Karen James rarely buys chocolate or sweet or savoury biscuits because they come wrapped in plastic.
It’s a decision she made more than two years ago – while living with friend and zoo co-worker Dr Rebecca Hobbs – to reduce her impact on the environment.
She also uses compostable doggy bags to pick up after her cocker spaniel Jemima, takes a container to the butcher and buys toiletries in bulk to get more product for her plastic.
It wasn’t an easy switch to make – Ms James estimates she’s now about 80 per cent plastic free – but having changed her habits, she wouldn’t go back.
“At the start it was difficult but … I was living with Bec at the time so she was a good support in knowing some of the avenues to take around some of the plastic alternatives,” Ms James said.
“Her help really guided me on the right path and now I don’t even think about it.
“I just don’t go down the chip aisle or the biscuit aisle because I know that there’s nothing down there I can have.”
Most of Ms James’ plastic use comes when she has to buy food for her dog, and birds Stella and Phoenix, and in her toiletries.
But during Plastic Free July, even those are out.
Each July, the plastic used can fit into a single jar, with the diabetic’s medical waste making up the bulk of her plastic waste.
But Ms James said people don’t have to give up all plastic in order to make a positive impact.
Saying no to plastic straws or cutlery is a simple way to start.
“People can choose to go without something that’s simple and then it just changes their mindset,” she said.
“The way the world is working these days, it’s going to be more and more …. compulsory so the sooner you get behind it, the sooner it becomes a habit and the less impact it has on your life.
“Like the new bins, I’ve been doing that for years so it’s not even affected my life, but some people I know are feeling really negative about it. The thing is, in the long term it’s far better for everybody.”