Plastic Free July: will you accept the challenge?
The challenge: attempt to use no single-use plastic for July. That means no plastic bags, no straws, no disposable takeaway coffee cups, no plastic cups or bottles – in fact, attempt to use no disposable plastic that’s designed for one use at all.
“Think about it. Why would you make something that you are going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever? What’s up with that?” Jeb Berrier, Bag It Movie.
Why give up plastic anyway?
Did you know that plastic is made from fossil fuels? 4% of the world’s oil and gas production is used as a source of plastic, with another 4% used as energy for plastic manufacture(1). As petrol prices at the pumps continue to rise, it’s pretty crazy to think we’re still using this valuable resource to make items intended for use for just a matter of minutes before being thrown away.
Except there is no “away”, and plastic will sit around pretty much forever. Plastics don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade – meaning light breaks them down into tiny pieces that get blown into the oceans and ingested by marine life. Birds, fish and sea mammals have all been affected by plastic.
Every single piece of plastic that’s ever been made still exists today.
Then there are the health issues. Plastic contains fillers, colours, preservatives, plasticisers, antimicrobial agents and all sorts of other additives to make them have specific properties. Plastic isn’t inert, and some leach out of the plastic: onto our skin and into our food. It’s only now that scientists are discovering that some of these additives are linked to developmental issues, neurotoxicity, hormone disruption and even cancer.
Plastic Free July – What You Need To Do
Try to refuse as much single use plastic as you can. Use a refillable water bottle and refill from the tap; bring your own reusable coffee cup; take reusable bags to the stores, or use a box. Look for alternatives: items wrapped in cardboard, bottled in glass or without packaging at all.
You don’t have to starve, or stop taking your medication! If you simply can’t find an alternative, just buy your regular product, keep the plastic and store in a dilemma bag. At the end of the month you’re free to dispose of it!
If you feel like one month is too much for you, why not commit to a week, or even just a day?
However long you do it for, you’ll find you look at plastic in a completely new light! It’s definitely an eye-opening experience, but it’s also fun. The good news: chocolate bars are plastic free! Neither Green & Blacks nor Divine use plastic packaging, so there’s no need to feel deprived!
You won’t be alone, either. Thousands of people take part all over the globe. Why not get a friend or family member to join you? You could even have a competition to see who uses the least plastic.
What do you think? Will you accept the challenge? Did you have a go last year or will this be your first time? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Lindsay Miles is a sustainable living advocate: a writer, workshop facilitator, speaker, blogger, events co-ordinator and all-round people-and-planet lover! She believes that sustainability isn’t just about big picture stuff like “saving the rainforests”; it’s as much about the little things we do and choices we make every day. Find out more at www.treadingmyownpath.com.