Our Sydney Chapter of OpenIDEO hosted a local 'pub chat' with a group of people who were asked to track their use of plastics over the course of a week. The intimate setting allowed us to get into small groups and have some great conversations.
Read on to see what we discussed...
Plastic Waste Diary examples
Some examples of types of plastic objects we encountered individually.
- Supermarket plastic bags (soft and hard)
- Coffee cups & lids, straws
- Glad wrap, vacuum sealed plastic
- Cosmetics and beauty product packaging, toiletries
- Chip packet bags
- Water bottles, drink bottles, milk bottles and cartons (lined with plastic) & caps
- Takeaway food containers, plastic cutlery
- Labels, sticky tape, stickers
- Vehicle parts
Questions we asked ourselves
Some questions that were raised during our discussions.
- What is actually made of plastic? (Hidden plastic)
- What are the best practices for recycling and reuse? Are these commonly known?
- What/how many resources are required to produce alternative items? i.e. energy, coal?
- Is it a commercial or consumer issue?
- Is the consumer willing to pay the cost of not using plastic?
- Can you recycle items contaminated by oils, sauces, and residue?
- Exactly how much better, if at all better, are alternatives to plastic? i.e. wood, ceramic vs. plastic?
- How do other countries recycle?
What might prevent people from being able to reduce plastic waste?
- Low socio economic status
- Logistics and manufacturing
- Health and safety
- Learned behaviour, e.g. you recycle the way your family does
- Over education may lead to apathy
Existing solutions and initiatives that we shared with the group.
- Beeswax and fabric rather than glad wrap or plastic film
- Hotels using integrated design for toiletries and creams (rather than little takeaway bottles or sachets)
- Aesop bottle refill incentive
- Japan has no bins – behaviour of ‘take with you’
- Balls of water vs. water bottles
- Art sculptures and urban re-use of plastics
- Edible cutlery
- Lush cosmetics packaging using fabric
- Onya Reusable products
Our final thoughts and insights from the discussions.
- A lot of us don’t realise or understand the impact of single use plastics, so we need to create a link between action and consequence to see the impact of our of choices and behaviours
- We don’t actually know what’s recyclable – “Majority of what I use is recycled, but I don’t actually know if it can be recycled," so we need more information and education about recycling and reusing plastic (and how this fits in with general life skills) – beginning in homes, schools, universities, and work places
- We need to teach best practices and change existing behaviours around our consumption
- Plastic is often the more convenient choice, so to get people onboard, we “need to make it easier to do the right thing.” Maybe incentive programs might work (whether it’s seeing impact, getting a discount, etc.). Any alternatives must be robust, flexible, simple to use, and proven to be better for the environment
- Low socio-economic status affects some people's ability to reduce plastic usage and wastage. It's not always a case of refusing to use plastic
- “Humans have existed on earth for 3 seconds of a 24 hr life.” Let's act now...
Things to think about when we move into the ideas phase.
- Big users/producers
- Ease & affordability
- Multiple use