Published 05 July 2017
Do you want to help lower your plastic pollution? This month, consider taking the Plastic Free July Challenge and choose to refuse single-use plastic for a month.
Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and requires you to avoid all single-use plastic for the month of July, and this means swapping/ saying no to things such as plastic coffee cups, bags, straws, cutlery, and containers.
About the challenge
The challenge is an initiative started by the Earth Carers Waste Education team at the Perth Western Metropolitan Regional Council in 2011, which set out to educate the public on the multitude of plastic related problems, from human health to environmental degradation.
It is stated on the Plastic Free July website that the aim of the challenge is to ‘raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives by encouraging people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic during July each year.
Since 2011 the challenge has been taken on by individuals around the world, with more than 1 million people worldwide taking part in the challenge in 2016.
You can register for the challenge at the Plastic Free July website, and there are multiple options to undertake the challenge. You can choose to avoid single-use plastic packaging; avoid takeaway items; or go completely plastic-free. Additionally, you can register to take the challenge for as little as one day, a week, the month of July or from now on.
In our office, Anastasia has chosen to go completely plastic-free this July and will be writing a blog in August about the trials and tribulations of her plastic-free journey.
To register for the challenge, click here.
The Issue with plastic
It is important to recognize that in general, we should aim to consume less plastic and apply the overall message of Plastic Free July to our day to day lives.
SEI recently held the public lecture Plastic Plague: Global Governance and the “Plastisphere” where it was discussed that we have a ‘plastic plague’ that ends up clogging our oceans and outliving us all in landfill. A significant proportion of plastic comes from modern day packaged and processed foods and drinks, which are often held, stored in or wrapped in unnecessary plastics. Plastic bags, containers, rings, bottles, etc., pose a real risk for the planet.
Although there are suggestions that recyclable plastics are okay, it is not always the case. Ruth Barcan in her recent SEI blog highlights that recycling of plastic items, including single-use items, does not address the fact that ‘recycling is an energy-intensive, expensive practice and post-consumption practice’ that does little to address the fundamental problem of our initial plastic consumption.
In short, it is better to avoid consuming plastic from the get go.
Ideas to help you cut out single-use plastic this July
Ideally, we need to be diligent in cutting plastic out of our day to day lives and purchase alternative products that are reusable and designed for long-term use. Obviously, the anti-plastic stance isn’t possible for everyone, but to start overcoming your ‘plastic addiction,’ you could consume more whole foods to avoid excess packaging that comes with processed foods. Also, see this list of tips to reduce plastic pollution by Greenpeace Australia Pacific.
Easy tips you could apply this Plastic Free July:
- An article by ABC News discusses how local restaurants and cafes in Melbourne are allowing their customers to bring in their own containers for takeaway foods. This is perhaps something you can apply to takeaway food habits, as the annoyance of carrying around a container is nothing in comparison to the benefits it has on reducing plastic waste, ocean pollution and bettering of human and marine health.
- A blog by the organisation One Milion Women have compiled a list of things you can change to ensure that sneaky plastics don’t creep into your July challenge.
Register yourself or an organisation for Plastic Free July here.