OPINION: Plastic bags are a thing of the past, but what good is it if we're still stuck in our throw-away habits?
Disposable items are choking our planet and if we don't change then in a matter of years, our world will be a very different place.
- Man who designed disposable packaging now fighting against plastic waste
- NZ oceans world's worst for birds eating plastic
- A complete guide to what you can and can't recycle in New Zealand
I'm not suggesting we all go zero-waste (as awesome as that would be) because unfortunately, the large-scale corporations to which the majority of us are enslaved don't care enough to make zero-waste a feasible option for everyone.
What I am saying is that there are a few things you can do, which will help to cut down on the amount of plastic you use, and help our planet stay a little cleaner.
1. Put your produce in the basket
I consider myself a relatively calm person, but one of the things that absolutely enrages me is when I go to the supermarket and see people using those flimsy little plastic bags that come on a roll next to the veges to put their produce in.
They are absolutely 100 percent pointless. They have no use other than to separate your onions from your capsicum and honestly if you're old enough to be doing your own grocery shopping I would hope you're old enough to tell the two apart without the aid of a plastic bag.
Just put them both in your basket and continue on your shop knowing you've not contributed to landfill.
2. Use a keep cup
I am a slave to caffeine. I love that brown go-fast juice. And using a keep cup is far superior to a takeaway one for a multitude of reasons.
A reusable cup is easier to hold - if you drink black coffee then you'll be aware that it is very, very hot.
A paper cup will not contain that heat and you will burn yourself, but a reusable cup is thicker, meaning you can grasp that cup o' joe tightly and not suffer third-degree burns.
They're also (sometimes) cheaper - many cafes offer a discount if you bring your own cup and if you're broke like me, that should be enough.
Also, guess what! They're reusable! So you can drink your coffee, rinse it out, and bring it back for a refill and then you can sleep easy knowing yours isn't one of the billions of coffee cups that end up in landfill.
3. Buy a menstrual cup
This one is for my people with genitals that bleed. Menstrual cups are the future of shark week, and not just because they're environmentally friendly.
If you don't know what they are, a menstrual cup is a little silicone thingie about the size of the large shot glass that goes inside your vagina and catches blood.
You fold it up, wack it up and then ignore it for the next six to eight hours.
Once the week is over you sterilise it by boiling it for ten minutes and it's good to go for next month.
There's no leaking, no waste and no period smell because all of the blood stays inside you.
Although the first couple of months with a cup are certainly a learning experience, once you've got it down, you'll never go back to tampons.
If menstrual cups aren't your thing, you can try period-proof undies. I have always hated pads because to me, they feel like a big gross nappy, they never stay where they're supposed to, and they go straight to landfill.
Period underwear stays exactly where it should, feels like you're wearing nothing and has completely eliminated my deep primal fear of bleeding through my skirt. They're totally reusable and utterly worth the money you pay for them.
4. Bring your own containers for lunch
I try to pack my lunch for work every day because as aforementioned, I am broke. But when that fails and I head out on to the street to buy myself a snack I always try to bring my own container - or opt for foods that come in paper bags.
Bringing your own bowl to get takeaway food can feel a little awkward at first, but I have literally never had anyone tell me no - and I promise no one is looking at you weirdly.
Much like keep cups, some places will even offer a discount if you have your own container, which is great because I don't know if I've mentioned, but I have very little money.
5. Remember your reusable bags.
Some people love to tell me how awful reusable bags are and how they're even worse than the plastic bags we've just banned, and as irritating as those people are, they sadly have a point.
When you take into account the impact manufacturing reusable bags has on our environment they're really not much better.
But consider this: if everyone on Earth bought three reusable bags and used those three until they wore out then we wouldn't need to manufacture as many, and there would be no more plastic clogging our oceans.
So remember your reusable bags - keep them in the car, or in your backpack. I have a few ones that fold down to hand size, which I keep in my purse at all times.
Use them until they fall apart in your hands. Don't just keep buying more every time you forget them because then yeah, you're right, they're just as bad as plastic bags.
We have a responsibility to this planet we inhabit. It is up to us to make conscious choices about what we buy, what we wear, how we travel and what we eat.
Large-scale corporations will not change unless they are shown that it's necessary and who knows how long that will take. But if we all make a few simple choices to cut down on the amount of waste in our lives, then we could start to make a real difference.
Vita Molyneux is a Newshub digital producer.