Plastic free and sustainable living

Hey guys,

As we wrap up our campaign we’d love to leave you with some great organisations who we think do a stellar job at promoting ecofriendly, plastic free and sustainable living practices. We hope that you’ve learnt a handful of things about how much the environment has been affected by something so overlooked as plastic bags.

Sydney Sustainability

Founded in 2013 as a way to promote sustainable events and information in Sydney. We think this site and Facebook community is great because living in such a busy city like Sydney, you can easily become unaware of all the detrimental practices going on. Head on over and have a read about how living sustainably is necessary! Who knows, maybe you’ll get some handy tips as wellūüėČ

Plastic Free Tuesday 

Our friends at Plastic Free Tuesday do a great job at reducing our plastic footprint. We’ve done a post on them before! Start reducing plastic waste one day at a time – literally. Just spend one day out of your week, not consuming or wasting and plastic and see how you go. Don’t forget to tweet at @Plasticfreetues and #plasticfreetuesday

Ecothrifty Living

Zoe from Ecothrifty living is an inspiration! Her blog covers great tips on how an ecofriendly lifestyle is better for our planet, our health and our wallets! If you’re tight on the budget and looking for some tips, definitely head on over.

My Plastic Free Life 

If you don’t know Beth, then where have you been living!? Beth Terry started living a completely plastic-free lifestyle in 2007 and has been blogging about it ever since. She’s your one stop shop for ways on living plastic-free or general plastic pollution news. She’s definitely an inspiration. We can only hope to be as sustainable as you one day Beth!

Thanks for joining us on this journey. Don’t forget to always try and say “no” whenever you’re faced with the option of a plastic bag. The environment and our furry friends will thank you in the long run. Let’s help band together and reduce plastic bag waste. It’s a long process, but starts with one person standing up against plastic.

Tote simple, Totewise!

Over and out!

Plastic bag bans – do they really work?

I remember on a recent trip to San Francisco, I was taken aback by how environmentally friendly the whole city was. Everybody drove a Prius, some buses ran on electricity instead of petrol, they had an amazing trash/recycling system (you have to use compostable plastic bags for food waste!) and every store I went into had a plastic bag tax. Now, I know the latter might have been some people’s worst nightmare (“So you’re telling me I’m on holiday and I also have to pay an extra 10c every time I want to buy something?”) but it was eye-opening and inspirational for me. Always having been aware of the issue of plastic bag waste/pollution, living temporarily in a city that had implemented a city-wide plastic bag ban was interesting – and not as hard as people make it out to be.

Returning back to Sydney though, I was thrown back into a world where a plastic bag was just another part of your daily routines – back in a world where no bans existed, I could understand how easy it was to fall back into a routine of using single-use plastic bags. However, knowing full well of the detriment this entails and how easy the solution is, I’ve vowed to try and reduce by plastic bag intake until they implement a statewide plastic bag ban in NSW (come one NSW, SA has been on it for ages now!)

Apart from the fact that our poor wildlife can’t dodge and defend these airborne predators as well as we can (as mentioned in the previous post), here are some reasons why a plastic bag ban works!

1. Bans encourage the use of reusable or single use bags

A non-partisan Equinox centre found that plastic bag bans in San Jose, San Diego and LA resulted in a reduction of single-use plastic bags and people were using reusable bags or no bags at all! After Ireland implemented a plastic bag tax, plastic bag usage dropped 94%.

2. Bans reduce litter issue

Photo source: Latitude news

Do you really want to live in a world of filth and rubbish? The plastic bag ban in San Jose was found to reduce litter by approx. 89% in the storm drain system, 60% in creeks and rivers and 59% in neighbourhoods. That’s a GREAT difference¬†considering the fact that the world produces 2.5 trillion plastic bags a year that mostly end up as litter. No one likes a plastic tumbleweed…

3. Large amounts of plastic bags aren’t easily recycled – so bans help us by reducing the need to even get to this point

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. PLastic bags SHOULD be recycled by the process is cumbersome and too hard for a majority of people to do. So what happens? Well only 3% of plastic bags are recycled correctly, leaving a whopping 97% free to work their way into our environment and threaten our poor, defenseless wildlife. On average families also bring home 1500 plastic bags. Ask yourself, do you re-use all 1500 bags that you bring home? Why not just invest in one or two canvas tote bags that you WILL reuse and won’t make their way into our environment as pollution?

