Plastics, like expanded polystyrene are extremely harmful to the environment, the wildlife that live in it, and humans too. Every year, over 2.5 billion metric tonnes of solid waste are produced around the world. 275 million metric tonnes of that is plastic waste and 8 million metric tonnes are dumped into the ocean. It is in everyone’s best interest to reduce that number because fish will prefer to eat microplastics over their natural foods.


The most effective way to combat the plastic waste dumped into our oceans, especially EPS, is to ban the material from being mass produced and consumed. Some other cities in the world, such as New York, have already banned the material. Too bad the same can’t be said for Australian cities.


Since Australian cities haven’t banned the material yet, despite heavy evidence supporting the ban, the best way to reduce our share of the pollution is to actively avoid consuming plastics such as EPS.


It is simple to do so for everyday Australians. The easiest solution is to bring your own reusables (BYOR) and refuse disposable containers, cups, bags, and straws when offered. Take Out Without, is a North American organisation whose purpose is to encourage everyone to not only bring their own containers but also to upload photos of their actions to their TOWO Flickr Group and give restaurants informational wallet cards, explaining how they can reduce their food packaging waste.


There are 3 easy pointers to follow:


  1. Refuse unnecessary packaging. It takes only 20 seconds to put your food into take out container. Sounds convenient, but it’s actually inconvenient since the packaging can remain in our landfills forever, causing damage to us and our environment. Think about the spoons, forks, straws, and napkins that you’re given. They give you enough for 10 people. Ask yourself before accepting them, “Do I really need all of this?”


  • Bring your own reusables. You can bring your own containers, straws, cutlery, mugs, bottles, and even your own bag. Every little bit counts, it’s unrealistic to aim for perfection but we can improve by refusing unnecessary packaging.


  • Reconsider your habits. It’s easy to fall into a routine. Bringing your own reusables will become second nature. Doing this as a daily habit will reduce waste dramatically and will be raising awareness to the crazy amount of unnecessary waste we create everyday.



Homemade cutlery wrap. Photo: Gippsland Unwrapped


Most business will take it


Most businesses will have no qualms with using your reusables to fill up your order. Most will understand why you’re doing it but some don’t. Explain why you’re bringing your own containers and ask if they can do it. Be a regular at those businesses and avoid the ones that don’t, or at least switch to sustainable, compostable packaging. Some places will refuse to use your BYOR, citing vague OH&S regulations, but most of them will do it than won’t.


Collecting meat from the butcher in a glass container. Photo: Gippsland Unwrapped


Although, when business don’t accept you BYOR, it’s a great opportunity to start a conversation. The fear of rejection is a psychological hurdle that prevents newbies and those already practicing to ask. The solution is take a deep breath and do it anyway.




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