• Beth Hanson

Take a plastic-free pledge this July

Next month, 250 million people around the world will be taking on the Plastic Free July challenge and kicking their plastic addiction. Here’s why you should get involved.

Plastic was first used as a term to just mean “pliable” or “easily-shaped”. Only recently it became synonymous with the synthetic polymers used to create supermarket bags and Tupperware. This material is reliable, hygienic and makes a great packager and insulator. It is used in almost everything today, including food packaging, cars and clothing.


Because it is so reliable, it doesn’t break down easily when disposed of, and as a result, every single piece of plastic ever made still exists somewhere. In fact, 90% of seabirds carry 10% of their body weight in plastic. We dump around 12 million tons of plastic into the ocean every year where it floats


Many people believe that by recycling, they are preventing this and that is partly true. However, current oil prices make it more expensive for companies to recycle than to produce new items. Many single-use items are also made of low quality plastic and are unable to be recycled. A large proportion of our recycling is exported to other countries such as China, although they have now changed their policies surrounding waste plastic imports, and other countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya are now becoming choked by our burdens.


The real key to reducing our impact is to get as much use out of the product as possible in order to reduce the amount of “new” plastic products we buy. Even cotton reusable bags have unsustainable production demands in terms of carbon and water, meaning that a reduction in overall consumption is necessary.


Green-washing campaigns urge people to throw out their old plastic Tupperware’s, bags and water bottles in favour of one made of bamboo or metal when there is a lot of life left in them. When the lunchbox lid has snapped or the bag handle has broken, that is the time to replace it with a more environmentally conscious product and not before!


Plastic Free July challenges people around the world to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics. The goals you can set for July range from giving up one plastic item, such as plastic bags for one week, to giving up all plastic purchases for a month. The more people that get involved, the greater the impact will be. The Plastic-Free Foundation also sends weekly encouragement via email, along with tips and tricks to help you keep to your pledge.


For more information on how to be part of the solution please visit:

https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/


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