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Avoid the soft plastics problem

A life without soft plastic packaging may seem a bit daunting, but there are some simple things you can do to reduce the amount you use (especially since they can no longer be recycled).

May 1, 2024

What are soft plastics?

Basically, any plastic packaging that you can ‘scrunch’ is classified as a soft plastic – this includes bags holding potato chips, pasta, and yoghurt pouches (among many others). We used to be able to recycle them via the REDcycle program, but unfortunately that is currently suspended. So, here are a few ideas to avoid them in the first place.


Snack foods must be one of the biggest offenders when it comes to over packaging. Avoid foods such as the large plastic bags of chips containing smaller plastic packs of chips or the boxes of muesli bars with each bar individually wrapped in plastic.

Try these instead:

  • Buy standard bags of chips instead and split them into individual portions at home in reusable containers.

  • Do the same with a bigger bag of popcorn rather than the individual packs (or better still, pop your own at home!)

  • Put together your own snack packs in reusable containers using nuts, dried fruit, crackers and cubes of cheese.

  • Make your own no-bake muesli bars.

This will also save you money (usually).

Hot drinks

Avoid the plastic, single hot drink sachets which are sold inside a cardboard box, (such as coffee and hot chocolate). If you opt for a tin or jar instead – you’ll get more for your money, and you won’t have to go hunting for a pair of scissors when the ‘tear here’ doesn’t work on your hot chocolate sachet!

Prepackaged salads

They may be convenient but their quality goes south a lot faster! Prepackaged salad bags have been cut and washed, which speeds up the spoiling process. Buy a whole lettuce and only wash and cut it as you need it. Store the rest of it properly in the crisper in your fridge.


Packaging of some kind is unavoidable for this pantry staple, so you could opt for brands which come in a cardboard box instead of a plastic bag.


When it comes to the dairy section of the supermarket, walk on by past those bags of shredded and grated cheese. They may be a bit of a time saver, but if you set aside 10 minutes or so, you could grate a whole block into a container to keep in the fridge - and it will cost less into the bargain. (And did you know that some grated cheese varieties are coated to stop it clumping, which makes it less melty when hot?).

Also buy larger cartons of yoghurt rather than the squeezy pouches, and decant into small containers for lunchboxes. The larger plastic yoghurt cartons can at least go into your recycling bin but the pouches can't - they end up in landfill.

Fresh fruit and vegetables

Whenever possible, opt for loose fruits and vegetables instead of those pre-packaged in plastic bags. It might take a bit more time at the checkout, but this simple choice significantly reduces the amount of soft plastic waste. You can buy only what you need - plus, selecting your own produce you can make sure you get the freshest picks! Take your own reusable produce bags or just go naked (your fruit and veg, not you!). Simply weigh your produce unbagged and then pop it into your reusable shopping bag.

How you do your shopping is completely up to you (obviously) but you could choose one single-use plastic item to wage war against to start with (or be ambitious and target them all!).

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