5 ways to reduce your plastic footprint

Bring your own cup, say no to plastic straws, and don’t forget a bag or two! It’s easy thanks to these Melbourne shops and bars, where caring for the planet also means looking and feeling good.

1. Stock up on reusable bags

Get organised and get some bags that can be used over and over. You’ll never be caught short at the supermarket, and can look smart and feel smug with a stylish BYO bag wherever else you shop. Best of all, you’ll save the world from lots of plastic.

Queen Victoria Market

Free of plastic carry bags and single-use straws since May, Queen Victoria Market makes it easy to shop green – and we’re not just talking broccoli. You can buy reusable bags (and straws) from the Visitor Information Hub. Or check out the tote bags at market traders like Annie’s Creation and Collection or The Hemp Superstore. Free cardboard boxes are also ready to be recycled at Pick-a-Box locations around the market, and Market Espresso hires shopping trolleys.

Totes gorgeous!

Show your city pride with a tote bag from Melbournalia. They stock several looks by local designers, from cute trams to iconic Melbourne buildings. Spring Street Grocer also sells stylish shopping totes – though you might need two when faced with all their gourmet temptations.

Handy bags

Bags that fold up into almost nothing and pop into a matching pouch are easy to keep handy. Card & Caboodle has an eye-catching selection of these clever little tricksters, emblazoned with fine art or cute contemporary designs, as does King of Knives. Hoot stocks them too, but with Melbourne designs. They also have KeepCups, water bottles, metal straws and reusable food wraps.

Hands putting carrots into a bag at a fresh produce stall

Buy re-usable bags for your weekly shop

2. Support bars that say no to plastic straws

Thousands of single-use plastic straws enter landfill every day in Australia. Plenty more end up in waterways, injuring and even killing wildlife. That’s why drinks taste extra good at these eco-friendly bars.

Romeo Lane

Since opening in 2014, Romeo Lane has only used metal straws. This little heritage bar also uses metal and glass coasters rather than paper ones, and has a soda-water tap which means fewer bottles are tossed. The toilets even flush with water recycled from hand-washing.

The Lincoln

You won’t find any single-use plastic straws at The Lincoln. Or mountains of empty wine bottles out the back, because this smart Carlton pub dispenses vino from taps connected to refillable kegs. We say cheers to that!

More eco-conscious bars

Hidden drinking den Arlechin has been plastic-straw free since it opened in 2017, and agave-lovin’ Mesa Verde called last drinks on them then too. Find a whole lot of other Melbourne venues going plastic straw free, including including Bar Ampere, in our post about sustainable bars.

A cocktail with a metal straw next to a display of food

Support the many Melbourne bars that have stopped using plastic straws. Photo: Bar Ampere

3. Buy a reusable coffee cup

How many disposable cups do you see in hands and bins every day? Even if you’re already part of the solution, consider buying a reusable cup for a friend or colleague.

Clementine’s

Gorgeous Degraves Street gift shop Clementine’s has a passion for things made in Victoria – including international Melbourne success story KeepCup. They stock a generous range, both plastic and glass, and even the limited edition Star Wars series. Check out the beautiful reusable bags made from vintage tablecloths and tea towels too.

More cups worth keeping

From fresh barista-made brews to quality reusable cups, Market Lane Coffee’s Queen Vic Market outlet has everything for java junkies. Like the vacuum-insulated Kinto cup, which keeps coffee hot (or iced coffee cold) when you’re on the go. Sensory Lab also does coffee and conservation with a range of reusable cups including beautiful designs from Melbourne’s Frank Green brand. Whichever reusable cup you choose, check out our post about where it will get you a discount on every coffee.

HuskeeSwap

Is washing your resealable cup a hassle? Then buy a HuskeeSwap lidded cup and become part of an infinite swap program. Bring it to participating coffee purveyors like Patricia or The Organic Food and Wine Deli, and your order will be served in a clean cup. Made from coffee husks that would otherwise by wasted, they’re stylish, sturdy and BPA-free.

A hand holding a reusable coffee cup with a flower stall in the background

Buy a reusable cup for your daily coffee

4. Get yourself a water bottle

Why buy a bottle of water when you can BYO, saving money and the planet. Manufacturing and transporting bottles that water is sold in produces greenhouse gases, and every year thousands are never recycled, ending up in landfill and waterways.
Great Earth Super Discount Health Shops have lots of dual-wall stainless steel bottles by Project Earth – and other plastic-free products like bamboo toothbrushes. Chic stationery destination Milligram also stocks eco products including cool water bottles, and even bottle lanyards and holders for bikes. Other top bottle shops include on-trend but ever-practical Mr Wares, King of Knives and Myer Melbourne, which has Frank Green must-haves among its extensive range.

… and refill it on the go

Top up your bottle or just get a quick sip at the dozens of public drinking fountains in the City of Melbourne. With this interactive locator map, there’s no need to go thirsty or buy a bottle of water.

A shelf with several water bottles on it

BYO water bottle

5. BYO lunch container

How much take-away packaging do you go through in a year? Add serviettes and single-use cutlery and you’ve soon put crazy amounts of paper and plastic in the bin. If you can, BYO cutlery and wash your hands or use cloth napkins. Bring lunch to work in a reusable container, or take it to your favourite lunch shops. You might be surprised how many won’t mind filling your container instead of their plastic.

Monster Threads

Find all sorts of things that help you eat and drink while caring for the planet at Monster Threads. They have reusable cups, water bottles, even lunchboxes and insulated lunch bags (like mini soft-sided Eskies). We especially love their elegant, two-tiered Monbento lunchbox with different compartments for lunch, snacks and cutlery. It’s airtight, BPA-free and safe for microwave, dishwasher and freezer.

Wilkins and Kent

Wilkins and Kent’s focus on local designers and environmentally friendly products come together in the Melbourne-designed BeetBox lunchbox. This Good Design Award winner is made from tempered glass, with a neoprene sleeve that insulates and protects.
Find more reusable containers and cutlery too at Daiso, Muji and MINISO, where pretty, practical Japanese design rules.