THIS is why we really think that a plastic bag ban actually helps and should be implemented. What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, we’ll still be toting our reusable bags #totewise. Who’s with us?

S.O.S – Save Our Sealife

Plastic is one of the biggest silent killers of our wildlife – particularly our marine life.

More than 1 billion single-use plastic bags are given out free of charge every day around the world. As you know, plastic bags are NOT biodegradable. They do breakdown though, but in doing so, they release toxic additives including flame retardants and plasticisers into the environment. What does this have to do with our wildlife though?

Well, these chemicals pollute and disrupt the endocrine system of animals.

What’s even worse though is marine life in particular are hit the hardest by plastic bag waste. Plastic bags are so lightweight, that if they’re not disposed of correctly, they can be carried by the wind through different parts of our ecosystem. Most end up in the water, where marine animals often mistake them for food. Over 100 000 animals die within Australia alone because of this. Turtles, dolphins, whales and albatross are the most susceptible to death by choking on plastic bags. What’s so upsetting is that there is approximately 46 000 pieces of plastic floating every square mile of the ocean.

So the next time you’re in a position where you could refuse the use of a plastic bag, please keep this in mind. Even if you don’t know it, the plastic bag you are using could end up killing a member of our wildlife. Opt out of the plastic, go the reusable and #totewise

If you’re interested in helping out the wildlife, Animals Australia and Lush Cosmetics have joined up to create a ‘Say NO to Plastic Bags!’ campaign and petition in support of our animals. We’ve signed it. Have you?

Photo credit: Ron Prendergast, Melbourne Zoo

Photo Credit: How green is your bag Termata the Whale who died in 2007 after a giant rescue team across Roratonga in the Cook Island were unable to save her after she choked on a single white plastic bag.


It’s human nature for us to choose the path we’re most familiar with which is why adopting a new habit can be quite a challenge. We understand that it’s easy to forget your reusable tote bag sometimes, or to forget what to do with it when you’re done using it. Here are some general tips on how to remember your tote and how to take care of them to help sustain your new endeavour – but also to make the use of tote bags feel more effortless!

1. Purchase ultra compact reusable bags that you can easily slip into your pocket or bag so you never forget them.

2. Put your reusable bags on the counter before any of the things you’re buying so that the cashier knows to put your items in these bags instead of automatically bagging using plastic bags

3. Hand or machine wash your tote bags regularly. This kills about 99% of the bacteria accumulated by them. The great thing is canvas, burlap or cotton bags are all washable.

4. If you’ve used reusable bags to transport non-food items like washing detergent, cleaners or other chemicals, make sure you wash them before re-using it to transport food items. Alternatively, you can use different coloured bags for different purposes. Owning two totes is better than opting for a plastic bag.

5. Storing reusable tote bags in the trunk of your car is actually not a good idea because in the warmer months the increased temperatures can promote bacteria growth on your bags.

6. You should place your meat, poultry and fish in a separate reusable bag to your fresh produce to avoid contamination

7. If you want to carry frozen things, consider lining your reusable bags with waxed butcher paper

8. When you’re trying to enforce the habit, maybe try hanging your tote bag on the same shoulder as your purse so that you don’t forget when you get up to the counter!

These are a few tips we think would help. If you’re looking for some more great tips, one of the best we found our tips from was Small Footprint Family.¬†

Share with us what you do to remember your reusable bags – or how you keep ’em clean!


Plastic bags or Paper bags?

