Plastic-Free The Way To Be
Queensland, and Noosa in particular, is known around the world for its pristine natural environment, but it’s time to face facts with Queensland cited as the most littered state in Australia.
Globally, 95 per cent of all plastic packaging is used once and then wasted, often as litter, with two thirds of marine debris found along the coastline actually plastic. A walk along the beach will reveal what looks like small, broken shells settled along the high-tide line is actually tiny pieces of plastics that have come to shore from our beautiful ocean.
From plastic water bottles to chip packets and even those little tags that seal our bread bags, it’s easy to forget their impact on the environment once we pop these things into those magical bins that take away all our rubbish.
A community-based movement is already underway, working to tackle this plastic problem. Plastic Free Noosa is a whole-of-community project initiated by The Boomerang Alliance as part of their Communities Taking Control campaign. Noosa was chosen as just one of two test sites for the Plastic Free program because our community is committed to the environment.
The ambitious Plastic Free Noosa team-of-two are aiming to reduce the amount of single-use plastic packaging used in Noosa by 50% with a deadline of November 2018. One half of the dynamic due, Chad Buxton, says once single-use plastics are created, they are in existence forever.
“They can break down to smaller pieces and wash up on the shore or sit for hundreds of years in the local dump,” he explains.
Through Plastic Free Noosa, Chad is busy teaming up with local restaurants, cafes, major events and markets to eliminate the use of six priority plastic items. The six offending items are single-use water bottles, disposable coffee cups, straws, plastic bags, foodware such as plastic forks and takeaway containers such as polystyrene.
Chad says local businesses have jumped at the chance to be a part of the program.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “We work with businesses because it can lead to a bigger impact on the community. If we can tackle the businesses themselves, what we’re achieving is a community where you’re not offered those single-use plastics to start with.”
For participating businesses, that change is easy with Chad helping them make the switch from single-use plastics to eco-friendly options by assisting with ordering. For the public, Plastic Free Noosa Champion signage in a business’s window helps consumers choose a company that is actively reducing its plastic waste.
Eateries such as Ricky’s, Wood Fire Grill, Sunspace Café and Clandestinos Roastery are among the impressive list of Plastic Free Champions who have significantly reduced their use of plastics throughout their operations.
As Chad explains, the restaurants have eliminated their use of the six priority plastics as well reducing soft-plastic food packaging in the kitchen, providing water on tap and even buying artful light fixtures made from recycled plastics.
“If you think about single-use plastic, why does it exist? It’s for convenience,” he says. “If we can live in a community that doesn’t offer single-use plastics anyway, we’re more likely to help change behaviours and reduce our impact on the environment.”
Chad’s top tips for reducing waste while dining out in Noosa:
- Be prepared – keep reusable carry bags in your car or handbag.
- BYO cups – take your coffee cup with you and a water bottle that you can fill up n-store or around town.
- Shop with the Champions – look for participating Plastic Free Noosa businesses. These businesses have stopped selling single-use plastic bags making a huge impact, so go support them, guilt-free!
- Recycle at home – instead of throwing something into general waste because there is no recycle bin available, take the recyclables home with you to your bin.
- Think before buying – always consider the packaging before buying. Is there a plastic-free alternative?
To find Noosa-based Plastic Free businesses, search the interactive map at www.plasticfreenoosa.org.