Plastic Free July – Take the Challenge!

Plastic is literally taking over the planet. Wherever you are right now stop and have a look around. How much plastic can you see near you? Then take into account the plastic that you can’t see – plastic in cosmetics, clothing material and in your chewing gum (yep, it is made of plastic!). Then there is landfill. Now go further – think about our oceans. We have basically created a thin soup of plastic that touches every corner of the globe. It doesn’t have to be this way though – it is easy enough to change habits and shift demand towards better, kinder alternatives. As always it starts with the individual – so here is an encouraging kick-in-the-butt to get started! One of my favourite Perth organisations Western Earth Carers have started Plastic Free July; a challenge that anyone can partake in to try and reduce their dependency on plastic.

Why Give Up Plastic?

What resonates most to me when I think about why we should all try to eliminate plastic from our lives is this; we are using a material that is designed to last forever to create items that are designed to be thrown away. That just doesn’t make sense. Think about the lifespan of a lollipop wrapper for example, the plastic is made using precious oils and gases (both non-renewable resources) it is ripped off without a thought and is thrown away. But where is ‘away’? Away is landfill or our waterways where it then kills animals, pollutes the ecosystem and eventually breaks down into microscopic particles that are ingested into the food chain (which ends with us).

And, more directly, there are also all the links between plastics and serious disease such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical that is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics. Our use of BPA is so prolific that a study detected it in the urine of 93% of the population over 6 years of age. The convenience and ‘economical’ nature of this material is literally killing us (and the planet) and the real tragedy is that it is completely unnecessary. There are so many opportunities to recycle, reuse and – best yet – reduce by using biodegradable alternatives. But while we continue to accept the status quo, nobody is going to change anything.

(If you want to learn more about plastic pollution then check out this quick and bloody interesting You Tube video featuring Charles Moore – the man that discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch back in 1997).

The Challenge

Here are the rules;

  • For the entire month of July attempt to buy no plastic packaging.
  • Choose your commitment level – either 1 shopping trip, 1 day, 1 week or 1 month.
  • Create a ‘Dilemma Bag’. This will be your sin bin, used to collect any plastics that you accidentally accumulate or couldn’t avoid. At the end of the challenge Earth Carers have requested that everyone sends in a picture of your dilemma bag.

I will be committing to the entire month and I really hope that if you decide to give it a go that you push yourselves! It is not a competition, it is a challenge. If you accidentally consume plastic that is okay – just stick  it in that bag.

When I first found out that I was pregnant I was at a loss at how on earth I was going to get through nine months without my customary Saturday night champagne (not to mention my equally important Sunday through to Friday red wines?) but now that I am used to it, it is actually really easy. I am confident it will be the same with this challenge. Who knows… it might stick?

Take the leap!

Come on… Be brave! Make a concerted effort to do what is best for the planet and your health and register with tfor the challenge here. They also have a Facebook page with all sorts of updates and encouragement.

But don’t stop there – get your family involved, put some information on the fridge in your workplace, form a pact with your partner. The more people that are involved the pool of creative minds to bounce idea’s and tips off.

I wanted to include this gorgeous TedX by Beth Terry who founded My Plastic Free Life (a fabulous resource). In it she explains the moment that made her stop and change direction, her experience so far and her tips and tricks on reducing her plastic consumption. She is so inspirational because she is so normal. Absolutely gorgeous.

Start Planning

This is not the sort of thing that you can just jump into without at least a little bit of preparation. I am going to make sure that I provide plenty of resources and recipes to help you out.  Stay tuned for my next post which will contain instruction on exactly how to prepare yourself and your household for the challenge. In the meantime here is an old post with tips and tricks on reducing consumption or you could take a deeper look at the effects of plastic to really get you motivated.

If you are in Perth the Western Earth Carers also have a whole heap of events to provide inspiration and information like an introductory workshop before the challenge starts,  a screening of Bag It, a wholefood cooking class with Jude Blereau and a finale party to celebrate your efforts!

For Em’s follow up post 5 Steps To Being Plastic Free click here