Plastic pollution has emerged as one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. With mounting concerns about its impact on ecosystems, wildlife, and human health, the need to reduce plastic consumption has become more urgent than ever. Plastic-Free July is a global movement that encourages individuals, communities, and businesses to take action and reduce their plastic waste throughout the month of July.
The Plastic Free Foundation was founded by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, with the purpose of advocating for a world free of plastic pollution. In 2011, in collaboration with a small team within the local government of Western Australia, Prince-Ruiz launched Plastic Free July, which has since become one of the most influential campaigns globally. This annual event serves as a powerful reminder for individuals to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics and encourages them to take small steps towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
With millions of participants worldwide, Plastic Free July has garnered significant support and many individuals commit to reducing plastic pollution well beyond the designated month. The choice of July for this campaign holds strategic significance. With the onset of summer, people often find themselves participating in outdoor activities, enjoying the beach or taking dips in the ocean. This naturally heightens the connection with nature and the environment making July an opportune time to shed light on the escalating accumulation of plastic waste that saturates our land and waterways.
The ultimate goal of Plastic Free July is to encourage people to continue their efforts to minimise plastic usage even after the month ends. The campaign seeks to foster a global movement towards a plastic-free future, emphasising the importance of sustainability and preserving our planet for generations to come.
Plastic pollution poses a severe threat to our planet but it is single use plastics, such as straws, bottles, bags and packaging material that contribute to the majority of plastic waste. These items are designed to be used for a short while and are destined to end up in landfills or the environment, persisting for centuries, while slowly breaking down into smaller microplastics that contaminate waterways, soil and even the air we breathe.
In recent times, there has been growing focus on microplastics, which are minute particles of plastic that find their way into the environment through various means like plastic packaging, textiles and personal care items. These tiny fragments, usually smaller than five millimetres have the potential to be consumed by wildlife and consequently enter the food chain, leading to the release of harmful chemicals. As a result, the environmental and public health implications of microplastics are substantial.
Keeping these multitude of issues in mind, Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness about the consequences of plastic pollution and inspire individuals to take responsibility for their plastic consumption. By committing to refuse single use plastics for a month, participants can make a tangible difference and develop habits that contribute to a sustainable future. The movement encourages people to reevaluate their consumption patterns, seek alternatives to plastic products and advocate for change in their communities and beyond.
Reducing plastic consumption in everyday life requires a holistic approach that has a touch point with various aspects of our daily routines. Here are some Bare tips to embrace a plastic free lifestyle!
2. Rethink your shopping habits: Conscious consumption is the practice of being mindful and intentional about the products and services we choose to buy and use. It involves considering the environmental, social and ethical impact of our consumption habits and making informed decisions that align with our values and sustainability goals.
We can practise this through our shopping habits by prioritising purchasing fresh, whole foods and avoiding pre-packaged produce and processed foods that come in plastic packaging. This can be supplemented by supporting local farmers, artisans and local store owners, who offer products with minimal or no plastic packaging. Wherever you go shopping make it a habit to carry reusable shopping bags and containers for bulk purchases to eliminate the need for plastic bags or packaging.
Preparing your meals at home using fresh ingredients to avoid pre-packaged meals that come in plastic containers. Purchasing staple foods such as grains, nuts and spices in bulk helps reduce plastic packaging waste.
To handle the waste that would be generated, segregate your waste to create compost for your garden. Conduct a waste audit to identify areas where you can reduce waste and improve recycling. Replace chemical based cleaners with bio enzymes, which are natural and effective cleaning agents. Switch to coconut or coir scrubbers for dishwashing, reducing the use of synthetic cleaning materials. To save water, start reusing the greywater that you generate from RO systems.
5. Closets, closets, closets!: Break free from the cycle of fast fashion and reduce online shopping, as it often contributes to excessive consumption. Instead of instantly purchasing items online, park them in your cart for 30 days and reevaluate your desire to buy them. Take a no-buy pledge for a fixed duration and embrace mixing and matching existing clothing items. Learn basic mending skills or techniques to get your clothes repaired to extend their lifespan. Explore thrift shops for unique and pre-loved fashion finds.
When washing garments, opt for handwashing to release fewer microfibers and consider using natural alternatives like soap nuts and eco-friendly soaps. Use wooden or metal clips to hold clothes instead of plastic ones. Mend your footwear instead of discarding them when they require repair.
6. Make your celebrations plastic free!: When planning events, think backwards and identify elements that can be easily avoided or swapped out for sustainable options.Instead of using disposable plates and vessels, distribute sweets and savouries in steel plates and vessels, reducing plastic waste. Plastic decorations can be replaced with cloth-based ones, which can be reused for future events. Use flowers which are not only gorgeous but biodegradable too! Incorporate rangolis, a traditional form of decoration, using natural materials.Involve experienced waste management professionals, such as Hasiru Dala, to handle waste at events.
Wrap gifts in newspapers or cloth, showcasing creativity and reducing the use of wrapping paper. Consider gifting starter's kits into sustainability or offering experiences, homemade goodies, plants, or handmade items instead of conventional gifts.
Lastly, encourage donations to charitable causes as meaningful gifts. By implementing these practices, events can become more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and enjoyable for all.
Seek to get involved in local initiatives that work towards reducing plastic pollution. Build a community through which you can practise sustainability together. Get to know your councillors, MLA’s and MP’s and write to them regularly should any issue arise.
The key is to approach plastic reduction with a mindset of sustainability and long term change. By adopting holistic practices, we can significantly reduce our plastic consumption and contribute to a healthier, plastic free future for our planet.