Image: Green Retreat Org

The answer is neither.

Many people are under the impression that replacing the use of plastic bags with paper bags is doing the environment a favour, but when we take a closer look it’s actually not the case.

Here’s some reasons why using paper bags is not a better alternative:

  • In the US alone, over 14 million trees are cut down to fulfil the demand for the production of paper bags
  • Paper bags¬†cause pollution when they’re produced. In fact they emit 70% more air pollution and 50% more water pollution than the production of plastic bags
  • Paper bag production also consumes a great amount of energy and fuel – four times as much as plastic bag production to be precise
  • Paper also doesn’t biodegrade that much faster than plastic and despite their high recyclability factor, only 20% of paper bags are recycled

Want to know more about the truth behind paper bags? Here’s a great TED talk on the topic

Right about now you’re probably wandering what the solution is, whether there’s even any option left. After all, you thought reducing your plastic foot print by opting for paper bags was helping didn’t you? Never fear, all hope is not lost.

Here’s where the humble reusable canvas tote bags come in. Just looking at the information above proves that there’s no better option than to go reusable! If you need further convincing though…

  • The average reusable bag has a lifespan that beats over seven hundred single-use plastic bags
  • If just one person uses a reusable bag for their whole life, they’re avoiding the use of 22 000 plastic bags in total alone
  • You’re becoming a part of the solution when you prove that there’s little need and demand for plastic or paper bags!

So come on, what are you waiting for. Tote simple, totewise.

Were you surprised by these facts about paper bags? Share with us some of your experiences in using different forms of bags and which one you think worked best holistically.


Photo credit: Reuben Hills

We’re making it even easier for you to reduce the need for plastic bags, by giving you a chance to own your very own canvas tote bag. Yep, you heard right. For a chance to WIN your very own Reuben Hills canvas tote bag all you have to do is tell us in 25 words or less one reason why you want to give up on using plastic bags. It can be a reason we’ve previously mentioned, or anything else you can think of. To enter, just leave your comment here, along with your full name and email.

The competition ends 6pm EST Sunday 12th of October, 2014. Only open to Sydney residents.

Winner will be announced Monday 13th of October and contacted by email.

Happy Tote-ing!

One plastic free day, keeps the doctor away

Our motto has always been ‘Small changes make big differences’. So you can imagine how we felt when we came across the¬†Plastic-Free Tuesday initiative.¬†The team behind¬†Plastic-Free Tuesday aren’t asking very much of their readers – just to set aside¬†one day a week (Tuesday, naturally) where you skip out on using plastic to help reduce our global plastic footprint.

Here’s some of the reasons why you should be participating in spending one less day a week consuming and using plastic

1. We only started using plastics since the 1930s, and plastic bags since the 70s-80s. That’s less than a century. Yet in the last 10 years we’ve produced more plastic than we have in the whole of the last century.

2. It’s rewarding and you’ll learn so much. To know that your change can help reduce the impact of something so negative is an experience that money can’t buy – and you learn so much about new alternatives that you’ll constantly be thirsty for more and more!¬†Plastic-Free Tuesday¬†writer Marlies can testify to how rewarding it can be! What’s also great is her plastic-free mission this year is to reduce her use of any single-use plastics in her daily life. We love!

3. Reducing your use of plastic once a week can eventually build up a habit. You can build a habit when you start doing things more than three times. Progressively implementing new alternatives and strategies to using less plastic on a weekly basis can ease you into a complete lifestyle change.

If you’re looking for more reasons head on over to the Plastic-Free Tuesday¬†website. They’ve got some great recommendations as to how you can be participating. Share with them your plastic free stories and don’t forget to #PlasticFreeTuesday – and if you’re looking for more reasons, they’ve whipped up a great blog post here.

Don’t feed the plastic monster – image courtesy of Plastic-Free Tuesday

#TOTEWISE Submissions

We love finding people who are opting for reusable totes instead of plastic bags on a day to day basis – whatever the situation may be. Here’s a few of our favourite images from some of our lovely readers!

