Life Without Plastic



Over the past few years it’s become more and more apparent that - Plastic Is Evil.

Despite this rather obvious fact (to which plenty still seem oblivious, or at least ambivalent), I myself must admit that the overwhelmingly hugeness of this issue has mostly stayed far in my periphery until very recently, sparked by such news stories as this:

And this:

…combined with the now oft quoted fact that is almost impossible to get one’s head around - EVERY piece of plastic ever made will continue to exist - whether it’s pulped down to micro beads or re-purposed - it’s here for good. (And that’s bad.)

Looking around my house, plastic is simply everywhere. My rechargeable batteries are sitting in a plastic tub. Torch. Printer. USB hub. Hard Drive enclosures. Camera. 1980 Tomy Alien Attack Tabletop Game. The keycaps on my Apple Extended Keyboard… And that’s just from turning my head briefly round my office.

I am moderately happy with the fact that the computer sitting on my desk, and monitor, are - outwardly at least - more metal than plastic. Mac Pro and 23" Cinema Display. But there’s a plastic Cube, TAM, eMac, MessagePad, and god knows what else - still existing - in my house.

Even if Western countries do head down the path of reducing their reliance on plastic - what about the rest of the world? This isn’t a local problem. India’s PM has pledged to ban single use plastic by 2022, however there’s conflicting thoughts on the reality of this - evidently some areas of India have already banned plastic bags, yet the reality is their use has not reduced.

At this point in time I am not finding myself standing in a store tossing up between 2 products - because one has plastic and one does not. I am not reading consumer reports on products to verify their “real plastic content” to ensure I buy a low-plastic product.

But maybe it’s time we do…




Recently I’ve been really conscious about not using plastic bags if I can avoid it. I often am asked by my family to stop off at the shops on the way home from somewhere to buy a couple of things. I used to always use a plastic bag, but if I’m buying items that I can just carry I tend to do that, and use a multiple use bag for more.


I’d encourage everyone to minimize their use of single use plastics and try and recycle end of life products.

Plastic pollution has been found just about everywhere in the Ocean.

I dived Cocos Keeling Islands, which has a population of about 550 people. Plastic fishing net floats and broken rubber thongs( flip-flops for the Kiwis) are regularly deposited on the beaches by the wind and tides.

I have also encountered plastic bags, disposable nappies, drink bottles whilst diving around Raja Ampat in Papua.

Have meet some people who are researching Green Sea Turtles .Their research has found that the turtles ,mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish, eat the bags with often fatal consequences.

Birds on Macquarie Island, halfway between NZ and Antarctica are feeding plastic to their chicks

Not really sure if the ocean can recover from this.

I been told those microfibre cloths I use to clean my glasses, phone/mac/TV screens are an environmental disaster.


I just the other day took a heap of old plastic bags to the Coles recycling bin. Coles is stopping plastic bags from July 1, I am going to have to remember to take a reusable or two with me when I go. Or I’ll be buying more at the checkout:(

I remember as a kid, using string bags and cane baskets to do shopping with, but that was also before supermarkets, and Mum would send me off on my bike to the F&V and butcher with a list of things to get. We didnt have a car… or rather we did, but it was a company car which Dad used and Mum didnt drive anyway…

Back to string bags maybe? They could hold a massive amount of stuff.


In South Australia we already discontinued single-use plastic bags several years ago. But instead of bringing their reusable plastic bags, shoppers will often just pay the difference to purchase another bag each time they visit a store. It’s excellent in theory, not so brilliant in practice.

And I’ll admit I’ve done this more than a few times, mainly because there’s no such thing as a scheduled shopping day in my household. It’s whenever something runs out and I’ve only just discovered that fact.

Now a solution would be to keep them stored in the car somewhere so they’re easily accessible at all times. Of course sometimes I don’t drive… and sometimes forget to put them in the car in the first place… It’s going well.

I use these constantly in my line of work. Really effective at removing dust, surface grease and whatever else from screens, metals and case plastics. Unfortunately they’re near impossible to clean. One decent run through the wash and the fibres are screwed, they lose their softness and the cloth works perhaps only half as effective as when it was new.

I both love and hate these things at the same time. If I could wash them back to anything usable, I wouldn’t need to purchase them anywhere near as frequently.

And overall, I’d prefer to cut single-use plastics out of my life. I don’t even like purchasing replacement furniture and homewares when they break, and like the fact that I’ve been getting consistently better at repairing my equipment when it breaks. I could make almost anything last for a decade or more, if I choose to. I wish I could say it’s because I’m environmentally conscious, but in reality I think I’m just cheap.


I believe that washing is the problem. The microfibers are washed into water and eventually the rivers and oceans. The fibers are microscopic and are entering the food chain, probably including us.


I truly think one of the most disappointing things I’ve learnt recently is just how hopeless Australia is with recycling, in terms of the system, not the people. Little did I know that our recycling just gets shipped to China (or it used to). China is changing this and I believe we are no longer able to do this, so our recycling is apparently just getting stockpiled.

Silly me assumed that we had actual recycling plants that processed recyclables. The government should be looking into setting this up, I can’t see downsides, and it would create a lot of jobs.


Well, there we go. Useful, but awful largely because they can’t be washed, and even if they could, would continue to have just as much of an impact as disposing of them does already.

I haven’t washed any of them so far, and won’t now, but I often cycle the older and not as clean ones to those applications where the finish isn’t as important.


