How to do Plastic Free July
Are you curious about how Plastic Free July works? Would you like to get your kids or your colleagues involved and inspire some change around you? Well here is a quick rundown:
Plastic Free July is not about giving up plastic entirely; it’s about giving up single-use plastic – the kind that is literally used once and then sent to your recycling bin or your landfill bin. If you have plastic that you reuse – I’m a huge fan of reusing plastic takeaway containers for leftovers and to take back to restaurants to get more takeaway (!) – keep reusing, but try and avoid bringing any new plastic into your life.
The scary truth is that recycling is not the answer to our plastic woes. Gone are the days when you peered into your overfull recycling bin and felt smug about saving the world. The reality is that the majority of plastic isn’t recycled anyway; recent worldwide statistics suggest only 9% of plastic is recycled and the rest ends up in landfill or our oceans so it is much more important to reduce your plastic usage than rely on recycling.
So why not start reducing your plastic usage with Plastic Free July? There are only 2 things you need to remember to make it as easy as pie (eaten with your reusable cutlery):
- Reusable, not single-use. This one is easy as long as you remember step 2.
- Plan, plan, plan.
- bring your reusables each day (I like to wash them and pack them in my bag each night)
- say no to plastic cutlery, straws, cups and bags
- eat in (to avoid the plastic of take-away)
- say no to take-away if it involves single-use plastic
- prepare meals in advance so you can avoid the last minute take-away grab
- shop consciously (BYO containers to bulk stores and buy fresh produce)
- make lunchbox snacks at home.
Like I said… it takes planning but it is so worth it!
So let me hit you with some stats and a few switches you could make for Plastic Free July that might make you reconsider your plastic usage forever!
- Australians throw over 1 million plastic bread bags into landfill every day. An easy swap here is to buy your bread from a bakery and put it into a bread bag. There are some great ones on the market that keep bread fresh and go well in the freezer. I love these Aussie ones by Onya.
- The ban of free single-use bags by Coles and Woolies has seen an 80-90% drop in plastic bag usage in Australia. This is amazing but lots of smaller retailers are still handing over plastic bags like nothing has changed so you need to make the change. Carry reusable bags everywhere you go and refuse plastic bags.
- Takeaway coffee cups and take-away containers make up to 23% of litter found in Australia. And where does that litter end up? Usually in our waterways, rivers, oceans… Equip yourself with a reusable cup and make it part of your kit each day. Quite frankly, drinking out of a reusable cup is so much nicer anyway.
- Menstruating women use approximately 300 pads or tampons each year that go straight to landfill or in other words, approximately 136 kilograms of landfill waste per year. The good news is there are reusable alternatives in the form of reusable pads and menstrual cups. They can actually be more convenient – cups can stay in longer before needing to be changed – and greatly reduce your environmental footprint. JuJu cups are the only Australian cup and work very well. Why not try one out as part of Plastic Free July?
- Less than 30% of plastic water bottles are recycled. Water bottles pollute our waterways. Plastic water bottles are made out of oil, a finite resource. What a waste. I still think this one is a no-brainer. Australians are lucky that we can drink tap water. Grab a reusable water bottle (stainless steel are my favourite) and take it everywhere. Never buy a meal deal with a drink again. Fill up your bottle at the work water cooler or any tap anywhere really.
If you only made these 5 swaps, you would be making a big difference and it’s a great way to see how easy avoiding single-use plastic can be. To take it further, you can invest in reusable cutlery and straws to carry around in your kit, reusable cloth nappies for your little ones, shampoo bars and bar soaps for your bathroom… the list is endless!
So finally, if you would like to take the pledge and register to participate, you can sign up here. If you are looking to get your school or workplace involved you can download posters and access other resources on this website and the best thing is that you will be sent weekly emails with tips and encouragement during the month of July.
Please feel free to get in touch with your own tips or just to let me know how you are going with it, and have a great Plastic Free July!