goods certainly disappear from sight when we throw them in our wheelie bin for collection, but they are anything but disposable. 

 

The durability of plastics, which make the material so useful and popular, also results in the material being very resistant to most natural processes of degradation. As such the wrapping on the chocolate bar snack I’m dreaming about that will last 3 seconds, once in Landfill, will outlive me, my young children, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren…   Australians send more than a million tonnes of plastic waste to landfill every year, where it sits… for generations…

Many plastics can certainly be recycled, although, unlike glass and aluminium, the quality of the plastic material does often degrade with each reuse. In addition, sorting plastics into their various types for recycling is also very time consuming, and so expensive, which means that it is actually more cost effective to create new plastic. This complexity and expense impacts dramatically on recycling rates, however as consumers, our purchasing power is often under estimated.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

 

How can we change the world?

Consider packaging as part of your purchasing decisions. 

Approx. one third of plastic in Australian is used for packaging. Considering the packaging as you purchase, and choosing more sustainable options, helps to drive companies to make changes. Choose no packaging where possible for items such as fruit and veggies, and look at the products with less packaging (bulk items versus single service packets) and then choose companies who are investing in more sustainable options, such as certified compostable packaging and recycled materials.

Try to buy quality, rather than quantity, and consider needs vs wants. With a family of young children, this is an ongoing often daily challenge for us, however every little decision counts.

Our exciting new kitchen caddy

Our exciting New Kitchen Caddy

Our team firmly believe small actions can change the world, and we are passionate about inspiring Aussie’s to live more sustainably, essentially by making it just as convenient to be green!

Over the last twelve months we have been busy reviewing best-practice organic kitchen waste collection programs with local councils, as well as talking to many families who are successfully composting their own food waste at home. Our aim was to understand the key challenges, with the aim to improve our products.

The result, our new innovative KITCHEN CADDY, which we are excited to say is not only designed by our team in Australia to assist Australian families, it is also manufactured in Australia.

Why focus on Kitchen Waste?

The opportunity is huge – In Australia, approx. 50% of household waste is organic, and we know from partnering with local councils, that a successful organics program can have a significant impact in reducing community landfill rates, and improving sustainability.

Our food scraps can turn into the next crop – When composted, the precious nutrients in our food waste can be used to fertilised new commercial crops or even family / community gardens. In fact, not only does the nutrients help with soil quality, but when using compost in gardens the water retention of the soil improves as well, reducing reliance on extra watering.

It’s so easy you can recycle at home – Recycling other materials such as cans and bottles requires specialised infrastructure, or in the case of paper, a very messy afternoon with paper pulp ending up everywhere, even in your toddlers’ ears! All you really need to recycle your own food is a dedicated space in the backyard! It’s also a great way to get the whole family involved in living sustainably.

Our new Kitchen Caddy.

The next generation kitchen caddy builds on the success of our conventional caddy, but is packed with additional features, developed as an outcome of our research talking to customers.

  • Most importantly, in an industry first, the new technology we are using allows an informational leaflet to be inserted into the lids, explaining what can be composted. We have two options available depending on if you are home composting, or lucky enough to have the council collecting your food waste.Our exciting new kitchen caddy
  • The snap fitting lid is now lockable when the handle is forward. The lid can also be flipped right back or rested on the handle to allow easy access for scraping.
  • There is a rear mounting tab. Simply put a few screws into the wall or door where you would like the unit to hang. I have mine on the door under my sink, so it’s always near and accessible for the kids.
  • The base is also lined with ‘venting channels’, which simply mean the Compost-A-Pak liners are easy to remove once full.

You can purchase a Kitchen Starter Kit here. We would love to hear about your experience using this product, and diverting food waste!