What are your thoughts on using totes on a daily basis?

Keep your eyes peeled because we might be running a little competition soon!

Hannah double-toteing!
Kenny's beach bag
Kenny’s beach bag
Cathy and Nicholas taking our advice and purchasing the Salt Meats Cheese tote bag!

Weekly Plasticfree roundup

It’s that time of week again boys and girls! It’s our weekly plasticfree roundup where we deliver to you interesting plasticfree, zerowaste, eco-friendly content we’ve found. As always, hit us up if you ever find anything interesting that you think should be featured!

1. ‘Waste Less, Live More’ week¬†

Waste Less, Live More is an organisation that runs a annual week-long campaign that encourages society to be more aware that environmental and social issues are linked. This year it’s been running from September 22-28th and it’s still not too late to join in. The theme this year is ‘Be Resourceful’ – i.e. finding new, creative and inventive ways to live better within our means. We can think of a number of ways to be resourceful with what you’ve got without needing to source out any other materials. Running with the theme of Totewise, you can so easily reduce the need for “new” plastic bags when you go shopping, purely by bringing along a reusable bag you’ve already got. And it’s definitely a solution that can run for longer than a week.

Can you think of any other ways to be resourceful?

2. Plastic bags aren’t the only detrimental plastics¬†

This is a great read for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge on what plastics harm the environment and the issue of plastic waste in general. Polythene Pam from the amazing Plastic is Rubbish campaign provides a little insight into why she decided to give up plastic and how you can do it yourself. Totes inspiring, we recommend you give this a read if you want to start living a slightly more waste free life! And you might also find out some crazy facts – like sneaky products where that contain plastic that you wouldn’t have known about.

Did you know that sometimes plastic beads are added to toothpaste to add colour?

3. Cotton On Foundation – Canvas Bags

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.35.17 PM

We recently did a post on where you can find some great canvas totes around Sydney, but a lovely community member informed us that Cotton On also sells canvas bags at a meagre price of $2. At only $2 you can grab yourself a long-lasting reusable bag, but the best part is it also contributes to the Cotton On Foundation which runs projects to help empower youths. Helping youths and the environment! That’s a win in our books – and they’re great lookin’ bags too!

There you have it community tote-rs! That’s a plasticfree wrap up this week. Hopefully we’ve inspired some of you to go out and grab yourselves a canvas bag, kick that plastic habit and be resourceful!

Enjoy your weekend! #totewise

Sydney totes

This goes out to all the people out there that think you can’t find a good lookin’ tote bag. We’ve compiled a list of the best tote bags in Sydney. So what are you waiting for? There’s no better time to tote simple, totewise.

Photo credit: Reuben Hills

1. Reuben Hills $15

If you love their coffee, you’ll be pleased to know that Reuben Hills have their very own eco-friendly canvas tote bag.

Photo credit: Literary gift company

2. Ariel Booksellers $30

For all the bookworms out there. Now you can tote your love loud and proud!

Photo credit: Paramount Coffee Project

3. Paramount Coffee Project

We can’t find the price, but they posted to their Facebook page with the simple caption of “You can carry all your shit in this tote if you want” and that’s all we need to know #getonit

Photo credit: Kinokuniya Japan

3. Books Kinokuniya $6-10

We can testify to the practicality and sturdiness of the Kinokuniya bags – our tote bags of choice. Book bag, grocery bag, laptop bag, shopping bag…the uses for this bag are endless. If you only ever invest in one canvas bag your whole entire life, you best make it this one.

Photo credit: The Better Living Index

4. The Local Harvest Collective $35+

The best thing about The Local Harvest Collective Bags is that you get a great little bag of organic, seasonal local fruit and veggie produce with it. You can snag one of these bad boys from their market held on the rooftop of the Paramount Building every Saturday from 9:30am-1pm.