How to reduce consumption of avoidable and single-use plastics

For individuals

Straws and plastic drink stirrers

  • Avoid using straws and plastic drink stirrers—consider whether you really need one.
  • Refuse a straw—state when ordering a drink “no straw, please” (or stirrer).
  • Opt to visit venues that provide compostable or reusable straws and stirrers where possible.
  • Ask businesses to consider their use of plastic straws and encourage them to use reusable alternatives.
  • Bring your own straw. There are a range of compostable or reusable alternatives available on the market such as:
    • metal
    • bamboo
    • silicone
    • paper or cardboard (wax-lined).

Plastic lined coffee cups

  • Bring your own reusable cup (keep cup).
  • Do not use disposable coffee cups if you can ‘dine in’ at a café/restaurant.
  • Choose to buy coffee from shops that provide compostable coffee cups (not plastic lined)
  • Ask businesses to consider their use of disposable coffee cups and encourage them to use reusable alternatives.
  • Keep a reusable cup in the car for use when out and about.
  • Support businesses that provide incentives for using ‘keep cups’.
  • Encourage your friends and colleagues to avoid use of plastic lined coffee cups.

Single-use water bottles

  • Carry a reusable water bottle.
  • Fill up reusable water bottles from home (partially freezing bottled water allows the water to stay cool for a prolonged period).
  • Utilise public water fountains and refill stations.

Take-away food containers

  • Opt to purchase food from businesses with that provide non-packaged and/or compostable packaging.
  • Ask your take-away store if you can bring your own container and the requirements around what you can use, and then bring your own container.

Single-use plastic cutlery

  • Refuse single-use cutlery.
  • Invest in a set of portable, reusable cutlery (e.g. stainless steel, titanium etc. most camping stores sell these).
  • Opt to shop at venues that provide reusable cutlery or compostable single-use options.
  • Select food items that do not require cutlery.

Individual serve condiments

  • Refuse individual serve condiments.
  • Opt for items that do not require use of an individual serve condiment.
  • Opt to shop at stores that do not provide individual serve condiments.
  • Opt to shop at stores that provide refillable condiment containers.
  • Provide feedback to venues that as a customer, you would like to see them move to the use of refillable containers.

Individual serve personal care products

  • Refuse individual serve personal care products.
  • Opt to stay in locations that provide personal care products in refillable containers.
  • Take your own personal care products when travelling.


  • The release of balloons into the environment is considered littering under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011, whether the release is intentional or accidental.
  • Do not use helium balloons outdoors.
  • Reduce use of balloons both indoors and outdoors.
  • Ensure all balloon pieces are disposed of appropriately after use.
  • Opt for decorations that are compostable (i.e. paper decorations).
  • Opt for reusable decoration options such as:
    • lanterns
    • bunting (flags on a string)
    • timber signs
    • consider renting reusable decorations.

To reduce the impact of these items on the environment, avoid these items in the first instance, or if you need to use them, ensure they are disposed of properly.


  • Be aware of how much you rely on products that you use for a short time and then throw away.
  • Consider whether there is an alternative item that has an ongoing reuse value.
  • Consider the likelihood of the plastic item entering the environment then opt for alternatives that are reusable and/or can be collected for recycling.
  • If your local council does not offer kerbside recycling, encourage them to adopt this practice.

In this guide:

  1. For individuals
  2. For businesses

Print entire guide