Plastic-free July may have started as a small grassroots movement in Western Australia in 2011, however it has gained momentum to become a global phenomenon. This year, millions of people around the world will pledge to be more aware of their plastic use and to ‘choose to refuse’.
There are billions of reasons why reducing plastic is a great idea.
“Virtually every piece of plastic ever manufactured still exists in some form today,” says Executive Director and Founder of the Plastic Free July Foundation, Rebecca Prince Ruiz. “Plastic, particularly single-use plastic or ‘throw-away’ plastic items, are not getting recycled effectively and are having a detrimental impact on our environment.”
If you have stopped using single-use plastic bags at checkouts, maybe it’s time to look at what further changes you can make one at a time.
“Although the size of the plastic waste problem is frightening, the numbers tell us that small actions can make big impacts,” Rebecca reassures. “Making a difference is as simple as swapping out your usual disposable coffee cup with an eco-friendly version, bringing your own re-useable bags to get groceries, or even switching to soap instead of using bottled wash products.”
Then there’s the whole disposable straw thing. An entire Straw War started in the UK, with hundreds of restaurants and bars pledging to either get rid of plastic straws completely or provide them only when requested by a customer. The Last Straw campaign in Australia states that “plastic straws are an unnecessary convenience with a big impact”.
Alexx Stuart, author and founder of Low Tox Life, suggests simply committing to remove one bit of plastic from your life at a time. Start with giving up disposable straws and single-use plastic bags, then perhaps add a few extras once you’re comfortable. Try one or two of these ideas:
- Take your own eco-friendly cup for a takeaway coffee.
- Pack your lunch box using reusable containers instead of plastic wrap.
- Stop putting your produce into plastic bags and avoid buying fruit and veggies pre-packaged in plastic.
- Use canvas or cloth bags to do your shopping and keep them somewhere prominent.
- Try not to order home delivery from venues not offering a plastic-free delivery alternative. Take your own containers if you’re buying takeaway food.
- Take a stainless steel water bottle to fill from the tap wherever you go.
- Look for plastic-free packaging for goods at the supermarket.
- Wrap your leftovers in beeswax wraps or use a glass jar or container.
“For me, saying goodbye to plastic bags REALLY happened when I stopped saying ‘it’s okay this one time’,” Alexx says.