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The Cycling Plastic Free: A Cairns to Darwin adventure by Cathy Earle, EORTH

Friday, June 21, 2019 1:04 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

After graduating university the usual course of action is try to land a job within your chosen field, however 24-year-old Sydney man Ed Philp had a different plan.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science and a major in Biology in April last year Ed left his hometown of Sydney, packed up his bags and peddled his way to Cairns. While waiting for the wet season to pass, he worked at the Cock & Bull saving up for the next leg of his journey — a bike ride from Cairns to Darwin. While this may sound like a path many have ventured before Ed decided to make the journey even more challenging, opting for single-use plastic free cycle.

What challenges does a plastic free bike ride present?

Understandably Ed’s biggest concern was food, on his ride from Sydney to Cairns Ed lived on a staple of 5-minute noodles, pre-packaged pasta and sauce, and energy bars. As all of these items involved single use plastic he needed to rethink his food options. The alternative was to purchase fruit and nut mix in bulk and storing it in a used peanut butter jar. Coconut oil packaged in a glass jar is also a staple in the diet along with sourcing fresh fruit and veggies along the way.

Ed has not only committed to not purchasing single use plastic items during the trip but also as part of the awareness surrounding single use plastic, he’ll be taking any single-use plastic he does gather along the way with him to Darwin.

While the initial few days of the journey saw plastic free wins, two days into the trip he’s shut down by the local bakery in Ravenshoe — refusing to provide him with bread not packaged in plastic.

After four days of cycling the Far North Queensland Tablelands region, and feeling flat after a day of riding Ed decides to do a little  research on calorie intake.

“Yesterday’s ride was 1,500 calories burnt, which is equivalent to five avocados.”

When you’re cycling across Australia that’s a lot of additional weight to carry with you.

High calorie items Ed’s stocking in his bag include nuts, coconut oil and tins of sardines. At several stops along the way Ed will need to be fully stocked with food, as there will be nowhere to purchase food along the way — which means bread is back on the menu, and unfortunately that means buying in plastic.

Upon reaching Mount Surprise, Ed was indeed in for a surprise. The only bread available in Mount Surprise was from the same bakery back in Ravenshoe that refused to sell him bread not packaged in plastic. The plastic bread bag now doubles as a garbage bag.

Mount Surprise may have given a little bread in a bag surprise but also quite surprising was Ed’s find on loose onions, potatoes, apples oranges and lemons at the local petrol station. Sadly that was the only plastic free food available in store.

While sourcing food is one part of the issue surrounding single use plastics, the other is sourcing everyday essentials such as a toothbrush, deodorant, dental floss, shampoo, toothpaste.

EORTH was able to supply all these plastic free travel products and more, for Ed’s journey. Packaged plastic free most of these products are biodegradable or compostable and with the packaging being made from paper — there’s no problem with burning it along the way.

You can follow Ed’s entertaining journey on Social Media:


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