I Counted All My Single-Use Plastic For A Week & I’m Not Mad At Myself, Just Disappointed

I like to think I do my bit for the planet. I didn’t eat meat for years, have a keep cup, use green bags, period undies, and try to avoid plastic in my grocery shop. But, in saying that, I was way better before 2020…

When the pandemic hit, I basically threw all my good habits out the window in lieu of safety, rules or much-needed serotonin. As it turns out, since I let those habits slip a couple of years ago, I haven’t really clawed them back entirely yet. Embarrassingly, I was still buying takeaway coffee cups until very recently.

I agreed to publicly blast my current state of habits for content, but also as a little personal test. Initially, I was planning to try really hard to look good, but of course life got in the way and it’s more realistic. I’m cringing already…

So, let’s get into it.


Oh, Monday was a simpler time. Full of confidence, I had a keep cup in my bag and was meeting friends for brekkie and dinner — table-top cutlery all the way, baby. I was feeling smug. But, then my stanky breath spelt disaster. I needed mints after my fancy cafe breakfast and forgot they come with a silly plastic wrapper around the tin.

A mere eight hours into this challenge and I’m already one piece of plastic down! I also then bought a soup for lunch at the office and it came with a dreaded plastic spoon.

Not that bad, but not good either.

Single-use count for the day: 2


I was yet to get my butt into gear for the week and buy groceries (my eco-warrior visions dashing by the day). It was slim pickings for food at home, but I whipped up a few meals with what I had in the house. No plastic used, yeehaw.

Things took a turn when I remembered I had some new caramel latte sachets stashed in the cupboard. I’d never tried them before, and let me tell you, they slapped. I accidentally had three of those bad boys that day…

Groceries were finally secured that evening. While I was in a Westfield though, I did go to sushi train for dinner. Would ya look at this:

plastic-free baby!

Perhaps coming face-to-face with a sign about NSW’s single-use plastic ban is a good omen for the week?? Although, I did get a bottle of diet coke so that’s another strike to me.

Oh no. And I had to get a script from the chemist on the way out. It came in a box and I refused the bag, but I remember I’d chucked out my last empty plastic packet earlier that day.

Single-use count for the day: 5


Wednesday, the wheels were still well and truly off. There was a fun flip yoghurt on sale the night before that was tasty, but sadly super plastic. Packed my lunch like a sensible office worker. Look at me go, no plastic there.

However, I did forget my keep cup and ended up buying two coffees in takeaway cups because I’m a menace. Also, my desk-buddy Ky has a sad gluten-free diet, so I tried to be cute and bought these GF bikkies for us to demolish. But they were wrapped in devil’s plastic.

Not a good day on the plastic front.

Single-use count for the day: 4


Thursday was minimally better. I had a lil protein pudding which comes in a plastic container as a snackie and a sachet coffee at work. (I need to get back on the instant coffee train!)

In fun news, I got my period today so bought tampons. The box comes wrapped in plastic (how necessary is that really?), and then one tampon with plastic. In the evening, I chucked on my period undies. I do have a period cup at home which would be ideal to tone down my plastic use, but I’m yet to give it a go. I keep putting it off because I want to test it out on a day when I’m home. (For the record, I’m home all the time, but here we are. I need to be better.)

Single-use count for the day: 4


Look, not to be a downer but I was at a funeral today. This is getting quite intimate into my life, hey?? Anyway, I’d already started counted my plastic this week and I sure as hell wasn’t going to do start again the following week. I will say though, on the plus-side, a funeral meant I did and ate a lot that didn’t require plastic. Go me.

But I was a little too proud too early. I dropped into my parents’ place afterwards and realised I had two packages delivered there that were heeeeavily packaged in plastic. It was one dress and one pack of 12 gym energy drink things (this may be the most cringeworthy part of the story). We’re talking eight pieces of plastic from two tiny packages.

Single-use count for the day: 8


My friend gave me a muesli bar at the gym this morning. Sweet, yes. But now I’m also mad at her ‘cos I’m gonna eat it and use more plastic. How dare she!!!

I bought another takeaway coffee when I was out and fanging. I also popped in at the shops for a nail file and toilet paper which, of course, come wrapped in plastic. That night, I went out for tapas with friends. But because tapas never fills anyone up enough, we ended up getting McFlurries on the way home.

Single-use count for the day: 5


Sunday, I finished strong. My friend and I got a slushie because we were feeling a bit off. It revived us and was the only suss plastic I used for the day. I did take the bin out though, so that was another strike.

Single-use count for the day: 2

Single-use count for the day: 26

Hooooo boy. Well, look. The number itself isn’t hugely alarming. It’s more the way I racked it up that’s disappointing. So, much of that plastic could have been avoided. While there are some things I can’t avoid, like my medication coming in plastic, there are so many other simple tweaks I can make on my own to bring that tally way down.

A lot of the single-use plastic I use day-to-day around the house, could be avoided. A little better planning on my part to scope out brands that offer less single-use plastic before I hit the shops, could help me cut down.

Colgate is a company driving sustainability in this household item space. Over 50 million toothpaste tubes are used annually in Australia and likely destined for landfill, so Colgate created a recyclable toothpaste tube that can go straight into your kerbside recycling instead.

I’m off to go and have a long, hard look in the mirror. And then start planning ahead where I can swap out my basics for better alternatives.