Welcome to the first month of the OSOF Sustainability Challenge! This month’s challenge takes place in our restaurants and cafes.
In January, the heart of summer, we spend a lot of time outdoors, on the run, and having fun with friends and family. We also eat out a fair bit while we’re on holiday and taking time off from our own kitchens. And eating out, especially a night of quick & easy takeaway, typically means plastic: straws, cutlery, Styrofoam containers and coffee lids. Your challenge this month is simply to not use these items. Say no to that straw, forget the plastic fork, and pass on the polystyrene.
The Ocean Conservancy has a list of the 10 most common types of beach rubbish. Coming in at number five are caps and lids, including coffee cup lids. Number six is plastic cutlery. Just behind that at number seven are plastic straws. All of these items are ubiquitous on beaches around the world. And they’re also completely unnecessary. But the great thing is that with a little foresight and planning, this dilemma can also be easily solved. Reusable options of all of these items exist, and are affordable enough to buy a couple of and leave in your car, desk drawer, purse and/or beach bag. See the resources section below for some ideas about where you can pick up some supplies.
So for the month of January, pledge to eliminate disposable plastic takeaway items. Choose the level below that works for you, and don’t forget to upload a picture of yourself going plastic cutlery, straw, and container-free! Include the hashtag #OSOFSustainableMe and we will feature you on the Plastic Free New Zealand page!
Let’s get on with it! Here’s what to do:
Beginner: Stop using plastic straws and cutlery for one month. Don’t just omit eating out this month. Instead, seek out an alternative that works for you and practice it.
Step it up: Same as beginner, but add in coffee cup lids and plastic/polystyrene takeaway containers. Some takeaway restaurants will allow you to bring in a reusable container for your food, and be sure to bring along a box or jar for leftovers when you go out to eat.
Want more? Become an advocate for ditching plastic and talk to your favourite cafes and restaurants about plastic alternatives. For inspiration, check out the café at Otago Polytechnic, which has recently eliminated takeaway coffee cups altogether and have come up with some creative solutions.
How does it help?
Where to begin? Plastic forks, coffee lids and straws are common beach garbage that is just plain ugly. Ocean plastics are often mistaken for food and ingested by wildlife. Recent research even shows that the smell of plastics are of interest to marine life, compounding the problem even further. As plastics spend time in the ocean, they break down into microplastics – tiny bits of plastic that pervade every body of water on the planet, and probably each of us as well. And did I mention plastic takes a ridiculously long time to break down? And is difficult to recycle? Bottom line is the less plastic we use, the less plastic ends up in the ocean. Every little bit helps!
Resources: (Please note, this is not an endorsement of these stores or products from OSOF, just a suggestion of how to get started)
Stainless steel drinking straws: http://www.littleink.co.nz/product/stainless-steel-straws
Reuseable coffee cups: http://www.cuppacoffeecup.com/nz/
Ideal Cup: http://www.idealcup.co.nz
Bamboo cutlery: http://www.friendlypak.co.nz/Products/Food-Serv/Cutlery
Folding cutlery: http://www.kathmandu.co.nz/cutlery-set-foldable.html
Contributor: Andrea Greene-Liberatore