Many people wonder why I carry such a large handbag, surely such a large handbag just invites carrying more stuff. The larger the handbag the more you are tempted to carry in it right?
The reason I carry such a large handbag is because in the words of the Boy Scouts of Australia motto, I like to always be prepared! So what do I have in this handbag? The trappings to fight my way out of the zombie apocalypse? Enough rations for three people for three days in the event aliens shut off the power? Perhaps a life raft in case of looming tsunami? No I am prepared for an event much worse than all of these three things combined… I am prepared in the event that I should ever be faced with the need to use single use disposable plastics!
Clean up Australia Day each year hundreds nay thousands of Aussies don their rubber gloves and armed with elongated tongs and hessian bags they scour the roadsides and creek beds, beaches and football fields of the country picking up nasty rubbish that hasn’t quite made it free throw style into the nearest bin. Can you guess what the number one item these valiant volunteers pick up? Packaging! To put it plainly, in the 2017 CUAD audit 58%of all rubbish collected related to food and beverage packaging and the plastic bags that shoppers bring them home in.
Several years ago I decided that I was disgusted in the amount of waste my family was creating. Multiple trips out to the garbage bin laden with bags containing all manner of mainly food and beverage packaging was weighing heavily on my mind, so I sort out ways to help my family reduce their waste and of course it had to start with me.
So what is in the Mary Poppins esk handbag that helps me to minimise my waste?
Number one, which is used on an almost daily basis in my keep cup. Those cardboard coffee cups that are so frequently used and hastily discarded account for 1 billion pieces of rubbish each year that ends up in landfill. The cups contain a thin layer of plastic which as it degrades creates smaller pieces of plastic that choke our waterways and end up in the stomachs of fish. Removing the need to use these cups is as simple as purchasing a keep cup and carrying it around in your car or handbag. Many cafes now are giving discounts to patrons who bring their own cup! Win win! I also advocate actually sitting down in your favourite coffee shop and absorbing the ambience, slowing down and spending some quality caffeine time sipping from a china mug, but of theres no time for that then the keep cup is the next best thing.
Number two, is my water bottle. Beverage containers were the number two source of rubbish collected on CUAD 2017. Hydration in our warm climate is essential, so it makes sense to carry water around with you in a handy water bottle. They come in plastic BPA free, stainless steel and glass. My preference is steel as it keeps cooler longer, is virtually impervious to damage when it rolls around in the back foot well of the car and doesn’t absorb odours as the plastic ones tend to. Thank fully now they are becoming a bit of a fashion accessory with gorgeously decorated stainless steel bottles available at most department and health food stores.
Number three, is my cutlery wrap and it actually contains my number four as well. The cutlery wrap is my go to if I am buying lunch on the run. This stops me from having to use disposable cutlery, disposable serviettes and disposable straws. My go to snack on the run is sushi, so I also carry stainless steel chop sticks just in case. I ask for a china plate rather than those plastic clam shell containers, pour my sauce from a bottle rather than accept the little plastic fishes full of soya sauce and I’m good to sit down for a meal guilt and waste free!
Straws suck! Plastic straws actually made the top ten of items picked up on beach cleanups. In Bondi, a diver picked up almost 300 straws in 20 minutes, then she went back into the water and picked up another 300 in the same area! They are used for about 15 minutes and then discarded, take water and oil to manufacture and are a non essential item. What happened to just drinking out of a cup or glass? To tell you the truth this little stainless steel straw that I carry around doesn’t actually get out very often because quite honestly I cant seem to see a need for it anyway.
Number five is my handy dandy bread bag. Cleverly created by myself and hand screen printed, this little beauty allows me to buy up to two cafe sized loaves of fresh bread sans plastic wrapper. No hard plastic bread bag clip required. The average family consumes 146 loaves of bread per year, multiplied out by the number of families in Australia and that is a monumental number of plastic bags, bag clips and metal ties that are heading to landfill. I cant tell you the number of bakery attendants that I have impressed and enlightened by using my bread bag. I wonder if I could get a contract to make them for Bakers Delight? I also have a smaller version for produce which is rarely used as I just tend to deposit my fruit and vegies into the shopping trolley packaging free, but is handy for loose beans, spinach and mushrooms.
So the Mary Poppins carpet bag serves its purpose by holding all these items that help me to be a waste free diner, shopper and sipper. Sure the extra weight leaves dent marks in my shoulders, but better the weight of the handbag rather than the weight of the world, the environment and its plastic choking destruction, I say.