We’re two thirds the way through Plastic Free July already, but what the hell – I’m going to acknowledge it and write about it, because it’s an awesome concept, and I much prefer that concept to the Dry July idea (because Aperol Spritzes!).
So, what’s it all about? It’s a global movement and basically an excuse for us to think more about the amount of disposable plastic we wantonly churn through in our daily lives and try and reduce our consumption for a cleaner and better world. Going totally plastic free is a fair sort of challenge in our modern world but reducing our use of plastic is totally doable, and really easy.
But before we get into a few ideas for how to cut plastic waste, let’s consider why we’re actually doing this.
Here’s a couple of stats:
- Australians use approx 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. That’s about 2,700,000 cups coated with plastic and with plastic lids thrown out every day.
- 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used each year globally.
- Over half of the world’s plastic thrown out in 2015 was plastic packaging.
- Eight million tonnes of plastics enter the oceans every year, much of which has accumulated in five giant garbage patches around the planet. The vast dump of plastic waste swirling in the Pacific ocean, just one of those spots, is now bigger than France, Germany and Spain combined—and is growing rapidly. That was from a a study published in 2018, so presumably it’s bigger now.
I could go on but the numbers are so large they become almost meaningless.
But here’s what it means in pictures.
It’s horrifying. It’s disgusting.
And we can’t rely on recycling. Apart from the fact we can’t recycle soft plastics, even processing and recycling facilities are under enormous pressure to cope with the amount we produce and use.
Essentially, we need to cut down our usage. The less plastic we all use, the better. Every little bit helps.
Here are some of the main culprits:
- disposable coffee cups
- plastic drinking bottles
- plastic bags
- disposable straws and cutlery
- excess packaging.
The Plastic Free July website has a heap of suggestions for how we can all cut down on our plastic use, at home, work, in schools or at events. It’s terrific.
Some of the easiest things to do are:
- Avoid take away coffee in disposable cups – drink in or take your own cup (often cheaper!).
- Say no to plastic bags when shopping and excess packaging – any sort of shopping, not just at the supermarket (interesting supermarkets are coming on board with reducing fruit and vege packaging after hearing the message from the public loud and clear).
- Carry a drink bottle.
- Reuse any plastic or other bags you have for garbage bags, doggy-do pick ups etc.
- Talk to others about what you’re doing, especially little ones.
- Support businesses taking a stand and don’t complain if you don’t get a plastic straw with your drink.
- Think about it.
The tuckshop at my granddaughter’s school has just got rid of disposable cutlery. Great idea. Timely for us as it meant we found a ready home for my mother in law’s cutlery as she moved out of her home. Boom!
And we haven’t bought plastic bin liners for about 10 years – we recycle and compost, and put the remaining rubbish in whatever bags we’ve acquired, like bread bags.
Much of it really isn’t hard, it’s just a mindset and then it becomes a habit. And here’s some words I borrowed to show how silly this whole disposable plastic thing is:
Think about it. Why would you make something that you’re going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever, and you’re just going to throw it away. What’s up with that?
Jeb Berrier, BagIt movie
Are you joining in? Have you got any great suggestions for cutting plastic out of your life? I’d love your ideas.