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19 June 2018

5 single-use plastic items everyone needs to stop using now

Our cumulative use of single use plastic is vastly affecting our planet and while this problem on a global scale can seem overwhelming, on a personal level it is more achievable. Fight plastic pollution and say no to the below five single use plastic items below; it’s a simple action you can do to tackle the increasing plastic pollution problem.


Australians use an estimated 5 billion plastic shopping bags every year with around 50 million entering oceans and waterways causing fatal harm to marine life. The phase out of lightweight plastic bags has been set for seven out of eight Australian states and territories. Although this is positive step forward, the replacement offered by large supermarket chains of a thicker more durable plastic shopping bag is merely a Band-Aid solution. Prepare for the plastic bag ban with truly biodegradable, plastic free reusable shopping and produce bags.


Single use plastic straws are one of the most insidious polluters in the world. They are an item of convenience for most people and are essentially useless, but millions are used daily worldwide despite their harmful effects on the environment.

Used for an average of 20 minutes, plastic straws have an incredibly short ‘consumer use’ lifespan. Although recyclable, the small and lightweight design of plastic straws make them difficult to sort at recycling facilities. Instead, they are discarded in landfill or blown into the environment, inevitably making their way to oceans and waterways.

The environmental effects of single use plastic items are permanent and widespread with plastic contributing to approximately 90 percent of the rubbish floating in our oceans, contaminating every square mile with 46 thousand pieces of plastic. Straws are one of the top ten items collected at beach clean-ups posing potential threat to seabirds, turtles and other marine animals.

Plastic straws are made from polypropylene which is derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource that uses vast amounts of energy to produce. These chemically produced products are non-biodegradable and when disposed photodegrade over time, causing each piece of plastic to break down into small fragments further polluting the environment and endangering wildlife.

Help reduce the environmental impact of single use plastic straws by requesting no straw with your drink or buy and use a reusable straw.

History of manufactured straws:


Straws made from the stalks of rye grass were used in the early 1800’s to improve hygiene at restaurants and soda fountains. Unsatisfied with their weak structure, Marvin Stone designed the first paper drinking straw in 1888.


Joseph B. Friedman designed and patented the bendy straw in 1937. The rise of fast food chains in the 1950’s increased popularity of convenience food in disposable packaging. Nonbiodegradable plastic straws made from non-renewable resources quickly replaced paper straws in the 1960’s.


The increased production and consumption of nonbiodegradable plastic straws over the past century has contributed to the accumulation of plastic pollution in the environment. Environmental campaigns now encourage consumers to stop using plastic straws and use reusable straws instead.


We use approximately 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year, making this single use item one of the largest contributors to waste along with plastic bottles and bags. Many cannot be recycled as they are lined with polyethylene and take up to 50 years to degrade.

What people also forget is that it’s not just about the waste at the end, but the precious non-renewable resources that would go into making takeaway items, like coffee cups, in the first place. The environmental repercussions of disposable coffee cups begin well before the consumer has purchased their coffee where precious natural resources are used and pollutants are emitted to manufacture and transport the cups. Put an end to unnecessary waste and stop using single-use coffee cups. Choose a reusable coffee cup such as a KeepCup or dine in! 


The demand for convenience, driven by busy lifestyles has fostered a society with an insatiable desire for disposable solutions. At the forefront of this convenience driven culture is the excessive production and consumption of bottled water. Currently, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute worldwide with predictions of a 20 percent increase by 2021.

Bottled water is an unnecessary product developed by profit driven companies to sell to consumers at a price nearly 2000 times more than the cost of sourcing it directly from the tap. Use your consumer power to prevent further damage to the environment. Stop purchasing bottled water and invest in a good quality reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle.

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


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