I saw a docco at some point that said that plastic milk bottles (and similar plastics) were being sorted and stockpiled as the cost of recycling was not economically viable, but they were were well aware that a day would come when being able to extract the oil from them would be profitable… one day.

It’s a little sad that no company is willing either to take x% less profit in order to use these sources and/or increase prices by y% to account for it and let consumers choose…


There was a time when governments entered industries to force competition and innovation, or to provide a community service. Modern governments believe they have no place doing these things, doubly so when there isn’t substantial profit to be made, but I sure do see the merit here.


I think the government should subsidise proper recycling. It would encourage innovation and also provide employment to Australians. The money they were using to subsidise Holden, Ford and Toyota here could go towards that.


Would you pay the cost of that Oldmacs, or would you force the cost on others? The government has no money except that it takes from the taxpayer, either current or let’s be honest, ever since Howard and Costello departed the scene, future taxpayers.

Personally, the potentially recyclable should be stockpiled. Eventually a use will be found for it, as sure as the sun rises. These days people are too quick to force the issue, particularly resorting to making government do it. The use of Other Peoples’ Money is a highly additive drug, but the outcome is rarely optimal.

A person uses their own money a lot more carefully than OPM.

It’s like the trials of different systems of governance inflicted on various peoples in the 20th century never happened, and we have to learn it all over again. And again.


@Entropy - it’s a catch 22… If recycled goods were used more often, then the price of those goods would likely decrease as those making the goods become more efficient at producing them. But that initial impetus is needed… So some kind of Govt incentive could well be the push needed to both encourage people to think about using recycled materials, but also to improve the industry.

Perhaps slightly less “using other people’s money” than that - one suggestion I read was for government bodies themselves (councils in particular) to not have a quote of recycled materials usage, but to at least get quotes when doing jobs, to see how they compare. An example I read was that recycled glass can replace the use of virgin sand in road making, for a similar price. This also however means less damage to the environment.


Saw a few people not paying for the bag at Woolies the other day… Just grab & go!

I try and do my bit by using my own coffee cup (klean kanteen is awesome) and always carrying my water bottle/utensils with me. I also carry my own shopping bag whenever i shop but the amount of packaging and plastic Woolies/Coles have on their products is crazy though! :roll_eyes:


For the life of me, I can’t recall what we had when I was a kid - I do recall plastic bags in the shopping centres when we moving to Darwin in 87… but before that… Warracknabeal… Where does a hungry kanger’ shop? SSW… Paper bags? I’m sure it wasn’t plastic, as we didn’t have a stash of them anywhere. Boxes maybe.

I do think we will have to start looking back to the past to figure out some answers.


More than happy for my taxes to go to that rather than negative gearing or more tax cuts. Kickstarting in country recycling would actually help by reducing our environmental impact and by employing Australians.


Well right now no body is bothering to do anything and in many cases recyclables are going to landfill. Private industry sucks at doing anything apart from pure profits, so I do think it is time for the government to step in.


I’ve noticed that most fast food joints dont use plastic bags anymore, its all paper, and I remember back in the day that supermarkets did use big paper bags. I’d be happy to pay extra if they started doing that again.

Further to my last post in this thread, I have ordered some string bags from ebay. Made from cotton I think and you can scrunch them up small and stuff them in a pocket or shoulderbag or whatever takes your fancy. I also have a couple of reusable bags which have velcro closures and can be folded up to about wallet size and stuffed in a shoulder bag. I dont like the green reusabled (or blue or multicolour etc) but the cooler bags are kinda handy.


The problem is this kind of rhetoric/logic is about 30 years outdated in Australia and we don’t have a forward thinking government. We’re still relying upon the resources we can dig out of the ground, or the land we can sell to China or the Middle East.

Unfortunately the 1980s happened and then the little desiccated coconut got in, and then all of the forward thinking things stopped, we stopped milling steel and Newcastle lays in ruins, we sold all our gold when the desiccated coconut thought gold would be worth no more than $250/oz, and we stopped manufacturing anything in Australia. We used to manufacture French cars, Italian cars, American cars, Holden’s, Fords. We let Ansett go belly up because of Air New Zealand rather than saving it, and sold all the wires, cables and poles at Telstra for all the troubles we are now having with the NBN.

This is not France, this is not Germany, its neither Canada or Norway either where progressives rule the roost. The free thinking people would rather express that freedom by telling other minority groups they don’t like simply to get in line or F off and you wonder why this country is going down the toilet?

In fact every day we are becoming more like America 2.0 and that includes not giving a crap about the environment. Whats it matter mate… It’s your kids shout, and we’ll be dead before it matters so shut up. She’ll be right… your kids and their kids will pick up the tab.


This is an interesting article on ABC News, with Unilever calling for the Government’s help regarding the use of recycled plastic. And no - they are not asking for money - rather they are calling for legislation to ensure a level playing field.

They have recently started using 25% recycled plastic in the packaging for one of their brands. At this point in time obtaining the recycled plastic is more costly than using “virgin” plastic. As such - they are paying more than other companies to produce this partly recycled packaging. What they want is the government to bring in laws that force other plastic packaging manufacturers to also use x% of recycled product.

I admit, when I started reading the article, and got to the part where they were calling on government help, I figured it would be some kind of cash-grab, but they just want other companies to be making an effort the same as they are.

Well done to Unilever for taking the initiative, and here’s hoping others follow suit - with or without mandates from government.

Reading between the lines I believe the expectation is that as more companies opt for recycled plastics, the bigger the market will be for this product, and as such pricing will reduce. Long term as such, the added cost factor should be negated.